Splinter paced the confines of his room. His attempts at peaceful meditation this evening were proving completely futile. He had wanted some time alone, but now asking his sons to leave early seemed useless.
It is too quiet, he thought distractedly, and then gave up the effort.
The old rat knew that his boys were worried. Even the lighthearted Michelangelo was noticeably concerned. This was something he could not confide in his sons, however. It was something he could not confide in anyone.
Deciding that a good workout might be just what he needed,
Splinter left his room and headed for the practice room of the Lair. It will kill time. Even if it accomplishes little else, he told himself.
"Hey! Earth to Leo!"
Leonardo winced as his brother, Raphael, tapped him not so lightly on the head.
"Ouch! Hey, what is it, Raph?" Leonardo complained as the two turtles made their way towards the sewer grating.
"You're more spaced out then Mikey," Raph growled exasperatedly. "Been spending too much time with the Cowabunga Kid, huh?"
"I am not, and I have not," Leonardo retorted. He paused a moment, and then asked, "Um, what were you talking about, Raph?"
Raph growled with frustration, and Leo jumped nimbly out of the way as his brother aimed another swipe at his shell.
"I-was-asking," Raph began, speaking in an exaggeratedly patient tone. "What do you think's up with Master Splinter?"
"How should I know?" Leo almost snapped.
"Well, I thought Teacher's Pet knew everything," Raphael said, only half-teasing.
Normally a comment like that would have irritated Leonardo. But, Raph was right. There was something up with Splinter, there Teacher, their Father. Master Splinter was usually the calm at the center of their sometime chaotic world. It upset all the Turtles when the old rat was distressed. After all, it happened so infrequently that they just weren't used to dealing with it.
"He hasn't told me anything," Leo told Raph, letting just a bit of his worry show.
Raph put a hand on his brother's arm, and the two mutant Turtles looked at each other for a long moment.
"You mean nothing at all?"
"You don't have to sound so surprised," Leo said. "Teacher's Pet really doesn't know everything, you know."
"Oh man, where's Donnie's old tape recorder when I need it," Raphael muttered. "The others will never believe that when I tell them."
Normally, Leo would be telling him to knock it off, and Raphael would be gloating over a statement like that from his brother. His worry for Splinter robbed him of total enjoyment of Leo's admission, however.
"Well, I can't remember too many times where he's basically told us to clear out, can you?" Raphael grumbled.
"He did not tell us to clear out," Leo protested. "He just said he'd like a little time alone at the lair."
Raph slowly clenched his fist, and Leo sighed.
"Okay," Raphael," Leo gave in. "That was what he meant, but he didn't say it like that. So, we'll just patrol the park a little earlier than usual. Come on, Mikey and Don are waiting for us."
The two teenage mutant ninja turtles slipped out of the sewers, and melted in to the shadows to join there brothers.
The young woman regretted not taking a cab the minute she stepped off the bus. She had barely set foot back in the city and already she was being followed.
She kept walking, and pretended not to notice. Anna O'Neill had been used to being followed when she lived here. And, on many an occasion, it had come in handy for her. If it were who she thought, or at least someone working for whom she thought, she was in little to no danger. If not…
She only began to get a little spooked when she rounded a corner, and the presence behind her first felt multiplied, and then completely disappeared. The only sounds she heard were a very slight scrape, a clunk, and one quickly stifled low groan.
Anyone else might have given in to curiosity. They might have turned around to try and find out what had happened. But, Anna had spent enough time out alone on the city streets as a young child. She knew better. If you wanted to keep alive, you'd better keep moving. Curiosity was not a virtue here.
Now this is weird, Anna told herself. Gripping her long white cane harder in her hand, she quickened her pace. Her cousin would be waiting and worrying.
April O'Neil bustled about her apartment. She dusted what did not need to be dusted, and straightened what did not need to be straightened.
She was just killing time, trying not to glance at her watch every few seconds.
April had company arriving soon. It was one of her favorite cousins, Anna. The two women were not far apart in age, and April had always felt close to her fiery little cousin.
Not in a million years did she ever think Anna would return to New York City, not even for a short visit. April did not know everything about her cousin's life before the girl came to live in Connecticut with April's family, but Anna had confided in her just enough to make her really worry that the girl was late.
A few days ago, Anna had called out of the blue and asked if she, April, could give her temporary house room while the house, which she had inherited from there eccentric Great Aunt July, was made livable for human beings again. April had said yes on the spot. Then, the two women had had a five minute argument over Anna's helping April to pay the rent until she was able to move out.
I hope my directions were good enough! Oh, God, she is probably hopelessly lost! I should have gone to pick her up, why didn't I go and pick her up, April fretted. She suppressed a smile, thinking of what Anna would say if she heard April's thoughts.
The star reporter of channel 6 could not help being overprotective, sometimes. Part of her still saw Anna as that tiny little teary-eyed dark-haired girl, who had arrived in Connecticut with little more than the clothes on her back. But Before April could sink deeper in to memories that were both joyful and heart-wrenching, the doorbell rang, and she leaped to her feet.
She looked out the peephole.
"Anna Hoshiko O'Neil! Thank God! You get in this house right now! April cried jubilantly as she flung open her door, swept the little woman in to a huge hug, and pulled her all in the apartment in one movement. Her cousin was home safe, and April could breathe again.
April gave her cousin a quick tour of her apartment. Sometime later, the two women relaxed on the couch with steaming cups of tea in their hands.
"April, um," Anna fidgeted nervously. "I need a favor? I remember all those reports you did some time back on the homeless."
"Yeah?" April said.
Anna began to rummage through her old battered pocketbook.
"If you can, I really need you to help me find someone. Perhaps his name even came up in your investigations, but it didn't get on the air?" she asked hopefully.
April leaned forward. She was very curious now.
"I have a very old photo of him here somewhere. His name," Anna went on, still searching. "His name is Hamato Yoshi … April, what's the matter?"
Upon hearing the name, April had choked. Her teacup slipped from her hand and shattered on the coffee table.
"April?" Anna cried worriedly, starting to rise to her feet.
"No! No! You just stay there. I'll get this," April insisted, reaching out and gently pushing her cousin back in her seat. She wanted the excuse of cleaning up to step away from Anna for a few minutes.
She hoped to regain her composure a bit, but April had forgotten how observant her cousin could be, though.
"April, what's wrong?" Anna demanded. "And, don't you dare tell me nothing's wrong. I can hear your rapid breathing. Stop treating me like I'm blind, April O'Neill. You know that name, don't you, Hamato Yoshi? What do you know? Please, April, tell me?"
Oh, you bet I know that name. But, how the hell do you know it? April kept her thought to herself as she mopped up spilled tea and swept up broken china.
April tried to stall for time.
"That homeless report was almost a year ago, Anna," she began.
"And, you do know that name!" Anna interrupted relentlessly.
'Okay, look, just let me throw this away and we'll talk, okay?"
Anna nodded, and April went to dump the broken glass. When she returned, she found her cousin sitting on the couch, her face buried in her hands.
"April," Anna spoke from behind her hands. "He…he's not dead, is he?" she asked in a barely audible whisper.
If she were honest with herself, April was more than a little tempted to say that Hamato Yoshi was dead. Well, at least, in one sense of the word. But, she could not say this to her white-faced cousin. Still, a part of her argued that it would be easier on Anna to think the man dead.
April sat down, and put a hand on her cousin's arm.
"Anna, how do you know Hamato Yoshi?" April asked gently.
Anna slowly raised her face from her hands, wiped her wet eyes on the sleeve of her shirt, and turned to fully face April.
"He was Kayla's Father," she said simply