April O’Neil stood before her mirror and stared at the image reflected there. The eyes that gazed back at her were dull; lifeless pools of green wallowing in a misery she had expected never to experience.
She had hoped a hot shower would not only remove the blood, but the taint it had left on her soul as well. It had not worked.
“April run! Save yourself!”
“No! I won’t leave you!”
Running was not an option. He was family. Dying was a price she would willingly pay for any of the small group of mutants that she loved so much.
His sword skittered across the ground, coming to rest near April’s foot. She didn’t hesitate to lift it, using two hands to compensate for its weight. How strong he must be to wield two identical blades.
There was a time she could have gone to Casey Jones for comfort, but he was no longer a part of her life. The last she’d heard he’d moved to Colorado and married. April was good with that, happy for him. They had been finished long before he’d accidentally killed the young purse snatcher.
What April had done was no accident. Do nothing and Leonardo would die. Use the sword and . . . .
She felt her eyes start to water and April angrily looked down, snatching the hair brush off the dresser. Removing the towel from her head, April tossed it aside and flipped the wet hair out of her face.
He still held one sword, but he was on the ground, held there by three Foot soldiers, one of whom was standing on his remaining blade. The others gloated, swords at the ready. They ignored April, sure that she would do as Leonardo ordered and run away.
April closed her eyes tightly, squeezing until it hurt before opening them again. She viciously attacked her hair with the brush, going too fast and tangling strands around the bristles.
His brothers were too far away, they wouldn’t reach Leonardo in time. The Foot had their orders, Leonardo must perish. There was only one thing that April could do.
With a vexed tug, April pulled the brush free, ripping out strands of hair with it. The popping sound as they broke was somehow satisfying, a much better replacement for the other sound that wouldn’t leave her head.
None of them were looking at her. Even with a sword in her hands they discounted the redhead, writing her off as no threat to them. Beneath her fear April felt a touch of anger at that. It was time they learned that April O’Neil should never be so easily dismissed.
April clutched at the edges of the dresser, the hairbrush held tight in one white knuckled hand. Her head drooped, eyes shut as she berated herself, her vanity. She hadn’t done it to teach them a lesson, she had done it out of desperation.
Master Splinter had taught her to be silent. April rushed towards the group without making a sound, determined they’d have no warning. She had no illusions about her abilities, she knew she had just one chance. Her choice was the man standing on Leonardo’s sword.
Hand shaking, April lifted the brush again, placing it against her skull. With her downward stroke she lifted her head, the tears in her eyes clouding the mirrored image.
Another hand descended on hers and the reflection of her white bedroom wall was replaced by green. April gasped in surprise.
“I’m sorry,” Leonardo whispered, prying the brush from her fingers.
As he pulled the brush gently through her damp hair, April asked, “For what?”
“For the situation we were in, for your having to kill someone,” Leonardo said, his voice low and soothing. “For letting you go home alone.”
“I’m a big girl,” April said, her own voice barely above a murmur, not wanting to destroy the spell of tranquility his presence brought with it. “It was my decision.”
“Even big girls can feel pain at being forced to take a life,” Leonardo said. “They could have killed you, April.”
“Is this the part where you tell me I should have run?” April asked, a corner of her mouth twitching upwards. She shook her head, feeling the brush caress her hair. “There will never be a time when I run away and leave you to die. I’m not made that way.”
“April . . . .” Leonardo’s voice faded but not before a tiny choked sound caught on the end of her name.
The brush stopped moving and April turned slowly to face the turtle. She had always loved looking into his eyes, seeing the determination and strength in them. Now she also saw a touch of sadness.
“I mean it, Leo. After all of this time with you guys, don’t you know how much I care?” April asked, searching those deep blue eyes for some hint of comprehension.
Leo stared back at April, his expression nearly unreadable. But something was there in the way he looked at her, something he’d never shown her before.
“You’ve risked your life for us more times than I can count,” Leonardo said, a husky note to his voice. “It scares me every time. I can’t image life without you in it; I don’t want to imagine it. I would rather it was me who died than to chance losing you.”
April hoped she understood. He was so close to her, his scent filling her nostrils, the smell rich and earthy. Real. Now she knew why she hadn’t wanted to be with anyone else after Casey.
“You won’t lose me,” April whispered. “I’m yours.”
The hair brush hit the carpet with a low thud. Leonardo lifted his hands to her arms, sliding them up to April’s shoulders. April shuddered at his touch, leaning into him, wanting more.
April’s arms curled up beneath his, her hands curving up over his shoulders to grip them. His skin was cool and pebbly to the touch and so very erotic.
Leonardo never blinked as he lowered his mouth to hers, almost as if he was afraid this was a dream and looking away would cause him to wake. April knew she was being fanciful, but those thoughts left her head as soon as they kissed.
When he made a low sound, like a groan, April felt proud of herself. Leonardo was the stoic one, the leader, the master of control. She had made him groan.
Her mouth opened beneath his and though she knew that Leonardo had never kissed anyone, his instincts were as correct as always. Their tongues touched and Leonardo’s hands shifted, his arms surrounded her lithe body, pulling her against him with possessive strength.
This time it was April who moaned, her entire being on fire and wanting more. Their heads shifted, tilted, and then returned to the kiss, barely breaking contact.
April's hands began to roam, finding their way to his neck and then up to the knot on his mask. Her slim, agile fingers made short work of it and she pulled it free, letting it flutter to the floor.
Leonardo broke the kiss then to look at her, his naked face alive with desire. The raw need was palpable and April felt the heat dip into her abdomen and seep lower, making that part of her that was uniquely feminine spasm.
His mouth came down again, this time to April’s neck, her throat, her collarbone. She tilted her head back, whispering his name so that he would continue to lavish her skin with his attentions. Leonardo’s fingers tugged the edges of April’s robe from her shoulders, pulling it down until April dropped her arms so that the garment could slide free of her body. It was the only thing she wore.
Leonardo lifted her then, her weight as nothing in his powerful arms, and carried her to the bed. April lay back, opening herself to his gaze, watching him through hooded eyes as he removed his gear before joining her.
Hours later April awoke to the darkness of her room. She lay with her head atop Leonardo’s bicep, her body curved around his.
His even breathing told her he was soundly sleeping. It made her smile. Before he had come to her, April had thought she’d never smile again.
When that earlier fight had ended, three dead Foot soldiers lay on a rooftop. Leonardo had carried April to safety, sending her home so that he could find his brothers.
She had taken a life. That had been all that April could think as she stumbled into her apartment, punch drunk and weary.
Now April knew that what she had done was to save a life. An important one. The most important one in the world to her. That was the thing she would remember.