So this is it. It's the final chapter of My Mr. Turtle. There were several reasons that made me reach this decision, and believe me, it wasn't an easy one. First off, the tea party-girl's name has been officially revealed, and it's Chloe. When I started this story, it was my goal to keep it as canon as possible. Now with Madelyn's real name being Chloe, it doesn't really work for me any longer. Also, my interest in the show has dropped quite a bit. (I am not too happy with the space-arc, for example, or how inconsistent the writing has become.) There are some personal reasons, too, some things that have happened to me in this fandom, but I don't want to talk about it publicly. If anyone wants to know more, you can always drop me a PM. And of course, you can drop me PMs just to say hi. I'm always happy to hear from you, my dear readers. :)
That said, I want to thank you all for your support. "My Mr. Turtle" wouldn't have been possible without you. You guys are the best! And to thank you all - and as some sort of a little christmas present -, I decided to write one final chapter to somehow wrap this story up and to let - spoiler alert! ;) - Leo and Madelyn meet again. And who knows? Maybe one day I am going to continue this story, one day when writing for this fandom feels right again. I can't tell you when and if at all, I'm just saying it's possible. :) But for now, My Mr. Turtle is completed.
So, thanks again for your ongoing support, my lovely readers! I love you all! ^^ And because it's Christmas in my part of the world: Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! :)
Chapter 71: Reunion
As soon as his brothers were distracted enough partying with the Mutanimals, Leo made his move. He inched closer to the edge of the rooftop, hoping he would make it there undetected.
Ever since he had seen Mr. Dearing among the people they had unmutated brought back from Dimension X, he just couldn't think of anything else.
Mr. Dearing was fine. But what about Madelyn? Where was she? Was she okay? Did something happen to her? She was just a little girl and if Mr. Dearing had been in Dimension X all this time, did this mean she had been all alone? A little girl alone in this city, alone against the Kraang - he didn't really want to think about it.
He had almost reached the edge of the rooftop when Raph turned his head. He raised a brow for a moment, and then he nodded.
Leo released the breath he had been holding silently. Raph understood. And with Raph on his side he could leave. And so he did. One more step and he was down on the fire escape.
He made his way over the rooftops as fast as he could, and just when he got close to Madelyn's apartment, he peeked down into the streets - and got to a sliding hold.
These two people down there looked so very familiar, and with a smile he climbed down the next fire escape.
"April!" he said out from the side street as soon as they got close enough. "Kirby!"
April's eyes widened for a moment, and then her face lit up.
"Leo!" she said and entered the side street, her father following her. "What are you doing here?"
"I guess the same thing you're doing here," Leo replied nodding his head towards the building where Madelyn's apartment was.
"Yes," April said, biting down her lip. "I just wanted to … check if she's okay."
"Yeah, me too," Leo admitted. "And Mr. Dearing, too."
"Speaking of which," Kirby chimed in, "isn't that Joseph over there?"
Leo and April turned their heads and they saw Mr. Dearing walking down the street towards the building.
Madelyn wasn't with him. This sent a pang to Leo's heart, and when he shot a glance at April he saw that her mouth was pressed into a thin line, a typical sign that something was not quite right.
"Joseph!" Kirby called out, and soon Mr. Dearing joined them in the side street.
"I don't really know what happened," he told them. "I think I was here just a few minutes ago, and then I find myself lying on the floor in some totally different part of the city. I … I just don't get it!"
"Yes, we made a little trip to Dimension X," Kirby said and Mr. Dearing's eyes widened in confusion.
"Dimension X?" he asked.
"Yes, the Kraang, the invasion, you know," Kirby went on. Mr. Dearing's eyes widened a little more.
April rolled her eyes before she placed a hand on her father's arm in an attempt to stop him from any further explanations and took over. She gave a short explanation of what had happened.
When she came to tell Mr. Dearing on how much time had actually passed, he quickly turned his head towards the apartment building.
"Madelyn!" he cried out, turning around and bolting to the building.
April was cut off mid-sentence, her mouth was still open when she turned towards Leo. There was something glistening in her eyes, and it made Leo's chest tighten.
And then April set into motion, grabbing her father's hand and dragging him along as she ran after Mr. Dearing while Leo climbed up the fire escape, choosing a different way to the apartment, the "safe for mutants"-way.
When he reached the window and looked into the apartment, his heart sank. Mr. Dearing had sunken to the floor, hiding his face in his hands. April was kneeling next to him, her hand placed on his shoulder and Kirby was on his other side, saying something.
Leo took a deep breath, trying his best to ignore the ache in his heart, as he knocked on the glass.
April's head shot up and she looked at him. He waved insecurely.
The redhead said something to Mr. Dearing, giving his shoulder a pat before she got up and opened the window for him.
She didn't have to say it, Leo already had a pretty good impression of what was going on, but the words sent another pang to his heart nonetheless.
"She's not here," April said.
Leo pressed his mouth into a thin line and just nodded.
He thought taking a deep breath would make things any easier, but it didn't. He felt bad. If only they had come back earlier, if only he had recovered more quickly, if only…
He never got to finish this thought. April flung her arms around his neck and pulled him into a hug.
"It doesn't mean anything," she said, her voice calm and soothing, but Leo didn't miss the light tremble giving away that his friend wasn't as secure as she pretended to be.
He gave into this feeling of her arms around him as he hugged her back.
"I … know," he said, trying to speak around the lump in his throat.
"She could have left, she could have found someone to help her and she stayed with them," April went on with her impression of being calm and collected. "She's a smart girl."
"Yes," Leo agreed. "Yes, she is."
He closed his eyes for a moment, leaning his cheek against April's head, inhaling her scent, and for a moment he just allowed himself to actually believe it. Madelyn was okay.
But when he opened his eyes and let go of April and she let go of him, the illusion was gone.
And then he saw something.
"Heh, what's with all these drawings?" he asked, nodding his head towards the kitchenette. The fronts of all the kitchen cabinets were plastered with pictures, and as he stepped closer, he realized they were pictures of unicorns. Some of them looked like Madelyn had drawn them, some looked a bit different. There were pictures of Raining Cloud Trouble, of Sweetie Smile, of Tallulah Twinkle, of Mille Grazie, and all the other unicorns he knew from the cartoon "Unicornia", but there were Lorenzo and Morning Dew and Aurora, too, the unicorns he, April, and Madelyn had made up for themselves.
And then he saw the note on the fridge.
Lorenzo knows the answer.
He frowned as he turned towards the others. April was standing next to him, looking at the note.
Tentatively Leo took one of the pictures of Lorenzo. What did his unicorn know? There was nothing on it. Out of instinct he turned the piece of paper around, and there it was, an order of numbers.
"Is that a telephone number?" he asked no one in particular, and suddenly the piece of paper was pried from his hands.
He found Mr. Dearing staring at the numbers with wide eyes. He reached into his pocket, producing his phone, but his mouth twisted when he looked at the black screen.
"Anyone having a working cell around here?" he asked, and April handed him her T-phone.
Quickly, Mr. Dearing dialed the number, holding the phone to his ear.
Leo held his breath, but then Mr. Dearing bit his lip down.
"Unassigned," he said.
Leo turned around.
There were more pictures of Lorenzo and he got them all, checking their back, and yes, they all had telephone numbers on them.
They tried each and every one.
Two more numbers were unassigned, and one led Mr. Dearing to some teleshopping hotline.
When he dialed in the fourth number, Leo didn't get his hopes up. Maybe whoever's number was supposed to be the right one didn't have their phone any longer. Maybe they lost it, maybe it died down, it didn't mean that …
"Cindy, is that you?" Mr. Dearing said all of a sudden, and Leo's head shot into his direction.
"Yes, yes, I would love to!" he said.
And then he said the one word that made all the tension melt away from Leo's body.
Leo would have joined them, but it was too risky. Yes, he could have waited in the party wagon Kirby, Mr. Dearing, and April borrowed to pick up Madelyn, but he wasn't so sure.
From what Mr. Dearing had told them, Madelyn, together with Cindy and Roger, had found a safe place in some industrial area, somewhere underground where the Kraang hadn't been able to track them. And with them were a few dozens of other people. So what if some of them wanted a ride back? What if they didn't care that Kirby told them they couldn't go and opened the back of the party wagon to find him, a mutant turtle, looking far too alien for them, right after their city had been invaded and taken back from an alien race? No, better not to risk it. After all, they didn't know it had been him and his brothers who had brought everything back to normal. Or as normal as things can be after an alien invasion.
So he waited, right there in the living room, sitting on the floor. And he was starting to wonder how long it would take them.
He heard something and turned his attention to the window. There was a pigeon out there, pecking away on the glass as if it were its way of knocking.
With a smile Leo got up to open the window.
"You must be Mr. Beepers," he said warmly as the pigeon flew inside.
"Coo," Mr. Beepers made before he landed on the armrest of the couch.
The door flew open, making Mr. Beepers spread its wings with an annoyed cooing sound and seek sanctuary up on a kitchen unit.
Leo just had time to turn around before some little girl wrapped her arms around his legs.
"Mr. Turtle!" she cried out.
Leo patted her head before he got down to hug her properly.
"Hello, Madelyn," he greeted her.
He felt Madelyn stiffen in his arms, and her hold on him loosened as she leaned back a bit.
"What happened to your voice?" she asked, a frown wrinkling her forehead.
Leo felt a pang in his chest. Yes, his voice sounded different after his throat got injured so badly by Shredder, but after all this time he got used to it. Madelyn, however, had never heard it before. But he couldn't tell her what really had happened. It would be too much for a little girl.
He wrecked his brain for a logical explanation.
"Puberty," he finally said with a smile.
Madelyn's forehead wrinkled a little more. "Huh?"
Leo laughed. "Nothing."
And then he pulled her closer to him. He could see her shrug from the corner of his eye before she hugged him back again.
"Mr. Beepers, is that you?" Leo heard Mr. Dearing ask, followed by a cooing sound as a reply. And then he heard the pigeon take air and land somewhere.
He let go of Madelyn, and the little girl ran over to her father on whose shoulder Mr. Beepers had found a new seat.
"Coo-coo?" she asked.
"Coooooooo," the pigeon replied, and Madelyn laughed, and Leo couldn't help, but smile at this scene.
He looked at April and Kirby. "Did everything go as planned?"
Kirby nodded. "We took Cindy and Roger back with us, but they insisted on going back to their apartment. Some other people joined us, too, and we dropped them off on the way. Really, I felt like some taxi service." He laughed.
"You loved it!" April cut in.
"Yes, yes, I did," Kirby admitted. "Reminded me of my time as a taxi driver back in the day when I had to earn some extra money during college."
April nudged him playfully, then she looked back at Leo.
"So I guess we should go now," she said.
Leo shook his head as he got to his feet. "I have a better idea."
April frowned at him and so did Kirby.
"What do you think of a little celebration?" he asked with a grin.
April and her father shared a look, then nodded.
"Mr. Dearing, Madelyn?" Leo asked.
"Sure, why not?" Mr. Dearing said. "When if not after being rescued after some alien invasion is a better time to celebrate?"
"Good," Leo said. "Mr. Dearing, April, Kirby, you can take the party wagon."
"What about me?" Madelyn asked.
"You?" Leo said with a grin as he knelt down before the girl and placed a hand on her shoulder. "You are getting there ninja-style."
"Wooohoooooo!" Madelyn cheered as Leo jumped to another rooftop. She was holding on tightly to his shell, and Leo made sure to not take the really dangerous routes. With a little girl on his back, he didn't want to take a risk. He tightened his grip to hold her in place.
"Now, that's funnier than the usual piggyback ride, isn't it?" he asked, taking another jump, making sure to jump as wide as he could to extend that feeling of flying.
"Yes!" Madelyn cried out. "Yes, it is!"
He thought of the time when he had already carried Madelyn over the rooftop, right after they had rescued her from her kidnappers. But things had been different then. This hadn't been for fun, it had been for getting Madelyn back home as quickly as possible. And he had been poisoned back then. Something he did not want to remember.
He took a little detour just to make this little trip more fun for the both of them, but when they finally reached their destination it somehow still felt too soon.
He landed on the rooftop where his brothers and the Mighty Mutanimals were doing their little celebration.
"I brought a special guest!" Leo announced as he knelt down and let Madelyn climb down from his back.
When he got to his feet again, he looked at Madelyn. The little girl was grinning from ear to ear, her hair tangled in a mess and her cheeks reddened from the excitement.
But then the grin and the excitement died down and her eyes widened in fear. She even took a few steps backwards.
Leo followed her gaze - and wanted to slap himself. He should have told Madelyn right away that Slash would be there. Yes, she knew that he was a good guy now, but she hadn't seen him after the time he and Raph had crashed into her room fighting.
Leo quickly knelt down again, placing a reassuring hand on Madelyn's shoulder.
"Remember," he said, "he's good now."
Madelyn looked at him, then back at Slash. She took a deep breath and stepped forward, holding out her hand to Slash.
"Hello, Mr. Blue," she said. "I'm Madelyn. Nice to meet you!"
Slash looked confused and the question Who is Mr. Blue? was written all over his face.
But before Leo could explain, Raph stepped up to Slash.
"Madelyn gives everyone nicknames," he said. "I'm Mr. Red, Leo's Mr. Turtle, Mikey Mr. Beam, Donnie Dr. Donnie, and you obviously are Mr. Blue now."
Madelyn nodded vigorously.
Slash chuckled warmly before he knelt down and took the little girl's hand carefully.
"Hello there, Madelyn," he said while shaking her hand. "It's nice to meet you, too."
An hour later, Leo had settled down on the ground. He let his eyes wander over their little party.
A bit further back on the rooftop Kirby, Mr. Dearing, Master Splinter and Kurtzman were drinking tea. Leo could only imagine what they were talking about. Given that there were three single fathers among them it somehow felt logical that this was their main topic. On the other hand, they had just gotten back from some weird adventure including the Kraang, so maybe Kurtzman was telling them of what he knew about the aliens and their ways. Whatever it was, they seemed to be fine.
Up in the air, Pigeon Pete and Mr. Beepers were flying little races. Pigeon Pete insisted on winning all the time, but looking closely, Leo realized it was actually Mr. Beepers who won, and the pigeon usually disagreed with some loud cooing. Pete ignored it, of course, and just went on bragging about his amazing victory.
Mikey was bent over the edge of the rooftop, sick after breakdancing too much with too much pizza in his tummy, and Leatherhead was standing next to him, rubbing his shell.
Raph and Slash were doing their felt - or maybe actual - hundredth round of arm wrestling.
Closest to Leo was the small group of April, Donnie, Casey, Dr. Rockwell, and Madelyn. They were playing Go Fish, and right now, Rockwell and Donnie were going on about the plausibility of Casey not having any sevens, and while they were discussing percentage and probability calculation, Casey was smiling to himself. April carefully leaned in closer and caught a glance of his cards, rolling her eyes as she leaned back again.
Madelyn looked back over her shoulder to Leo and smiled. She said something to April, and the teenage girl nodded. Madelyn placed her cards on the pile and got up.
And then she danced over to Leo. She sat down next to him, and Leo wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
Madelyn kept her eyes glued to the ground, looking so serious that Leo was a little bit worried.
"You know, Mr. Turtle," she began, "I never told you that it's okay if you want to call me Maddie." She raised her eyes and looked at him directly. "I mean, I have a nickname for you, so it's only fair if you have one for me, too."
"Thank you," Leo said, rubbing her arm. "I really appreciate it." He paused for a moment, and then he added with a warm smile, "Maddie."
Madelyn smiled back at him.
And then they just sat there, watching the others going on with their celebration.
"I want to call him Dr. Monkey," Madelyn said, nodding towards Dr. Rockwell. "And him" - she pointed at Pigeon Pete - "Mr. Pigeon. And do you think it's okay if I call Mr. Beam's friend Mr. Gator?"
Leo smiled. "I think that's totally fine."
"Okay," Madelyn said, and suddenly her voice sounded so low, and Leo realized that she was leaning into him a little more. He looked at her and saw that she was rubbing her eyes. He grabbed her and placed her on his lap. Madelyn immediately snuggled up to his plastron and closed her eyes.
It's been a long and eventful day for a little girl, Leo figured, so it made perfect sense that pretty soon Madelyn was drifting off to sleep.
"Mr. Turtle," she mumbled, already half asleep. "My Mr. Turtle."
"Maddie," Leo replied. "My Maddie."
And then her calm breathing told him that she had entered her little dreamland.
Leo let his eyes wander over his family and friends once more. Mikey obviously felt well enough now to take Madelyn's place at that Go Fish-group. Leatherhead was sitting next to him, nodding while Mikey explained the rules to him. But something in the alligator's face told Leo that he wasn't quite following which - given Mikey's way of explaining things - probably shouldn't be a surprise.
They were all good now. They had defeated the Kraang, saved New York City, everything was back to normal. Well, as back to normal as life could be for mutants in this world.
Leo felt calm and safe and yes, he even felt at home.
Madelyn snuggled closer to him in her sleep, and Leo smiled down at her.
As long as I have this, he thought, as long as I can be Mr. Turtle to some amazing little girl, everything is going to be fine, right?
There was something in the back of his head, and he didn't like it at all, so he pushed it away again.
"Maddie, my Maddie," he mumbled again, stroking Madelyn's head.
"Mr. Turtle," she replied in her sleep. "My Mr. Turtle."
Everything is going to be fine.