I never saw my brother again. I'm not sure if they caught him, but I imagine they did. We returned to New York, convinced that there was no longer a threat. For a few weeks, things were painfully normal. Being back in the lair caused Michaelangelo to become quiet again. Even as he began his training again, I could sense that he was incredibly torn. He talked a great deal with Raphael, but the two of us spoke very little. Finally the silence became too much.
He left the lair without telling anyone where he was going. I followed him, as concerned as I was curious, and stood half-hidden by a tree, watching him as the bright afternoon sunlight casting shadows around his hidden figure. I approached slowly, and he turned. "What're you doing here?" he asked quietly. The words were accusative, but his tone was not.
"I followed you," I admitted.
He held out his hand to me and I let out a sigh of relief. "Now why does that not surprise me?" he whispered as he pulled me close.
I grinned back, and looked down at the simple grave marker. "April O'Neil," I read. "Is that her?"
He nodded. "Yes."
I knelt next to the stone and traced the dates. Five months ago today, she had taken her last breath. She had been only thirty years old. Michaelangelo kneeled beside me and placed a single white rose on the grass in front of the headstone. He left his hand there, on the ground, for a few moments. "I wish I could talk to her, you know?" he whispered. "Tell her I'm sorry."
I glanced up at him and placed a hand on his cheek. "I think she knows."
He closed his eyes and breathed deep. A single tear trickled down his cheek and burned where it met my skin. I did not try to comfort him. I allowed my hand to fall and looked back at the grave. For a long time, neither of us spoke. After a few minutes, he crossed his legs in front of him and pulled me to his side. I rested my head on his shoulder as he rubbed my arm through the dark T-shirt I wore.
"Know what?" he finally whispered.
"I'm glad she got her big story before she died."
I considered that for a minute. "What do you mean?"
"She was always looking for the story of the century," he smiled. "The one that would make everyone sit up and take notice. And when she found it, she jumped from being second-best reporter at Channel 6 to working a crime beat for the network. Practically overnight. It was what she'd always wanted." I was silent. It was obvious that he wasn't waiting for a response.
"And her report really did change the way the city was run," he continued after a moment of quiet. "You know crime dropped 25% in a little over a month?"
I smiled. "She has quite a legacy."
He nodded. "Yeah, she does."
I snuggled closer to him and slipped my hand underneath the trenchcoat, circling his waist. I brushed my fingers over the soft skin I found there. I wasn't trying to get a response from him, but I did. He laughed as he took my hand away. "Let's wait until we get home, huh?" he grinned, pulling away. "I don't wanna have to explain that one to spectators."
I smiled. "We don't have to go," I assured him. "I wasn't trying to give you a hint or anything. I just like touching you."
He laughed. "Right," he mumbled. He turned and looked at me. "I'm sorry if I've been kind of distant," he whispered. "It's just... this is a lot to face, and it still hurts. I'm trying to put it behind me, but it's hard."
I smiled and touched his cheek. "I understand," I assured him.
"And in case I haven't said it, I'm sorry about your brother."
I nodded slightly, dropping my eyes. "He made his own choices," I whispered.
"So did I," he answered. "Doesn't make it any easier."
I let my hand fall back to my lap. His fingers came under my chin and turned my face to his. "I love you, Rei."
From the look in his eyes, I knew he meant it. I drew close to him and kissed his lips briefly. "I love you, too."
He stood to his feet and offered me a hand. "We don't have to go," I repeated as he pulled me up. "If you want to..."
He touched his finger to my lips, silencing me. I studied him carefully. "I'm ready to go," he whispered. The deep, serious tone of his voice alerted me that he was saying much more than I could know right now. I did not argue with him. Instead, I nodded.
His arm circled my shoulders and we turned away. But he stopped and looked back. I paused as he pulled away from me and knelt again next to the gravestone. He kissed his fingers, and pressed them to the engraved name. For a moment, he held the position. Then he dropped his hand and ran it over the grass. "I love you, April."
There is a sequel to this book, if you didn't know that. ;) It is called "Where Are You?" and it is posted under the sn "Danger Incarnate" (It was co-written with her; she's my editor for my publishable books ie not fanfiction. lol) Hope you enjoyed!