Disclaimer: I don't own the turtles, I just play with them. Austin is mine. Mine mine mine mine mine.
Before the fic Author's Notes: I am sooooooo incredibly sorry that it took soooooooo incredibly long to get this chapter out. I've been busy (and sick) and I just couldn't find the time or the inspiration to work on this. But I have now, and everything's cool, and this is the last chapter. Wheeeeee. Now, I shall take a break. However. Important Sequel News after the fic. Ok, hope that got your attention.
FunFact:The whole 'sifter' thing has been in the background since the very first chapter. Although, I hadn't actually planned on taking Austin's character this far. It was going to be a short fic that originally ended when the turtles escorted her home. Everything involving Jeremy, Susan, the prophecy, and all that jazz, was never meant to be put down on paper.
Misadventures of the Mentally Unstable
Italics are flashback! Yay!
Austin peeked out from behind the large oak tree and giggled to herself. Surely, her mother would never think to look for her here! In her four-year-old wisdom, the green-eyed, curly-haired brunette thought she had found the perfect hiding place. Never mind that it was the same hiding place she always chose, and that her mother had managed to find her every time before. This time was different! This time, mommy wouldn't find her. She was certain of it.
The weekends when daddy was away on business were the weekends Austin loved best. Mommy was always happiest when daddy wasn't around. So was Austin, because that meant she got mommy all to herself. Devon wasn't around as much anymore either, and she only saw her brother at dinner and sometimes on Sundays now. He was always at school, or doing homework, or staying over at his friend's houses. It was ok though, because she had mommy to herself.
Days like this were the ones Austin wished would never end. The sun shone down through the leaves of the tree and the grass sparkled with its rays. She was barefoot, happily wiggling her toes in the dirt that surrounded the trunk of the oak tree and sneaking peeks around to look toward the house. She couldn't see mommy yet, so her hiding place must have been really good this time.
Hands grabbed Austin from behind and she screamed and laughed as mommy tickled her. She'd snuck up from behind! That wasn't fair! The wriggling little girl slipped out of her mother's hands and made a beeline for the house, her short little legs carrying her as fast as possible. She was no match for Terri though, and Austin found herself being picked up and twirled around. She shrieked in delight as the world spun around her, her brown curls bouncing around in front of her eyes.
With a laugh, Terri fell down cross-legged into the grass, pulling her daughter with her. Austin's giggles quieted and she looked up at her mommy.
"You found me!" She smiled brightly, a small gap in her teeth where she'd lost one just the day before.
"I did!" Terri grinned and leaned forward, rubbing her nose with Austin's. "You sure had a good hiding spot, didn't you?"
Austin nodded solemnly, in that way that only a four-year-old can. "Yes, I did. It was good."
"It certainly was! Would you like to hide again?"
Pursing her lips in a thoughtful manner that seemed beyond her years, Austin shook her head. "No… I'm done hiding."
"Oh, you are? Well, what do you want to do now, then?"
"I wanna…" She bit her lip in a pensive manner, her face finally lighting up when she reached a suitable pastime in her mind. "…eat ice cream!"
Terri laughed and tugged on a brown curl. "I see. And where should we go to get this ice cream?"
"Freezy Treats!" The soft serve ice cream shop was owned by their neighbor, and Austin was practically the mascot there. 'Twistee in a cup!' was her dessert of choice. Which, in normal speech, was a small half-and-half cone turned upside down into a bowl. It was the only way Austin would eat her ice cream.
Terri looked thoughtfully at her daughter. "I don't know… You had ice cream yesterday."
"Oh." Austin licked her lips and thought some more. "But I had a good hiding spot!"
"And you think you deserve ice cream for that?"
The little girl nodded vigorously. "It was really good."
"Hmmm… I suppose you do have a point."
"Yes, I do."
"Well… what are the magic words?"
Sighing heavily, as if she was making a huge sacrifice by asking, Austin said, "Can I pleeeeeeease have ice cream?"
"Yes, you may."
Austin held up her small fists in triumph and gave a cry for joy.
Standing up, Terri held out her hand for her daughter to take. "C'mon you little monkey. Let's get you cleaned up, and then we'll go get you some ice cream."
Grinning happily, the little green-eyed girl and her mother walked hand-in-hand back toward the house.
"I'm glad you're my mommy."
Terri smiled down and squeezed her Austin's hand gently. "I'm glad I'm your mommy too."
Just as I set the last of my freshly folded laundry into my suitcase, the sharp ringing of the telephone echoed through the otherwise silent apartment. I could count on one hand the number of people who might be calling me at this moment, and I wasn't sure I wanted to talk to most of them.
I hadn't spoken to Raphael since last night when he had dropped me off here at home. He'd wanted to come up and stay the night again, but I had wanted to put my foot down and send him home. We compromised; he came up for a few hours… then went home. When asked why I hadn't come back right away and about what had happened between myself and Susan, I had simply said, "I'm not ready to talk about it." But then I'd smiled and kissed him, and assured him everything was going to be ok. Even if he didn't believe me, I think he respected me enough to let it go. But he made me promise to call him if I needed him for any reason.
About an hour after he left, I'd gotten a call from Jeremy. That had been fun. It wasn't the only time he'd called yesterday. Apparently, the first time was while I was at my meeting with Susan. That, in itself, wouldn't have been bad, except for the fact that Raphael had answered the phone. Seeing as how Jeremy is extremely protective of me, and Raph is shaping up to be overly possessive… let's just say I'm glad I wasn't home for that conversation. From what I could piece together when Jeremy wasn't chastising me, there had been yelling, cursing, accusations, and a hell of a lot of insults from both sides. It had been a clash of alpha males, and I was the mate they were fighting over. I'd listened to Jeremy rant and rave at me for a good twenty minutes over my choice in bedmates, before finally telling him to mind his own business. …that hadn't gone over well either. It was almost an hour later when I'd finally convinced him that I was going to be safe with Raph; and then I'd spent a little while chatting with Ivy, promising that I'd visit her soon.
I closed the suitcase and set it on the floor, then reached over to answer the phone.
"Austin? Oh my god, Austin!"
Smiling, I sat down on the bed and leaned back against the headboard. This was the one person I'd wanted to talk to.
"Austin! I… You…. Oh my god!"
I laughed as I listened to the sputtering woman on the other end of the line. "Did you get my extended vacation request?"
"But… I can't accept it, Austin!"
"Well, my plane leaves in a few hours, so I really need that vacation time."
"That's not what I meant! The money, Austin! How can you afford it?" Her voice was practically frantic, and I almost felt sorry for her.
"Is it not enough? I'm sure I can get a little more if you really ne-"
"Not enough? Are you crazy, Austin! It's three times what I'd thought I'd get!"
"Good, then it's settled. We'll hammer out the paperwork when I get back."
"You said you wanted to sell The Celestial, Doris. And I happen to be interested in buying it."
How could I afford it? Easy. I have a mother that's worth billions, and I only made one small request. Ok… so technically the purchase of The Celestial Café and the building it resided in wasn't a small request. I hadn't seriously thought she'd do it for me, but within a few minutes she'd made some calls, and the offer was presented to Doris this morning in my name.
I laughed again. "Does it really matter? I didn't do anything illegal, so just accept the damn offer and then move your ass to Florida. Louie will be happy. He's been trying to get you out of New York for years now."
"No 'buts', Doris."
"Oh my god, Austin… I can't… I just…" There was a pause, and I could just see her shaking her head in disbelief. When she finally spoke again, her voice was filled with emotion. "I… thank you, Austin. My god… thank you so much."
"Don't thank me yet. I'm going to need you to hang around for a while and show me all the ropes. I've never owned a business before."
"You'll be fantastic, Austin… it will be… wow… I just… I can't believe it."
"And about that extended vacation…?"
"Of course! Take as much time as you need, I'll cover your shift myself! God, Austin… thank you…"
There was a few more moments of touching 'thank yous', and when we hung up, I felt remarkably cheerful, despite the fact that I was getting ready to leave. I've never been good at goodbyes, and I'm not sure whether it's due to my lack of experience with meaningful ones, or if I just suck at them. Either way, what I was doing was the coward's way out, and I hated myself for it.
I picked up my suitcase and carried it out into the living area. Setting it down next to the little half wall by the door, I took another look around the flat, and then walked back to the bedroom. My alarm had gone off at 5:30 this morning, and I'd spent six hours cleaning the apartment, doing laundry, and tidying up the bedroom. There were crisp clean sheets on the bed, and all my laundry was folded, or hung up in the closet. Except for what was in the suitcase. I'd packed enough for at least a week or two, but honestly I wasn't sure how long I'd be gone.
There was an envelope sitting on my nightstand with Raphael's name written on it, and I picked it up. Pulling out the letter inside, I re-read it to myself a few times, to make sure I'd said all I wanted to say.
I'm sorry I can't be here when you get this letter. I know I should be saying what I have to say to your face, and you can't imagine how guilty I feel about leaving like this. But there are some things I need to tell you, and I don't know if I'd have the courage to say them to you in person. It's so much easier to write down what I'm feeling, and I pray to god that you'll understand why I have to do it this way.
You were right when you said I'd fall for you. Damn you and your arrogant, yet irresistible charm. I can see myself easily clinging to you and that's why I need to get away right now. I've lived my life for someone else, and now that he's gone I need to figure out who I am again. You said you'd give me time, and now I'm asking you to do that.
There is something I need to do specifically, before I think I can move on. Someone I've ignored for too long, who I realize now deserves better than what I've left her with. I don't know how long I'll be gone. Maybe a week or two, maybe longer. But I'll be back.
I want to be with you, and hopefully you'll still want me when I come back. You're going to have to be patient with me, though. Some people carry more baggage than others, and I have an entire freight train's worth. It's going to take time, but I want to make it work. I never thought I'd see myself in this position… wanting to be with someone. But I want to be with you.
Please… just give me time. I'll come around, I promise.
I'd hesitated over how to end the letter. Actually, I'd hesitated over the entire letter. But it had to be written. Love, Austin. I cringed slightly as I looked at the words and was tempted to completely re-write the letter. It wasn't 'I love you', and it wasn't a frickin' marriage proposal… so why was I so damn nervous about leaving it like that? Maybe because the only person I'd openly admitted to loving in the past twelve years was Devon. I'd never told Jeremy I loved him. Not once in all the time we were together did I ever speak the word when expressing my feelings for him. Love, Austin. It just seemed too… I don't know. Too personal, I suppose. Despite opening up to Raphael, I was still having issues accepting it. It would take time, just as I had written. I needed time, but I did want to love him. God, I hope he understands that… I hope he realizes how much he means to me.
Biting my lip, I stared at the letter for a moment longer, then replaced it in the envelope and propped it up against the pillow on my bed. He'd be sure to see it there. Before leaving, he'd promised to check up on me tonight. I knew he'd have no trouble getting into my apartment, and I would leave on the lamp on the nightstand, and the door to the bedroom open. Raph wouldn't miss it, I was sure.
I left the bedroom and headed for my computer desk. The little blue recipe card was sitting on mouse pad, looking for the entire world like… well… a little blue recipe card. Devon and Susan's warnings were still in my head, but I was itching to log onto the internet and see if I could dig up any information on 'Sifters'. I'd managed to distract myself with cleaning all morning though, and pushed the thought out of my head. Before I could be tempted again, I picked up the card and stuffed it into the top left hand drawer of the desk. Giving it a last glance, I shut the drawer and turned away. I'd worry about it when I got back. There was little chance of me forgetting about it, but hopefully by the time I returned, the urge to dig into the prophecy would have passed. Yah, right.
I shook the thought away and grabbed my keys from the kitchen counter. Stepping over to the door, I picked up my suitcase in one hand, and opened the door with the other. I gave the apartment a last glance around and sighed. I didn't know how long it would be until I saw it again, and I hadn't realized how much it had started to feel like home. I would miss it, but this was something I had to do.
With an almost painful effort, I stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind me.
The taxi pulled up to the craftsman style home around seven that evening. The autumn leaves had just started to fall, and I gazed up at them in wonder. I'd forgotten how beautiful it was here. When I'd walked this path five years ago, I hadn't been interested in taking in the natural surroundings. My focus had been on something completely different. But now I took the time to look.
A small yellow leaf fluttered down just in front of me and I watched it twist and turn in the light breeze until it settled itself on the path in front of me. There were many more just like it lining the walkway, which I noticed had been recently re-graveled. That wasn't the only change. I looked at the house and smiled softly. The flaking red paint that I remembered had been replaced by a pretty sage green. The cream colored trim was newly restored, and the front porch had been completely rebuilt. But it was still the same house. And it was still the same woman standing on the front porch, her hand clutching at the soft peach blouse she was wearing.
The sun was just starting to set and I picked up my suitcase and stepped boldly toward the house. I hadn't called her to tell her I was coming, or even to ask if it was alright. Hell, I hadn't even been sure that she still lived here. But the mailbox at the end of the drive still said 'Bridger', and the old rusty blue truck that had belonged to Bill still sat to the side of the house.
As I walked toward the porch, the woman slowly descended the steps, a nervous and slightly apprehensive look on her face. Watching her, I felt a tremendous wave of guilt flood through me. This woman had lost her children. Susan wasn't dead, but she obviously didn't want to be a part of her mother's life. Devon had been taken before his time… and then, she'd lost me.
My meeting with Susan the day before had made me realize something important. All these years, I'd thought I'd been alone. I had thought that no one in my family gave a shit about me, least of all Terri Bridger. But nothing that happened to me was her fault. She had sent me to the Institute because she honestly believed that it would help me. And I knew why she hadn't come to visit me. Bill. My 'father'. He hadn't wanted me from the start, and he saw the chance to keep Terri from me and he took it. Yes, I was a little angry that she hadn't had the courage to stick up for me, or for herself… but that had changed. I could see it in the way she moved, and the way she looked. I don't know what caused the change in her, but I'd like to think that it was because I'd run away and she'd realized she'd lost another child… her last child. And if it hadn't been for Bill, she'd still have all of them. Perhaps I was wrong, and her reasons for leaving Bill were completely different. But that's the explanation I would like to believe.
After meeting Susan, and being reminded of how my life with Terri had been… I'd realized that Susan may have given birth to me… but Terri was my mother. She'd been the one to run to me when I returned, crying and laughing and thanking god that I was alive. Not Susan. And even though I'd turned her away five years ago, I was hoping that my mother would still have enough love in her heart for me, and that she wouldn't turn me away now.
I stopped a few feet from her and set down my suitcase on the gravel path. "Mom?" I said softly and found my hands fidgeting nervously against my jeans. I could see the hope in her eyes quickly taking the place of confusion and fear. The corner of her mouth lifted slightly, and the love I'd hadn't seen in Susan's face shone through hers instead. It was the love that I'd refused to see five years ago. "Mommy, I'm sorry." The words tumbled from my mouth so quickly that I hardly even realized I'd said them.
I'd thought Raphael had fast reflexes, but they were nothing compared to those of a mother being reunited with her long lost child. Her arms were around me in a split-second, and her hands were running over my hair. I clung to her, feeling the warm moisture of tears on my cheeks; I buried my face against her shoulder and whispered "I'm sorry" over and over.
My mother shushed me quietly and she rocked me in a soft and soothing way until my tears finally ceased. I don't know how long we stayed there, but when she finally pulled away and held me at arm's length to get a good look at me, the sunlight had almost faded and the porch lights illuminated the pathway where we stood.
She ran a finger gently over the skin just below the stitches on my forehead and then she studied the rest of my face before speaking. Her voice was soft and sad, and I could see the concern in her eyes. "Oooh… Austin, baby… what happened to you?"
I knew she wasn't referring to just the sutures. I don't know what she saw in my face, but it was something that Susan hadn't seen. She hadn't wanted to look into my eyes and see the horrors of my life. Yes, she loved me in the only way she could, but it wasn't like this. It had been twelve years since Terri had gotten a good look at me, yet my mother could see the shattered, painful history written in my face.
"Too much…" I choked out, lowering my eyes. I wouldn't tell her… not everything. I'd sugar coat it, and try my best to leave out what I could concerning all the supernatural events. Maybe she'd believe me, maybe she wouldn't. But I couldn't tell her everything. It would break her heart, and I hadn't come here to tear open old wounds. I'd come here to heal them.
She was silent for a moment, and then lifted my chin gently to look into my eyes once more. "I just took some cookies out of the oven… why don't you come inside?" My mother smiled warmly and gestured to the house.
"I like cookies…" was all I could think to say. Laughing tenderly, Terri leaned down and picked up my suitcase, and then took my hand. She led me up the stairs, just as she'd done many years ago. "Mom?" I finally said, just before we stepped through the door.
"Yes?" She turned to look at me again, a hint of nervousness crossing her features. I didn't blame her one bit. She didn't want to lose me again.
"I… I'm glad that you're my mom…" She stared at me in shock for a moment, and then tears welled up in her eyes. But she smiled through them and squeezed my hand lovingly. The words held deeper meaning for both of us now, after all that had happened, and I was surprised that I'd been able to speak them at all.
"I'm glad that I'm your mom too…" she said finally and leaned forward, giving me a soft kiss on the forehead, and then tugging gently at a loose curl with her free hand. The simple gesture brought back a wave of happy memories from warm sunny days, and I knew that it hadn't been a mistake to come back here.
How does that saying go…? 'The more things change, the more they stay the same.' Things had definitely changed for us… and yet here we were. Walking hand in hand into my childhood home… just the two of us. The way it once was. It would never be quite the same, I knew that. But it was a start. It was a damn good start.
The End. For now.
After the fic Author's Notes: Everyone say "awwwwwwwww". Yes, didn't that just get all nice and syrupy sweet there at the end? Originally… the ending was going to be dark and suspenseful, and really really depressing. …I decided to end the fic early on a happy moment, so y'all didn't kill me. And poor Austin… she needs some happy time, don't you think?
Yes, this is the end of Misadventures of the Mentally Unstable. Hopefully, the sequel should be started within… eh… two or three weeks. Maybe sooner. In the meantime though, I'll be writing a tie-in story that concerns two completely different characters that were never even mentioned in Misadventures. (I posted about this in my LJ, but I'll re-state it here). I am taking two minor characters from two different TMNT-verses, and twisting the hell out of their backgrounds to make it fit in with my story. (Actually, one will be twisted around, the other not very much.) But I think it's going to be a kick-ass idea, and y'all will hopefully love the main female lead in the story. I think she's extreeeeeemely underused, and hell… a LOT of people hardly even KNOW about her. …Which is why it makes it easier for me to twist her around to suit my purposes. Muahahahaha.
Anyway. So look for that within a week or so. (It will probably only be about 3 or 4 chapters long.) And I'm also still trying to figure out a title for the Misadventures sequel, and having a hell of a time doing it. Suggestions are highly encouraged. Even though you have no idea of the basic plot… eh. I'll take all the help I can get. :)
Last but not least. Pleeeeeeeeeeease leave me a review. Even if you've never left one before, and all you can think of is "OMG,msadvntrs is teh awesum!". I'd really appreciate it. And then go do the same for all those other fics you read and don't review on. (Trust me, those authors will absolutely LOVE you for it.)
Notes to my Reviewers:
Reluctant Dragon:(grins) Yah, I set Susan up to be a real bitch, didn't I? I love messing around with things like that. Just wait til even MORE stuff is revealed in the sequel. Misadventures was just the tip of the iceberg. :) (applauds the mishmash of comments) Hehehe
Reinbeauchaser: Oooh, I've been wanting to see War of the Worlds. I'll need to go see it soon. Possibly this week during my days off! I also want to see Batman Begins. I've heard it rocks!
As for the whole Shifter/Sifter thing, it actually is "Sifter". Hmm…. I'll say this about the powers of a Sifter. The term Sifter was actually a slang term that was given to a certain group of individuals with certain powers, and it caught on and stuck. But it's thousands and thousands of years old, and over time the original/correct name for Sifters was lost. …I really should write this stuff down on paper somewhere, because it's all in my head. I have very few handwritten notes… it's all just locked up in my brain and sometimes it's hard to keep straight. : P
Echo Hunter: Yah, I almost left it hanging (to be resolved in the sequel!), but decided against it. I didn't want to leave people wondering, and he still has a part to play in the saga before everything is done. So don't you dare think you've seen the last of Devon. ;)
The REAL Cheese Monkey: Hehehe, nope! THIS is the last chapter. But don't worry, there will be more coming soon. :)
Trillian4210: (sends her thanks out to Gretchen Tanner of Omaha.) Hehehe. I'm glad you liked the dialogue between Austin and Susan! I was afraid it might get too… ridiculous, or not 'real' enough… but I was eventually happy with the way it turned out. And as for the way the prophecy plays out… (evil laughter) I don't think anyone is going to expect it. …Half the time I don't expect it because I'm coming up with some of it on the spot. I think that's the best way to write. Have a general direction, and just basically pull it out of nowhere as you go. …That's probably a bad writing method, but it works for me. :)
Buslady Of SoCal: Ooooh, there's DEFINITELY going to be a sequel. …I fear what you guys would do to me if I didn't write one. I'd be sleeping with the light on every night. …Except I sleep during the day, so that kind of ruins that idea…. Ah well. Hope you enjoyed the last bits.
Dierdre: (giggles) Don't feel bad, I'm like… what, 3 or 4 chapters behind on your story? I'm a bad person as well. Anyway, I'll pick out the highlights (or in other words, things I feel like responding to) or your review and… uh… respond. Hehehe.
The videos of Austin that Donnie found. Yes. At least one of those will play a role in the sequel… and it will not be pretty. The only reason that Raph hasn't already hunted down Adair and killed him is because… well.. he hasn't seen the video, and he doesn't know Don has it. Raph heard a lot, but missed a few critical bits of information.
"And speaking of breathless... I will now forever see Raph as a sexy hunk of turtle meat. It's all your fault."
You're welcome. :)
Yes, there will be more Miracles in the sequel. In fact… (looks around to make sure no one else can hear) The sequel will be written third person so I can jump between characters a lot easier. And some of the Miracles actually will make an appearance. Yay for Miracles!
Ahhh, Austin's father. Yes, he has not entered the scene yet. He will though. (grins) Someday. (I've stated to people before, at the rate I'm going and the story arch I have planned in my head, it's going to take me 10 years to write it all down. Sometime during those 10 years, Austin's father will make an appearance. Heh. And I have side stories and back stories planned for some other characters we'll be meeting as well. Because… well… Raph can't be the only one with a girlfriend, now can he? And Austin happens to know a lot of freaks…) Something tells me that sooner or later a few of her friends will meet the guys… but that might just be crazy talk.
RainySunshine: You're going to have to wait to find out about Austin's father. Muahahahaha! That comes into play later on in the story. But more will be revealed having to do with Susan and the mysterious father. (She was conceived by the midichlorians! …Oh. Oops, sorry. Star Wars flashback.)
And… coffee… sweet precious nectar of the gods… I want it! I need it! I have to have it! No, I'm not a coffeeholic! …Don't look at me like that. I could stop anytime I wanted! I just… choose not to…
kaya lizzie: Eh, that's ok. A late review is better than no review at all:) (grins) I think my favorite line in this whole story was the Sifter/Blender/KitchenAide one. I just couldn't' stop laughing while I was writing it… It was just so "Austin", if you ask me. Although the "You're just… weird" comes in a very close second.
Anyway, thanks for the review, and I'm definitely going to take my time plotting out the next story, and pacing myself. The last thing I want to do is burn out on you guys.
Chibi Rose Angel: (grins) I'm glad you enjoyed the story! I hope the last chapter met with your approval. I know I left a LOT of loose ends hanging, but they will get tied up sooner or later, I promise!
First, yes, April and Casey will have a slightly larger role in the sequel. Probably not huge, but a good deal more than Misadventures, where they had like… walk on cameo appearances that ended up on the cutting room floor. Heh.
As for the prophecy and how things will turn out… The funny thing about that is, I've dropped SOOOO many hints either in my author's notes, reviewers notes, or on the LiveJournal, that if someone were desperate enough, they might be able to piece together a lot of what I have planned. But then again, it might just look like one big confusing mess that would drive that person insane. I'm surprised I haven't driven myself insane yet, with all the stuff that's running through my head right now.
Anyway, thanks for the review, and hope you stick through to the end! …Which as I pointed out to Dierdre… will probably take 10 years. :)