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New Horizons Book I: New Beginnings

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Chapter I: Midnight Encounter

How many times had they been told not to let their confidence overshadow their skills? It was a fundamental rule, and one that Master Splinter had drilled into them every day from the time of their first lessons. So how had they let it happen? How had they become so confident that they stopped expecting anything short of self-assured victory? And yet, not a single one of them had expected to be cut down so thoroughly.

In retrospect, the preliminary rounds should have been the first indication that their arrogance had bested them. The first few rounds had simply been too easy; the brothers hadn’t even really tried. In fact, it was almost as if they were attempting to see who could defeat their opponent with the least amount of effort. Therefore, when the competition started to get tighter, they were unprepared for the ferocity of their challengers. Donatello and Michelangelo had both been knocked out of the running in the same round. Although, despite the momentarily bafflement of defeat, neither brother let it bother them. After all, Leonardo was still in the competition.

It had been decided months ago that neither Mikey nor Donnie would win the year unless Raph got stupid or Leo was sabotaged again. Though they had thought it would be one of their brothers to take them out of the game. However, they had still believed without a doubt that Leonardo would claim his second Battle Nexus Championship this year. At least they did until their blue-clad brother was eliminated in the very next round. Leaving only Raphael in the running.

It was a decided blow.

Although Raphael was a skilled fighter, he had a tendency to let his emotions get the better of him. As a result, no one really expected him to win. He was the muscle, there to take out some of the tougher opponents and eventually be knocked out of the running, preferably by Leonardo. Not even he expected to make it further than his brother, and yet he kept fighting unaware of his situation while Leonardo cheered from the sidelines.

On the other hand, Donatello and Michelangelo weren’t quite so convinced that their flawless older brother had been beaten and were desperate to prove some form of foul play. Yet their investigation yielded no results when even Raphael was predictably eliminated from the tournament.

While the younger brothers were rather despondent and confused by their rebuked victory, Raphael had turned his defeat into fuel for his temper. Meanwhile, Leonardo attempted to remain the calm and courteous one, encouraging his kinsmen to swallow their pride and congratulate the new victor when he or she had been decided.

Disappointment quelled, Donnie and Mikey eventually agreed; eager to meet the warrior who had been skilled enough to defeat not just one, but at least two of the turtle brothers and were immediately submersed in the betting aspect of the final rounds. Though they didn’t actually partake in the gambling, they began comparing the finalists and predicting who would win each bout and ultimately the tournament. Raphael, however, wanted no part of it and took no great pains to conceal his lack of camaraderie.

After a few hours, his foul mood began grating on even Leonardo’s bountiful patience as the bouts dwindled. Until eventually, even Leonardo had reached his wits end with his sibling. Raphael would not be appeased until they left the nexus and returned home. In hopes of quelling his roiling temper - and frankly, just to shut him up - Leonardo had decided there was no point in staying until a victor was decided. Raphael was set on disgracing the family and honestly, he was beginning to worry about what kind of attention-seeking act he would pull if they did stay.

But if he had truly expected his brother to stop his wailing and whining when they returned home, he was sorely mistaken. Raphael had always been a sore loser, but this was getting to be ridiculous. He was acting like a two year old and it was starting to piss Leonardo off.

After two days, he was ready to start throwing punches. However, his aggression was taken out in its usual way; in the dojo. At least until Raph was stupid enough to enter the practice room and open his mouth. At which times, Leo’s attention was turned directly towards his aggravating brother. More the once had their sensei been forced to interfere for fear that the sparring was going a little too far. After being forced to interfere multiple times in a matter of minutes, however, their sensei eventually banished them to opposite ends of the lair.


Meanwhile, Mikey and Don wisely stayed out of sight for fear of inflaming the situation further. Donatello barricaded himself in his lab, blind to the world and taking complete advantage of the rare opportunity to work uninterrupted. While Michelangelo locked himself in his room with his comics, lovable orange cat, and pile of sugary drinks and snacks. At least until his stockpile ran out and Klunk started going stir-crazy from his confinement. Leaving his room was high on the long list of bad ideas he’d ever had, but when he glanced down at his last can of Orange Crush soda and Klunk let out yet another yowl of disapproval at the still-closed door blocking his passage; he knew he’d have to take the risk soon. Chewing on his lower lip, he prowled to the door and pressed the side of his face to the wood, listening for any sound beyond.

He only heard silence.

It was encouraging enough that he cracked open the door to poke his head through. Now he could hear the distant grunts and occasional clang of metal. From what he could gather; Leo was still in the dojo and if the past 48 hours had been any indication, he wasn’t about to leave anytime soon. And in the opposite direction, he could discern that Raph was most likely lifting weights, which meant he could potentially come out at any time. Though weightlifting was a favorite pastime for the musclehead, his level of enthrallment tended to be incredibly random. Some days he’d spend hours in the relative solitude, while others he only spent ten or fifteen minutes.

Michelangelo was just attempting to decide if he should chance it when something solid and furry pushed past his legs and an orange streak flashed into the main compartment. He let out a hiss of disbelief as Klunk sprang onto the back of the sofa, golden eyes turned towards his terrapin caretaker as if daring him to lock him up again.

“Stupid cat…!” Mikey hissed, blue eyes darting down the corridor. “What are you doing? Get back here!” He demanded, forcibly jabbing a finger towards his feet, but the feline only gave him a withering look, turned his nose up, and settled into his favorite perch. “Stupid cat!” He repeated, a bit too loudly before he clamped a hand over his mouth fearful of potentially summoning attention to himself. But when there was no sound of approaching feet, he let his hand fall and settled for returning the feline’s glare. “Fine,” He started, voice barely a whisper in the room, “You got a death wish, you can stay out here.” With that, he turned towards the kitchen.

He was probably only gone for two minutes. Long enough to load down his arms with drinks and chips and anything else he could stash in his room, but when he emerged back into the living quarters Klunk was gone from his perch.

Mikey’s heart stopped.

His treats were forgotten a moment later by a resounding clatter, the crash of metal hitting floor, and the outraged scream of Raphael. Half a breath later, Klunk sprang from the spare room that was supposed to be Donnie’s room but was more often used for storage. Michelangelo dropped his load unceremoniously as the feline leapt into his arms before he ninja-vanished into his room throwing his weight into the door just as Raphael stormed into view. The orange-clad ninja just caught the glimpse of his hobbling as the door slammed shut.

“What did you do-?!” He demanded as the tom-cat slipped from his grip and perched on his unkempt bed looking spiteful and proud. A moment later, the door shuttered beneath Mikey’s shell as Raphael pounded on the wood.

“Give me that damn cat! Imma wring its neck!” The rage was as evident as ever in his sibling’s voice, but laced with enough truth that Michelangelo was immediately frightened for the wellbeing of his feline companion. Klunk had always seemed to pride himself on pissing off Raph for some reason, this time he may just have gone too far.

“Stupid cat…!” Mikey grumbled again, keeping his weight braced against the door as if to keep it secure.


His foot was throbbing from where the heavy dumbell had landed on it and he was fairly certain something was broke, but the pain was forgotten under the veil of his fury as he pounded on Mikey’s door again. Even if he hadn’t seen his sibling slam the door as he entered the chamber, it was always the same door the orange furball ran to after accosting him. “I know it’s in there!” He continued to bellow aiming to kick the door to splinters but a flash of white hot pain spiking up his shin when he shifted his weight changed his mind and he more or less threw his shoulder into the door instead.

The wood shuddered.

An angry, painful cry was clawing at his throat as he lifted both fists to strike the barricade when someone grabbed his shoulder and whipped him around. The fire burning in his veins immediately extinguished as he beheld the cold fury in Leonardo’s midnight orbs. It was like his blood had turned to ice.

It was rare to see Leonardo in such an obvious display of outrage, and it didn’t usually end well for the target. “I’m sorry,” The blue-clad leader started with deathly calm, “You’re going to do what?”

Raphael’s vocals had finally stopped working as he gaped at his brother like a fish out of water. Fuck, fuck, fuck! He was so fucked! And Leo looked ready to claw his face off. Never one to start a fight, but always prepared to end one. He was just waiting for Raphael to hit to trigger.

Swallowing the sudden lump in his throat and his own rage in the process, he knew that he was faced with a choice. He could answer his sibling’s challenge, and step over that boundary they’d been toying for two days. The ice in Leonardo’s stare was promise of that. If they fought now, something was going to get broken. Probably lots of things, particularly bones.

Or he could step back, yield to the display of dominance, and shrink away. Any other time, he wouldn’t have hesitated and thrown the first punch. But he already had a broken foot, he didn’t particularly want to add to that pain with a broken fist too. Not to mention the broken bones in the face and potentially ribs if he did fight Leo right now. A phantom pain flashed through the left side of his torso at the memory of broken ribs. That had not been fun and he wasn’t particularly interested in repeating the weeks of gasping for breath, never being able fully expand his lungs without keeling over in agony.

“Nothing.” He finally managed to wheeze out. No, he’d leave. He needed to leave. They would kill each other if he stayed. “Just… Need to clear my head.” He grumbled, dropping his amber eyes.

Submissive.

It turned his stomach.

He started for the glowing chamber that would take him to street level and the abandoned garage they used to store their vehicles. Muscles tense, he almost expected Leo to stop him. To reach out with that iron grip and start a fight right there. He seemed to be itching for one. A real one. And frankly, it frightened Raphael. He was the hothead, the impulsive one, the one with anger issues that couldn’t be resolved by pounding away at a suspended leather bag filled with sand. Leo was the calm one. Leo was the one who could forget all his grievances just by sitting in front of a candle and controlling his breathing.

So his body sagged against the far wall in absolute relief when the door to the alien elevator closed, effectively separating him from his sibling and started to lift. Cocking his head slightly, he stared at the tiny key he hadn’t realized he grabbed and loosed a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Yeah, he needed to get out.

Once topside, he wasted no time in plucking up his shiny red helmet and wheeled his motorcycle out onto the dusty abandoned street. He quickly made sure everything was securely locked up behind him before he mounted the red vehicle, revved the engine, and peeled off into the night.


He spent much of following hour aimlessly wandering the back roads and alleys until even that little joy failed to lighten his mood. He was just starting to contemplate parking the bike and taking to the rooftops, in the hopes that a good run would clear his head. He was well aware that things couldn’t continue as they were back in the lair. No one had even seen Donatello in more than two days and Mikey was undoubtedly starting to feel like a trapped rat. Leo’s anger was doing little more than soaring with each passing breath and Master Splinter only bothered to show his face for the express purpose of whacking his sons over the head and separating them as best he could.

He also knew it was probably his fault. Not Leo’s increasingly foul temper, of course, but possibly Donnie and Mikey’s isolation was a direct consequence of his own behavior. He was willing to admit that much. But he wasn’t about to return home, tucked shamelessly into his shell, and apologize for everything. It wasn’t entirely his fault, and Leo needed to accept that responsibility too. They both needed to apologize and he wasn’t going to be cowed over by Leonardo again.

As he came upon one of his favorite haunts; an abandoned and ruined section of the city he decided riding around town really wasn’t doing anything for him but giving him time to think of how much Leo was in the wrong in this particular situation. With an aggrieved sigh, he dismounted and hid his precious gift with the precision of practice before scaling the chainlink fence that surrounded the ruined subdivision.

Without his siblings to play Capture the Flag, he wasn’t sure what he was planning on doing. But fate apparently decided that for him. He’d barely started meandering through the ruins when he was forced to dart into an open doorway and press himself into the shadows that greeted him.

A second later a familiar tattered red cape flashed through the night barely a foot from where Raphael was standing. He stared uncomprehendingly at the ninja as he streaked through the skeletal buildings. In another moment a second ninja in identical clothing but a different weapon strapped to his back, bolted past him in a completely different direction. Almost immediately a cry of irritation radiated from a nearby building and an empty flowerpot was sent hurdling through the air, smashing to a million pieces just above the mutant’s hiding place.

For a second he thought he’d been spotted, but the culprit only staggered into the street glaring at the shattered piece of orange ceramic. “Where in fuck’s sake is she?!” The ninja bellowed, snatching the straw hat from his head and slamming it into the dusty earth. It was more emotion and liveliness than Raphael had come to associate with Shredder’s Elite. Almost like they were actually human.

And looking for someone.

That revelation quickly straightened the terrapin’s spine. Shredder’s top assassins were roving around a ruined section of the city well into the night, and they were looking for someone. There was only one reason he could think of, and it had to do with the ninjas’ title. Instinctively, his hand inched toward the sai at his belt.

“Kaito, shut up.” The first ninja suddenly responded, reappearing in cloud of dust and snatching the straw hat from the ground before shoving it into his companion’s chest. “Just shut up and keep looking. We have to find her first.” He added before disappearing again.

Kaito. Although simple, the name cut through the mutant’s defenses like a hot knife through butter. For some reason Raphael had never imagined these guys had names. It just seemed too human for them. Too real. As if they weren’t just manufactured robots for Shredder’s devious purposes.

He was still trying to come to terms with this new humanization when he heard the first crack of gunfire. A single shot that rang through the night. Normally, he wouldn’t have thought much of it. After all, they were standing on the very edge of the city, in a ruined subdivision that - by the evidence presented - had been used for years by young kids looking for a perfect shooting range. Not to mention Thanksgiving was the day after tomorrow.

But when the ninja - Kaito - visibly paled and his eyes bugged out, Raphael knew something wasn’t right. Kaito’s attention had immediately turned in the direction the gunfire had come from, hand moving towards the trident on his back. In another moment, the weapon was ripped free of its holster as two more ninjas pelted past him. The first ninja who had told him to keep looking for their quarry, and the ninja who used a battleaxe.

The first ninja barely paused as his hand latched onto the obviously younger ninja’s shoulder, and wrenched him into a forward motion. “What are you doing?!” He demanded breathlessly, “Move your ass!” The words were barely out of his mouth before gunfire cracked again, this time in such a quick succession that Raphael wasn’t sure if he heard three or four shots, possibly even five. Fear and confusion trickling down his spine, he barely gave a thought to his own solidarity as he sprang from his hiding spot, keeping well behind the three Elite ninjas, but following them in the direction of the continued gunfire.

The cracks were coming quicker now until they suddenly stopped.

When he finally emerged into the clearing, he wasn’t sure what he was seeing, and had to blink several times to be sure he was seeing what his eyes were telling his brain he was seeing. And even then, he wasn’t sure where to look first.

The jade-green shape hunched over in the grass, both human and not human in the same instance, clutching at a rivulet of red cascading from her shoulder. The Elite ninja crouched at her side, hands hovering uncertainly above the injury. The three other Elite ninja surrounding none other than Queen-of-the-Underworld; Karai, but not defensively. Their drawn weapons were drawn towards Shredder’s daughter. And Karai looked uncharacteristically smug, a small black pistol held in each outstretched hand. The weapon looked odd in her clutches, as if they didn’t belong there, but she held them as if they were more familiar to her than the katana she usually wielded.

And then chaos broke out again. A swarm of lithe bodies emerged from the opposite side of the clearing, all bearing the red symbol of the Foot Clan, but he didn’t recognize their uniforms and they launched themselves expertly at the Elite and Karai. Like demons made of shadow. Behind them, another figure appeared from the depths of the forest. It was a young man with close cropped dark brown hair and he held what appeared to be a sniper rifle perched against his left shoulder. He looked even more smug than Karai had. He also wore the same unidentified uniform of the newcomers, though his was more decorated. Clearly the captain of this unit.

The confusion just kept building. Here stood three branches of the Foot Clan, all gunning for each other and for what? Raphael blinked as the three units drove into each other, miraculously no one even noticed him. And after several minutes of watching in absolute shell-shocked confusion, his attention turned back to the Elite and injured green human. But the Elite was unconscious on the ground, and the green shape was gone.

Skillfully, he skirted the raging battle wanting no part in whatever bad blood was coursing through the veins of the Foot Clan. If they wanted to destroy each other, by all means, they could destroy each other.

Once he swept around to the opposite side of the clearing, still remarkably unnoticed, he caught sight of the trail.

A drop of blood here, a smear of red there, leading away from the battle. Back into town. Or at least towards town. It wasn’t difficult to catch up to the lumbering figure stumbling through the night. She wasn’t carrying a weapon, but instead was clutching at her arm. Even from the distance he stood, he could tell she was losing a lot of blood. So much so that her steps were starting to falter and he rushed forward to catch her just as she pitched forward.

“Woah! Hey!” He gasped, barely catching her and reeling her into his arms. She didn’t even have the strength to fight him as she fell limp in his embrace. In that same moment, he made a decision as he took in her vaguely terrapin shape. “I’m gonna get you some help, so hang on.” He muttered, adjusting her weight in his arms before shifting back to his feet. He barely cast a glance over his shoulder before sprinting through the night.

Chapter Text

Chapter II: First Impression

Raphael only glowered up at Leonardo, wanting nothing more than to wipe the shit-eating, smug-ass smirk right off his face. Though, he was also still trying to wrap his head around what exactly had just happened. One minute he was sprinting through the nearly abandoned streets in a desperate bid to get to the little clinic they’d been frequenting - while clutching an unconscious and very injured mutant in his arms - and the next he was flat on his shell staring up at a way too pleased Leonardo. The aforementioned mutant no longer cradled against his plastron, but instead was presently being crooned over by his other two siblings a few feet away. Quirking his neck at an odd angle to cast a quick glance in their direction, Raphael had the momentary emotional bafflement of whether he should start yelling in outrage, explain the situation to the best of his abilities, or if he should just laugh at the sight before him.

Though they were both hunched over in the grime, Mikey seemed to have gotten the worst of it. Both of his knees were immersed in a particularly nasty-looking pile of semi-solid refuse of a particularly stomach churning color. While Donatello on the other hand was careful to avoid a similar fate, hovering around his orange clad sibling on taut haunches braced on the very tips of his toes. And between them; the mutant woman hung limp from Mikey’s outstretched arms.

From his altered vantage point, Raphael could barely keep his eyes from crossing long enough to recognize Donnie cramming his bunched up purple mask against the woman’s still bleeding shoulder, while Mikey looked like he was trying not to vomit. Blood had never been Michelangelo’s strong suit, he’d always had the weakest stomach. Which only served to impress Raphael that he hadn’t yet thrown up considering his hands were very clearly slick with hot blood and despite Donnie’s effort, the bleeding didn’t appear to be slowing down.

“Hey,” Leo’s voice finally cut through Raph’s thoughts as fingers were snapped repeatedly in front of his face, “Hey shell-for-brains, did you get a concussion when you fell? How long are you going to lay there?”

Grumbling at the accusatory tone, Raphael focused back on his elder, noting with great dispassion that he was still sporting that smug grin, before he slapped at the proffered hand extended to him. “Why are you suddenly so damn happy?” Raphael responded, pulling himself upright in one fluid motion, patting the grime and debris from his knees and backside.

“Maybe I just got some good news?” Leo replied, dropping his hand with a shrug. The conversation didn’t continue. As soon as Raphael was on his feet, Leo was back to ignoring him.

“...Prick…” Raph grumbled under his breath as his blue masked brother walked past him and over to where Donnie and Mikey were crouched in the alley beyond. His curiosity was nearly palpable. Leo had never been great at hiding his piqued interest; it was evident in the way he walked and even in the tension of his shoulders. In many ways, he was a lot like Donnie when it came to something new and interesting. He was all about the poking and prodding until he discovered whatever he was after. The only difference was Leo wasn’t an engineer, and his interest was usually piqued by weapons, fighting styles, or new people. Whereas Donnie was more interested in the technology and reverse-engineering of said technology. But at the very basic level, their desires were one and the same, making it very easy to tell the two tacticians were related.

“What’s the verdict?” Leonardo finally asked, crouching down to kneel next to Mikey and Donnie, a single hand absently reaching for the discolored and wet purple cloth being applied to the new mutant’s shoulder. Donnie only scowled, and slapped at his siblings hand.

“Not good.” He surmised in response, ruddy brown eyes narrowing to dangerous slits as if daring his elder sibling to try touching the injury again. “We need to get her to Brennen A.S.A.P., this is way beyond my skill.”

“I was in the middle of doing that when I was ambushed by my own teammates.” Raph reckoned miserably as he moved to join his siblings, shouldering past Leonardo in an attempt to take the woman back into his own arms. Leo grunted in response, muscles bunching together in an attempt to keep himself upright and to keep from flailing about like an unbalanced amateur. He’d barely managed to maintain his composure before settling back onto his haunches and watching bemusedly as the next scene unfurled before him.

As Raphael’s hands moved into the same positions as Michelangelo’s - in an obvious bid to take her limp form from the now hyperventilating ninja - Donatello had latched upon the lip of Raph’s shell and jerked him backwards and off balance. “Don’t you even think about it!” He practically roared.

“We have to move her somehow,” Raph countered, gesturing wildly towards Michelangelo whose clear blue eyes were wide and locked on the woman’s still bleeding shoulder; his breathing labored and body visibly starting to shake. “And somehow, I don’t think Mikey’s going to be capable of doing that. He looks like he’s going to faint any second himself!”

“Raph’s right,” Leo joined in a second later, heaving himself to his feet and in the same movement scooping the female mutant into his own arms. “You two help Mikey, I’ll carry her.” He decided matter-of-factually, though his features contorted a second later and he knelt back down. Carefully bracing the woman’s limp body between one muscled arm and a propped up knee, he stripped off his own mask and carefully laid it across the bunched up ball of Donatello’s. Shifting slightly, he gathered the two loose ends - one draped over her shoulder, the other tucked into the gap between her torso and arm - before tying them tightly together against the back injury. Her muscles spasmed involuntarily at the sudden pressure and she briefly pulled away from Leo’s touch, a moan escaping her lips, but was then limp in his arms a moment later.

“I imagine that hurt.” Raph accused, lips pursed and amber eyes narrowed at the display.

“Maybe, but it was also an effective idea.” Donatello countered, tapping his lower lip in concentration. “Brilliant in fact. It keeps the pressure on and allows Leo more freedom of movement while carrying her.”

“Whose side are you even on?”

“How about we bicker later and get to Brennen’s as quickly as possible instead?” Leonardo suggested, rising back to his feet and nodding towards Mikey who was still knelt in the muck and staring at his blood stained hands in horror. In his defense, there was quite a lot of it. Pooled around his knees as it was, covering his hands, dripping down his thighs, and smeared across his arms and torso. Donnie’s attempt to staunch the frontal bleeding had done little to staunch the bleeding from her posterior shoulder after all.

With a sigh, Donnie and Raph spared each other a quick look before simultaneously moving towards their sibling, each brother taking an arm and slung it across their shoulders; effectively hoisting the shell-shocked turtle to his feet. Michelangelo barely resisted, but neither did he assist in his siblings efforts as they all but dragged him after Leonardo’s already disappearing shape.


Utilizing every bit of their combined ninjutsu skills, the five mutants traversed the surprisingly quiet streets of New York, or at least quieter streets than what they had become accustomed to - though they still stuck to the shadows as much as possible - and as a result were forced to take an impressively long and roundabout route to their destination. Which only led to more bickering between the brothers.

Leo remained ten paces ahead of his brothers, head high and back straight; a pompous and controlling air about his posture, while he shouted corrective actions behind him as if his siblings were still learning how to travel undetected. Which only served to piss off Raphael and annoy Donatello.

Michelangelo hung almost completely limp between the two terrapins; a collection of different noises vibrating against his vocals very couple of minutes and he refused to walk on his own. Which again only served to piss off Raphael and annoy Donatello.

Of course, Raph being Raph couldn’t contain his annoyance with the situation and spent the majority of the trip shouting obscenities right back at Leonardo; his competitive nature getting the better of him as he jerked Michelangelo’s weight from one direction to the next. He was obviously struggling with the need to either dump the weight of his sibling completely onto Donatello and catch up to Leonardo, or hoist the deadweight completely upon himself and catch up with Leonardo. His see-sawing only proved to heighten Donatello’s annoyance with the situation and soon even he was launching obscenities in Raphael’s direction, insisting he just pick an action or shut up.

By the time the stout little building came into view, the four brothers were practically screaming at each other, or at least appeared to be considering the most effective way to murder the other. And none of them seemed to take notice of the middle-aged man who stood to the side of the approaching double glass doors. His head was lowered, the thick messy mop of blonde hair that covered his scalp swaying slightly as he shook his head almost imperceptibly and a lit cigarette dangled from one hand.

The brothers still paid the man no attention, instead walking right past him, nearly ripping the glass doors from their hinges in their haste to get inside. The man merely glanced after them, dropped the remnants of his addiction before stamping it out with a foot, and kicking off from the wall to follow behind the terrapin creatures.

Inside, the siblings had already managed to wrench open the door that separated the lobby from the actual clinic rooms and had dispersed beyond. As the physician followed at a far more leisurely pace, he only shook his head again when he spotted Michelangelo flopped over in a little plastic chair, his head bowed and distinct moans escaping his throat. Across the little hallway, Leonardo had claimed the first clinic room he had come across and was in the process of laying the injured mutant across the thin strip of paper on the bed.

With a grunt, the physician moved inside and none-too-subtly pushed the blue leader aside before he began poking at the soiled pieces of cloth crushed against her shoulder as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “I’m not even going to bother asking, because you never seem to know.” The man sighed with a barely perceptible Scottish accent, though he cast a quick glance behind him at Leonardo who indeed only shrugged.

The man huffed again, letting the layered masks fall back into place before turning completely. “All right, here’s what’s going to happen; you’re going to go and fetch some water and about a half dozen towels and Donnie - Wait, where’s Donnie?” The man immediately cut off, searching the room.

“Dunno.” Leo replied with another shrug.

“Did you not pay attention to anyone other than her?” The man accused, stabbing a finger over his shoulder to indicate the still unconscious mutant behind him. Leo only shrugged awkwardly again. “All right, forget it. Just go find some water.” He groaned, pushing the leader towards the door.

Back in the hallway, the physician meandered over to Michelangelo’s still half-crumpled form. Taking one look at the panicked look on his face and the blood streaks along his body, he caught Leo’s attention before the ninja disappeared around a corner. “And bring a couple damp towels for Mikey!”

Pausing for only a moment longer, he snatched up the orange masked terrapin’s wrist, pressing his fingers lightly into his pulse. After a second he let go and straightened just in time to see Raphael coming back from around another corner, a look of confusion on his face before it melted away at seeing the man.

“Oh, there you are. Couldn’t find ya.” He started, before the man held up a hand to stop him.

“Go find Leo. He’s supposed to be finding some water and towels. Once you find him, wash that blood off and then you can help Mikey do the same.” The physician dictated, gesturing towards the drying streaks of blood Raphael had forgotten he was sporting. Giving the ninja no room to argue, the man maneuvered past him towards the nurses station. Upon arriving, he was unsurprised to find Donatello tearing through the cupboards and pulling out an array of different instruments, objects, and medicines. Most of which would serve no purpose to him, he noted.

With the ninja's back to him and still pulling out things that really didn’t need to be pulled out, the doctor shook his head and plucked up a pink kidney-shaped plastic bowl. Setting it down in front of him, he began picking through the array and filling the bowl with the things he’d actually need. After a few more minutes, Donatello finally turned with a stethoscope in hand and nearly jumped out of his shell at seeing the doctor.

“Jeez Brennen!” He gasped, “Are you sure you’re not a ninja? Make some noise for crying out loud!” He chastised, beginning to set the stethoscope down but it was promptly picked up and strung around the doctor’s neck. The doctor didn’t bother to respond as Donnie’s attention fell to the nearly overflowing kidney-bowl in front of him. “I take it you’ve seen your patient?”

“That depends, to which patient are you referring?” Brennen finally spoke, “The one having a panic attack, or the one that’s been shot?” There was a slight bite to his words; an accusatory tone Donatello knew well.

“Don’t look at me!” The ninja shot back, lifting his hands up in surrender, “I don’t know how that happened. Ask Raph, he’s the one who found her. Or at least he’s the one who had her when we found him.”

Brennen only scoffed, snatched up his supplies and started to turn back down the corridor he’d come from. “Grab a bottle of Gatorade while you’re back there.” He finally relented before striding down the hallway.

Donatello just smiled and kicked open the mini-refrigerator tucked under a desk, snatched up a bottle of orange Gatorade, and vaulted over the counter; completely disregarding the mess he’d made. Making a beeline down the corridor, he skidded around a corner, only just managing to keep from careening into a wall in his haste. On the other side, Mikey was still hunched over, though he now had a bucket in his hands and a wet towel slung across his knee. “Here,” Donatello offered, holding out the bottle of Gatorade. Mikey didn’t even lift his head, only reached out with one hand, wavering slightly in the air, before his fingers touched the precipitating bottle and he wrenched it out of Donnie’s hand. A moment later, he’d torn off the black plastic lid and was greedily chugging the contents.

Donnie grimaced at the display, but chose not to say anything as his attention was caught by a ruckus behind him. As he turned towards the crowded room, one look at the exasperation on Brennen’s face and the red faces of Leo and Raph screaming at each other made the engineer want to throw up his hands and go home. At least it would be quiet there. But then his eyes fell on the unconscious mutant also in the room.

In the fluorescent lighting of the clinic he could finally get a good look at her, and it made him flush unexpectedly. Not just because of her physiological similarities to himself and his brothers, but also her differences. Unlike the smooth plains of thick, almost leather-like skin of he and his brothers, her jade-green skin was distinctly lighter, almost gray in color, and was more reminiscent of human skin. Though the contours of her face and shoulders were littered with freckle-like scales; across her nose, over the plains of her cheekbones, caressing her brow, and kissing her shoulders. He had to admit it made her cute, but that was hardly the reason for his darkening blush. No, that was caused by the way her body was so distractingly exposed. Though she definitely had a distinctly humanized shape - right down to the curve of her hips and swell of her breasts - she had a few terrapin traits as well. In particular, an anatomical piece of armor that protruded from her skin and covered her breasts in a heart shaped structure. Though based on the erect nipples poking presenting themselves, he could only guess that it wasn’t made from the same cartilage and bone that composed his own plastron. It also only covered her breasts; a sharp tip extending down towards the relative position of her bellybutton, before disappearing in a blend of skin and osseous matter. Barely a few inches down, it reemerged and stretched across her lower abdomen in a teardrop shape that went further down than he was prepared to acknowledge he looked; considering it did little to protect her distinctly female characteristics.

How had none of them noticed she was completely naked?! In the end, Donatello was caught in a catch 22. He knew he needed to look away; that it was incredibly indecent of him to keep staring, but at the same time he wanted to examine every similarity and difference in their physiological makeup.

A moment later his enthrallment was severed in a flash of white - forcing him to blink - and suddenly the woman’s body was covered in a white sheet while Brennen was staring at him with arms crossed and a disappointed look on his face. Donnie only blushed harder, before he forcibly turned his attention back to the situation at hand. Raph and Leo were still yelling at each other, their words lost in the chorus of one trying to yell over the other. He wasn’t sure what had ignited the argument, but considering the two-day-long fight he’d just been privy to a few hours ago, he didn’t particularly care. If they wanted to kill each other over something stupid, they could kill each other for all he cared. All he cared about was that they didn’t bother him and he was usually content to just ignore them as he had grown accustomed to doing, but the the headache beginning to blossom behind his eyes wasn’t likely to let him tonight. With a groan, he grabbed the nearest object - which happened to be a magazine - and chucked it at his brothers.

“Enough!” He bellowed, arm still outstretched and pointing towards the open door. “Either help or get the shell out! If you want to kill each other, do it out there!” The arguing duo immediately ceased their roaring, though they could only blink at him in astonishment, clearly not used to the usually level-headed brother blowing up so suddenly. “Could you please get your priorities straight for once?” Donnie plunged on, “In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a new mutant in town - one that apparently fell from the sky from the lack of intel we’ve received from the one who apparently found her!” This time his pointed stare was turned directly to Raph, but before the ninja could defend himself, Donatello kept going, gesturing wildly around the room. “Not to mention she’s been bloody shot. But do you care? Apparently not! Apparently, the only thing that matters to you is whose got the bigger dick!” He was prepared to keep going, unaware of movement behind him, but as he opened his mouth to throw something else at his bickering brothers an odd, airy sound filtered through and past his words. It almost sounded like… A laugh?

Eyes widening, a reddening hue beginning to develop high in his cheeks, Donnie slowly turned back around while Raph and Leo leaned to opposite sides in an attempt to see as well. As he took in the scene behind him, Donatello wanted nothing more than to disappear into his shell never re-emerge.

Just as he had suspected, their guest had woken up at the most inopportune time possible and was staring at him with the strangest silver-blue eyes he had ever seen.

She was awake.

Chapter Text

Chapter III: Introductions

Heat scorched red-hot under the surface of his skin, as Donatello’s words echoed back to him and he saw the looks of utter astonishment on the faces of his brethren. It was rare for him to speak so disrespectfully, practically as rare as Leonardo and Raphael actually getting along for a change. And now it was the first impression he’d made on this new mutant. He was positively mortified.

Too engrossed in these thoughts, Donnie failed to notice neither of his brothers were paying any attention, nor even that he himself had turned around to face the newly awakened mutant. At least until he was jostled aside and brought back to his sense by colliding with the nearby countertop. When he blinked, Michelangelo had joined the circus and weedled his way right up to the bedside. Taking advantage of the momentary distraction; the engineer slipped quietly away to mull over his words and actions in solitude.

Meanwhile, Michelangelo was doing a marvelous job of embarrassing himself. Encouraged by the shocked silence of both Leonardo and Raphael, he proceeded to snatch the female mutant’s fingers away from where she had pressed them to her lips. He then drew the spindly appendages to his own lips for a sloppy kiss and began to mutter a French greeting that contained fewer accuracies than trying to bake a cake in a toaster oven. Though the sudden rigidity in the nameless mutant’s stature and failed attempts to reclaimed her accosted fingers spoke wildly of her discomfort with Mikey’s casual contact. As did her plaintive foreign pleas.

From some half-remembered lesson, the words she spoke clicked rapidly into place for both Leonardo and Raphael, jostling them from their shell-shocked reverie. Leonardo pulled his younger brother back and away from the distraught mutant - placing himself between them - while Raphael quickly disentangled their fingers and allowed the woman to recoil from his own touch once Mikey’s grip was detached.

“She said “let go”.” Leonardo barked in disapproval, glancing back only briefly when he heard his brother begin to speak in a broken language of disuse. They had both recognized her words from childhood lessons - though neither of them had spoken the language in years - they had both recognized the woman’s speech as Japanese-origin, just as Sensei had taught them so long ago.

Now, Raphael had moved to a respectable distance and was attempting to console the woman in her own tongue. The thought of which amused Leonardo as - out of all his brothers - Raphael had shown the least interest in learning the language. He had griped about lessons the most, and had always had the most difficulty in learning it. Leonardo had always assumed Raph had only ever managed to pick up a few choice words, possibly a sentence or two, nothing more. Now, Raphael was proving him wrong, despite the obvious disadvantage of having not actively spoken the language in many years.

After a moment, Leo let his attention drift back to Michelangelo who at least had the decency to look appalled; though the maskless leader suspected not for the reason he ought to be. “What was that?” He finally asked, attempting to reel in his disapproval and give his sibling a chance to explain.

“Just what it looked like.” Michelangelo shrugged, “Thought I’d say hi. In French.”

“Why French?” Leonardo asked, holding up a hand when Raphael suddenly jerked his head around and had begun to open his mouth in protest at the confession.

“It’s the most romantic language in the world,” Mikey responded, giving his elder a look as if he should have known the answer already.

This time, Leonardo was unable to stop Raphael as their sibling whirled abruptly around, shoved him out of the way, and yelled full in Michelangelo’s face, “You don’t speak French!”

Even Leonardo winced at the outburst, while the female mutant recoiled further into her corner; clearly trying to avoid the conflict altogether. But Mikey wasn’t backing down for a change. Instead, he was beginning to raise himself up at the obvious challenge. Leonardo knew he needed to do something, particularly when he noticed the female mutant had moved a hand to cover her injured shoulder and her features had contorted in agony. At this, he and Brennen shared a knowledgeable look and Leo moved swiftly aside, allowing the doctor his space.

Taking another step, he slapped his brothers over the heads before jerking his own towards the doctor behind him. “Time to move.” He began, gesturing towards the still open doorway, “Brennen needs to work, and we’re only getting in his way. So move.” He demanded, attempting to usher his siblings out. For a heart stopping moment, neither of them moved, and Leo was afraid they wouldn’t, but finally the anger melted out of Raphael’s muscles as he looked back to the injured mutant and apparently realized the pettiness of his actions; nodded absently, and allowed himself to be led out. As did Michelangelo, though he was visibly dragging his feet.

The brothers had barely stepped over the threshold before the door slammed shut behind them, effectively separating them from the new mutant. It was only then that the siblings realized they were three and not four. “Where’s Donnie?” Raphael was the first to ask, glancing up and down the hall.

“Bathroom?” Mikey offered, with a shrug and casting a curious look towards the closed bathroom door.

“That’s an awful long bathroom break, he’s probably getting supplies for Brennen.” Leonardo joined, gesturing towards the nurse’s station down the hall. The brothers shared a momentary look between them before simultaneously breaking away from one another. Mikey to the bathroom, Leo to the nurse’s station, and Raph down the hall towards the back exit.

After a few suspenseful minutes, the brothers regrouped, each sporting the same look of concern and distant hope that one of the others had found their suddenly missing sibling. Worry now beginning to creep over them, Leonardo whipped out his specially designed cell phone and punched the familiar buttons. Relief flooding through him as the line was picked up almost immediately.

“What?” Donnie’s voice came over the speaker, gruffer than usual.

“Are you okay?” Leo demanded breathlessly.

“I’m fine. What do you want?” Came the short, harassed response, causing a momentary flash of annoyance to burn through their leader.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Leo barked back sardonically, before continuing, “There’s been a rather interesting development with the Foot Clan and you suddenly disappear. Forgive me for worrying!” He snapped before the phone was plucked from his fingers and held to Raph’s ear.

“Leo’s a little stressed,” He apologized weakly, “It’s only that we couldn’t find you, and you didn’t exactly say anything to anyone.”

“Jeez,” Donnie groaned, clearly annoyed, “I just had to pick up a couple things from the lair. And I figured someone needed to tell Sensei what’s going on. We’ll be back soon, so tell Leo to keep his shell on.” The engineer didn’t wait for Raph to respond, or even acknowledge the request, instead he simply cut the line.

Raphael stared at the screen for a moment in bafflement, before tossing it back to his still steaming brother. “He says he’s all right.” He explained simply, though his features contorted again in confusion a moment later. “Now where’d Mikey go?” He asked when he realized a second sibling was now missing. Leonardo let out an aggrieved groan at this development, but a second later Mikey reappeared from a nearby room, having claimed the rolling stool within.

“Right here.” He answered sweetly, coasting lazily towards his sibling, who waited for his approach before suddenly snapping out a leg and sending both the stool and seated turtle hurtling back in the opposite direction.

Michelangelo let out a yelp of surprise, clawing at the plastic-covered seat in a desperate attempt to keep himself upright. Raphael was a little quicker to respond; hooking his ankle around the stool’s stem, allowing the pre-built momentum to carry him around in a sharp arc, before sending it - and Michelangelo - careening back towards Leonardo.

The siblings soon last track of time as they repeatedly cast the rolling stool and seated terrapin up and down the hall. Each kick more elaborate than the last, as if they were trying to see who would fail to return the chair first. After some time, they began debating about what to do next, as they passed the stool between them like some kind of turn indicator.

The chair was in Leonardo's possession; it was his turn to speak. As he sent the chair back, it was Raph’s turn to respond. As the chair came into his possession; it was his turn to speak an idea. And so the debate continued, with Mikey offering his own opinion on occasion; though mostly, he was focused on staying seated.

“We’ve done it before,” Raphael was saying now, hooking a foot around the chair and sending it back with a twist of his ankle.

“Not with an injured civilian.” Leonardo countered, catching the projectile and sending it away again. “We’re better off taking the truck.”

“Oh yeah, brilliant idea Leo! Let’s just drive the pimped out, weaponized garbage truck down Main street, in the middle of eight o’clock traffic the day before Thanksgiving. No one will suspect anything.” Raphael quipped sarcastically, returning the chair.

“You might want to consider whether she even wants to come home with us.” A new voice cut in just as Donatello joined the game with a sharp kick that nearly unseated his unsuspecting sibling. Immediately; they were all staring at him dubiously, as if the thought hadn’t even occurred to them.

Donnie groaned in exasperation, “Seriously?” He demanded haughtily, with a shake of his head. “I’d expected that kind of thinking from Mikey, but you two? Really?” He asked of Leonardo and Raphael, who at least had the good sense to look ashamed.

“Well of course she’s coming home with us,” Mikey suddenly shot back, as he regained his composure and sprang to his feet. “At least for a few days. I mean, even Leatherhead stayed with us for a while. Or are you gonna try and tell us she’s got an apartment off Bleecker street she can go back to?” He continued, “She’s a mutant-!” He began, but was abruptly silenced when Master Splinter stepped quietly into the hall, a familiar duffel bag slung over his shoulder.

“That we do not know,” The aging rodent supplied, staring down his youngest son as he pulled the worn parcel from his shoulder. “And we will not know until this new mutant tells us different.” He added, passing the bag to Donatello who quickly unzipped the main compartment, plunged a hand within, and withdrew a swath of blue cloth before passing it back to the rodent mutant and gesturing towards the clinic room which housed their latest discovery. Nodding his understanding, the rat master took possession of the duffle bag and slipped into the room without another word, pulling the door shut behind him as he entered.

“You brought Master Splinter?” Raphael asked after a moment, while Donnie passed the blue mask to his expectant brother who quickly tied the familiar wrap around his face.

“I think “brought” is an understatement. He wouldn’t let me leave without him. And I’m pretty sure he would have come on his own if I had tried.” Donnie defended, “He was pretty determined when I told him what you told us. As if he knew something we were overlooking.”

“All right, so what’s in the bag?” Leo asked, nodding towards the once-more closed door, indicating he meant the bag Master Splinter had taken with him.

“Just some things I thought might come in handy. But most of it are things Sensei demanded we bring. And I wasn’t crazy enough to tell him we don’t need a tea set to treat a gunshot wound.” Donnie replied, throwing his hands up in defeat at the dubious looks his brothers gave him for the comment. “Don’t ask, ‘cause I don’t know. Sensei said we needed it.”

Before the discussion could progress further, however, the clinic door opened again and Brennen strolled out, a hand scrounging in the deep pocket of his his white coat. After a second, he withdrew a half-crushed pack of cigarettes.

“You’re going to kill yourself, smoking those.” Leo huffed disapprovingly.

“I didn’t ask for your opinion.” The doctor responded, knocking a tobacco stick free of the pack and waving it distractedly towards the terrapin as he foraged for his lighter. As his fingers closed around the little fire starter, he flicked his wrist towards the clinic room behind him and changed the subject. “Besides, do you really want to sit here and argue about my health and longevity while your precious little half-turtle hybrid is starting to speak English?”

The words had scarcely left his lips before the doctor was caught in the stampede of the brothers as they suddenly bolted forward at the news, nearly knocking the doctor off his feet in their sudden haste. Their ninja-like reflexes - which usually kept them from such incidents- were now working against the brothers as they collided together in the open door, creating a veritable blockade of flesh and shell. Brennen scoffed humorously at the sight; but ultimately turned and walked away towards the back door.

§§§

Meanwhile, the brothers began pushing against one another, each desperate to be the first one inside. While within, Master Splinter lifted his head at the sudden commotion, took one disparaging look at the terrapin quartet, and quietly sighed. “My sons…” He breathed, turning back to the now dressed female mutant, who was sporting a shy smile and also watching the brothers struggle in vague amusement. Though the look quickly vanished when she realized Master Splinter had returned his attention to her and the brothers fell unceremoniously into the room with a mighty thump. The barricade had broken, but now the siblings wrestled together, a tangle of limbs and shouts; until finally Michelangelo managed to break free. In an unbalanced stumble, he tried to move towards the bed, but was pulled back onto his shell before he could take more than a step or two.

From his place at the bottom of the pile, Raphael had just barely latched onto the lip of Mikey’s shell. But his grip was lost almost immediately, when he was kneed in the cheek a second later. Donnie had managed to get his footing only to be swept off his feet again when Leonardo jerked his arm back from where Donatello had been standing on it. Amidst the chaos, Michelangelo slumped forward and scurried quickly away on hands and knees when Raph’s grip failed.

However, when Raphael was kneed again and slammed back against the hardwood floor - this time by Leonardo - he finally roared his annoyance, “Get off of me!” And threw his brothers from his back with a heave of his superior weight.

The still nameless mutant squeaked at the abruptness of this motion, recoiling again into a corner. At this, master Splinter finally intervened, lurching forward; he smacked Michelangelo and Raphael over the heads and hauled Leonardo and Donatello to their feet. “That is enough!” He declared, before gesturing towards the female mutant, her odd blue eyes wide, and body hunched fearfully over upraised knees. “You are frightening our guest. Now be silent.” The ninjutsu master continued, before his voice softened and his attention returned to the young woman. “Now, Child, please tell us again what you told the good doctor and myself. I promise, my thoughtless sons will bring you no harm.”

“Yeah, totally!” Mikey agreed cheerfully, having somehow slipped past the others and planted himself at the edge of the bed again, beaming in absolute satisfaction. “You’re too cute to hurt.” He winked, his grin widening at the flush of color that began to spread high in her cheeks at the praise. Though he didn’t appear to recognize her discomfort, as she pulled even further away; shoulders hunched higher and casting anxious glances between the overly familiar turtle and his rodent master. With a sigh, the ninjutsu master laid a comforting hand on her shoulder, clearly at a loss for what else he could do to prevent Michelangelo’s obvious advances without upsetting the situation further. Raphael, on the other hand, had a different idea.

“Do you EVER learn?” He demanded, pulling on Michelangelo’s shell again in an attempt to give the new mutant room to breathe, while Leonardo and Donatello scrambled to find a new topic of conversation.

“Is that April’s shirt?” Leo asked, more to Master Splinter than the new mutant, while Donnie asked in the same breath; “Will you tell us your name?” The brothers shared a bemused look, before Donnie conceded, allowing Leo’s question to be answered first. “I figured it was just about the only thing we had that we could offer. Not like it fits April anymore, anyways.” He explained, gaze flicking over the loose fabric, barely clinging to the mutant’s slender shoulders before darting away again. The clothes were indeed quite large, more like a sleeping gown than a shirt, especially on the much smaller mutant. But he could tell by the way she clung to the loose seams, she appreciated the gesture far more than being left exposed, especially with her current audience. “And I don’t see April wanting it back unless she gets pregnant again. Which I doubt will be any time soon.” He added, brown eyes moving towards the upended duffle bag and its spilled contents on the counter. There, he spotted a handful of other shirts and a couple pairs of faded jeans. He hadn’t expected any of the jeans would fit her, but had felt it inappropriate not to at least offer them. Among the assortment of clothing, he noted a few of the things Sensei had insisted on bringing, including the tea set and a selection of choice brews. Gaze turning back to the still very uncomfortable mutant, he plucked the kettle up, strolled over, and pushed it into Mikey’s unassuming hands.

“Hey!” The orange masked ninja protested, but scrambled not to drop the precious porcelain.

“Go find some hot water.” Donnie ordered, turning towards Leo who was eying him as if to say don’t you dare, don’t even think about it. With a tiny, sly smile, Donnie gestured towards the selection of teas. “You’re the tea master, right? Why don’t you go make a brew for Sensei and our guest. I’m sure they’re quite parched.”

Leo obviously wanted to argue the point, but held his tongue as his dark eyes flicked towards their rodent sensei who nodded his assent with the proposal. Turning a forlorn look towards the new mutant, he gave a regretful sigh, grabbed Mikey by the shell, snatched up the canister of green tea, and trudged out of the room. Though he made sure to give Donatello a dark look as he passed and grumbled quietly under his breath, “I’ll get you for this.” Before he and Michelangelo disappeared beyond the threshold.

Overly pleased with how well his plan was going, Donnie turned his cunning smile around towards Raphael; where it quickly disappeared. The brutish ninja was standing with arms crossed, head shaking, and staring down his geeky brother. “Not happening.” He stated, “You might be able to get rid of Leo and Mikey that easily; but I’m not going anywhere.”

“What? She’s clearly uncomfortable with the amount of people crammed in here-” Donnie started to explain; gesturing towards the still cowering female mutant. But his statement was cut off by his sibling waving his hands in the air and making a variety of interrupting noises . “I don’t care.” Raphael concluded when Donnie finally stopped talking. “I’m not going anywhere, and besides that I find it incredibly interesting that you didn’t include yourself in that little equation of yours. If you’re really that worried about how comfortable she is; why don’t YOU leave?” He inquired smugly, before his gaze shifted towards the female mutant. “And besides, I’m sure SHE has a name.” The hothead added quietly, a slight blush creeping into his cheeks at the realization that not even he had thought about it until that exact moment.

Donatello’s expression suddenly dropped to exasperation at this statement. “How bad is your memory?” He nearly growled in response, “Have you already forgotten that I already asked that question, but got interrupted by Leo’s FASHION SENSE?”

This pulled Raph up short, unable to recall if his brother had indeed already attempted to learn this information. It made a significant amount of sense, but he still couldn’t quite remember if it had actually happened and he didn’t really want to give his brother the satisfaction of this admittance.

“Kata.” A sweet whisper breezed through the air, silencing the brothers as their attention returned completely to the new mutant. “It is Kata. Kata, Minatoya.” She whispered again, still hiding behind her upraised knees, but pale blue eyes fixated on the arguing siblings.

“That’s pretty.” Raph replied without thinking, but immediately snapped his mouth shut with an audible click upon realizing he’d said it aloud.

Donatello sent him a withering glare before choosing to continue the conversation and ignore his siblings comment, “That’s Japanese, right? Is that your ethnicity? I mean - Where you’re from?” Despite his inquiry, however, the female mutant seemed to have spoken her piece and reverted back to shy silence.

“Japanese, right.” Raph huffed, “Because you know, she wasn’t SPEAKING it just ten minutes ago.”

“Was I asking you?” Donatello shot back, ready for another argument when the clinic room door sprang open again and Mikey all but fell within, launching the teapot he carried into the air. In a flurry of motion, Raphael and Donatello bolted into action while Splinter moved to catch the sailing object. Within the span of time to bat an eye, the porcelain struck the floor and shattered, spilling it boiling contents across the tile. Raphael and Donatello had managed to stop their siblings forward momentum and held him suspended from the ground - both suspended in awkward positions themselves. While Splinter had adjusted his course and was now poised over a tangle of sheets and fabric when it was clear he couldn’t alter the teapot’s original trajectory.

“I told you not to run,” Leonardo’s voice was suddenly present as the leader joined the group, using a steading hand to assist his siblings in regaining their balance and setting Michelangelo free on his own two feet. “Now you’ve made a mess.” He added, as his midnight eyes turned towards his master as the aging rodent straightened, concern flickering through his expression as he moved to reveal their new mutant companion had fallen from her place on the exam table in the commotion and was currently hunkered on the ground.

A moment later, Brennen pushed his own way into the room, casting a quick glance over the shattered porcelain before moving towards the isolated pair and with Splinter’s assistance pulled the female mutant to her feet, carefully pushing aside the fabric of her oversized shirt to inspect the bound wound in her shoulder in the process. “All right,” He began with a sigh, “She’s standing, she’s speaking, and you’ve successfully managed to break something. I think it’s time for you to leave.” The doctor stated, dragging a hand over his tired face. “I should thank you for the experience in stitching hard wounds you’ve provided me over the past two years; they’re at least still holding. I’ll come by in a couple days to check in on her and make sure you haven’t infected the wound in any way. And in the meantime; I have to clean up your mess and my wife and son are waiting for me upstate, so if you’ll excuse me…?” The doctor left little room for argument as he turned and pushed the brothers aside, effectively make a path for the new mutant who shuffled forward with Master Splinter’s assistance, practically clinging to the rodent as she passed the four terrapins.

Chapter Text

Chapter IV: Distractions Part One

The ride back to the mutants’ subterranean dwelling was short although unsurprisingly boisterous, despite Master Splinter having clocked both Michelangelo and Raphael with his walking stick half a dozen times. Michelangelo for his continued advances, each more bold than the last and each making their female companion more and more uncomfortable. And Raphael for his foul mouth and similarly foul personality, particularly towards Michelangelo’s aforementioned choice of activities. At some point, Leonardo had been put in charge of driving, Minatoya in the associating passenger seat, and Master Splinter directly behind them offering both barrier against the remaining three terrapin siblings and also a watchful eye on Leonardo’s every twitching muscle, as if he were foolish enough to attempt anything similar to Michelangelo's advances. Donatello spent the ride home attempting to keep himself distracted, claiming a seat in the far back and tapping away at the keys of a battered laptop. But no matter what he tried to do, his attention kept drifting back towards their new companion. And in particular, the very disconcerting symbol he’d seen poking out from the collar of her borrowed shirt as the family had moved from Brennen’s clinic to the truck he’d brought back from his previous journey home. He couldn’t be sure if any of his siblings, or even Master Splinter, had seen it and just felt it inappropriate to ask or if he’d been the only one looking a bit too closely. And given the number of times Mikey had been thumped over the head tonight for his own familiarity with the mutant; he wasn’t too keen on asking either.

For his part, Mikey spent the duration of the ride attempting to strike a conversation with their still practically silent companion; and skillfully avoiding Master Splinter’s walking stick in the process. While Raph spent the trip complaining about Mikey. By the time the old forgotten warehouse appeared at the end of their headlights, even Donatello was ready to throw his laptop at the two. It was definitely going to be a long adjustment period. And that thought brought along another as Leo parked the vehicle and Mikey scrambled out in a blur of motion so that he could assist Minatoya from her raised seat. Donnie ignored the commotion, and instead sidled up to his sibling as he climbed out of the driver’s seat. “I’ve been thinking,” he began quietly, replacing the laptop within his duffel bag. “Any idea where she’s gonna stay?” They were pretty limited on space, and the one spare room they had - namely Donnie’s “official” room, which was more often used for storage as the engineer often fell asleep in his lab. So often in fact, that they had eventually put a cot in there for him.

There was still a bed in his old room, albeit hidden under a mass of junk, and what little space was left was occupied with Raph’s weights and other random furniture - namely broken items Donnie hadn’t been willing to throw out for thought that he could salvage something. It would take them days to get the room in enough order to let anyone sleep in there, even if for a short period of time. And frankly, Donnie was starting to get the sense that Minatoya’s presence wasn’t going to be a brief one. Especially if Mikey had anything to say about it.

Leo merely nodded, midnight eyes watching as his sibling somehow managed to avoid both Raphael and Master Splinter’s grasping hands and yet also managed to maintain close enough proximity to the Japanese turtlette to keep a hand on her. “I know,” was his only response to Donatello’s inquiry before he strode ahead. He high-stepped it around the chaotic parade and punched in a short combination into an almost hidden keypad at the back of the warehouse. A moment later, a faint light began to emanate between the cracks in the floor beneath them before the the hardwood planks separated at the seams and an oblong shape emerged from underground. For its size, it didn’t take up a lot of room in the spacious warehouse, but its appearance seemed to captivate the new mutant as she broke away from her party and joined Leonardo in front of it as the doors opened. Blinking in astonishment, she began to inspect the device; dancing around it and poking at random symbols. At least until Mikey appeared in her path again, a grin on his face. “Pretty cool, huh?”

Her own captivation faltered at his blockade, and her features twitched slightly but she quickly recovered and nodded excitedly in affirmation, turned on her heel in the same movement, and pranced back around to where Leo was still waiting at the mouth. Using him as a barrier, the mutant slipped inside along with Master Splinter and the two of them moved to the very back of the chamber as Leonardo and his siblings joined them. With all six mutants within, the space was a little cramped, but between Master Splinter and Leonardo, the female mutant was given a touch more space than her male counterparts. Which ultimately meant she wasn’t touching shoulders with or pressed up against anyone.

A moment later the chamber door opened again, and Leonardo all but kicked his siblings out of the way, at least until he himself emerged and saw the state of the lair. Despite their growth and age, the lair still looked like it was inhabited by four teenage boys. From gaming consoles and controllers to pizza boxes and dirty dishes, the main living quarters looked like a disaster area. The realization struck the blue clad leader like a train barreling down the tracks. This was precisely what Master Splinter had been trying to drill into them for years, and only now was it beginning to stick. Dumbstruck, Leo remained frozen for a second, staring at the mess but pulled himself out of it a moment later, whipped around, and did his best Mikey impression as he tried to distract the new mutant and usher her and Master Splinter away from the common room. After Mikey’s constant blathering, Leo really only had to step to a little too close with a great grin on his face and start speaking nonsense. She did the rest. At his sudden return, the mutant latched onto the hem of Master Splinter’s haori and her attention was fixated on the second largest turtle in the room, and in particular his flailing limbs. From here it was easy for Leo to herd the two mutants into the dojo and Master Splinter’s adjoining room where he quickly shut the rice-paper screen with strict instructions not to come out.

Afterwards, he nearly fell back on the paper door in exasperation, but barely managed to stop himself before rejoining his curious brothers. Mikey looked the most annoyed, probably because Leo didn’t get knocked upside the head for practically doing the same thing he’d been doing all night. While Raph and Donnie just looked bewildered. In response, Leo simply gestured to the rest of the room with a sweep of his hand. It took another minute before his brothers began to see what he meant and Donnie was the first to react.

“Did this place always look like this?!” The engineer demanded, though an embarrassed blush was beginning to creep across his cheeks, particularly when his gaze drifted towards his designated lab. The question was obviously rhetorical as he didn’t wait for a response and leapt away, snatching up screwdrivers and scattered notebooks on his way. Raphael scoffed at the display, but threw up his hands and started moving pizza boxes from one pile to another without a word.

“It’s not that bad,” Mikey murmured disheartened, but a dark look from Leo sent him scurrying away. Leo hoped it was enough to engage the attention-deficit ninja, but his expectations fell short when he saw Mikey poke a leaning tower of video game cases. He plucked up three or four, and promptly set them back down in another pile; where he proceeded to scan over each case individually. A moment later the ninja himself flopped down on the couch and snatched up the nearest game controller. The leader briefly considered going over and chastising the ninja, but decided to leave well-enough alone. Mikey was not going to help them and there was no reason to force the issue. Not without making an obnoxious scene.

With a dismissive swipe of his hand, he turned away and scanned the rest of the room. Raph was doing a marvelous job of moving trash from one pile to another, but not really accomplishing anything more; and from where he stood, Leo could see Donnie scampering around in his lab, moving instruments and tools. Which meant everything else was about to fall on his shoulders. With a sigh, he began to pick up the various dishes scattered around and piling them up near the kitchen sink.

Once he was sure he got them all, he started back to actually wash them when his attention fell on a growing pile of weapons in the middle of the floor. Astounded by their appearance, his attention snapped up in time to see Raphael toss another set of throwing knives on the pile. “Where’d these come from?” Leonardo asked as he set the half-full glass of water he’d been carrying aside and began to pick through the pile of steel, iron, and wood.

“Everywhere.” Was Raph’s only response as he kicked another pizza box towards the pile he’d been establishing near the subterranean entrance. A kick that revealed two haphazardly discarded katana blades. Blinking, Leonardo expanded his attention to the space around him again and sure enough, Raph had been right. There were weapons everywhere; thrown on tables, embedded in walls; everywhere he looked he saw at least a handful of throwing stars. There was even a morning star propped up in one corner. And that wasn’t including the broken weapons and pieces of weapons that were scattered around. Dishes promptly forgotten, he began to wade into the ankle deep heap of metal; picking up a couple daggers and scowling at the blunt and chipped edges. How long had half of these weapons been forgotten?

Clearing a space in the middle, he settled down and produced a whetstone seemingly from nowhere and set to work buffing out the old blades. After a few minutes an old, tattered rag and bottle of metal polish appeared at his side along with a dozen or more weapons. It wasn’t long before Leonardo was lost in his workings, oblivious to the ongoings around him.

Donatello dropped another knife on the pile, scoffing at his sibling before sauntering back to his lab, careful to keep well out of Raphael’s way as the brute cursed at something and violently kicked the sofa Michelangelo was slouched upon. A moment later he saw the orange furball and shook his head. “One of these days he’s going to kill that cat.” He muttered under his breath as he reached the relative safety of his lab and shut himself within. His workspace was still a haphazard mess, but at least he’d made some progress towards organization. He’d managed to separate the mess into categories and the instruments were now piled on his workstation. His notebooks, schematics, pencil drawings, and calculations were piled up in the middle. His lab equipment, chemicals, beakers, and centrifuge were heaped on one end. And his tools, screwdrivers, loose nails, and spare parts were spilling over the edge and onto the floor on the far side.

Seeing the mess anew, the engineer still wasn’t sure where to begin and turned his attention to the overflowing bookshelf. It needed some major reorganization itself. How long had it been since he actually cleaned his lab? With a disappointed sigh, he moved to the seemingly simplest option; the notebooks and schematics. Quickly rifling through the paperwork he began to notice most of them were from years before, and some of them he’d forgotten even existed. Before he’d made it halfway through the pile, he’d found himself propped up at his desk reviewing some of the more interesting options. At one point, he discovered a schematic which utilized the principle of crystal technology and immediately tore the paper into little pieces, throwing them into the air like confetti afterwards. Another was a rather interesting modification to Raphael’s custom motorcycle; which captured his attention for a solid ten minutes at least.

“Are you kidding me?” Raphael growled as he tossed a wrench onto Donnie’s workstation, seeing his brother engrossed at his desk, pencil scratching across the surface of a fresh piece of paper. “Are you seriously kidding me?” He repeated a moment later as he turned to continue his attempt at cleaning the lair. He’d barely made a dent in the process, the most progress he could see was that everything had just been moved into piles of similar objects and junk.

Mikey hadn’t even tried and was still captivated by which ever video game he’d punched in, but now had a huge orange cat sprawled across his lap and an open bag of chips leaning against his thigh. Leonardo was dead to the world, captivated by the rhythmic screech of metal on a whetstone; though he had made a bit of progress and was now sitting between two separate piles of weaponry. One that had been polished, sharpened, and arranged neatly on the floor around him, and one that was little more than a pile of broken, mistreated metal. And now Donnie was lost in his own world of invention.

“You guys are assholes.” Raph muttered under his breath, as he started towards the heaping pile of old pizza boxes near the secret entrance. Staring at the pile almost as tall as he was, the ninja began to wonder if he and his siblings ever ate anything besides pizza. Given the evidence in front of him, he could guess the answer to be no. Either that, or he was looking at the lost pizza boxes from the last sixteen years.

With nothing else to do, Raphael begin to stack the boxes for disposal. Once finished, he began hauling them off, carrying approximately six boxes at time. When he was about three-quarters of the way through the grease-stained cardboard boxes, he returned to find the lair strangely quiet. He’d only been gone for a couple of minutes, but a quick glance to the sofa revealed Michelangelo had abandoned his game - though he hadn’t turned it off and his avatar was getting thoroughly thrashed until a “GAME OVER” icon began to flash across the screen. Klunk had climbed up onto the back cushions and appeared to be sleeping.

Leonardo had also abandoned his place in the middle of the floor, though he had made significantly more progress than the last time Raph had glanced his way. Now there were only a couple knives left on the untouched pile. All the other weapons had been properly treated, sharpened, buffed, polished, and there was evidence that a few handles and grips had even been re-wrapped. Unfortunately, Leo hadn’t been bothered to actually put the weapons away once he’d finished treating them, and they were presently occupying a majority of the common room floor space. He had effectively turned the floor into a minefield of razor-sharp metal.

Two of three brothers gone, the red-masked terrapin craned his neck around to see Donnie’s lab. He didn’t have the greatest view without wandering into Leo’s minefield of sharp knives, and from his current vantage point he was unable to identify Donatello either. Confused, he started to move into the labyrinth of metal when a katana suddenly vanished from where he was about to set his foot. Immediately alert, he whirled only to find the new mutant returning his gaze with a soft, almost embarrassed smile. It took him another moment to recognize the armload of metal and wood she was carrying, or the ratty haori she was wearing, despite the fact that it didn’t quite fit her. The sleeves were too long, the shoulders too wide - the fabric wrapped around her at least twice to compensate, and though it definitely covered her better than the T-shirt/nightgown Donnie had originally offered her; it was still immodestly short.

Realizing his gaze had lingered a fraction of a second longer than acceptable, he jerked his gaze upwards again. “What are you doing?” He finally managed to croak out, as she knelt and plucked up another dagger, somehow managing to toss it to the top of her stack without dropping anything else. It took him a minute to realize what exactly she was doing, and another before he jumped into action and tried to pry the haul from her arms.

“Hey! You really shouldn’t be handling these. They’ll hurt you. And you’re hurt already.” He barked suddenly, as if she was a naive child running around the house with a pair of scissors. He barely caught the dark look she tossed his way at the comment and could see she was tempted to prove him wrong. The flash of stubbornness was definitely noteworthy, but it was gone before he could be sure he saw it correctly and she flashed him that adorable and distracting smile again.

“It’s okay,” She muttered quietly, her voice hoarse as if she hadn’t spoken in months. “Your sensei called your brothers for practice.” She stated, nodding towards the dojo. With the comment, Raph’s attention followed and he was able to discern that his siblings were in fact within. Practice, of course. He’d completely forgotten. When he turned back, the female had resumed her original course work, and he had to intercept her again.

“Hey, I said don’t do that.” He clarified, reaching to take the pile from her again. But she simply stepped out of his reach, that kind of cute defiant look in her steel blue eyes. “I want to help.” She insisted, just as a newly sharpened knife slipped from its perch and cut through her borrowed haori on its way to the ground. She winced and hissed in sudden pain; it was the only distraction Raph needed. He leapt forward and tore the load from her hands; there were a lot more than he expected and carefully stacked upon each other. But he didn’t notice too much as he dropped the metal and wood, snatched up her wrist and pushed the loose sleeve of the red-brown haori past her elbow. Sure enough, there was a thin line of blood welling up and gravity was starting to pull the sanguine fluid down her arm. “See, I told you this would happen.” He sighed, pulling her with him as he maneuvered away from the common room and into the kitchen.

As they entered, she gasped suddenly, which caught Raphael's attention; until he realized she was staring at the pyramid of dirty dishes Leo had started but hadn’t finished. He only rolled his eyes; it wasn’t uncommon for the dishes to pile up like this. Someone cleaned them eventually. Usually someone looking for a clean dish and couldn’t find one. Ignoring the disarray, he opened the cabinet underneath the sink and pulled out one of the many first aide kits scattered around the lair. Tossing the battered blue tin box on the counter, he flipped the latches and dug out an alcohol wipe, band aid (in case the cut wasn’t as big as it looked), and a larger bandage (in case it was). Turning back to his charge, Raph was startled to find her missing. At least until he heard the clatter of dishes and turned to find her propped up at the sink, clearing a space to fill with clean soapy water.

“Hey,” Raph hissed, grabbing her wrist and pulling her away. “Seriously, stop. What part of “you’re hurt” don’t you understand?” He questioned, turning her to face him as he pulled her injured arm towards him again. Holding her with one hand, he snatched up the alcohol wipe with the other and tore the package open with his teeth. Carefully pulling the saturated wipe out, he drew it quickly across the cut, apologizing when she hissed in pain again. After a moment, he’d cleared away the blood and was pleasantly surprised to see the cut wasn’t very big after all and could be bandaged with a band aid. Slapping the adhesive on, he finally let go of her wrist. “There.” He decided, “All better. Now, don’t touch anything else with a sharp edge, okay?” He added, as she curiously inspected the new bandage as if she’d never seen a band aid before. He chuckled as she poked at the peach-colored adhesive, stark against her jade skin. However, her fascination didn’t last long, and a second later she peered up at him through her lashes, noticed he wasn’t about to grab her again, and returned to the dishes.

With a long suffering sigh, he could tell she wasn’t going to just sit on the couch and watch TV like a normal person, especially one who had just been shot mere hours ago. Instead, Raph was about to offer his assistance when he heard his name being called from the dojo. “Crap…” He hissed under his breath, jerking his gaze between the doorway and the new mutant. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to leave her alone. Heck, she’d only been left alone in the lair for a few minutes and had already managed to cut herself, what would happen if he left her alone for thirty?

“Go.” She decided for him, not bothering to turn around. There was a touch of annoyance in her tone, as if his indecision was a direct blow to her ego. He hesitated a second longer, watching as she efficiently dropped dirty dishes into soapy water and blatantly ignored his presence, at least until he heard his name get called again. Reluctantly, he left.

Morning practice was a dull event in comparison to everything else that had happened in the last four hours. As a direct result, each of the four ninja turtles spent the time only paying half attention to the exercises; the other half on the decorative rice-paper screen that separated them from the new mutant. Mikey had even tried to slip away about fifteen minutes after Raph had arrived; a tactic which only ended in all four them doing punishing back flips for the next fifteen minutes. Minatoya poked her head in a couple times, but quickly retreated when she saw they were still engaged before anyone could stop her, and Master Splinter intercepted anyone who tried. By the end of morning practice, they’d done more back flips than anything else. Under normal circumstances, Splinter would have had them continue the exercises until he was satisfied with them, but eventually he released them, likely accepting the fact that he was not going to get satisfactory results this morning. As soon as the word was given, the four brothers bolted out like a torrent from a burst dam.

Chapter Text

Chapter V: Holiday Bonding

By midday things had finally settled down, though the four terrapin siblings had gathered in the now spotless common room and were presently glaring at Leonardo. The leader paid his siblings no attention as he shifted the little end tables around the room to better compliment the new cleanliness.

“I cannot believe you.” Raphael finally hissed, voicing the sentiment of all three siblings. At the comment, Mikey looked about ready to throw the controller he was angrily punching combos into, and Donatello peered over the top of the book he’d only been pretending to read, dipping his head minutely in agreement.

For a second, Leo proceeded to ignore them until he finally sighed and acknowledged their complaint with feigned naivety. “What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play coy!” Donatello growled, snapping his book shut. “You planned that move all along, didn’t you?”

“I sincerely do not know to what you are referring.” Leo affirmed again, still not meeting the combined glares of his siblings.

“You could have discussed it with us first!” Mikey added, this time actually chucking the remote onto the coffee table with enough force to send it bouncing off the opposite side and onto the floor.

“I’m not fixing that again.” Donatello quipped, momentarily distracted as the object skittered across the floor from its impact, but his attention returned almost immediately to Leonardo; who was still obnoxiously feigning his own innocence.

“You’re not getting out of this without an answer.” Raphael continued, arms crossed against his marred plastron. “So you may as well admit it.” At this comment, Leo’s dark blue eyes skipped over his siblings to the second floor landing and his own closed bedroom door, though he still refused to admit anything.

“What gave you the right to decide she’ll stay in your room?” Donatello finally leapt into the bush they’d all been beating around as he recalled the previous twenty minutes. As soon as the brothers had been given leave of their morning practice they’d launched themselves into the main living quarters. Only to find that while they’d been do countless back flips, Minatoya had completely disregarded all orders to relax and make herself comfortable. In the two hours the brothers had been preoccupied; she’d been cleaning the lair. Both the kitchen and common room were practically spotless. At first glance the brothers had almost thought they had stepped into an alternate reality; it had happened enough times over the years. At least until Minatoya herself danced across their field of vision, hauling - or at least attempting to haul - a very large, and very unwieldy halberd.

She was almost completely off balance, and despite her continued efforts the recent bullet injury was obviously causing her a great deal of pain and discomfort. Her borrowed haori was clinging to the injured shoulder and appeared to be at the very least somewhat damp. Whether that was from the splash-back of washing the dishes or reopening the sutured wound or even just sweat; it was near impossible to tell without disrobing her. Which was clearly not an option. So they had settled for the next best thing.

Leo and Raph had bolted ahead of their siblings and while Raph distracted her attention, Leo slipped around and wrenched the great halberd from her grip. Once the weapon was removed, the blue leader slipped away; now curious to know what she had done with all the other weapons. At his retreat Mikey and Donnie moved forward, though Donnie skillfully intercepted Michelangelo and cut off his advance to the new mutant. He gave no apology and kept himself between the two mutants with no great effort. Though he was aware when she moved infinitesimally away from him and towards Raphael who was still holding a one-sided conversation.

Donnie gave her his best disarming smile and nodded towards Raph, as if to instruct her to pay her attention to him. He wasn’t particularly surprised when she didn’t. Though he was when she shuffled even further away from him. Just a single small step; one foot directly behind the other, the shift of her weight backwards. She couldn’t have moved more than eight inches. But it was eight inches she moved away from him, and closer to his brutish brother. Had she already attached herself to him? For some reason that thought brought forth a brief surge of jealousy in the engineer which he quickly smothered and threw up his hands. “She won’t let me look at it.” He said plainly, turning his expectant gaze upon Raphael who met the look with a slight start.

“What?” He asked confusedly, pointedly ignoring the now bouncing Michelangelo as he offered to look.

“Raph, would you mind seeing if she’ll let you take a look?” Donnie asked queerly, reaching behind him and dragging Mikey into a headlock as if it were the most natural thing he could do. The younger sibling continued his struggle, which only furthered Minatoya’s movement towards Raph, and now she was presently beginning to lean around him, as if she meant to use his bulk as a shield against Michelangelo’s antics. It was only at this point that Raph even began to notice she had been inching her way to his side and began to stutter more pronouncedly when he did.

“Do-Do you mind?” Raph began, a blush beginning to spread across his cheek at the thought that he was about to ask a strange woman to lower her robes. It felt a little too intimate, especially when she met his gaze directly. “I-I mean, I mean um… Uh…” He was clearly flustered, and beginning to make very uncharacteristic hand gestures, until he finally jabbed a finger into his own shoulder and blurted, “May we see your shoulder?”

Donatello found himself trying not to laugh at the scene, tightening his grip on Michelangelo when the orange masked ninja began to protest anew. Raph looked absolutely petrified as soon as the blunt words had left his lips. But Minatoya only cocked her head, her own confusion vanishing as she reached up, still ignoring Donnie and Mikey’s presence, and began to push the clay-colored fabric off her injured shoulder. Raph had difficulty trying to convince himself there was nothing indecent in what she was doing but still could not bring himself to look at the swath of white bandage.

At this observation, Donnie let go of Michelangelo so abruptly the ninja fell backwards onto his shell with a great thump and darted around the new mutant and his sibling, just barely managing to catch a glimpse of the bandage before she jerked the fabric of the haori back over her shoulder. Attempting to suppress a scowl, Donatello forced a smile to his lips, and all but shoved his sibling to the side as he moved away. “Thank you for your cooperation, Kata-chan.” He barely managed to remember to use the Japanese honorific and it still came out broken and awkward.

Raphael moved with his touch willingly, though with a deep-seated confusion and Mikey wasn’t above asking about the use of a Japanese honorific. With Donnie and Raph distracted and free to do as he liked, the orange masked ninja had managed to sneak his way around and was presently leaning uncomfortably into her personal space. “Kata-chan?” He asked oblivious to the mutant’s discomfort. “That can’t be your name. And what’s with the ‘-chan’? We don’t use honorifics here.”

“Mikey-!” Donatello hissed, stunned that his sibling could be so oblivious, but helpless to do anything but watch the scene unfold as Minatoya stepped back, each one larger and more hurried than the last until she bumped into something solid and yelped. She spun around abruptly and found herself trapped between Michelangelo and Leonardo who was paying her no attention whatsoever and was presently glaring at his sibling. “That’s enough, Mikey.” He barked with scary calm, though for some reason the tone of his voice only seemed to upset the new mutant further. She began to lift her hands defensively in front of her and started to shuffle herself off balance. Her body instinctively moving away from the apparent danger, but unable to move in any direction without moving towards the other terrapin ninja.

“...Leo…” Donnie started, wincing at the mutant’s obvious fear, but his leader didn’t acknowledge his protest. Instead he reached out and grabbed the mutant, pulling her back to balance and leading her away without another word. Her muscles were still tight in his grip and she kept casting worried looks over her shoulder. Or at least she tried to as she could scarcely crane her neck without either pressing her face into Leo’s plastron or straining her injured shoulder.

Raphael could only gape at his sibling in utter disbelief and watched as he led the new mutant away. “What just happened?” He asked dumbfounded once Leo and Minatoya disappeared briefly before reappearing on the second-floor landing. Though understanding had registered with all three siblings when he had ushered the mutant into his own room and shut the door before rejoining them.

---

And that was where they were now, as Leonardo finally acknowledged what they were so upset about. “I don’t know what you’re so worked up about.” He started with a shrug, drawing his attention back to his siblings who only gaped at him in astonishment, but he quickly continued before any of them could protest. “The spare room is a disaster, and I can’t imagine either Mikey or Raph’s rooms look any better than the lair did when we got home, and I’m not sure about you guys but I for one will not make her sleep on the couch. My room made the most sense. At least until we can get the spare room cleaned up.”

It was difficult to dispute the leader’s logic, but it still didn’t sit well with his siblings and eventually Mikey slithered off the couch and plucked up the controller he’d thrown, casting crystal blue eyes against his sibling. “And where will you sleep?” He asked accusedly.

This time Leonardo did start and a reddening hue began to spread high in his cheeks. “Are you- Wha- No!” He defended, offended, and cast his gaze upon his siblings who met it with the same expectant stare. “I can’t believe you guys!” He finally cried out, drawing a hand over his face in exasperation. “The couch! I’m going to sleep on the couch! Jeez, guys! I don’t even know her name!”

It was all the answer Michelangelo apparently needed as he turned towards Donatello and Raphael. “Yeah, speaking of which; Share!” He demanded haughtily, “You two know her name.” He announced, catching Leo’s attention and skillfully redirecting the conversation.

“You do?” He asked, “When did she tell you?”

“Her name is Kata, Minatoya. She told us while we were still at Brennen’s.” Donatello admitted abashedly.

“And you didn’t share?!” Mikey and Leo demanded in unison, earning a shrug out of Donatello and a huff of annoyance from Raphael.

“It wasn’t like we had a whole lot of opportunity.” The red masked terrapin amended, though he didn’t quite meet his siblings’ stares.

---

The brothers spent the next hour or so in relatively uncomfortable silence, the only noise coming from Mikey’s videogame. At least until Leonardo made a very pointed yawn and went in search of a blanket. By the time he returned Donatello had retreated to his lab and Raph had gone - presumably - to bed, leaving only Mikey still playing his game. No longer in the mood for kowtowing, Leo dropped his blanket and a pillow he’d found on the end of the couch and stared at his sibling. “None of us have slept in at least two days,” He began, crossing his arms.

“Yeah, so? Not like we haven’t gone longer.” Mikey pointed out, continuing to play his game.

“Go to bed Michelangelo.” The leader finally demanded, stepping between his sibling and his game, effectively cutting off his view of the TV. Mikey grumbled something inaudible, but relinquished his controller and slumped off the couch disheartened. Finally having the couch to himself, Leonardo turned off the game and TV before spreading his blanket across the cushions when a pale flash of light caught his attention from the direction of Donnie’s lab. The leader sighed at the realization that Donnie had apparently not retreated to his lab to sleep, but rather to pull another all-nighter. The leader briefly considered going over and giving the engineer the same instructions he’d just given Mikey but decided he was too tired. Crawling up onto the cushions, he settled for closing his ears and pulling the thick comforter over his head.
---

The leader awoke sometime the following morning to an almost uncomfortable heat against his abdomen and realized Klunk had joined him on the couch sometime in the night. Finding it a little strange that the orange tabby had not joined Mikey, but not completely unusual, Leo didn’t particularly want to disturb the sleeping feline. However, there was a distinct amount of movement going on behind the back of the sofa. Curious to know who would be awake before himself, the leader found it impossible to continue to lounge and ultimately woke the beast.

Klunk let out a disapproving cry at the unwelcome prodding, swiped half-heartedly at the blue masked terrapin, but eventually leapt onto the back cushions with a final hiss before curling up and going back to sleep. “You spend too much time with Mikey.” Leonardo sighed, as he threw back his comforter and shuffled out of the smothering cushions himself. His back ached from the lack of support, but nothing that couldn’t be relieved with some stretching. He was in the middle of twisting around when a noise from the kitchen caught his attention and he remembered that he wasn’t the only one awake.

Curiosity making him lazy, Leo deigned not to fold the blanket he’d used and meandered towards the kitchen, expecting to find Donnie or maybe Master Splinter. As he stepped inside however, his gaze fell upon unfamiliar jade skin wrapped in a familiar red haori. Surprise wracking his brain, it took him a minute to remember the events of the night before, and another to recognize the now tantalizing smell coming from the room.

“...Breakfast…?” He muttered in true confusion. The siblings hadn’t shared a cooked breakfast in what seemed like years, as they had all begun to sleep at odd hours. As a direct result they’d usually settled for scrounging for their own meals; typically a bowl of cereal or maybe some toast.

Minatoya jumped slightly at the comment, spinning around to face him; momentarily frightened but then embarrassed at seeing his confusion. “You do not mind?” She questioned warily, lowering the spatula she was holding.

“Mind? Of course not!” Leonardo fought not to laugh as he surveyed the array of dishes already laid out on the table. There was a stack of pancakes, a pile of bacon, every type of beverage they had in the fridge, two steaming kettles; presumably one for coffee and one for tea, a pile of fried bread, even a bowl of scrambled eggs, though she appeared to be frying more. Everything he could imagine except the numerous boxes of cereal he knew were scattered around the kitchen. “I’m just worried you wasted your time.” He added, claiming a seat at the table and wondering if it would be rude to start eating. Warily, he snatched up a piece of toast and chomped down with a hearty crunch while he also grabbed the metallic kettle and began to pour himself a cup of tea. When she made no complaint but somehow added a pile of fried eggs to the already full table, he began to carefully fill a plate, gaining more confidence with each selection until he had a heaping platter.

“I only mean,” Leo continued taking a cautious bite, but immediately cut himself off, “This is delicious!” He exclaimed before shoveling more food into his mouth, chewing and swallowing. The process was repeated for several minutes until the leader’s plate was empty and he began to fill his plate anew. “I only mean,” He repeated as he carefully grabbed another fried egg and more bacon, “We don’t usually eat breakfast since we all get up at different times. Jeez, when did you wake up to start all this?” The thought occurred to him significantly late as he set his plate down again and took a long swallow of tea.

“Dunno, she was at it when I walked in,” Donnie explained as he joined the two mutants; empty plate in hand. Minatoya gave him a brief, disapproving look which quickly melted away when the purple clad engineer set the plate upon the table and claimed a seat beside his sibling before he began to fill his plate.

“Which was-?” Leo prompted, casting a glance towards the female mutant.

“About an hour ago. You are one skilled cook Minatoya-chan.” Donnie added as he bit into a piece of toast laid with a fried egg, “I mean, I don’t know many that can produce a four-course breakfast in a single course and everything still be hot at the same time. Especially only having that dingy stove to work with.” The engineer nodded towards the banged up tool, the spark of inspiration dancing in his eyes.

“Don’t even think about it.” Leonardo groaned recognizing the look; his mouth full, “You are not tearing up the kitchen for another of your projects. The rest of us have to eat.” He added after swallowing. Donnie grumbled something under his breath but his attention immediately fell to his now sticky fingers, coated in crumbs and egg yolk. He began to lift them to his mouth to lick clean when a paper towel was waved in his face. “Ah! Thank you!” He replied appreciatively as he took the disposable cloth and began wiping his hands and fingers.

About that time a new voice joined the fray and Michelangelo launched himself into the room, practically throwing himself at the table. “Breakfast?!” He exclaimed, breathlessly while Minatoya took an instinctive step away at the rush of movement. Mikey didn’t seem to notice as he rudely snatched up some bacon and shoved it into his mouth. “I bet you made this,” He finally commented towards the turtlette. “Neither of these guys can cook, and that’s why we never have breakfast.” He barely managed to get out around the wad of half-chewed pork.

“How about compliment her AFTER you swallow?” Leo groaned, sliding his food to the side in hopes of avoiding the occasional spray while Donnie picked up his plate entirely and turned. “And get a plate, you uncultured swine.” The engineer grumbled. “We have a guest. Show some level of manners; if you have any.” The hyperactive ninja mumbled his acquiescence, picked up a plate and began to pile it with pancakes and eggs and half the plate of bacon.

“Raph will kill you if you don’t leave him any bacon.” Leo commented, as his sibling topped his stack with a heaping helping of syrup. “And Minatoya don’t you dare start making more. You’ve made more than enough. In fact, if Donnie’s done eating,” The leader began, watching as the appetite left his sibling while he watched Mikey start shoveling his concoction down his throat, “He can give you a better tour of the place. I’ll wash dishes.” He added when she opened her mouth to protest.

Glad for the excuse to escape the table, Donnie set his mostly empty plate down and sprang up. “Sounds good to me.” He agreed, holding a hand out towards the female mutant.

“I can do that-!” Mikey protested around a mouthful of pancake.

“You’re eating.” Leo surmised, placing a hand on his sibling’s shoulder, casually but not without clear direction. Mikey would stay, Donnie would go, end of discussion. And as if eager to escape the situation, Minatoya practically bolted out of the kitchen like a frightened doe.

After a few minutes Donnie returned without his companion, earning a confused look from his leader at the development. Donnie only shrugged, “She asked to take a shower.”

“Ah.” Leo realized, fixing his younger sibling into his blue gaze, “Don’t even think about it. You will sit right there until she comes back. At her behest.” He added, as Mikey slumped back into the chair from where he’d begun to rise. “You will leave her alone.” He added tyrannically and almost expected Donnie take the opportunity to leave himself at the oncoming lecture. Instead the engineer reclaimed his earlier seat and picked up his dirty fork, and began distractedly pulling it through the remnants of his meal.

“Since we have a moment without her and Sensei’s not around, I’ve kind of been wanting to ask you guys.” He began, peering up at his siblings who had turned their attention upon him. “Have either of you noticed the tattoo on the back of her neck? I can’t say I’ve seen it in its entirety, but I’ve seen enough to recognize at least part of it.” He rambled, though he dropped his fork at Leo’s nod of affirmation.

“I saw it.” The leader agreed with a sigh. “Shredder’s symbol. But it’s not like we haven’t seen it before.”

“First time we’ve seen it on someone.” Donnie muttered.

“What you guys talking about?” Mikey quipped, having finally swallowed the last of his meal, “What tattoo?”

“I guess that answers that question,” Donnie nearly laughed. “If you could restrain yourself long enough to stop scaring her, she might let her guard down a little around you. She’s got a tattoo on the back of her neck.” He added, pointing to the back of his own neck.

“So let’s hear it,” Leo casually redirected the conversation, “You said you wanted to ask about it, which means you’ve spent the night coming up with a thousand theories.”

“Not really a thousand, I can only think of one reason a new mutant would be carrying Shredder’s brand, and that’s because Shredder started branding his experiments.”

“Which only raises more questions,” Leo replied. “Why would he brand this one when he’s never branded the others? And why a turtle?”

“You think it’s a trap.”

“It’s Shredder. Of course it’s a trap. The only question remaining is; what kind?”

“You think she’s-” Donnie began, his attention sliding towards the kitchen threshold.

“I don’t think we have any proof or reason to think she’s willingly part of it. For all we know, she could be some girl Shredder snatched off the streets and mutated; he’s done it before. So for now, we keep her here, away from Shredder, and keep an eye on her. And not a creepy one, Mikey. We don’t know anything about her, and we don’t have the right to judge her on speculation alone. So until she proves otherwise, we treat her like the victim she probably is.”

The conversation might have continued if there wasn’t a sudden commotion and numerous crashing sounds coming from the upstairs landing. Worried, the three siblings bolted from the kitchen, nearly upsetting the loaded table in their haste. But as they entered the common room, the pieces were falling together as a door slammed and a loud voice exclaimed; “Ahh- I’m sorry!”

A moment later the usually groggy, and not-at-all morning-person, Raphael stumbled down the stairs, looking red-faced and flustered. Meeting his siblings at the stairs, he only glowered at them before shoving past, “Not a word.” He growled trying to hide his blush.

“Maybe you should learn to knock.” Mikey laughed, despite the warning, checking himself only in time to fling his body sideways when Raphael whirled on him. The quicker, more agile ninja just barely managed to stay out of his brother’s reach as they darted around the living room. Eventually he put enough distance between them to use the couch as a median; each sibling feigning action to either side, but neither of them actually moving. At least until Raph started to pick the sofa up and shove it out of his way. Mikey shrieked and dove for cover at the display. A moment later Donatello shrieked as well when he realized his siblings were headed straight for his lab. Leonardo only watched with slight amusement, gaze flicking sideways as another presence joined him to the side of the room.

Minatoya had come down as well, a slight blush highlighting her cheeks and droplets of water still clinging to her scale-freckled skin. Unable to come up with a reasonable excuse, Leo only sighed. “Welcome to the family. You get used to it.” He amended, clapping the woman’s shoulder though he immediately withdrew his hand at her gasp and hiss of pain. “Ah- Shell-!” He started, had he hit her injured shoulder? No, the injured shoulder was opposite him, he was sure. Was she further injured than they had originally thought? Or had she injured herself again at Raph’s earlier intrusion?

They had all seen the cut on her arm the night before and Raph had made a point to bring attention to it when they’d been released from practice. Apparently he had slapped a band-aid on it before joining his siblings in the dojo, yet sometime in the interim, she had pulled it off and let the cut bleed itself dry. Thankfully it wasn’t a deep cut, and she’d left the band-aid on long enough to staunch most of the bleeding. Only a few small drops of blood had escaped to stain her skin. They had only learned afterwards how she had got the cut and it had unsurprisingly caused some concern among the brothers.

If she was that prone to injury, she may very well have injured herself again at Raphael’s trespassing. Focus consumed by these thoughts, Leo forgot about the scene around him as he turned to face the new mutant fully. She had pasted a very fake smile on her face, as if to reassure him, but remained hunched slightly over and grabbing for her shoulder. No, past her shoulder. Her back?

“It is okay.” She hissed as pleasantly as she could managed.

“No it’s not! You’re hurt! What happened? What can I do?”

“No, no. It is okay.” She repeated, straightening her spine, though her hand remained reaching over her shoulder. “They just hurt.”

“Hurt? Yes, hurt. Wait, “they”? What “they”?”

Seeing that he clearly was not going to give up, Minatoya sighed and let her hand fall to the hem of her haori. Turning her back to him, she began to pull it down. Not sure what she was doing, Leo began to freak out and insist she didn’t need to undress until he saw them. A pattern of mesmerizing scutes cutting through her skin in the relative pattern of a turtle’s shell. Although it was broken and only a few scutes were protruding through, the skin was puckered and irritated around the edges of each plate. Each one sporting a brilliant golden center which slowly bled away into a deep, dark, almost black-brown. He found himself mesmerized until she pulled the haori back to its rightful place.

“They hurt.” She insisted again, turning to face the still confused turtle who was currently chewing on his lower lip. “Leonardo?” She inquired, cocking her head slightly to peer up into his midnight blue gaze. Blinking, and seeing her so close, Leo let out a little cry and jumped slightly backwards. “Hurt. Right. Um… Donnie might have something for that.” He stated, not really thinking as he turned abruptly and started walking towards Donnie’s lab.

---

Inside, Donnie kept grabbing the breakable objects Mikey and Raph were disrupting or picking up in anticipation of throwing at each other and currently had his arms laden with such objects when Leo entered; completely ignoring the trio. Instead he walked straight back to the cabinet on the far wall; kept locked away in the engineer’s lab for convenience and so none of them took something and forgot to replace it. Donnie watched him warily, but his attention was fixed on Mikey and Raph and he only caught a glimpse of Minatoya hovering in the doorway before his centrifuge was sent flying off the counter. “Hey!” The engineer barked for the hundredth time, diving to catch the expensive equipment. He dropped three beakers in the process, two of which had been partially filled, a clipboard laden with about an inch of paperwork - all sent flying as the particleboard struck the ground and the clip slackened - and about half a dozen different tools. But he managed to save the centrifuge.

With a settling sigh at the mess of his lab, and the now gunk-covered paperwork he’d been working on, the engineer set the centrifuge down with false calm. His fingers lingered on the piece of equipment for a heartbeat after, as though he were considering picking it up and using it as weapon himself; or slamming it on the counter. However, he blinked, realized what he was doing and quickly recoiled his fingers. It had taken him too long to obtain that particular piece of equipment and he currently did not have the means to get his hands on another; he couldn’t afford to lose his temper so easily. Instead, he turned his frustrations to his siblings.

Leo, who was rummaging around in the medicines, paying little attention to the disorganization he was promoting in his search and Raph had finally grabbed hold of Mikey and held him close; a fist ready to break the miserable barrier Mikey had erected with his hands. With a snarl, Donatello whirled grabbed the last remaining beaker and hurdled it at the wall. “Get out, now!” He bellowed as the glass shattered, sending a stream of glass-encrusted lime green semi-solid ooze trickling down the wall. Great. Now he had to clean THAT too. But, it had gotten the desired effect.

Well, desired except for the sharp yelp that came from the doorway and patter of retreating steps. And judging from the long-suffering look Leonardo was boring into his shell for the reaction, he was going to be hearing it about it later too. But right now, his attention was stuck on Raphael and Michelangelo who had finally ceased their rampage of his lab. “Get out.” He repeated, quieter, but just as fierce. Experience against that barely contained rage sent Mikey skittering out of his brother’s grasp and scrambling across the threshold. Raphael only a step behind him, less panicked, but still hurried. Eager to escape.

Once the two troublemakers were gone, Leonardo joined his sibling; evidently giving up on his search. “Impressive.” He started, toeing the multi-colored sludge that now covered the floor, not daring to actually touch it.

“Shut up and get out.” Donnie growled, kneeling to pick up the pieces of paper that hadn’t been compromised by the spilled liquids and scowling at the ones that had.

“I need an anesthetic cream.”

“Why? Is that cracked shell hurting again?” Donnie asked, turning an exasperated look upon his sibling as he tried to shake out a particularly sodden piece of paper. There was no saving it, but hopefully it wasn’t so damaged he couldn’t get the necessary information to produce a new copy.

“Not THIS cracked shell.” Leonardo began, but trailed off as Minatoya returned, peeking around the threshold curiously. Her arms were laden with paper towels, dish rags, sponges, scrub-brushes, mops, brooms, buckets, and just about every cleaning chemical they owned; including the toilet bowl cleaner. Leo bit back his laugh, and carefully took the most cumbersome of the objects from her struggling grasp.

Donnie only blinked, confused, as Leo passed him the mop and broom before taking the chemical-filled bucket from Minatoya’s hands and set it on the counter. Quickly rifling through he pulled out the chemicals he was most accustomed to seeing Donnie use, before picking the bucket up again and striding out. Minatoya let out a small noise of dissatisfaction, but said nothing as he disappeared.

“Don’t worry about it.” Donnie replied, walking to a far corner and pulling out a bag of cat litter, before pouring it liberally over the liquid mess. Shortly, the liquid was absorbed enough to sweep up. But when Donnie reached for the dustpan, it was gone, only for it to reappear on the opposite side of the mound of soiled litter. Held by a small, scarred hand. With a soft smile, Donatello began to push the pile into the pan. Once. Twice. Half a dozen times.

Finally, the litter mess was gone but there was still some major discoloration on the floor and wall from where the liquids had rested. The engineer scowled at the stains, but at least they weren’t new to him. Almost the entire floor was a patchwork of stains. He started to grab the mop to clean up the excess wetness, but Minatoya quickly snatched it from his hands and disappeared from the room. The turtle stared after her, until he heard Leonardo’s cry of disapproval and Minatoya returned. She had the bucket Leo had left with - a excessively large pail, filled with steaming water and had another bucket swinging from her elbow, this one with baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap. She quickly dropped the bucket with a wet splosh, and quickly set to work mixing a concoction of the three chemicals she’d brought with her. Once satisfied with the mixture, she grabbed a scrub-brush and two dish towels and dropped them into the hot water.

Only then did she fall to her knees and started scrubbing the floor.

“Woah! Hey, that’s really not necessary!” Donnie quipped, starting to grab for the new mutant. “It’s not that big of a deal.” He added, but she only pushed the soaked rag into his hands and snatched the scrub-brush from the bucket. “All right, I guess it is a big deal,” Donatello relented, joining the mutant on the floor. A moment later, Leo joined them. Although he kept pushing into the area she was trying to scrub; herding her back towards the door. It took the engineer an aggravatingly long time to recognize the fact that his sibling was herding her out of the room entirely. But then he thought about the previous night.

Although it was certainly nice to have someone who actually WANTED to clean the lair around, Donnie realized too late what Master Splinter would have to say if he found out his sons were LETTING her do it. Particularly given that she was their guest - an injured one at that - and most certainly not their maid. “We’re going to have to keep this place a whole lot cleaner than usual.” Donatello muttered to himself, and though Minatoya gave no acknowledgement that she heard, Leo nodded his agreement. Apparently, he’d come to same conclusion.

After about thirty minutes of chasing the female mutant around the room, Leonardo eventually realized he was just being toyed with and gave up the idea of subtly convincing Minatoya to leave the remaining mess to himself and Donatello. Instead, he turned his attention to actually scrubbing the worst of the stained floor and walls; though he continued his assault on the new mutant, verbally encouraging her to leave the rest to the two brothers. Though he quickly gave up on that notion as well, when she started to fire back that she needed to start preparing for lunch anyways.

“There is absolutely nothing I can say or do that will make you stop, is there?” Leo finally asked, chucking his rag into the now dirty and cooled water concoction.

“Not a one.” She shot back with a sly grin, clearly having enjoyed the little game of cat-and-mouse. Dropping her own scrub-brush into the water, she stretched out her wrists towards the leader, rubbing them together. “That is, unless you want to tie me up.” There was a definite flirtatious glint her eye that turned Donatello’s stomach. Feeling somewhat ignored and forgotten; the engineer deliberately cut between them, pushing Minatoya’s wrists aside and cutting off the electric current surging between the two mutants. When Donatello finally dropped his own rag into the water, she dropped her hands and reverted back to the meek mutant she’d been for the past day. Quickly snatching up the bucket of dirt water and leaving the room without another word.

Leonardo was still grinning even after she was out of sight.

“Get it out of your head.” Donatello growled, struggling with the sudden need to smash something over his brother’s skull. Was this how Raph felt all the time? No wonder he was so prone to violence. He himself felt ready to explode, and he couldn’t even figure out why. Because he’d been ignored in his own lab? He couldn’t even be sure if Minatoya was really flirting or if she was just messing with Leo. They didn’t know anything about her, for all they knew it could’ve just be her character-type. Angel had gotten to be like as she matured over the last couple years. She flirted with all four brothers now, every time she saw them, but it wasn’t real. It definitely wasn’t real, considering she had a boyfriend. One that had been interrogated and approved by Casey.

They’d only seen pictures of the boy, and Angel herself wanted them to meet, but Leo and Master Splinter continued to insist he never know about Angel’s adopted subterranean brothers. They all knew he was going to find out eventually, especially if the relationship was as serious as it appeared to be.

As the years had progressed, it seemed more and more people were becoming aware of their presence in the city, and it was surprising how few of them actually feared the brothers for it. Of course it was rather difficult to fear someone who had just saved your life - even if said persons were four walking, talking, 6 foot tall turtles. And despite popular belief, most people were of an understanding sort. A few raving fools had found out and started making a fuss, but as they had expected no one believed them, not truly. And with their ninjutsu training, it was easy for the family to turn any amateur investigators off their trail. Their only true concern remained to be Shredder and his following of ninja assassins. They were harder to deceive, and far more clever in learning of their whereabouts.

The thought of which had Donnie narrowing his eyes after the new mutant, but quickly relaxed at a sudden yelp from down the corridor, a dish dropped, and then Mikey was on the run again. A second later, Raph appeared behind him, chasing his sibling with a wet, soap-covered wooden spoon. And behind them Minatoya trailed after, trying to calm Raph down and explaining that what ever Mikey had done, it hadn’t been intentional. Don was pretty sure it had been, but turned his attention to Leo who was rubbing the bridge of his nose as though massaging away a migraine.

“Perhaps, our fearless leader should stop that?” Donnie asked, as unobtrusively as he could manage, “It won’t do if they keep antagonizing her like this. Something’s bound to break. Well, something ELSE.” He added as an afterthought to the damage the two siblings had already caused today. Which only raised another question; Master Splinter didn’t usually let Raph antagonize Mikey this much before intervening, and he had assumed that with the new mutant; their sensei would tolerate it even less than normal. And they had surely been making a ruckus noise all morning; Master Splinter couldn’t possibly still be sleeping. And yet their rodent sensei still hadn’t made an appearance. “Where’s Master Splinter?” He asked, forgetting his earlier comments and trekking out of the lab; Leo hard on his heels but immediately veering off upon entering the common room.

Donnie only saw the ensuing confrontation from the corner of his eye; and it had taken all of three moves. Leo crossed the room in three quick bounds, practically leapt over any furniture that barred his way, gently moved Minatoya aside, and promptly crashed Mikey and Raph’s skulls together with a crack loud enough that even Donnie could hear it from the opposite side of the room.

Minatoya let out another sharp bark of duress (it was quickly becoming her most identifiable sound), pushed Leo aside, and grabbed Raph’s head in her hands to inspect the spot he’d struck. To his benefit, Raph didn’t move or react as she pulled his face towards her own. Once satisfied there had been no injury, she released him and turned towards Mikey. hesitating only a moment, before she pulled his face down towards her as well, ignoring the cheeky grin the turtle was giving her. She ran a quick hand over his skull searching for an abrasion and let him go, almost shoving him back once she was satisfied in the knowledge that there had been no injury.

Once she was done inspecting the brothers, she whirled on Leonardo; a fierceness in her face and shoulders that none of them had come to expect from her. It was such a contrast to the demure creature they’d come to associate with her, that even Donatello had stopped to stare, watching as her lips pulled back over her short, sharp canines and she snarled at their leader, chastising him for his unnecessary brutality.

Leo could only stand and take the verbal lashing, too startled to really register what was happening. While behind her, Raph had relaxed into a smug slouch and shot his elder a cheeky grin as if to say “how’s it feel to be on the receiving end?”. Which caused Leo to contemplate just how many times Master Splinter (and himself) had chewed out the hot-headed turtle for doing precisely what the leader had just done. How many times had HE gotten away with it, gotten away with little more than a sharp word of warning? No, Raph had every right to be smug and Leo had no right to stop the young woman’s tirade. There had been a hundred different ways he could have stopped Raph from chasing Mikey, but he’d chosen the option with the least resistance, the choice that had the most desired outcome; submission and the assertion of his own dominance.

And she clearly wasn’t opposed to voicing as much, as she put words to his own primal desire for obedience and subjugation. She was doing an exceptional job of making him feel like a thoughtless, self-interested beast and it brought a flush of heat to the leader’s cheeks. Not just out of defiance of her words, but acceptance that they were probably pretty close to the truth. Even if he didn’t consciously acknowledge it himself.

After a couple minutes of listening, and watching her posture, Leonardo recognized the stance Master Splinter often took when chastising him or his brothers. He realized in a flash what she was expecting, and bent as low as his confining shell would allow him; and apologized deeply. He expected her to relent at the submissive display; but the muscles in her body only tightened further and rage twisted her features before she roared like a drill sergeant; “Don’t apologize to me!” The anger in her voice threw him off balance and the leader cast a helpless look between the female mutant and his siblings. Both of whom had straightened and were currently wearing identical looks of satisfaction and triumph. No, he definitely wasn’t going to get any help from them, they were enjoying the show too much to stop it.

Grinding his teeth to avoid making a face that might incur a greater fit of rage from the already angry mutant woman, Leo twisted around and faced his siblings. Lifting his searing midnight gaze upon the smug duo only long enough to send the silent message that he was going to make them hurt during training today; before he spat out an apology at their feet.

He kept his gaze forward, staring at the floor rather than his siblings’ feet, but also kept the woman’s silhouette situated in the corner of his eye. She still didn’t relax and he wondered if she knew he wasn’t being sincere in his apology. But he wasn’t about to start groveling either. He was about to bark as much in response when a soft click and the rush of air signaled the elevator returning. Curiosity winning out over defiance, the gang of turtles turned to the alien device in time to see Master Splinter striding out. He also wasn’t alone. Angel trailed behind the aging rodent, stumbling under the massive tower of dishes she was carrying.

Per the norm, Donatello was the first to react as he sprang across the open floor and just managed to catch the dishes that tumbled down with ninja skill.

“Whoo! Thanks, D!” The young woman whooped as Donnie inspected the dishes curiously until realization dawned and his attention snapped around to his siblings and the very confused looking Minatoya.

“It’s Thanksgiving.” He said almost questioningly, but then with more excitement and enthusiasm, “It’s Thanksgiving you guys!” This time it was Mikey’s turn to whoop in excitement as the revelation fell upon the rest of the quintet. Being an eating holiday, Thanksgiving had always been a particular favorite of Michelangelo’s and he often managed to turn it into some kind of eating contest. And by the looks of some of the dishes Angel was still toting around, it looked like she was planning on enabling him again this year. But before Donnie, or even Michelangelo, managed to inquire upon the sort of contest she had designed this year, the dark skinned woman elbowed the ninja sharply in the ribs.

“Donatello.” His named was sharp on her lips, and the ninja turned only to find the girl wasn’t looking at him, but past him, and he could only guess at what in particular held her gaze, when she continued. “Who is that?”

With a nervous chuckle, the bo-master set his cargo on the nearest table and extended his now free hand towards the new mutant. “Minatoya-Chan, come meet Angel. It’s all right,” he added quickly upon seeing that same look of questionable terror seeping into her steel blue eyes, all traces of her earlier rage gone. It was like someone had flipped a switch and he was gazing upon a completely different person, and in response, something deep within him twisted. He ignored it though, and bit his tongue to keep from growling when she took a step away, not towards him. Somewhat frustrated, the mutant turned and faced Angel directly. “That’s Minatoya. We… Well I guess the correct terminology would be RAPH, found her last night. She got hurt pretty bad, we only barely caught Brennen before he headed upstate. She’s pretty shy.” He added, casting a look over his shoulder.

Angel, however, didn’t acknowledge anything he said as she also set her burden of clattering dishes on a table and strode over to the quartet of mutant turtles. At her approach, Minatoya skillfully put the hard-muscled body of Raphael between herself and the approaching girl. But still Angel didn’t care as Minatoya twisted and turned, keeping Raph between them while Angel tried and failed to get the muscle-bound brute to move. Donatello was beginning to wonder if it was maybe a good thing Angel was going to spend the holiday with them. After all, Casey was sure to give her a hard time when he found out. And April was sure to give him and his siblings a hard time when she found out. Neither would be happy at not being informed of the new discovery, but telling them would serve no purpose. They were out of state completely, spending the holiday with April’s sister and their family in Minnesota and their flight back wasn’t scheduled until Saturday. Calling them would only irritate the family and make them impatient.

Having Angel around would be a good practice run, but Donnie was beginning to worry that the overzealous Casey would still startle her more than even Mikey had. And Casey was a lot harder to settle than the mutant turtle, and couldn’t be set to doing back flips when he stepped too far out of line. Having April around would help, he hoped, but then again having two more strangers gawking at her might only worsen the situation. But his contemplation was interrupted by a surprised squeak, and he looked up in time to see Raph dragging the mutant woman out from behind him. She had dug her heels in, however, and even Raph was struggling not to simply yank her into the open. “Angel is not gonna hurt ya.” He tried to reason, digging in his own footing for traction and leverage, and pulled a bit harder. She gave an inch, but dug back in, pulling away from the brute and nearly unbalancing them both when one foot remained planted on the hard floor, and the other came down on a rug. A rug that slipped out from beneath her.

Mikey and Leo lunged forward, but only Raph’s grip on her wrist kept her from cracking her skull on the coffee table. “You’re such a klutz!” Raph bellowed as he pulled her back to her feet and simultaneously into his arms. He held her there, against his chest, for only a moment. Long enough to be sure her footing was secure, and then released her taking two long, quick steps away as if realizing too late just how close they were. Angel merely watched the spectacle, with perhaps a little too much interest as her brown eyes cut between Raphael and the new mutant. Curiosity and a none-too-subtle mischievous gleam in her eyes as Raph turned his attention to the wooden spoon he still miraculously held. It was no longer wet and the soap bubbles had long since popped and dried to thin crusts of soap scum. Scowling at the instrument, he snapped his wrist and stalked off towards the kitchen. A second later, Minatoya yelped again and charged after him. Leonardo was the next to realize what was going on and rushed after the two mutants, practically yelling for Minatoya to “step away from the sink”.

It took Donatello another minute to remember the virtual mountain of dishes that had piled up from Minatoya’s banquet-of-a-breakfast. Clearly, she had forgotten about the holiday too, if she even celebrated it. And clearly Leo had forgotten about his earlier promise to wash said dishes. He’d hardly left the female mutant alone long enough to clear the table, let alone clean the various pieces of ceramic and glass.

Donatello also took to wondering exactly what time it was. They’d pulled yet another all nighter last night and hadn’t claimed their beds until sometime after midday and he hadn’t bothered to look at a clock after Minatoya had been stowed away in Leo’s room. Per the norm, he’d lost track of time after his siblings had wandered off into the land of dreams and had only taken to bed some hours later - exactly how many hours he had no inclination. Nor did he know how long he’d actually slept. He suspected it hadn’t been very long, four hours was his best guess. Though it wasn’t unusual for himself or his siblings sleep continuously and well into the following evening after spending multiple days and nights without sleep as they had just done. And sometime in the interim Master Splinter had slipped out and Minatoya had claimed the kitchen, and she had specifically made breakfast-type foods, which suggested it had been early. But she had also started raving to Leo about lunch only an hour or two after they had all awoken, which suggested late morning or early afternoon. He briefly wondered if Minatoya had been awake when their sensei had left or if he had been gone by the time she awoke. Surely she wouldn’t have made such a grand feast if she’d known Master Splinter had gone to assist Angel in preparing another spectacular meal. Nor had the female mutant made any indication that she’d been expecting the young woman, which meant she didn’t know where Master Splinter had been. Which meant their sensei had left even before she had been awoken, and judging by the number of dishes the two had brought with them, they had surely been preparing the meal for several hours.

The engineer could feel a headache beginning to pound in his head as he tried to put the variables together. Ultimately it wouldn’t be worth the pain once he actually bothered to look at a clock and he set his feet into movement once he accepted this fact. He meant to go to the kitchen but between Raph and Leo arguing - about what he didn’t bother to figure out - and the plaintive pleas of Minatoya for them to cease their bickering; the ninja turned his attention instead towards his remaining sibling. Not wanting to get involved, especially if he was already getting a headache.

He hadn’t expected Mikey to give up his chase so quickly, but one glance around and he understood what had happened. The gluttonous Michelangelo was already pouring over the vast array of dishes and it was all Master Splinter could do to keep him from digging into them right then and there. He briefly wondered if the only reason Master Splinter didn’t reprimand him fully was for fear the single-minded ninja would immediately turn his attention back to the female mutant, who desperately needed a reprieve from the overzealous turtle. He wasn’t sure if that was Master Splinter’s objective, but he quickly decided it was his own as he latched onto his brother’s shell and began to haul him away. “C’mon, Mikey,” He began, “Let’s get the big table out and set up. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting holiday after all.”

Michelangelo let out a momentary cry of displeasure, but eventually succumbed to his elder’s lead and in another minute the two of them had hauled out the long table stashed away in the spare room. They only ever used it when they were expecting company, and so it was usually stored away somewhere.

Between the two ninjas, they managed to prop it up between the dojo and the common room and Angel had leapt in to help almost as soon as they’d pulled it out. In a matter of minutes they had it set up; Mikey had gone in search of every mismatched chair they owned while Angel had started moving the food she and Master Splinter had brought to the table, leaving Donnie to brave the kitchen for place settings. The raised voices coming from within had not lessened in the meantime, and instead it seemed as though they had risen. The engineer braced himself a second before he rounded the corner, and nearly fell over laughing at the sight that greeted him when he stepped over the threshold.

He had expected Raph and Leo to be at each other’s throats, but the siblings were entangled with the female mutant. She had backed herself into a corner, holding something hostage behind her back, while Raph and Leo grappled between each other and attempted to snake the accosted item from the woman when they thought she was distracted. Raph was waving a sopping wet rag all around, spraying the entire room - including himself - with soapy water and Leo withheld the bottle of dish soap, spilling the semi-gelatinous substance whenever he lunged for either the rag Raph had or the object Minatoya was hiding.

Far too entertained by the spectacle to draw attention to himself or go about his intended mission, Donnie found himself unable to pass the opportunity by and whipped out his self-made cellular device and snapped as many pictures as he dared. After the first two or three however, Raph seemed to notice their audience and before the engineer could stuff the phone back into its hiding spot the wet rag slapped him square in the face. He didn’t hesitant at the reverberation of approaching footfalls and bolted from the room even before the wet cloth had completely fallen away. “You should see your face!” He couldn’t help but tease as the brute chased him around the long table, demanding that Donnie hand over his phone. They sprang around the obstacles that got in their way, leaping over chairs and twisting around the disinterested party that had grown too accustomed to the spectacle to give them anything more than a passing glance.

After several minutes, in which Leo had finally set the bottle of dish soap aside and managed to redirect Minatoya’s attention to setting the table while he cleaned up the mess that had been made in the kitchen, things began to settle down. Or at least, Raph had stopped chasing Donnie around the lair, and had opted for a quieter approach to pilfering the electronic device. Of course, he hadn’t managed to get his hands on the phone before Donnie saved the best images to a wireless storage making it impossible for Raph to completely destroy the blackmail-worthy evidence.

Minatoya eventually overcame her shyness around Angel and the two women developed an easy relationship. And after Angel choked on the foreign name half a dozen times, she eventually came up with the nickname of “Mina-Chan” which Mikey immediately picked up as he returned to his earlier advances on the new mutant. By the time they all settled down to eat, even Angel had grown tired of Mikey’s prattling and no one except Master Splinter noticed that the female mutant only nibbled on a couple salad leaves while the rest of the family joked, laughed, teased, and bickered about pointless things while stuffing themselves with plate-after-plate of delicious food.