Ch. 8
Slash and Destroy

The gig was about two weeks away. I had the guts to show the other band members my notes for the song I was writing during the last practice session. They all seemed to like it. Martin had more constructive criticism for me than the others, but he still liked the song. They even helped me start writing the music for it. It was mostly guitar with a little piano in it, at a soft, gently beat. We would definitely have to tinker with it later, but the music was good for the wedding at least. All I had to do was memorize the lyrics without looking at them.

I held my phone in my hand, my earbuds in, listening to the audio of the music. I walked around my room, snapping my fingers to keep in time.

"I found love," I sang quietly. "For me… darling, just dive right in, follow my lead… Well, I met someone, beautiful and sweet… I never knew you where the someone waiting for me…"

I closed my eyes, continuing to snap.

"We were just kids when we fell in love, not knowing what it was… I will not give you up this time… Darling, just kiss me slow, your heart is all I own… And in your eyes…"

I opened my eyes and I stopped walking. My mind had gone blank, again. I shook my head.

"Damn it."

I walked over to my bed where my notebook lay open. I looked at the lyrics and found the line I was on.

"And in your eyes you're holding mine," I read out loud.

I sighed. Why was it so hard for me to remember this stuff? Sensei could show me how to perform a kata once and I'll get it right after only a couple of times. And yet, I was having so much difficulty trying to remember song lyrics. Maybe it was stress? I pinched the bridge of my nose, realizing how tired I was. I had gone straight to my room to practice my songs right after morning training, and I hadn't really given myself a break yet.

"I need tea," I muttered to myself. "Tea sounds nice."

I closed my notebook and tossed it onto the bed. I opened the door and walked out to the hall. Raph was standing by his bedroom door, holding Spike in one hand and a giant green leave in the other. He looked up at me as I walked over.

"Hey, how's the song coming along?" he asked.

"Eh, it's okay, I guess," I shrugged. "I just needed to take a break. I was gonna make some tea, you want any?"

"I wouldn't go out there if I were you," Raph nodded his head to the corner. "The room's infested."

"What?"

Raph didn't say anything, just glared out towards the living room. I walked over to the wall next to him and I peeked my head around the corner. At first, I couldn't see anything. But, when my eyes landed on the pit I saw two figures sitting together. Mikey and Vanessa were sitting very close together on the couch, holding hands as they watched cartoons. They were giving each other innocent, loving looks. It was sappy, but cute.

"Oh, for Christ's sake, Raph," I groaned, turning to frown at him. "They're only holding hands."

Raph grunted, shaking his head. I rolled my eyes and turned to start walking. My eyes fell onto the pair again, and I froze when I saw that Vanessa had both of her hands on Mikey's shoulders, and her face was pressed against his. Even at this weird angle I could tell that they were kissing. I slowly stepped back and hid behind the corner next to Raph. He raised his eyes at me.

"What is it?"

"Well, now they're making out."

"Oh geez… Do they have to do that out there? He has his own room."

"Stop being so sour about it," I told him. "Can't you just be happy for him?"

"I am, I am," he glared out at the room. "It's just… it's like he's flaunting it or something. Like he's rubbing it in our faces."

"What? That he has a girlfriend and he's happy?" I asked. "C'mon, Raph, do you honestly think Mikey would rub his relationship in our faces. You think he's that mean?"

Raph groaned. "No, but… you don't understand."

"Enlighten me then."

Raph's face suddenly started to turn red. He glared at me for a moment before turning away.

"Whatever."

He walked over to his bedroom door and walked in, closing the door behind him. I rolled my eyes, shaking my head. I peeked my head around and quickly tiptoed across the room, trying not to disturb the couple on the couch. I couldn't help the sigh of relief I let out as soon as I reached the kitchen.

"You had to sneak past them, too?"

I looked up to see Leo sitting by the table and Donnie over by the fridge, holding a water bottle in his hands. Donnie was giving me a knowing smirk, and I rolled my eyes.

"I wasn't in the mood to break up their make out session," I said curtly as I walked over to the cupboard. "It would've been awkward."

"Oh geez, they're kissing now? Looks like I'm stuck here for a while."

"How long have you been in here?" I asked as I placed the box of tea on the counter and got the teapot.

"About thirty minutes," Donnie said as he sat at the table.

"I came in to get a sandwich and I've been stuck in here ever since," Leo said dramatically.

"Oh, you poor things…"

Leo snorted and Donnie drank his water, looking unamused. I stood by the counter as I waited for the water to boil. We didn't say anything for a few minutes. Leo continuously took peeks through the kitchen curtains, waiting for an opportunity to go and run.

"Hey, I heard you singing earlier," Donnie started. "Getting ready for the wedding, right? Are you excited?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I think. I'm really nervous though. It's… kind of a more professional gig than just playing some tunes in front of a crowd of drunk Halloween partiers."

Leo pointed a finger at me. "Hey, you did great on Halloween. That was a much bigger crowd, too. As long as you can remember your music you should be fine."

"Yeah…" I folded my arms, leaning against the counter. "If I can memorize them."

"Don't worry, you just need to keep practicing," Leo insisted. He walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder. "You know, if you're really worried about it, you could ask Sensei to have some extra time to practice your music."

I nodded. "Yeah, I think I'll do that."

At that moment I heard the pot start to whistle. I went over to it to take it off the burner. Leo walked across the kitchen and peeked his head out. He beamed.

"Good, they've stopped! I'm gonna go while I can."

"Hey, did you want any-"

I stopped halfway through my sentence as Leo sprinted through the curtains. I rolled my eyes.

"Good grief… You want any tea, Donnie?"

"Nah, I'm good."

I moved the teapot to the side as I took a small teabag from the box. I reached up in the cupboard and took out my favorite mug- solid black with blue and orange stripes. As I put the teabag in the mug I heard Donnie speak up.

"So, I saw you and Raph talking earlier," Donnie said. "You two good?"

"Yeah, I think so."

I poured the hot water into the mug until it was full. I picked up the mug and walked over to the table, sitting across from Donnie. I looked up at him. He was giving me a patient look, as if he were waiting for me to say something.

"If you want to ask about it, go ahead."

Donnie chuckled. "Alright, then. So, have you told him how you feel yet?"

I giggled. The back of my neck suddenly felt warm.

"Please! I'm no closer to telling him than he is to telling me."

"Well, he kinda almost did the other night when he was talking about 'liking someone'," he pointed out. "At this rate, he's closer to confessing than you are."

I puffed my cheeks irritably. "Well… whatever."

"Just curious, but, have you told anyone else?"

"Yeah, I told Vanessa."

Donnie blinked in surprise. I shrugged.

"I thought it was a good idea. Don't get me wrong, dude, I love being able to talk to you about this, but sometimes a girl needs some advice from another girl."

"No no, I get it," he said quickly. "Actually, I'm surprised it took you so long to tell her."

I shrugged. I slowly took the tea bag out of the mug and set it aside. I sipped at my tea, feeling slightly more relaxed.

"So?"

"Hm?"

"Are you going to tell him?"

I took another sip of my tea before setting the mug on the table.

"Honestly, Donnie… I'm not sure," I admitted. "I mean… I want to! But, I'm scared about what will happen afterward. What if we're wrong and he doesn't feel the same? This could change our friendship forever, and… I don't want to ruin what we have, you know?"

Donnie looked at me intently. I took a large gulp of my tea before continuing.

"I just… I love what we have, and I don't want to ruin that over some wishful feelings. I'm happy where we are now."

I gripped my mug, sipping my tea quietly. I could feel Donnie's eyes on me, but I ignored it.


Donnie's P.O.V.

I slowly added the blue concoction to the small beaker of mutagen. Come on… this one will work… I backed up in my seat, waiting to see something happen. The substance started to stir and turn, and I leaned forward excitedly. Suddenly, it started to bubble and sizzle, glowing an odd aqua color. The bubbles popped and sparked, starting to fizz and fill the beaker. I groaned. Damn it.

I picked up a pair of pliers and used them to pick up the beaker, which was now foaming so much that it was over flowing. I quickly dumped it in my garbage before it could make anymore mess. I fell back into my desk chair, leaning my head back and sighing. I just couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. What was I missing? I only had so much mutagen left, I needed to find a cure and fast.

I brought over the remaining mutagen. There were probably only one or two cups left in this thing. I probably had two chances left to find a retromutagen. I reached underneath my desk and pulled out another beaker from the large collection I had in my side drawer. I placed it on my desk and picked up the canister.

"DONNIE!"

I clenched my eyes shut as the doors to my lab burst open. I looked up to see Raph stomping over to me, looking as angry as ever. Huffing, I set down the canister and gently pushed my supplies out of the way in time as Raph slammed his hands on my desk.

"Where are they?"

"What?"

"My vintage Modern Ninja magazines!"

"What makes you think I know?" I asked.

"Mikey borrowed them hours ago and he hasn't given them back! He's probably screwed them up and hid them somewhere. Did he hide them in here?"

"Did you check your room?"

"Yes!"

"They might have fallen of your bed. Did you look underneath it?"

Raph glared at him, not responding for a moment. I smirked. He smacked the table as he turned to leave. I felt my brows furrow as I watched him reach the door. A thought had just occurred to me. A crazy, irrational thought.

"Hey."

Raph stopped and turned. "What?"

"Can I talk to you for a moment?"

Raph rolled his eyes as he started to walk forward. I pointed behind him.

"Close the door."

He raised his eyes at me for a moment. He sighed and slowly walked back to the door, shutting it tight. He turned and walked back to stand in front of my desk.

"What is it?"

I leaned forward on my desk. I hadn't really thought much about what I should say, I was kind of winging it. But, better now than later.

"I want to talk about Nia."

Raph blinked and folded his arms. I thought I saw him stiffen slightly, but he pulled it off fine.

"What about her?"

I sighed. "Raph, I know."

"Know what?"

"Don't play stupid with me, you know what I'm talking about," I looked up at him. "You like Nia."

Raph kept his arms folded defensively in front of him, but his posture had changed. His shoulders were hunched, and his legs were locked where he stood. His eyes were wide, and it looked like his face was slightly red. I chose not to tease him about it.

"Look, I'm not trying to but in or anything-"

"Then don't!" Raph snapped, his voice tense.

"Calm down-"

"Don't tell me what to do! If you- if you've said anything, I'll-"

"Don't get your shell in a twist," I cut him off. "I haven't said anything."

Not that it would matter. Donnie already knew about Nia's feelings. He was as deep into this as he could be. Raph lowered his arms, his fists shaking slightly. I stood up from my chair, looking him directly in the eye. I had to choose my words correctly.

"Look Raph, Nia is…" I paused for a moment to find the right words. "Worried about you. She's noticed that you've been acting different around her and she doesn't know why."

It wasn't really a lie, I was just bending the truth a little bit to get the point across. If I could push Raph in the right direction, he might confess to Nia himself.

"What? What do you mean?" he asked.

"Well… sometimes you're distant with her," I said, thinking about some of the things that Nia had told me. "Sometimes she says something, and it sets you off, or you just walk away. She…" I paused. "She thinks she's done something wrong to upset you."

Raph's posture relaxed at that moment. He stared at me, his jaw hanging open slightly.

"She… thinks I'm mad at her?"

I shrugged. "Something like that."

Raph turned away, hanging his head slightly. He had a guilty expression on his face that put a small pit in my stomach. I walked around my desk and stood to stand beside him.

"Hey, don't worry, dude. If you just talk to her and tell her how you feel-"

"What do you know?" he barked. "How do you know how I feel? I haven't said anything!"

"You haven't denied it, either."

Raph spluttered, staring up at me. I folded my arms.

"Raph, are you really gonna stand there and tell me you don't have a thing for her?"

"Donnie-"

"Do you?"

He glared daggers up at me, his face turning red for a different reason now. I glared back, daring him to tell me I was wrong.

"Yes…" he growled.

"Then what's stopping you from saying something?"

"Because I don't know if she likes me back, dumbass!"

"How do you know if you won't say anything?"

"Oh, that's rich coming from you!" he pointed a finger in my face. "You can barley get two words out when you're around April, but when it comes to me, now you're the expert?"

"I never said I was!" I snapped back.

Raph stood there, looking like an angry toddler. I could feel myself start to get angry, too. Part of me really wanted to tell Raph that he was being unbelievably stupid, and Nia did, in fact, have feelings for him as well. But, I didn't. It wasn't my confession to make. If I confessed Nia's feelings for her, she'd be devastated, not to mention embarrassed.

"I can't say anything," I spoke calmly. "But, what I can say is that you should at least take a chance with this."

Raph scoffed. "Oh yeah? Why should I?!"

"Because, you'll regret it if you don't."

Raph's glare faded away into a look of awe. He stared at me with his mouth hanging open. I stared back at him, not saying another word. He shook his head and turned away, stomping over to the door. Before I could tell him to come back, he flung the door opened and stomped off. I sighed. Well, great. I really hope that I didn't make anything worse. I just wanted to give him a little nudge in the right direction. Nia wasn't going to say anything to Raph, so Raph would have to be the one to confess first. I hoped that making him worry about her would tempt him to say something, but I think all I did was make him angry.

I spend the next half hour experimenting on the mutagen, trying to find a best cure. So far, I was met with dead ends and no other leads. I could just start throwing some things together and hope that it works, but I didn't have enough mutagen to start screwing around with it. I needed to try to get it right. Who knows when we'll find more?

I walked over to my lab fridge, pulling out a container of full of a bright pink chemical to test with. As I turned, I heard Raph's voice through the still opened door.

"MIKEY! You got pizza stains all over my collection of Modern Ninja Magazine. They're ruined!"

I walked past the doors and peeked my head out. The others were all standing by the pinball machine. Mikey and Raph were facing each other, Spike sitting on Raph's shoulder. Nia was standing beside them, looking ready to break up the fight if one came up. Leo seemed to be minding his own business, playing the arcade game.

"Dude, those things are like twenty years old! They're not exactly modern."

"They're vintage! It took me six years to collect them. Six years!"

Mikey rolled his eyes and took the magazine from Raph. "Chillaxe, bro! I'll clean it for yah."

"Uh, Mikey, I don't think-"

But Nia was cut off as Mikey started to lick at the cover of the magazine. Though I couldn't see his face, I could see Raph starting to shake with anger. He grabbed Spike, took him off of his shoulder and placed him into Nia's arms. She backed up as he stepped forward and snatched the magazine back. He quickly rolled it up and smacked him in the head with it. I rolled my eyes and continued to my desk.

"You mess up everything, Mikey!" Raph barked.

"It's just stuff, Raph," Leo's voice echoed out. "Meager possessions. What does it matter?"

Do they have to yell so loud? I sat down at my desk, setting down the chemical. I picked up the canister and started to pour it into another beaker when I heard Raph start to yell again.

"What about your precious comic book collection, huh? Or Nia's guitar and sheet music? Neither of you would be happy about him getting them dirty."

"But, we wouldn't try to beat up Mikey over it," Nia retorted.

Raph groaned. "God, you guys always stick up for Mikey. Try seeing my point of view for once!"

"I get it. I just think, like Master Splinter says, 'Material possessions are fleeting-'"

There was a loud crash, and I paused on my way to grab the chemical. It sounded as though Raph might have punched or shoved the machine. Again.

"Alright, enough! I'm tired of you three! You're always messing up and I gotta pay for it!"

I stopped for a few moments, waiting to see if there would be anymore yelling or arguing. Ten seconds went by in silence. I took the opportunity to continue my work.

"Can it get any louder out there?" I muttered to myself, picking up the chemical. "I'm never gonna find a retro mutagen at this rate. Who can concentrate with Raph exploding all the time?"

I raised the container up above the beaker and tilted it. I put a single drop into the mutagen. Not even a second later, the consistency of the substance changed and it suddenly started to glow brightly, letting out a loud whistling sound like a teapot.

"Uh-oh…"

The room suddenly exploded into a ball of light and color. I flew backwards in my chair, falling out onto the ground. It sounded like fireworks were shooting off and exploding in the lab. I heard distant whistles, and I realized that the sparks were out in the living room as well. I crawled on my hands and knees towards the door. I raised my head and peeked out.

Lights were exploding and popping all over the room. In the pit, by the ceiling, and even hitting the walls. Several of them zoomed by rapidly, and a few went right for the pinball machine. I could see Leo running away from it, and Mike was ducking behind the couch. I could see Nia tucked by the turnstiles, still holding Spike in her arms. She jumped up and made a run towards the kitchen, but one light landed right beside her and exploded, causing her to jump back in surprise and fall to her knees. She hunched over, cradling Spike in her arms protectively.

"Nia!"

Raph seemed to appear out of nowhere as he grabbed Nia's shoulders and shoved her out of the way, just as another light fell and exploded right where she had been. Once the smoke had cleared, I slowly stood to my feet and walked out. I looked around to see where the others had gone. Leo came out from the kitchen, and Mikey poked his head out from behind the TV. I turned my head to see Raph and Nia crouched beside the pinball machine, both looking shocked. The three of us looked at each other before we all ran in unison towards them.

"Are you alright?" Raph asked, shaking Nia's arms slightly. "Are you two hurt?"

"No, I'm okay," Nia said, her voice shaking slightly. "I think Spike's just a bit freaked out."

They both looked down at the small shell laying in Nia's lap. Raph reached over and picked it up, placing it in his own lap. A moment later, Spike had poked his head out. There wasn't even a scratch on him.

"Aw… hey there, little guy," he said, patting his small shell. "You're all good. Ol' Raph won't let anything happen to you."

I couldn't help but grin for a moment. But, the smell of smoke was still heavy in the air, and I coughed slightly.

"Wow, I did not see that one coming," I muttered, looking at the others. "Is everyone else okay?"

"Yeah, I-"

"Are you crazy!" Raph snapped, suddenly on his feet. "No! We're not okay!"

"What happened here?!"

We all froze and turned. I felt myself gulp when I saw Master Splinter standing behind us, a look of irritation and concern on his face. Before we could say anything, Raph walked right up to him.

"I'll tell yah what happened, Master Splinter. Donnie almost blew us all up. AGAIN! And worse, he almost blew up Spike!"

"Raph, he didn't mean it," Nia started.

"How can you side with him?!" Raph yelled. "You'd be in bits right now if I hadn't pushed you two out of the away!"

I took a step forward. "Raph, dude, I'm really sorry. I-"

"Sorry doesn't cut it this time!"

Raph turned and pushed past me, stomping away towards my lab. He went inside and I could hear him shoving things around in there. Before I could go in and keep him from making a mess of my work, he walked back out holding the canister of mutagen.

"Until the mad scientist gets his act together, I'm holding this for safe keeping!"

"Raph, I don't think that's a good idea," Nia started, but he ignored her.

"No, Raph, be reasonable!" I begged. "Man, that's my last canister of mutagen."

He ignored us though and continued to stomp over to his bedroom. We heard the door slam shut. I sighed irritably. Obviously, I felt guilty over what I had done, but Raph was acting like I had done it on purpose. I didn't want the others to get hurt, and I especially didn't want to hurt Spike.

"Perhaps things will be better settled once we have cleaned up," Splinter said lowly, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Michelangelo, please tell Raph to come back out so he can help clean."

"M-me?" Mikey stuttered. "Uh… are you sure that-"

"Now, my son."

Mikey gulped, and nodded. He shuffled nervously to the bedrooms while we all started to gather up broken pieces and trash. Nia had already gotten us some trash bags by the time Mikey came back out. Raph came marching behind him a moment later, looking just as mad as before.

"Sensei, this is completely unfair!" he started. "Donnie made this mess, how come I have to help?"

I groaned, looking down at the ground. Raph was really mad at me this time.

"Allow me to make a suggestion, Raphael," Splinter said calmly.

Raph rolled his eyes and glared up at him. "Suggest what, Sensei? I'm sick of suggestions! What could you possibly suggest?"

But, as soon as he stopped speaking Master Splinter reached a hand forward and poked a spot below Raph's shoulder. Raph's whole body stiffened, his face contorted in what looked like pain. He groaned and whimpered for a moment before slowly falling backwards and landing flat on his shell.

"Perhaps you should sit and meditate for a while," Splinter said, still as calm as before.


Nia's P.O.V.

It took us about an hour to clean up the mess the explosions had caused. Raph was down on the floor for about twenty minutes before the affects of the pressure point wore off. He was still angry, but much calmer about it now. No doubt, due to Sensei keeping a close eye on him while he cleaned.

"At least he just put you in time out," I whispered to him as we both brought the trash bags to the garbage. "He could've given you a tough workout or something for mouthing off."

"I'd prefer the workout," he grumbled. "It'd be less humiliating."

"It's nothing we haven't seen before, dude."

We huffed as we both tossed the bags into the cans. As soon as we did, Raph turned and immediately started to head back inside, no doubt heading for his room. I frowned at him slightly before running to catch up with him.

"Raph, I get why you're mad," I started. "You were busy arguing with Mikey and Leo, then Donnie nearly blew us up again. A lot happened today, sure. But, you're not that pissed, are you?"

Raph groaned. "Kinda, yeah. I'm just… I'm sick of the everyone talking to me like I don't know anything. Like I'm crazy."

"I don't think you're crazy-"

"Well, try telling that to them!" he snapped. "It's always me, right? I've got the bad attitude! I'm the bad guy!"

Raph turned and angrily kicked his bedroom door opened, walking inside. I looked around to make sure Sensei didn't hear the noise before following him in.

"They just don't get it, Nia!"

"Raph, I hear you, dude. I do! I just think that-"

I stopped as my eyes locked onto something else in the room. The lights were off, and the only thing I could see was a bright, glowing green light that was coming from behind Raph. The mutagen canister was on the ground, broken, mutagen oozing out in a large puddle.

Raph noticed my staring and turned around. He gasped in shock. I heard him try to flip the lights on, but nothing happened. They must be broken again. We looked at each other for a moment before we made our way over to the canister.

"That's not good," Raph facepalmed. "Man, Donnie's gonna be pissed."

I was going to suggest getting a mop and a bucket when I realized that something was off. I looked around the room and felt that something was missing, but I couldn't tell what. My eyes landed on the small pillow that Raph kept beside his bed for Spike, and I realized it was empty.

"Raph…" I said lowly. "Where's Spike?"

Before he could to more than look at me, we froze. We both heard it. Someone was behind us. We both whipped around, taking protective stances. For a moment, there was silence. We heard low footsteps, and from the shadows we saw a giant figure appear out of nowhere.

"Those three never understood yah…" a deep, gravelly voice spoke. "Not like her… Not like me…"

The light from the mutagen was enough to illuminate the figure in front of us. It was a giant mutant turtle that was built like a fricking tank. It was taller than either of us, had a massive shell covered in spikes on its back, and its arms and legs were the size of tree trunks. Its eyes were large, piercing. A bright mix of blue and green. From beside me, I heard Raph let out a shaking breath.

"Wh- It can't be…" he spoke up. "Spike?!"

I gasped. No… NO! It couldn't be true.

"Hey you two," he said, smiling. "Nice to finally speak with you for once."

"Oh my god…" I whispered, covering my hands with my mouth.

"But- How?" Raph asked.

"Isn't it obvious?"

Spike nodded at the opened canister of mutagen on the floor. It all suddenly clicked. The canister must have fallen and broken while we were cleaning, and Spike had obviously gotten into it.

"Oh Spike…" I dared to take a step forward. "I'm so sorry, buddy…"

Spike tilted his head, leaning closer towards me.

"Aw, don't be sad, Nia," he tried to sound friendly, even with his growling voice. "It didn't hurt much, honest. Besides, I feel fantastic now."

"I'd like to think so," said Raph. "You… you look awesome!"

Spike grinned at him. He began to stand up straight, but his head came in contact the ceiling lamp. I noticed then that the bulb was busted.

"Whoa, easy big guy," I held my arms out to him "You're… not as small as you used to be. Here, sit down."

I gently touched his arm, carful not to touch any of his spikes, and sat him down on the floor. Even sitting down, he towered over both of us. He grinned down at me, and I grinned back. Raph started pacing around behind me.

"I can't believe this is happening…" he said. "This is amazing! This is incredible, we-"

"Um, Raph?" I asked. "Not to be a downer or anything, but, what're we gonna tell the others?"

"Easy," Spike spoke up. "Tell 'em you got a new partner. One who knows the true meaning of being a warrior."

Raph stared at him. "A new partner…?"

"You and me," Spike stood up and walked over to Raph, placing his hands on his shoulders. "No joking around. No goofing off like your brothers. We'll be the ultimate ninja team."

I stood there, frowning at them. There wasn't anything bad about what Spike was saying really, it was just the tone in his voice. It made something tick in the back of my head.

"That would be… awesome!" Raph exclaimed.

Spike turned to face me, keeping a hand on Raph's shoulder. "What do you say, Nia? Feel like joining in? We'll crush our opponents! We'll all fight evil together. Nonstop."

"Um…"

"Come on, Nia!" Raph begged, smiling up at me. "This is my chance to show the others that I know what I'm talking about, and I want you to help me."

I paused. This whole situation was making me really damn nervous. But, the way Raph was smiling at me had the butterflies in my stomach going crazy in the good way. I looked from him, to Spike, and back again. They were both giving me expectant looks, waiting for my answer.

Before I could give it however, there was a loud knock on the door.

"Hey, Raph? Nia? You guys in there?"

Raph gasped. "Man! Ah… quiet," he said to Spike. "Just sit tight."

Spike remained where he was as Raph and I both went up to the door.

"Yeah?" he called out.

"We got a mutagen mission, need you both on deck."

"Right, uh… one sec!" Raph turned to face me. "So?"

I looked at him and Spike again, feeling nervous as before. I sighed.

"Maybe you and Spike should go together without me," I suggested. "It'll look fishy if we both ditch the mission tonight. I can stick with them and keep them off your backs for a bit."

"Pretty and smart," Spike said. "What more could a turtle need?"

Raph looked slightly disappointed but nodded. Even he knew that it would be odd if we both refused to go. I reached up and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Next time, okay?" I said.

He grinned and nodded. I walked forward and opened the door. Leo was standing out there, looking impatient. After I walked out of the room Leo attempted to push the door open more, but Raph stopped him.

"Uh, I'll catch up in a minute," he said quickly. "You go on without me."

Leo rolled his eyes. "Fine! 'Cause we're not waiting."

Raph glared at him before shutting the door hard. Leo shook his head.

"Honestly…" he turned to look at me. "What were you doing in there anyway?"

"Oh, just trying to cheer him up a bit," I lied, shrugging. "He gets too cooped up when he's angry, it's not healthy."

"Right…"


"We got mutagen close by!" Donnie called out. "Just on the other side!"

We all sprinted around him, leaping from one rooftop to the next. While we were all focused on the mission, I was focused on other things as well. I had texted Raph and told him to keep in touch with me in case anything went wrong. So far I haven't heard anything back from him. I was worried. I didn't think that Spike would hurt him or anything, but something didn't feel right.

"Ooze jar in full effect!"

We all ran to where Mikey was standing and halted. There, just on the sidewalk, was a stray canister of mutagen, still fulling intact.

"Sweet!" said Leo. "Let's grab it and bag it. Looks like we didn't need Raph after all."

I rolled my eyes at his statement. Mikey started to move forward, but Leo stopped him.

"Somebody's coming…"

I heard it before I saw it. What looked like a pizzaboy on a motorbike suddenly pulled up on the sidewalk. He stopped next to the canister, and a second later he picked it up.

"Who picks up random crap on the street?" I muttered.

"I do," Mikey said, looking offended.

"Alright, I'll handle this," Leo said. "You guys stay here."

Leo took out some rope and flung it across the street to the other building. It hooked itself to the roof firmly. He grabbed the other end and jumped, swinging in the direction of the bike. But, just as he did, I saw a flash of red and looked up. Raph was on the other building across from us, and he was swinging down towards the bike as well.

"Oh sh-"

They slammed right into each other just as the boy started up his bike again. They fell to the ground in a heap as the bike sped away, rounding the corner and leaving our line of sight.

"Hey! What're you doin'? I had him!"

"You're late, Raph!"

"What're you talking about?"

I leaned over, frowning down at them both. Jesus, they were fighting in the middle of the street. What if they were spotted?

"Are they gonna argue all night?" Donnie leaned down to yell, "The mutagen is getting away!"

"Hang on," I sighed. "I'll get them."

I leapt down from the building and landed on my feet. I sprinted over to them as fast as I could. Once I reached them, I snatched both of their wrists and started dragging them away. Ignoring their protests, I pulled them both in the dark nearby alleyway. Once there, I whipped around to glare at them.

"Are you guys insane?" I snapped. "You two can't just argue in the middle of the street! Someone might see you!"

"We have bigger things to worry about, Nia!" Leo said harshly.

"Don't start on her!" Raph jabbed a finger to Leo's chest. "If you hadn't been in my way, we wouldn't even be arguing."

"And if you had just come with us, this wouldn't have happened either!"

I groaned. "Will you two knock it off? This isn't helping!"

"Fine!" Leo turned. "I'll go after it myself! I don't need your help."

"Fine!" Raph yelled. "You sure you can handle a pizza delivery boy on your own?"

Leo leapt up the building, already running in the direction the pizza boy had went. I looked at Raph as he shoved a trashcan angrily. He started to climb the fire escape up to the building, and the next thing I knew I was following.

"Raph, come on!" I called after him. "This isn't helping anyone?"

"I would've had that if Leo hadn't gotten in the way," he hollered back. "I don't need him lecturing me on what I know."

He leapt up over the edge and onto the roof. I quickly climbed up, following close behind him. He started to stomp away across the roof, and I sprinted up to him.

"Dude, if you just blew off some steam you might-"

"Why do you care all of a sudden?" he asked, whipping around the glare at me. "You were all for me going on my own tonight earlier. What changed?"

"You and Leo both failed to complete your mission because you weren't working together," I pointed out. "That's what changed. Geez, Raph, why do

"Because I don't even know where you stand in all this," he looked even angrier now. "Just admit it! You'd rather be with them than with me."

"Why do I need to choose?!"

He didn't say anything. He just stood there, finally starting to catch his breath. We stood there staring at each other for a moment before he finally looked around. It was at that moment that I realized that we were completely alone.

"Slash?" Raph called out. "Slash! Hey, where'd you go, man?"

"Who's Slash?" I asked.

"Ah- Spike," Raph said quickly. "He didn't like his name, so he changed it."

Before I could ask more, I felt and heard a loud thud from behind me. I whipped around. Spike- or rather, Slash- was standing behind me. His arms and legs were wrapped in black bandages similar to how the boys and I had our bandages and pads. He even had a black mask around his eyes, and a black belt with a silver S on the front. In his hand, he was grasping a large, spiked mace that I knew for a fact came out of Raph's weapon locker. He was much more intimidating now, to say the least.

He straightened up and looked down at me, an intense expression in his eyes. I was frozen where I stood. I heard Raph walk up beside me.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

Slash didn't answer at first. He continued to stare down at me. It wasn't an angry stare, but it filled me fear, nonetheless.

"RAPH! NIA!"

I snapped back into reality at the voice of our little brother. Mikey suddenly appeared out of nowhere, running up to stand beside Slash. He looked terrified and out of breath.

"Guys, Donnie's disappeared! He was right behind me when-"

He suddenly stopped talking. He slowly turned his head to look at Slash, and his jaw fell open.

"Holy chalupa… Another turtle?!"

"Wait wait, no!" Raph said quickly, trying to calm him down. "It's Spike! I mean… Slash now."

"He got into some of the mutagen from Don's lab," I explained. "And… here he is."

"Dude… this is too much to process…" Mikey said, gripping his head. "I'm… gonna…!"

I could almost see Mikey's head literally explode in front of me. Raph and I exchanged glances, not saying at word in response to his craziness. Mikey shook his head like a wet dog.

"I'M FREAKIN' OUT…!" he yelled out.

"Raphael," Slash spoke up. "You said it yourself, we don't need these clowns. We gotta hunt that mutagen down, now!"

"B-but…!" Mikey ran up to Raph, grabbing his arm. "What about Donnie? We have to find him!"

Slash rolled his eyes, which then landed on me. "Nia, back me up here, would yah?"

I gulped as I looked between him and Raph for a few moments. I felt that no matter what I said, it would make someone upset. But, now wasn't the time to be worried about Slash. If Mikey was right and Donnie was missing, then we needed to take care of that first.

"I'm with Mikey on this one, dude," I said finally, and I turned to Raph. "We don't know where Donnie is. He could be hurt, or worse. We need to find him, at least make sure he's okay."

Raph stared at me for a moment, a nervous expression on his face. He glanced up at Slash, who was staring with fire in his eyes. He looked back down to me, I gave him a pleading look. Finally, he looked at Mikey, who looked like he was close to tears.

"…Sorry, Slash," he said finally. "My family comes first, no matter what."

Mikey gasped in delight, and I gave him a proud grin. He raised his hands and placed them both on our shoulders in comfort.

"How 'bout I make the choice a little easier for yah."

It happened before I could even react. Slash had raised his massive fish and brought it down hard onto Mikey's back, slamming him down so hard that he bounced back up.

"MIKEY!" Raph and I screamed.

Slash hit once, twice, three more times before finally letting up. Mikey was laying facedown on the ground, his eyes closed and his jaw hanging opened. Slash raised his fist again, going in for another hit. I instantly sprinted forward, throwing myself on top of Mikey. Slash halted, and that's all we needed.

"SPIKE!"

Raph threw himself at Slash, forcing him back several feet. I leaned down and grabbed one of Mikey's arms, throwing it over my shoulders to pick him up. Raph strode forward, taking a protective stance in front of us.

"What are you doing?!" he yelled.

"I don't wanna fight you, Raphael," Slash stood up and slowly made his way back. "Just go. Leave me to my work."

"Your work?!" Raph took a step back, reaching for one of the back pockets in his belt. "That mutagen warped your brain, Spike. This isn't you!"

Slash glared, gripping his mace tightly. "Told yah, the name's Slash."

He raised his weapon high, aiming right for Mikey. Raph leapt forward, throwing his arm out and tossing a smoke bomb into Slash's face. While he was distracted, Raph grabbed Mikey's other side and helped me drag him as far away as we could manage.


Mikey was, surprisingly, okay after his little smackdown. He had the wind knocked out of him, but he could stand just fine. Once we had managed to settle down, Mikey explained that after I left, Donnie just seemed to disappear behind him. There wasn't a trace of him left. Judging on Slash's new-found agenda, it was easy to guess that he had something to do with it. We decided to waste no time in trying to get as far away as possible while also keeping an eye out for Donnie.

"Anything?" I asked.

"Not over here."

"Keep looking."

I ran across the whole roof, looking around any corners to see if he might be laying or hiding around. Nothing. I heard footsteps and looked up to see Raph running next to me.

"Nia," he started. "Look, about what said-"

"I know," I said quickly. "But, don't worry about that now. Let's focus on finding Donnie and getting everyone home. We can talk more then, I promise."

Raph looked like he had much more to say but nodded in agreement. We continued over to the next building, keeping out eyes peeled. Suddenly, Mikey shouted.

"There he is!"

We looked to where he was pointing, just across the building we were on. There was a familiar figure laying on the edge of the roof, as though they were asleep.

"Donnie!"

We all instantly sprinted across the roof, jumping over to the next one. I made a B-line straight for my brother, sliding on my kneepads in front of him. The other two knelt around me, looking closely at him. I reached forward and held Donnie's face in my hands, holding it up to the light.

He looked awful. His purple mask was missing, replaced by a collection of fresh purple and black bruises. There were marks and scratches all over his arms and plastron as well, and one of his arms was hanging limply at his side. I leaned in close, holding Donnie's face up gently.

"Donnie?"

"Bro?" Mikey asked, quietly.

There was a moment of silence that seemed to go on for an eternity. Then, it was broken as whimpered, slowly opening his eyes.

"G-guys…?"

"Oh, thank god!" I exclaimed. I would've hugged Donnie if I wasn't worried about hurting him.

"Ugh… what hit me?" he groaned. "It was like Raph, only bigger and meaner. Angrier, but… not quite as ugly."

I probably would've smacked Donnie in the snout for the mean comment if he wasn't already so injured.

"It was Spike," said Raph. "He got into the mutagen. I was gonna tell you guys, but-"

"Spike?" Donnie rolled his eyes. "Way to keep that mutagen safe, Raph."

"No time for sass, bro," I said, lowering my hands from his face.

"She's right," Raph picked up Donnie's staff before wrapping one of his arms around his shoulders. "Come on, we gotta find some cover."

Raph started to help lead Donnie out from the open. Mikey and I stood beside them both, keeping out weapons out, ready to defend if necessary. We had to carefully get Donnie across the buildings, sometimes needing two of us to carry him. Mikey would often take the lead, making sure the coast was clear before letting us go any further. Each building we crossed brought us closer to home. But, it was still too much.

Once we crossed the next roof, Donnie finally succumbed to his exhaustion and collapsed. I quickly stood in front of them, holding both of my kamas, waiting for either of them to keep moving.

"Agh… can't make it," he grimaces. "Too weak… You go on without me, guys…"

I shook my head. "No happening, dude."

"She's right," Raph said firmly. "No teammate left behind, that's our rule! Look, I'm gonna tie off your sprained arm, it might hurt okay?"

Raph kneeled in front of Donnie, carefully holding his arm out. Donnie winced. Raph quickly reached behind him and pulled out one of his sais.

"Bite down on this," he said, shoving the handle into Donnie's mouth.

"Eck! It tastes like leather and sweat!" he said in a muffled voice.

I watched Raph work on Donnie's arm for a moment before turning back to look out at the building.

"I'm gonna look ahead," Mikey told me. "You stay here and keep guard."

I nodded. Mikey carefully made his way around the building and out of sight for a moment. I didn't like the idea of him going on his own, but there was no time to stay put. We had to get everyone home now. I kept my eyes and ears opened as best as I could. I couldn't remember the last time I felt this scared and on edge. Probably the night we fought the Shredder. We had never had a night like this before though.

Raph had just finished up on Donnie's arm when we suddenly heard a scream. A very familiar scream.

"Mikey-!"

I was about to run towards the scream, but Raph sprinted past me, holding both his sai.

"Nia, stay with Donnie!" he ordered. "Do not move until I get back, no matter what!"

And before I could contradict him, he was gone. I didn't have time to be annoyed right now. I heard Donnie let out a painful groan. I turned and kneeled in front of him.

"You gonna be okay, bro?" I asked, putting a hand on his knee.

"Yeah…" he lifted his head. "I'll be fine… I just need to catch my breath and I'll be…"

He stopped talking. He stopped moving. The expression on his face was setting off all the alarm bells in my head, when suddenly I felt it. A presence from somewhere behind me.

I whipped around and crossed my kamas in front of me just as something knocked me off my feet. I scrambled to grab my weapons as I raised my head. Slash was standing in front of Donnie, looking down on him like a soulless warrior. Donnie struggled to get to his feet but stumbled. Slash raised his mace. But, before he could even move, I quickly slid in front of him, blocking him from Donnie. He hesitated like before, slowly lowering his weapon. I crossed my kamas in front of me, ready for a fight.

"Nia…"

I ignored Donnie, keeping my eyes on Slash. He stared down at me for a moment before chuckling darkly.

"I know I said I didn't wanna fight Raph," he said. "But, really, you're the one I don't wanna fight, Nia. You're too delicate for me."

"It's a little late for that, Slash," I growled.

Slash smirked. "Oh, come on. Even Raph keeps calling Spike after all of this. Why not you, Nia?"

"You're not Spike."

The words seemed to stop Slash in his tracks. He was still for several moments as he glared at me, and I glared back. He gripped his mace tightly, positioning himself.

"Don't make me do this, Nia."

I spread my feet out a little more, staying in front of Donnie. Slash had a massive advantage over me, but I didn't care. I was fully prepared to defend my brothers and my family, no matter the cost.

Slash let out a snarl before hunching over and sprinting towards me. I crouched down and leapt up into the air. I heard him skid to a halt and I landed perfectly onto his shoulders. I pushed against his head with my foot and swung my right kama down. But, just as I did, a large hand came up and grabbed my wrist, yanking me down. My body slammed against the ground hard. I had time to look up before quickly rolling over out of the way of an oncoming fist. I gripped my kamas as I sprang to my feet and sprinted, running in circles around him. I leapt up against the wall and pushed myself off, holding my blade out. I flew past his face and I felt my blade come in contact with something, and he yelped.

I landed on the ground and turned. Slash holding onto his shoulder. He lowered his hand, and I saw a long, thin red cut across his shoulder blades. He glared at me before running at me, ready to take a swing with his mace. I stood still, waiting for him. I ducked to the side as he swung down, and I jumped up and kicked him in the head. I made to swing at his face, but his hand grabbed me by the arm. He gripped it hard, holding me so tightly it could break me. I whimpered in pain but refused to let go of my kama. Without warning Slash threw me away. I slammed into a nearby wall with such force that I felt it shake. I crumpled into a heap on the ground, but my grip on my kamas was firm.

"You know, I used to wonder why Raph took such a shine to you," Slash's voice drew closer. "So nice, so thoughtful and generous. Everything he's not."

I let out a yell as I sprang to my feet, running at him. I swung my blades at him. Some he dodged, others he just blocked with his arm, causing several more wounds to appear. I didn't care. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins, it was like I was on auto piolet. Keep the others safe; that's all that mattered.

I swung my kama again, but he blocked it once more before punching me right in the stomach. The force was enough to make me vomit. I coughed as I fell to my knees, the handles of my kamas shaking. I felt a massive hand grab at my hair and force my head up.

"But, now I understand," he gazed down at me. "Me and him, people like us… we always want what we can't have."

He reached behind me, grabbing onto my hoodie. Yanking me by the hair, he threw me away from him with enough force to knock someone out. My kamas fell out of my grasp and landed several feet in front of me. It wasn't until I was huddled on the ground that I realize that my hoodie was gone. I looked up to see Slash was slowly walking towards me, my hoodie in his right hand. It was at that moment that I noticed what was on his right arm; Mikey's and Donnie's masks. He was sporting them like trophies.

Anger started to course through me again, giving me the energy to get back onto my hands and knees. I crawled forward as fast as I could, my hands reaching out for my kamas.

"He never had the guts to say it to your face, but I do."

Before my hand could grab the handle, I felt something grab it and yank it back. I was lifted from my feet up into the air. I didn't have the strength to lift my head.

"No…"

I felt cold metal on my exposed arms as I was pushed back against the bars of the water tower. My eyes opened to find Slash was dangerously close to me. One hand holding me against the metal, the other still holding my hoodie. I squirmed and the grip on my hand got tighter.

"No!"

I raised my free hand up and went to punch him. Slash dropped my hoodie and grabbed shoulder, his large hand big enough to keep me pinned alone. I could feel my bones coming closer and closer to snapping under the pressure. I stretched down with one of my hands, trying to reach my tessen. I could feel tears start to sting my eyes as it became harder to breath. He was choking me. Slash used his free hand to gently move some hair out of my face, leaning in close.

"Pretty and smart…" he growled softly. "What more could a turtle need?"

For the first time in years, I felt trapped. I couldn't move, I couldn't fight, I couldn't run. The breath in my lungs was fading. I was stuck with nowhere to go. I was helpless.

"S…Stop…"

Slash growled lowly, a wide smirk on his face. His breath was hot against me. My eyes felt like they were about to pop out of my skull. Little lights were appearing in front of me. I was going to suffocate to death and there was nothing I could do.

I heard a voice yell out, causing Slash's grip on me to lessen. It was all I needed. I slipped my tessen out of its holster and slashed it forward across his face. He wailed for a moment before lifting me up and throwing me once more. I tumbled on the ground, rolling into a heap. I could hear more yelling and shouting, but the voices were fading. My body was weak and aching, and all I wanted to do was sleep.


I reached consciousness before I could open my eyes. Everything that had happened came flashing back in an instant. My brain kept telling me to get on my feet, but my body refused. I was fighting this internal battle for a few moments before my eyes even opened. I recognized the posters and pictures on the wall immediately. I was in my bedroom, and the comforting cushioning around me meant I was in my bed.

I tried to sit up and immediately stopped. My whole body was aching and sore all over. It didn't feel like anything was broken, but I was sore in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time. I took in a few deep breaths and slowly sat up in bed. The ache was killing me, but not as bad as before. I glanced down and was surprised to find white bandages wrapped around my arms. I could feel something rubbing against my stomach, and I lifted my shirt to see my torso wrapped up as well. Curiously, I raised a hand to touch my face, but found no bandages on it.

"Thank god…"

I looked all around my room and saw my hoodie folded up and laying neatly on the surface of my side table. My phone was laying in the middle of it. I grabbed it and looked at the screen. It had only been two hours since we had first left for our mutagen mission. Weird. It felt like it had been an eternity ago.

At that moment, I heard the door slowly open. I looked up to see Mikey peeking his head around the door. As soon as he saw me he gasped.

"Nia!" he whipped his head around. "Guys! She's awake!"

I had time to brace myself before I was suddenly enveloped in a big, warm hug. Mikey snuggled up to me, babbling words of glee. I heard several footsteps as the others appeared in my doorway. They were each covered in their own variations of band aids and bandages, but they were all smiling at me.

"Nia!"

"Thank Darwin!"

"Are you alright?"

"I'm okay," I groaned. "Mikey, you're kind of squeezing me a bit."

He released me and slowly backed up. Donnie stepped forward and knelt beside the bed. His sprained arm had now been put into a much more comfortable sling.

"You had us worried there for a moment," he lifted a small light up to my eyes to examine them. "You've never passed out from a fight before."

"Well, I took a bigger beating than what I'm used to," I answered as he pressed onto my arms and shoulders, examining for more injuries.

"You sore?"

"Hell yeah."

"It's a good thing you're up," said Leo. "Master Splinter was getting really worried. He's making some tea for you right now."

I nodded. Donnie checked me out a little bit more before deciding that I was good enough to be getting on with.

"So, where's Slash?"

The four of them all looked at each other, exchanging the same concerned expression.

"We don't know," said Leo. "He just… disappeared."

"Raph started fighting him right after you passed out," Donnie explained. "It was ugly… We were able to distract him enough before Leo decided to finally show up and help."

"I had him," Raph insisted.

"Only after Leo distracted him."

"I'm gonna go get Splinter," Leo said quickly before Raph could snap back. "He'll want to speak with you now that you're up."

I nodded. He turned and walked out the door as Mikey walked forward and kneeled in front of me.

"Dudette, I've got some leftover sausage and marshmallow pizza somewhere in my room," Mikey said proudly. "I've had it saved since last night, and I've got a few pieces with your name on it."

"Oh, Mikey, that's-"

"Ah-ah, say no more! No thanks necessary."

Without hesitation, Mikey turned and sprinted out the door. I grimaced slightly. As good as his intentions are, the prospect of eating day-old pizza with marshmallows didn't sound very appetizing.

"If you're too sore, I could get you some pain killers," Donnie offered. "You look like you could use it."

I smiled. "That sounds amazing right now."

He gave me a gentle pat on my shoulder before turning and walking away, shutting the door behind him. Raph was the only one that hadn't left. He hadn't said much either. He and I looked at each other for a moment before he walked towards me and sat on the edge of the bed.

"How do you feel?"

"Like I got slammed by an 18-wheeler," I admitted. "But, a lot better knowing everyone is okay."

There was a pause. Raph was looking at me with adoration and frustration. Like he had a lot to get off his chest. I knew exactly what he was going to say.

"I'm sorry."

Or maybe I didn't.

"Huh?"

"It's my fault!" he said. "If I hadn't taken the mutagen, Spike wouldn't have gotten mutated in the first place. Or… or if I had said something sooner, you guys wouldn't have gotten hurt. Or-"

"Raph, enough," I cut him off. "This isn't your fault. You didn't know he was gonna get into the stuff and you didn't know that he was gonna go crazy. Dude, I would've gotten creamed out there if it wasn't for you. You saved us."

Raph turned away from me, not looking convinced. I leaned over, waiting for him to look up at me. He did, eventually.

"I saw you take him on," he said quietly. "All by yourself, too. I've… never seen you fight like that before."

I blushed. "Well… what was I supposed to do? Let him hurt Donnie?"

I shrug and give a small smile. Raph doesn't smile back.

"Nia, you were fricking amazing out there," he said. "You were totally badass and tough. But… Geez, you know we hate it when you risk your life like that."

I shook my head. "I couldn't just let him keep going. If I hadn't fought back, Slash might've killed Donnie. He might've killed all of you."

Raph leaned forward, a very intense look in his eyes. "Nia… Slash could've killed you."

"I know."

"Don't you even care?"

"I care about you."

Raph stared at me for a moment. I suddenly realized what I had just said, and I felt my face blush even more.

"I-I meant all of you," I said quickly. "I care about all of you."

I gulped, turning my head away out of embarrassment. Stupid! Raph shifted closer but I didn't look up at him. I saw his hand reach over and grasp mine.

"Do you have any idea what I would've done if I lost you tonight?"

I shook my head. "No… But, Raph, I can't just not fight. I'm not a damsel in distress. I'm not the same scared little girl you met 8 years ago. I'm tough, I know how to fight, and I know how to defend. Who would I be otherwise?"

I was finally brave enough to look up at Raph again. But, I was not expecting him to be so close now. He was staring intently at me, and all I could do was stare back. He was still holding my hand. Slowly, I turned my hand to grasp his in return. Raph shifted slightly, his other hand coming up towards my face. My eyes didn't leave his as he cupped the back of my head, his fingers running through my hair.

He paused, as though waiting to see if I would push him away. I don't. I don't want to. I see his throat flinch as he gulps. He starts to lean in even closer, and I instinctively crane my neck slightly. Too shy and embarrassed, I closed my eyes at the last moment.

Raph's lips are surprisingly soft, and they move gently against my own. It's almost as if he's being cautious. Or maybe scared? I leaned my head against his a little more, hoping to ease his stress a little. It works. His hand grips my hair gently as he kisses me, his mouth smooth against mine. My face is hot, and I can feel my palms start to sweat. But, I suck it up and grip his hand a little tighter. I could have stayed there all night.

After just a few seconds it's over. He pulls away and I opened my eyes again. He's still unbelievably close to me, I could kiss him again if I was brave enough. I don't know where else to look, so I stare right into his eyes. His face suddenly goes very red as he backs up. His hand leaves the back of my head, and the one gripping mine started to move. I raised an eyebrow at him as he started stuttering.

"I think- um- the others are-" he cleared his throat. "I should tell- Sensei will wanna see you, so-"

"Oh," I muttered, finally understanding. "O-okay. Sure."

There was an awkward pause. Raph gave my hand a small squeeze before finally releasing it and standing up. He walked towards my bedroom door and stopped. He turned, and he had the most adoring smile on his face that I had ever seen. I smiled back at him before he turned and walked out of my room. I could feel my face become bright and red, and I didn't care. I grasped my pillow and shoved my face into it, letting out a happy laugh.

So, that's what it feels like…