Disclaimer: I do not own the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

A/N: I wasn't going to post this, but I found a reason to. Today, this 20th day of February 2005, is that reason. It's a train of thought so it will jump around a little and it is meant to.


Have you ever had something happen that you could ignore, pretend it never really happened, or if it did it really happened to someone else? I have. And now nine months later it's catching me. You can't run from it. You can't hide. I've denied it for so long that I'm not sure what to do now that it has caught me. I didn't see her that often, she was really little more than an acquaintance, but when something like that occurs you eventually have to stand up and take notice. Oh, God! She's gone, and no one knows what happened. They found some things: a shoe here, a set of keys there, but nothing that could reveal where she was, where she had been taken or by whom.

I don't remember how my brother first met her. Several years ago he came across her somehow. She was always 'Mikey's friend', someone who we all knew about, but for whatever reason never really got to know. She was down here a couple of times, she wasn't a stranger, but I don't know that I knew her well enough to call her a friend either. Maybe I should talk to Mikey about this, but then again, why bring up that kind of history. He moved on long ago, he's gone through all the steps. Denial, that was the first one, then anger and slowly, oh so slowly, that one finally became acceptance. Funny how they say it like there are these nice clean lines: stages, steps. I like lines, categories. I like to be able to pinpoint where something fits in the grand scheme of things, but with this the truth is that there are no lines, you don't just suddenly wake up and move into the next stage. It doesn't work like that. No, Mikey hasn't forgotten her, he still puts up posters of her when the old ones fade or are torn down. He does what he can to make sure that she isn't forgotten, but there is really only so much we can do; only so much anyone can do. Oh God, what happened to her? Why her? She was such a good kid!

Yeah, little more than a child, though the law considered her an adult, and as such Amber Alert didn't apply. Amber Alert, if she had been taken a few months earlier, just a few months, the system would have kicked into overdrive! Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference, but since it wasn't sounded I guess we will never know. I don't think the guy who took her was looking for an adult, but taking one did make his life easier. Who knows, could that have been the difference between finding her and never knowing?

She played soccer. As I recall she was pretty good too. Maybe she wouldn't make the team at a Division 1 university, but she did well in High School, and D2 or D3 she certainly could have played. I think she was in a recreational league, I wish I could remember for sure. Heh, when she was a senior she would wait with her younger teammates until they had all been picked up. It wasn't because she had to wait, that's just who she was. She cared, about everyone. If she's out there still she's probably doing her darndest to convert her abductors. "It's a Mission." I remember overhearing that from the bushes outside her church one day. A Mission? I had to research that, because I certainly didn't know what they were talking about. "God meant this for her, he has a plan." At the time all I felt was confusion at hearing these words, now they make me angry. I believe that I mentioned that you can never outrun reality.

Denial, that's a strange thing isn't it? You can only pretend for so long. I actually believe Mikey thought that I was being harsh there for a while. I wouldn't talk to him about her, and I just avoided the room when the subject came up. If I stayed it wasn't for long, and as soon as the opportunity presented itself I would slip away. I wonder how many times no one noticed when I left? I got to be very good at it during that time. When I want to I can even slip away from Leonardo now, much to his chagrin. I even managed to evade reality. I did so successfully for nine months. When she was still here I didn't see her every day. Heck, I didn't see her every week! I think that's why I escaped for this long. A few overturned items, signs of struggle, that's all they found. We looked too, everyone of us, but there comes a point in every search where you just have to accept that your looking isn't going to bring her back, a point when all you can do is wait and see what fate has in mind. For nine months I could pretend that those searches were performed by someone else. I wasn't the one out there looking for someone who had been stolen from our lives. The shell on my back wasn't the only one I had. I had one around my heart as well. Had isn't the right word, that shell is still there, but it's doing a different job now. It once kept all this out, I think now it is keeping it in.

I remember the police searches. Civilians were called in to assist. I know that if it had been possible we would have been there. April went, so did Casey, they would come to the lair afterward covered in mud and grime, April even came down with a pretty impressive case of poison ivy. Anywhere she could have been hidden was turned upside down, either by the police or by us, or both. One day Casey and April could smell death in the area they were searching. Something was dead there, and it had to be searched. Some fears were relieved that day when they found the deer, but that still didn't answer the most important question. They didn't achieve their goal. Find her, don't look for her because looking wasn't enough. Find. The goal was to FIND her. It still hasn't been done. No one has managed to Find her yet. Find her. The one thing that is fairly certain is that she is not in the city she disappeared from. Damn. Statistically, it was probably a man. Damn him. I'm starting to sound like Raph. Yeah, I've definitely moved out of the denial phase. Anger, that's what begins now. Treat it like perfect little lines, this is how it's supposed to be. No, they're not lines, it's not black and white, but shades of gray. I have things that need to be done, but I can't concentrate on them. It's been so long. I thought I had moved past what happened to her. Man was I wrong.

Her favorite color was pink. The only reason I know that is because of this thing Mikey tied on my wrist. I think it's the same material our bandanas are made out of; at least it feels the same. Raph and Leo took theirs off a few months ago. I never really knew why I didn't take it off. I guess I do now. Oddly, it never really meant anything before. It was just something I did for my brother's sake then it became habit, part of my routine. I put it on in the morning just like I tied on my bandana or pulled on my pads. I stopped wearing the button on my belt, but the band stayed. Now, even if she does, somehow, find her way home I don't know if I could take it off. It's become more than just her now. Now it's a symbol of all the people we've failed. I know there are a lot of them out there. That isn't what it should be. It should be a reminder that there is always hope. Why can't I see it? I don't know. Maybe it is a sign of hope. As long as I have this on my wrist then there is a chance she may be returned to those who love her most. I didn't know her well, but I knew her enough. I still wish she were back home with her family. That is what she deserves, to be home with her family, not… whatever is happening to her. Happening. Present tense. Pink band. There is hope. Elizabeth Smart found her way back, right?


A/N: Happy 20th Brooke. We miss you. Our hearts and prayers are with you. Please God, help her find her way home!