I do not own TMNT.


Books.

That was the first thing that popped into Donatello's mind when he woke up that evening. Tomorrow would be Saturday, the day of the book giveaway at that library. In the panic induced by the skeleton dressed human, Donnie had forgotten to speak to April on the subject. He elected to now.

The human in question was picking through some tangles in her orange-red hair. Weeks of living in the Lair without a true shower had not been kind to it. The turtles brought down plenty of clean water for her to sponge-bathe with and had raided charity boxes more than once for new clothing, but April was still really longing for a proper bathroom shower and hair care products.

"April, I have a favor to ask," said Donnie as he approached and sat on the stone floor beside her.

"Yes?"

"The other night when Mikey and I were scavenging, I came across a library. They are having a book giveaway tomorrow from 10 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon. Since I can't show myself in public, I was wondering if you could go for me? And possibly take everything they have that relates to science, history and geography?"

April raised her eyebrows. "I believe I recall you saying that I needed to stay down here forever. Am I wrong about that?"

"Ah, well yes, we did say that, but I think this, uh-"

April smirked and cut him off. "Of course I'll go for you Donnie." Then she thought of something. "What about Leo?" Letting her out of the Lair for a game of Grab the Bandanna and Run in the sewers was one thing, but willingly unleashing her on the public was quite another.

"You may go." Both human and mutant turtle jumped, having not noticed Leonardo. April blinked in surprise while Donnie did a victory dance around the Lair.

"I'm not going to try to run away or tell anyone about you guys," April assured him.

Leo nodded. "I know. I trust you not to now."

"I'm going to need to stop by my old home first," April said. Leo raised an eye ridge.

"Why?"

"I'm going to need a long shower before I can be seen in public."


"This manhole cover will take you right up to the alley beside your old apartment building," said Donatello.

"Thanks Donnie," said April gratefully. "I'll see you at the meeting place in an hour or two." She took hold of the first ladder rung.

The heavy manhole cover slid out of place with a rough groan of protest. The sun was largely hidden by the buildings around the alley, but even so it seemed unnaturally bright and hot after so long in the sewers. How long had it been, anyway? April had lost track of the days some time ago. She replaced the lid and stood up slowly, breathing in the semi-fresh city air.

The old apartment was on the third floor. The elevator was still broken, so April made the hike up the stairs. She still had her key, but hesitated before letting herself in. Living with Donnie, Leo, Mikey and Raph, April had forgotten how much she hated this place. Making a quick prayer that Mr. and Mrs. Faustus were out, she twisted the key in the lock and pushed the door open.

April was in luck. The foreway and kitchen were empty, and the couch was occupied only by Jason. As usual, he had his ear buds in and iPod turned up so loud April could hear the music from fifteen feet away. His eyes were closed as he lay on the old couch, rocking out in his own little world. With a little luck, he would stay there until she was long gone.

Hillary, April's old roommate, had taken over her side of the room. Outfits were strewn across April's bed, and it looked like Hillary had been helping herself to April's half of their dresser and closet. Untouched, whether by respect out of April's memory or obliviousness, was the money tin April kept the cash earned by her work in. That went into April's old school back pack, along with clean clothes, a thick blanket and a few toiletries.

Blessedly, it looked like she and Jason had the place to themselves. April hadn't been sure where everyone would be at 10 am on a Saturday, but she'd lucked out. Next order of business: treating herself to a long shower. After scrubbing herself and her hair for nearly an hour, she wrote a quick note to her foster parents telling them to not worry about her (like they would have anyway) and saying that she had been staying with some friends and would continue to for the time being.

She was about to head out when Jason emerged from Unhealthily Loud Music Land.

"April!" he yelped, falling off the couch in shock. Without bothering to pause his iPod, he yanked his ear buds out and scrambled to his feet. "Where the hell have you been?! It's been a month and a half since anyone's seen you!"

"A month and a half?" April was caught slightly off guard. She hadn't thought it had been that long. "Are you sure?"

"Of course! You went missing in the middle of May, right after school got out, and now it's the first of July!"

"July?" She was completely floored.

"Where the hell have you been?" Jason asked again.

"Oh, I've been around," said April. It wasn't a total lie.

"We've been so worried about you!" Jason said. "We thought we'd never see you again, like Cam."

"Well, I'm okay," said April. "I gotta go now. Can you make sure Cole and Bea get my note?"

"What? Aren't you staying?" Jason asked.

"No. I've been staying with some...friends. I'm okay, honestly." She headed for the door.

"Did you know some guys in suits came around looking for you?"

April paused. "No."

"They said they worked for the government. They were really weird."

April frowned. Government men in suits, looking for her? What on Earth was that about? They couldn't know about the turtles...could they?

"That Casey Jones guy has been around a lot too," continued Jason, but April only half heard him.

"Thanks for letting me know that. Goodbye Jason. Take care." With a quick wave, April hurried out the door.


April had forgotten how hot summer was. She'd spent the first month of it underground, so she hadn't felt anything as hot as it was now since last year. Not only that, but her time in the cool sewers meant she'd become acclimated to much lower temperatures than what the weather was currently displaying.

She really had been underground 6 weeks. The first thing April had done was find a newsstand. The date on the papers was July 1st. A month and a half had really gone by! A month and a half! It boggled her mind more than a little.

April hurried to locate the library, a mammoth complex several blocks from her old apartment. It was after noon by the time she got there, and plenty of people were swarming the sidewalk where a dozen tables had been set out, each laden with books.

Donnie wanted nonfiction, April recalled with amusement. Information and facts. That turtle had more desire for knowledge than most of the kids at her school. Baskets were supplied for the browsers, so April grabbed one and headed for the science table.

Ten minutes later, the basket was overflowing. April carried it a few blocks to a deserted alley and, after checking to ensure absolutely no one was in the vicinity, carried them down a manhole cover. Donatello was waiting.

"Yes!" he exclaimed in glee. "Thank you! Thank you thank you thank you!" He grabbed her in a hug.

"Don't thank me yet, I'm going back for more," said April. "I like reading too, you know."

April made three more trips, weeding out half the tables of anything that was not fiction. As she was filling her basket with old poetry books, she was interrupted from her musing by an extremely loud shout.

"APRIL!"

April jumped three feet into the air and swung around just in time to see a boy her age vault over a table, knocking mystery novels to the ground. He was tall, with black hair, dark eyes and a black, white patterned bandanna wrapped around his forehead. His clothes were ripped and paint splattered. And to top it off, he was somebody she knew.

"Casey?" asked April. He'd been in a few of her classes that year, but they had never talked much. He was a bit of a jerk at times, so April wasn't overly fond of him.

"Hey. I haven't seen you around in, like, ever." April flinched slightly. "Where the heck have you been, Red?"

"Oh, uh, I've been staying with some friends," April answered as she knelt to gather up the novels he'd knocked to the ground. Most went back on the table, but two she placed in her basket.

"Who?"

"Nobody you know."

"Where do they live?"

"That's not really any of your business, now is it Jones?" replied April, maybe a bit too defensively.

Casey raised an eyebrow, but did not dig further. "What are you doing here?"

"Free books," said April. "Who'd pass up an opportunity like this?"

"Me, for one," yawned Casey. "But I see you're obviously still a brainiac."

"Yes, well I should get going now," returned April. She was strangely nervous about dealing with a human after so long of it only being her and the turtles.

"Now?" asked Casey.

"Now."

"Wait!" called Casey as April tried to make her escape. "Will I see you around?"

"I don't know."

"Will you meet me at the fireworks? At the Brooklyn Bridge?"

April paused. "The fireworks?"

"Yes, the fireworks. Will you meet me there?"

Huh. The prospect of hanging out with someone other than a mutant turtle was strangely tempting all of a sudden...Would that kill me? April wondered. To watch some fireworks with a human? Just walk away April...Just walk away...

"Sure."


Agent C15 and Agent C16 were not having a productive day. Absolutely nothing eventful or interesting had happened, let alone anything that related to their jobs, and they were breaking for lunch. They looked rather out of place in the run down sandwich joint, what with their custom made black work suits, but they ignored the stares and munched on their food.

"When do you think Agent Alpha is finally gonna let us move on?" asked Agent C16.

"Not until we've exhausted every possibility here in the city," replied his partner.

"But come on! What are the odds that they've stayed in the city all these years? And if they had, people would've seen 'em. They wouldn't know to avoid humans like the plague, they're animals for Christ's sake!" Agent C16's snow colored skin was beginning to be tinged with red, something that had been happening more and more often over the past few weeks.

Agent C15 regarded his hotheaded partner before speaking. "People have sighted them, remember?"

"Yes, two junkies, four homeless people and a crazy old cat lady," grumbled Agent C16. "But that doesn't prove anything."

"The other specimens possessed a fair amount of human DNA mixed into their genetic blueprints," reminded Agent C15. "And you know as well as me how intelligent they were. It's not a long jump to think these ones are like them in those aspects."

"But still-" Agent C16 broke off when he spotted something out the window. "Hey, isn't that the May O'Neil girl?"

"April O'Neil," corrected Agent C15 in slight exasperation as he turned to the window, more to humor his partner more than anything. But then his eyes widened slightly behind his custom made black sunglasses. "Yes. Yes, I think it is." Quickly discarding the remains of their lunch, the two agents hurried out the door after the red haired teen.


Casey was relieved, miffed and pleased. Relieved, because April was alive and unharmed, miffed because of her rather unfriendly attitude toward him, and pleased because he would be seeing her in a few days time for the fireworks.

"What is going on with you, Red?" he mumbled. Casey was trailing her at a distance, ready to jump behind the closest available object on the sidewalk if she happened to turn around.

Suddenly, the doors to an old sandwich shop opened and two men in identical black suits came out. Casey did a double take as he realized they were the 'government agents' who'd questioned him about April some weeks ago. They hadn't seen him yet; indeed they were completely intent on April as they moved toward her with predatory intent. Casey's eyes narrowed. He came to a decision.

"Yo Suits!" he called, breaking into a quick jog. The men turned around. "You two got any word on April?"

"Um-" began the Caucasian man.

"We have had no new developments," said the African American man quickly.

Casey had to fight to keep his face expressionless. Oh yeah? Then why were you two advancing upon her like wolves just now?

"Too bad." The men turned to leave. April was still walking, nearing a corner. Casey needed to distract them a little longer. "If you guys do, could you give me a call? Let me give you my number." He fished around in his pocket, taking several seconds longer than necessary to locate the marker he had there.

"Oh. How...nice...of you to be so concerned for Miss O'Neil," said the African American man. Casey, lacking a piece of paper, grabbed the hand of his Caucasian partner. The agent jerked like he'd been electrocuted. Casey pretended not to notice the look he gave the African American agent and the slight head shake he gave in reply as he scribbled out his cell phone number.

"Thank you, we will let you know if anything comes up." The agents turned quickly to leave and locate April, but she had disappeared

Casey frowned as he watched them march off in the direction she'd been heading with renewed vigor. Casey let them go, knowing April was long gone. "Whatever you're into Red, I got your back."