Hey guys! Sorry for the delay and the shorter chapter. Also, Freakishly asked a very good question, to which I'll answer that this chapter does touch up on that subject. Only barely though, because later on it'll be a source for a plot device. Good job for being one step ahead!^^ I hope this chapter turned out okay, I wrote it up when I wasn't feeling too well. Hope this turned out okay.
The room had been dark up until the point Leo had switched his bedside lamp on. Light flashed against the walls, and he blinked several times until his eyes adjusted to the light. As if on cue, the door to his room opened and Donatello peeked inside. Without notice or warning, he stepped into the room and crossed the area. Behind him, Raphael entered as well. Leonardo said nothing. Donatello sat criss-cross on the floor, his hands rested in his lap, and Leo scooted over to allow Raph some room to share a seat on the bed with him.
"Where's Mikey?" Donnie asked, and Raphael heaved a heavy sigh.
"I'll go get him." The red clad ninja offered, standing and crossing the room. Into the hallway he disappeared, and the door closed with a quiet click.
"Alright, so we have a lot to discuss." Leo shivered a bit, feeling fatigue wash over him.
Donnie frowned, and Leo could see the way his eyelids fluttered with a heavy weight. "It can't wait until tomorrow?"
"April should be sleeping, it's now or never. I don't want to leave her alone."
"Don't you trust her?"
Leo's eyes, which has been calm and cool, switched downwards at his brother with frustration and built up impatience. "She grew up in enemy hands, something's up with her DNA or whatever, and she has never seen the light of day in her life. It's not that I think she's evil, but I don't know if we can fully trust that we would be safe with her. We know nothing about-"
The door opened, silencing Leo and drawing both his and Donnie's gazes. Raphael shook his head, closing the door behind him. "He's asleep in the livingroom with April. I can't… I'm not going to disturb them." He looked away with an awkward frown.
"We can talk without him then." Leo waved his hand in the air, dismissing the thought. Raphael returned to his seat next to Leo. "We just need to slow down, and go over what we know, alright? Donnie?"
His younger brother cleared his throat, blinking tiredly. "Well… The Kraang have mutagen, but it doesn't work the way it should. They made a project, assumedly to help fix the construct of the mutagen's structure, and April O'Neil is the project." He shrugged a bit, receiving silence from his brothers. Of course, all of this they already knew. But Donatello continued. "I hypothesize that she's either being used as a host for a virus, or they're directly altering her DNA until it's correct. Once it is, they'll obtain it and modify the mutagen with it."
"So what do we do with her?" Raphael asked, drawing his legs up in a criss-cross position. "The plan was to destroy the project."
"Plans change." Donatello waved his hand dismissively, his gaze hard. "She's a human being, there's no reason to justify killing her."
"Except rescuing the entire human race." Raphael muttered softly under his breath, his eyes sad. Donatello's mouth opened quickly, as if to argue, but then his brother looked back up and he saw it. Raphael didn't mean it. His gaze was a mixture of worry and concern, as if his options were weighed heavily on his shoulders.
Leo confirmed Donatello's reasoning, not looking at the forlorn Raphael. "No, we're not going to kill her. That's not who we are."
"I know." Raphael replied tiredly, "So what do we do then?"
Leo frowned, and his gaze fell into his lap. A few seconds of uneasy silence filled the room, and all three found themselves fiddling. There was a heavy sigh. "Well…" Leo muttered quietly, his mind wandering. "She needs protection. And a place to stay…"
"Alright, back up." Raphael held his hand up. "You're actually thinking about her living with us? Are you insane? We only met her like two hours ago! We don't know anything about her, she- she could be a spy for the Kraang!"
"As much as I agree with Raph," Donatello cut in, closing his eyes, "We need to do what's in the best interest for the people above. If she's really the key to taking over the world, we need to keep her out of the Kraang's hands."
"I just don't see how you guys can just easily adopt an actual person into our family like this." Raphael shook his head.
Donnie and Leo exchanged glances, and the eldest shivered. "It's getting late, and we've got training. I think… we should at least try. Keeping her in the lair, I mean. She's our guest okay? But keep a very, very close eye on her. I don't want to just take a stranger into our family either, but… right now, we don't have much of an option."
His brothers fell silent, finally nodding in agreement. A heartbeat too long, and Leo found himself clearing his throat. Catching the hint, his brothers rose from their seats and crossed the room, exiting through the door and shutting it behind them. Leo let out a tense breath and fell onto his shell, the pillow enveloping his head.
"You've invited a complete stranger to live on the ship before, Captain Ryan." He muttered to himself. He didn't have to shift his eyes to his action figure to speak. "And they ended up setting fire to the medic bay and attempted stabbing Dr. Mindstrong. Do you think April would do that?"
Of course, there was no response. But the darkness tugging at the edges of his vision was welcoming and he fell into a deep slumber, disregarding the answer as if it didn't matter.
Michelangelo had a crook in his neck.
When he woke up, hours later, with his head bent over the side of the couch, he could feel it. The tight, sore muscle where he should have laid his head on a pillow. April wasn't neatly laid against his plastron either, for now her head was in his lap with her body sprawled out across the couch beside him. When he stirred, she shifted upon awakening. "I gotta get up, you can keep sleeping." Mikey whispered softly, too tired to offer any sort of smile. He gently got out from under April's head and stood on his own two feet, stretching his arms high above his head.
"What time is it?" April muttered, picking up the pillow that had fallen onto the ground and replacing it on the couch.
"About noon." Mikey answered, rubbing at his neck. "You can go back to sleep if you're tired."
"Actually, I'm a bit hungry." She admitted, and he turned around.
"Well, lucky for you, I'm the master chef of the house." He finally smiled, bowing a bit. And then came a sudden frown. "Actually- I'm late for training! Sorry! Uhh… have some cereal." He gestured towards the kitchen, becoming edgy as he began to head towards the higher room.
"Cereal?" She asked innocently, and he turned back to her.
"Top right shelf. Grab the red box and pour yourself a bowl. There's some milk in the fridge too, just pour that in after pouring the cereal!"
The youngest of the four mutants turned away, racing towards the dojo. Behind him, April lay on her side with half of her face buried in the unusually soft pillow, head buzzing from the unfamiliar surroundings upon awakening. Michelangelo's instructions were pretty vague, but she figured she could figure it out on her own. She watched him until he disappeared in the carpeted room, and heard the swish of a curtain behind him.
At some point, she had fallen asleep again, for a large hand was prodding her awake again. A voice drifted heavily from above her, and she could just catch the words "…don't like this" as her eyes fluttered open. The red-masked ninja was leaning above her, with Leo over his shoulder. "Raph- wait" The blue one had begun to say, before turning his attention to her open eyes.
Raph. So that was his name. "Hey. Hey, wake up." He was muttering to her, shaking her a bit until she willingly lifted herself up into a sitting position.
"Yes?" She muttered, rubbing at her eyes. Donatello and Michelangelo were in front of her, standing in the pit. She had eventually grown very accustomed to the comfy, soft couch, but felt a bit better as she lifted herself to a sitting position.
"We want to show you something." Donnie answered with a smile, he and Mikey using the couch as a stairstool to meet their brothers on ground level.
"Show me what?" She frowned, lifting the blanket from over her lap. "Where are we going?"
"You'll see. Just follow us." Raph replied, his shell facing her as he strolled to the turnstile entrance. Leo looked a bit concerned, she noted, as he gave his brothers a look and followed behind with reluctance. A chill bit at her skin from the loss of blankets, but she nonetheless followed after them with curiosity.
They walked in a group for several minutes, strolling through the sewer tunnels along the edges by the water. It seemed considerably brighter now. April wasn't sure why, but perhaps this meant that a sun was real. Like they said in her books. It would have to be filtering through from somewhere.
When they reached a ladder, Raphael went first, and Leo followed behind him. The other two cut in right after, making her climb last. Her eyes wandering, she tried to look through the manhole as it was removed, but she couldn't see much with the boys in the way. Finally, when it was her turn, she grasped the rungs of the ladder and ascended straight upwards.
Her hand made purchase with the ground, and a large hand was suddenly brushing over her fingers. When she realized it was Mikey, offering a hand, she took it thankfully and let him help her up. A cool breeze tugged at her white clothing, and her eyes wandered across the sky. They were in the middle of two tall structures, and it was blocking most of the sky. Where was the sun?
The turtles were silent as they made their way to a string of ladders. They scaled the wall of one of the tall structures, leading up in layers to the top. This time, after Raphael had begun his climb, they let her go close behind him. The other three trailed at her feet.
"Almost there." Leo promised from beneath her, and she bit her lip. Curiosity and wonder filled her veins, her heart beginning to pound. What was so special that they needed to be up high to see? She shivered a bit, feeling another nip of cold air brush against her skin. Once the one in front of her had reached the roof, Raph pulled himself over the edge and turned around to help her up. She took his arms willingly, watching as the sky made itself open and wide.
White, cotton-like forms flooded the sky all around her, moving as if painted by a rushing hand across the horizon. And the sun, yes the sun, was as clear as day in a patch of bright blue sky. Her breath caught in her throat. It's warmth and brightness was too much for her eyes, and she felt excitement pound into her chest though she had to look away.
"You ready?" Mikey asked, putting a hand on her arm and pulling her attention to his.
Ready? Ready for what? Confused now, she followed as the four walked to the very edge of the building. April paused.
"Look." Donnie motioned with his head.
Slowly, fearfully, she began to approach the edge of the building. Just before the edge, she got to her knees and planted her hands against the edge, looking downwards. And this moment, this was the moment that her heart truly stopped in her chest.
White skin, brown skin, blonde hair, brown hair, people in different shapes, sizes, heights, and with many characteristics beyond her own imagination roamed below her. There were truly people. People like her. People that were free, clothed in colors, beautiful... the very sight was astounding.
She never felt happiness like this in her entire life.
"So… how come you don't talk like the Kraang?"
The television across the pit was considerably loud for April's ears, though she still managed to hear Michelangelo's question. April motioned towards the remote and, when he took the hint, Mikey lowered the volume. Donatello was leaned up against the couch to the side on his laptop, and Leo was throwing punches to a dummy across the room. Raphael was sitting off to the side, with a real turtle, Mikey had informed her, they called Spike. He was very small, compared to the boys, though they said that Spike looked like what they would have been if they hadn't been mutated. It was very, very interesting.
"What do you mean?" April asked, lowering the magazine Leo had lended her to look at. She didn't understand half of what was going on in it, but it was still interesting to look at the people in it and some of the creative stuff shown.
"Well," Mikey turned on his rear, remaining in a criss-cross position as he spun to face her. "They're all like 'we are going to kill the ones who are known as turtles with the things which are known as guns to destroy the foes that which is known as turtles to us' and stuff. Y'know, repetitive. How come you don't speak like them?"
April frowned, blinking a bit at his question. "I… don't know." She answered honestly, drawing her legs up. "I mean… I guess I learned some from books, but I've always spoken like this. Even before those."
Donnie was watching her curiously, and she felt a bit uncomfortable at his staring. Like she was a puzzle, and he was attempting to solve it. She could even feel Leo's stare on her back. Another point made itself clear in her mind, and though she didn't think it to be important, she voiced it anyway. "I mean, the Kraang once told me I used to have a mother figure in my cell with me. Maybe I learned to speak from her."
"Your mother?" Leo asked suddenly, drawing her attention around.
"Y-yeah." She answered softly. "I mean, the Kraang never taught me stuff. Most of what I know I learned on my own. But, I asked them one day and they said I used to have a cellmate, and that she was my mother. So…" She hadn't really thought about it before, though now it made a lot of sense.
"Where's your mother now?" Donnie asked.
April frowned, looking back at him. "They told me she was dead."
"Oh." Was all the purple clad ninja said, and then a small "sorry" before he returned to his computer. Mikey was frowning, too, and- great the whole room became sad.
"No, it's fine." She waved her hand a bit. "I don't really remember her anyway."
Though they had relaxed a bit more, it was still way too quiet now. Eventually, Raphael decided that it was too uncomfortable, and stood up. "Anyone want to go grab some pizza?"
"Yeah!" They replied, standing to their feet and racing towards the exit before April could even blink.
"We'll be back, April!" Leonardo called before the group disappeared around the corner. Silence drifted once more, though this time, it wasn't as awkward. She sighed a bit, picking up her magazine and allowing the sound of the television fill the space. She lay onto her back and held the magazine up over her face.
"April." A heavy voice followed, and she peeked over the paper. Their rat father stepped into the room, looking down at her. "Where are my sons?"
"They went to get pizza." She answered, realizing she hadn't spoken to him much during the whole day she had spent in their home. He looked away, towards the exit, before turning back to her. He opened his mouth, as if to respond, though quickly closed it and continued walking towards the kitchen.
She didn't take his silence to heart. She could only imagine how someone would react to keeping a stranger in their home. The curtain closed behind him, and April laid back down, reaching for the remote to shut the television off. She couldn't wait for them to return with the pizza.