Title: Moth and Flame – The sequel to the 'Cat and Mouse' series
Summary: Seven years have passed since the events of 'Rest in Peace'.
Credits: Sassy, for beta reading and supporting me in getting this done.
Disclaimer: I do NOT own the turtles. I borrow them only for entertainment purposes. No profit or harm intended. Okay, well, not much harm. Psychological harm.
Author's Notes: Final chapter, folks. Thank you all for coming along for the ride.
Reinbeauchaser – There's a surprise for you at the end of this chapter in my notes.
Pacphys – I think I write just so I can giggle over your reviews. Love the little attack on the old cop at the crime scene. Very funny, but I don't think you'd actually be able to get Raph's sai away from him. Your shout-out was when Juliet noted they would need a new piano teacher. It mimicked your comment on the same subject.
Reluctant Dragon – In working on Sam's character for this story, I realized that 7 years had to change her a little. I think she always had those traits, but she was so uncertain of herself when she was younger.
To everyone who showed up to review at any point in the story: thank you, thank you, thank you.
Months earlier …
It made all the headlines.
A supposedly peaceful group fighting for the rights of aliens was also harboring deluded madmen in its midst. And the former president of the group, a Bill Hadley, just let it happen.
The group disbanded shortly before the trials started. Two other groups – one in Washington, D.C., and one in San Francisco, California, gladly started New York chapters to snap up the supporters left behind in the scandal. The first vote in the country on whether humans and aliens should be allowed to marry will take place in California. Early poll numbers show that proposition 6 will pass by a comfortable margin.
The two men directly responsible for the murders each received three consecutive life sentences. They will likely end their lives in prison.
Bill received one life sentence for his part in the crimes. His case is currently on appeal.
Leaning one shoulder against the doorframe, Leo watched the realtor working across the street. The man had placed a large placard in the front window of the former bookstore, and now he was locking up. The windows were empty and lifeless, and he knew that the shelves inside had been stripped clean of their books.
Sen had gone back home.
She had tried life here, and found it not to her liking. The constant worry and stress from the vandalism and threats had taken their toll on the gentle alien. She wanted peace, and she would only find it on her home world.
She had suggested that he visit – any time. She had also noted the lack of a martial arts school anywhere on her world. He had smiled at that. It was a nice hint, and he appreciated the affection behind it. But he couldn't imagine leaving his family and everything he knew behind for someplace he had never been.
But then, that was what Sen had done. She just hadn't been strong enough to see it through.
A sharp rap on his shell brought Leo out of his reverie. Raph squeezed onto the step and followed Leo's gaze to the empty storefront.
"Sorry, bro," Raph offered, genuinely sympathetic. "Sorry it didn't work out." Leo nodded, his expression somber. Raph, still looking at the former bookstore, started to smile a little. "You know, I met a pair of sisters last night. Twins." Leo turned his head to look at his brother's face in profile. He would have had to be blind to miss the beginnings of a grin. "They're not blue, but …"
She had skated right up to the edge of losing her job … again. Only the media's naming of her as the hero who stopped the serial killer had rescued her. The chief was not her supporter any longer, and she knew she would be watching her back from now on.
Someone had once told her that you never get it all at once. If your career was going well, then your home life, or your love life, had to suck by comparison. It was probably about balance. Or karma. Or justice.
Sam paused on the sidewalk in front of the looming brick building surrounded by trees bright with new spring leaves. Students, many of them already in the briefest costumes possible, swarmed around her on their way to or from their last classes of the day. Sam studied them for a while. Bright, eager faces, and quick steps – they were going somewhere. Well, she was, too. She started forward again, and walked up the steps to pull open the heavy door to the science building.
Inside, the hallway was cool and dark. Her shoes clicked and clacked on the hard floor as she studied each door until she found the one marked with simple black lettering as 'Dr. Hamato'. She turned the knob, and stepped into a tiny, cluttered space piled high with books and unusual contraptions. In the center of this small disaster area was a wooden desk with a green skinned professor sitting behind it.
"Sam!" Don greeted happily. He stood up, and hunted about for a chair for her, but they were all filled with papers and books. Sam waved him back, and perched on the edge of the desk right next to him in lieu of a chair.
"Hey, stranger," she said, leaning forward to drop a kiss on his brow.
"I'm sorry about that," Don offered. Between his lectures and exams, and her cases going to court, they hadn't spent much time together of late. Ships passing in the night had been about it.
"Not your fault," Sam replied, shrugging a little, but her eyes were dark and sad.
"You still gainfully employed?" he asked, catching her hands in his. Dear Don. He almost knew her too well.
"For now," she said softly. He squeezed her fingers gently. He had known from the time of the dinner party that she would face problems at work.
"Sam, maybe we should think about …"
"No," she said sharply, cutting him off. "I'm not leaving you, and don't you dare think about leaving me." Don had to smile a little at her fierce expression. "They can do what they like – demote me, trap me at a desk … Let them try." Sam shifted a little on the desk, her prickly temper in full force. "I'm not afraid of that," she explained, focusing on Don's eyes. "The only thing that scares me is not having you with me."
"I'm not going anywhere," Don responded.
"Damn straight you're not," Sam stated firmly.
"It's beautiful out here," Juliet noted, the late afternoon sun gilding the edges of her hair.
Mike nodded his agreement. He looked down at the little path they were following. The grass was gone here from the many feet that had walked this way. The trees cast dappled shadows in front of them, and they passed another couple chatting at a picnic table.
"So, where are we at?" Juliet asked. "I know you're not ready to forgive me."
"I forgive you," Mike said, interrupting her in an old and familiar way. "I have no right to do anything else."
"Mike …" Juliet stopped and put a restraining hand on Mike's arm.
"What I did … I don't know how you can forgive me," Mike explained, his head dropping forward in shame, as it always did when they came to this topic. This time, though, Juliet didn't let him hide. She lifted his chin with her hand and made him look at her.
"I forgive you. I'll keep saying it until you believe it," Juliet assured him. She searched his eyes for a moment, hoping that this time she would see acceptance there. She sighed when it didn't appear. "I cheated first, you know." His pupils dilated, and his mouth dropped open in shock. "I cheated you of my self. Of my time and presence in our marriage. Of my affection and love. It doesn't make what you did okay, but I want to get past it," she added a little desperately. "I want to know that you're waiting for me."
Mike took her hand from his arm and held it tenderly in his own. "I'm waiting," he said, his voice rough with emotion. "I'm not going anywhere."
"How are the girls?" Juliet questioned, trying to lighten them both up. These visits were short enough without making them all about their problems.
"They're good. Rachel has a boyfriend," Mike responded. "Raph and I checked him out, and he seems okay." Mike smiled a little, remembering.
"Bet he brings her home on time," Juliet commented, her mouth widening into a smile as they continued up the path and past the high fence topped with sharp wire. Outside the fence, a couple of guards halted their patrol to talk.
"He hasn't been late once," Mike said, grinning too. "I think Raph had a private chat with him." Juliet snickered, imagining the content of that discussion.
They stopped at the gate.
"Two more months," Juliet sighed, her eyes on the outside world. She had gotten off lightly for her part, but it was difficult being separated from her family. "Will you bring the girls next time?"
"I'll try," Mike answered honestly. "Noelle will come, but Rachel … she needs a little more time."
Juliet nodded. It hurt, but it wasn't that surprising. She had a lot of making up to do.
"You're coming home soon, Jules." Mike kissed her cheek, and she leaned against him as the sun sank behind the trees, making the links in the fence glow silver.
Author's Notes: great big sigh The sequel is done, and I said what I wanted to say.
I sent an email to Sassy yesterday, and asked her the big question: to write another sequel, or not to write another sequel? See, there wasn't supposed to be one after 'Cat and Mouse' but I reached the end of that with the ideas for this story in my mind. Much to my amusement (and horror), the same thing happened when I reached the end of 'Moth and Flame'.
So, here I sit on the precipice of writing yet another sequel. What will this one be, you ask? Well, no big time jumps, but answers to some questions. Will Mike and Juliet make a go of it after she gets out of jail? Will Rachel forgive her mom (or get to go shopping)? Are Leo and Sen really over, or will he take a trip off world? Will Raph ever get the girl? What challenges will Don and Sam face in their relationship? Will Amber the piano teacher be murdered by a flock of my readers? The focus, I think, is going to shift a little from Don/Mike to Raph/Leo in this next one. The tentative title right now is 'Light and Shadow'.
I'm probably going to take a short break again like last time – a couple of weeks to get the outline and first few chapters done. This, of course, is why I post updates quickly. I don't start posting until I can guarantee it will be finished. Why? I guess because I hate leaving things unfinished.