Rating : K

Word Count: 1,715

Authors Note: I began this as a story for the TMNT 100 Themes Challenge, but I've since dropped the challenge. This is a short collection of the one-shots I finished before dropping it. I added a few more I found sitting in my old files just to finish tying up loose ends. I tried to reorganize the one shots in a more logical order, and I edited it to give it a little bit of a plotline as well. This is the complete version, and will not be updated any further.

I do not own TMNT.

01. Intro

April hadn't really known what she was expecting, but it wasn't this.

"You live...in the sewers?" she asked with a blank expression.

"Actually in an old subway station," Donatello corrected her. He held the lid of the manhole while his brothers climbed down. She could practically feel the nervous anticipation coming from him. "I know it's not ideal...but this is the easiest way to get there." He gestured towards the dark hole. Even from a few feet away April could feel the cool draft leaking out, and smell an unpleasant aroma wafting from below. She glanced incredulously from the hole to Donatello.

"Do I have to walk in the sewage?" she asked in dread.

"What? No!" Donatello sputtered out, shaking his head. "There are walkways." April's face fell in relief. She shuffled forwards and glanced down, the smell of sewage hitting her as she peered in. It was too dark to make out anything.

"I should have worn my hiking boots," she said with a sigh, shouldering her backpack. She had a feeling her uggs wouldn't last long after this trip. She scooted backwards, hooking her feet on the ladder, then made a slow descent. Donatello followed after her, pulling the cover over the manhole and sending them into darkness.

It had taken her a week to convince them to let her come visit, and a little raw sewage wasn't about to stop her.

For the next half hour, April blindly followed the turtles as they navigated the tunnels with ease, twisting and turning until she had no sense of direction. She had a feeling that the over-complicated route was intentional. They were ninjas after all - even without being mutants they needed secrecy. Finally they emerged into a large railway tunnel. April squeezed her way out of the sewer tunnel and let out a breath of relief. It certainly wasn't clean here, but at least there wasn't a river of toilet-flushings churning next to her. They trekked down the railway tunnel, carefully avoiding the rails. April was just about to ask them if they were close yet when a pleasant smell suddenly drifted their way. Was that...air freshener?

"Home sweet home!" Michelangelo crowed, dashing ahead of the group. April glanced over at Leonardo, who was carefully avoiding looking at her and twisting his hands. She followed Mikey, unsure of what she might find.

She climbed a small flight of steps and hopped over a row of turnstiles, then let her eyes roam around and soak up the room in front of her. In the middle of the room there was a 'pit' of sorts, littered with cushions and beanbag chairs, and a small television with several cooking utensils connected to it and wires exposed. Above it was a spiraling staircase that hung in midair and seemed to lead to nowhere. To the right was a moat and and a few paper dividers set up in archways, and to the left was a huge set of metal doors. Straight ahead looked to be a hallway of some kind. In the pit, Mikey was pulling a drawer out of a plastic shelf with uncontrolled enthusiasm.

"Welcome to our lair dudette!" he said with a huge grin on his face.

"Lair?" Raphael snorted. Mikey just stuck his tongue out in defiance.

"Come look at all my games!" Michelangelo squealed. In an instant he had dashed over to April, grabbed her by the wrist, and dragged her over to the pit. April squawked in surprise, but by the time she had found her bearings they were already in the pit and Mikey was kneeled next to the drawer he had pulled out.

"Are you a gamer? Do you play games?" Mikey chattered, pulling out discs in cracked plastic cases. "I've got all the retro ones!"

"Oh um, just a few…" April said, looking at the games dumbfoundedly. She hadn't heard of most the titles in the bin - probably because they looked like they were from the nineties.

"Oh!" Mikey jumped up in excitement. "You've gotta see my comic collection too! Come'on!"

"Whoa whoa whoa," Leonardo quickly interjected before Mikey could drag her somewhere else. "Mikey, she just got here. Calm down." Mikey's face fell in disappointment.

"Okay, fine, I'll show you later," he said a bit dejectedly. Then his eyes lit up with sudden excitement. "Do you want a tour? I can totally give you a tour!" From behind her, she could hear Raphael sigh and slap a hand on his face.

"Sure Michelangelo," April said warmly.

"Yes!" Mikey pumped his fists. "One tour Mikey-style, coming up!" He grabbed her by the wrist again and dragged her across the room. "First we'll go to the most important room, the kitchen!" April smiled broadly at his enthusiasm. If nothing else, he was certainly striving to make her feel welcome, and she appreciated the effort.

First was the kitchen, which was small and filled with appliances that had obviously had some work done to make them usable. Mikey enthusiastically showed her the content of their fridge - it was a collection of random half full packages of slightly spoiled food, along with a huge bucket of green plant goo. Her face went a little green when a worm poked out of the bucket. Mikey offered her a cup full of algae, but she quickly cobbled together an excuse to reject it.

Next he brought her to the hallway, and pointed out which doors led to each of their rooms. He brought her into his room and showed off his comic collection, although all April could really focus on was the floor - or rather, the sea of junk that covered it. After that he tried to show her his brothers rooms, but they quickly put a halt to his tour as soon as the idea was suggested.

Then Donatello had eagerly brought her to his lab. Mikey meanwhile, was pouting about how his job had been stolen. Donatello's lab was admittedly impressive. There were all kinds of tools scattered around his work area, and a huge shelf of labeled chemicals on the wall. He even had two fully functioning turbine mixers, and a huge box full of spare tech parts he used to build his machines.

"Wow, this is so cool!" April gushed, looking through all the lab equipment. "I wish our school science labs had this kind of stuff in them!"

"R-really?" Donatello asked with huge, brown eyes. A smile was creeping on his lips.

"I've always wanted a lab, but since I live in an apartment…" April shrugged. "Not really a great idea. Although my dad hooked up a Bunsen burner once. That was cool." Donatello's eyes lit up and a dorky grin filled his face.

"You like science?" he questioned hopefully.

"It's one of my favorite classes," she replied, looking through a microscope at a slide Donatello had left in. "Whoa, this paramecium is undergoing binary division!"

"You're so cool," Donatello said in awe.

"Aw man, she's a nerd?" Mikey whined from the door. Donnie sent a glare in his direction, but April dismissed it, too engrossed in the microscope. Once they were finally torn away from the lab, there was only one place left to go.

"So what's over there?" April asked, pointing at the paper dividers next to the moat. Leonardo's face lit up immediately.

"That's the dojo. Do you want to see?" he asked her hopefully. April nodded and followed Leo, noticing that the three other boys were trailing behind her.

"Splinter's in there."

"Yeah, we know, doofus."

"But shouldn't we tell her…?"

"Good idea. Go ahead."

"What? No, you tell her."

"Why me?"

April frowned as the whispered fighting continued behind her. What was it that they were so nervous about saying? She cautiously followed the oldest turtle into the dojo, tense with anticipation. Whatever it was couldn't be that shocking-

"Is this April?"

April froze at the sight before her. Next to a large tree growing under a skylight stood a giant rat, with black beady eyes and a long pink tail sticking out of the robe he was wearing. In his hand was a jade staff, and the two big, rat ears twitched on top of his head. And even as a giant rat, he stood with a certain grace and authority. April made a small noise of disbelief.

"Oh, April, this is Splinter," Leonardo introduced with a nervous look. "He's our father." Splinter observed her with a keen, almost suspicious look.

"Your...father," April repeated dumbly. Five pairs of eyes all fixated on her as she tried to find her bearings. "It's...it's an honor to meet you sir." She stuck out her hand for a handshake, still blinking in surprise. Splinter observed her hand and noticed how it didn't tremble with fear.

"Likewise, April-san," Splinter took the offered hand and they exchanged handshakes. "Are you finding our home to be...satisfactory?"

"Yeah, do you like it?" Mikey asked eagerly, bouncing up and down. April glanced back at the four turtles. All of them were waiting for her answer with the utmost attention. It struck her that she was the first visitor they had ever had, probably the first person outside the family they had ever even met. It also dawned on her that by allowing her into their home, they had taken a huge risk of being found out, but had trusted she wouldn't betray them. April suddenly felt ashamed at the way she had been hassling them about letting her visit. They had only known her a few short weeks and they had entrusted her with their secret. She wasn't sure she deserved that kind of confidence.

"I love it," April smiled genuinely, and Mikey squealed with excitement.

"Do you hear that guys? She loves it!" Mikey grabbed April and gave her a hug that knocked the wind out of her. "You're the best April!" After he finally let her go, she turned to Splinter again.

"Thank you for letting me into your home," April said.

"I trust that you understand the vitality of our location remaining unknown," Splinter replied gravely.

"Of course," April said seriously, nodding her head. April resolved that she would earn that trust they had placed in her, piece by piece. No matter how long it took.