Author Note: So here it is – the epilogue. :sniffles: I've had a lot of fun writing this fic and I do have a sequel planned, tentatively named 'Estranged'. Why do I always seem to name my fics after songs? I have no idea. I also seem to write an awful lot of Leo-centric fics, even though I'm an obsessive Mikey fan. OK, now I'm rambling. Um, the sequel won't be up until after I move house, which should be next month. I just have too much to do! I need to finish 'Deep', which I have been woefully neglecting of late, and I have about 4 half-written one-shots which are pretty interesting. Like all my one-shots seem to be, they're pretty angsty!
My thanks to everyone who read and reviewed, and to Pacphys who pointed out the Open Office programme to me and a li'l syntax problem in the last chapter that gave me scary nightmares! "Hotting" the Foot indeed!
Also, thanks to everyone who read and reviewed my latest one-shot 'One Moment', which as I type has an equal amount of reviews as 'Alone' (coughwinnerofbestoneshotof2005cough) so must be equally popular! Yeah, I'm having a "Battle Nexus Champion" moment!
Casey was dying to know what was going on, but the silence of his unexpected allies put him off speaking. Originally he had followed them back to the building intending to pound the crap outta them for doing just that to him back at the museum. But seeing them fighting against all the pyjama guys had changed his mind. They had looked heavily outnumbered and he always hated seeing the underdog lose. Scars had been barely able to support his own weight and when the armour guy had snatched him, Casey had seen red and decided to get involved. Hell, if necessary, he could always kick the crap outta them later.
One of the – things – went ahead of them, checking out the sewer tunnels for more pyjama guys. Another walked behind them, making sure they weren't followed. The third made sure that Scars didn't fall, supporting him and helping him walk. And the last guy – Casey didn't have a clue about him. He wasn't burdened with much imagination and didn't know quite what he was seeing, save for some short hairy guy with a walking stick.
Finally, he let curiosity overtake him. "So what's the story with you guys? Who are you?"
"Shhhh!" The guy leading the way put a finger to his mouth in the universal gesture of asking for quiet. The blood dripping from the side of his head had stopped flowing, but it still looked painful.
"Leo, I think they're gone by now!" The one at the back grinned. "We're, uh. . . we're. . ."
"Kinda surprised you helped us out," finished Scars.
Casey shrugged. "Those guys meant business and outnumbered ya twenty to one. I like a fight to be fair."
"We owe you one," said the one at the back, rather grudgingly. "My name is Raphael. These are my brothers, Leonardo - " He indicated to the one at the front. "Donatello and Michelangelo." He waved a hand at Scars and the creature holding him up. "This is our – this is Splinter."
"I'm Casey Jones."
There was silence for several more minutes before Casey spoke again. "So, where we going?"
"I have a friend," replied Donatello. "We're going to her place."
"Donnie, you never told me about this friend," said Leo. "Can she be trusted?"
"I hope so," replied Don. "I really don't know. She knows about us and she said we could stay with her, that she'd give us shelter. I probably saved her life once and she thinks she owes me. She knows we're coming and that we're mutants but. . ." He looked embarrassed. "I didn't tell her about Splinter. And I didn't expect anyone else."
"That's OK Don." Leo put a hand on his brothers shell. "You did good just finding us a place to go. But one day you have to tell me the whole story!"
Casey pushed his mask up so it rested on the top of his head. "So, you guys get to stay with this girl. Can I go home?"
"I don't see why not," replied Leo carefully. "The Foot don't know who you are. But maybe you should come with us for a while. We need to talk. We all need to talk."
There was a momentary silence, then Splinter sighed. "This is true. We must speak. There is a great deal of explaining to be done by me – you all have risked so much on trust of the word of an old rat such as myself."
"We risked nothing for you," replied Leo sharply. "We did what we had to do for our brother. You were nothing more than an afterthought."
"Leo!" Mikey looked upset. "I did what I did, went to free him, because I believe him. You could at least give him the benefit of the doubt."
"I'm – sorry Mike," responded Leo. "But there's no way we can put our trust in this guy after only one or two meetings! Splinter, maybe you are on the level but I have to think about us, more now than ever."
Splinter surprised them all with a chuckle. "Even as a child Leonardo, you always wanted to take care of your brothers. You were always so protective of them. I am proud that you didn't lose that."
"I wouldn't be too proud," muttered Leo. "I did lose it. I forgot about my brothers while I pursued what I wanted. I didn't see what was right in front of me! And we could have lost Mikey because. . . . Because. . . "
Mikey disentangled himself from Don and made his way over to Leo. "Bro, don't worry about it. I'm still here. We all are. And we got away from the Foot, thanks to you."
"I stabbed hiim in the back," murmered Leo, almost to himself. "I stabbed our Sensei through the back. Where's the honour in that?"
"We were outnumbered Leo!" Donnie tried to think of a way to make his brother feel better. "If you didn't, we might never have got away from there alive. Casey sure wouldn't have."
Leo sighed and decided to change the subject. "If I worked it out right, we should be at ninth. We better take to the streets again. Stay out of sight."
"We know the drill by now," replied Raph, spying a manhole and quickly scaling the ladder. He pushed the cover up and peeked out. There didn't seem to be anyone about.
"Then let's go already," said Donnie. He was beginning to get worried. What if April had decided to call someone about them? They were in no shape to go anywhere else, not that there was anywhere to go.
She wouldn't. She just can't. We haven't fought our way through this, finally got away, only to have it snatched away at the last moment. That would be too cruel.
Once topside, Donnie gave them directions to April's apartment and the six took off, hiding in the shadows as much as possible. It was slow going with Mikey being so injured and the various wounds the others had, particularly as they had to stay out of sight whenever a car came past, but there were no pedestrians at that time of night in that neighbourhood. When they got to the antique shop, Donnie indicated to the lit window above it. "There."
Leo nodded. "Don, you go up and tell her we're here. And that we have one extra. Come on Mikey, I'll help you up the fire escape."
Don nodded, hurrying up the fire escape and pushing the window open. April had obviously been pacing and as soon as the window went up, she rushed over.
"What happened? Did you find your brother? Are you OK? You look terrible!"
"You should see the other guy," said Don, making a feeble attempt at a joke. "We got Mikey out – they're coming up the fire escape behind me. Look, there's something I should have told you about Splinter. . ."
"This is your contact? Good choice dude!" Mikey climbed carefully through the window, giving April his most charming smile.
"Oh my goodness, sit down before you fall down!" April indicated to the couch and Mikey went over to it, collapsing gratefully.
"Ignore Mikey, you get used to him." Raph jumped through the window, giving April a once-over and raising an eye ridge."Hear Donnie made ya faint. He has that effect on all girls, right Don?"
"Shut up Raph."
With a smile, April turned her attention back to the window. And froze.
"You're a – a - "
Splinter looked mildly apologetic, but before he could say a word, April keeled over.
"This is just great," growled Raph. "Don, next time pick someone who doesn't pass out every time they see a mutant."
"Stop grumbling Raph." Don picked April up and carried her over to the couch, depositing her on the seat next to Mikey. "I didn't get a chance to mention Splinter, OK? She's just freaked."
Casey almost fell through the window, landing gracelessly on the floor. "Jeez, next time can we just use the door?"
"We're not exactly your typical guests," replied Leo, last through the window and closing it behind him. "What happened to her?"
"She, um. Fainted. Again." Don looked embarrassed.
"Again? Why do I get the feeling I don't want to know?" Leo turned to the window and looked out, tryint to see if anything moved in the shadows. Satisfied, he closed the blinds and went to check the rest of the windows.
On the couch, April stirred. "Whuh. . . ?"
"Oh no!" Don raced over to the couch, just as April opened her eyes, took in the scene, including Splinter, and opened her mouth to scream. Don clamped his hand over her mouth for the second time that day, muffling her yells.
"April, it's alright! That's Splinter. Please stop screaming!"
April nodded and Don risked taking his hand from her mouth. April barely looked at him, her eyes wide as she gazed at Splinter.
"You're a – a rat?"
Splinter bowed slightly. "That is correct."
"I'm sorry, I should have told you before but I – uh, forgot?"
"That's not the kinda thing you forget to mention Don," said Mikey.
"I was distracted," replied Donnie, shooting Mikey a look of irritation. "Mikey, you met and I guess you know Splinter. You saw Raph before and this is Leo, he didn't come in until after you, um, you know."
Leo inclined his head. "Thank you for helping us."
"And this is Casey – no one's quite sure where he turned up from."
"I followed ya from the docks," said Casey, wandering over to the couch. Amongst all the weirdness, at first April hadn't even noticed the human.
"You're – not a turtle."
"Uhhhh, no, I guess not."
Suddenly aware of how dishevilled she must appear, April sat up and tried to look nonchalant. "So – does anyone want to tell me what happened?"
"It's kind of a long story," said Donnie hesitantly. "You see. . ."
Raph glanced around, checking on his brothers. Donnie was telling April about their story, obviously besotted. As was Casey. Mikey was taking the oppertunity to just rest and Splinter was listening to Don's desciption of events, as he had only arrived half way through the tale. Leo was nowhere to be seen. Raph thought for a moment and then went out of the window.
Leo was sat on the roof, staring out over the city. Raph rested a hand on his shell. "Hey bro – ya OK?"
"I'm just checking the streets, making sure no Foot ninja followed us here."
"Relax Leo, we lost 'em."
"For now." Leo's voice was grim. "You know Shredder isn't going to just let us go."
"He isn't going to just let us live either."
Leo nodded, attention still on the dark streets below. "He can't kill us if he doesn't catch us."
"You want us to hide?" Raph snorted contemptuously. "That ain't my style."
"We're in no condition to fight!" said Leo forcefully."We all took a hell of a beating from the Foot and Mikey needs to recover from whatever it was that Saki and Stockman did to him. He's trying to tough it out but he can hardly walk."
"I noticed," growled Raph. "I'm gonna hurt Saki for what he did to Mikey."
"But we need to show just a little restraint." Finally satisfied that no ninja were nearby, Leo turned to face Raph. "We need to lay low for a while, plan ahead."
Raph nodded, not looking convinced. Leo frowned. Whether or not Raph would listen to him was open to debate.
"Besides, we have a lot of other stuff to think about," he said. "Like finding a place to live. We can't stay here indefinately."
"Assuming we can trust this April, not to mention that psycho with the mask," added Raph.
"Don seems to think she's trustworthy."
"Don ain't always a great judge of character."
"Still, she seems on the level. She hasn't spoken to anyone about us and she's letting us stay with her. And she was pretty worried about Mikey when she's never even met him before."
"I guess," said Raph. "But ya think Casey's gonna keep quiet about us?"
"I don't know. I was surprised when he helped us out. But you know more about him than I do. Didn't you say he was after the Dragons?"
"Yeah, we – they had a lot of problems with a vigilante breaking up their heists and beating them up. Sounds like the same guy. And he went after us when we robbed the museum."
"Which makes it less likely that he's going to conspire against us."
"Except for the museum robbing part."
Leo gave a small smile. "Yeah, except for that." The smile left him and he frowned instead, speaking reluctantly. "And then there's Splinter."
"What, ya think we can't trust Splinter? He was a Foot prisoner!"
"I know, but there's so much about him we don't know! I just think we need to be cautious about him."
"Don't ya believe what he told us? Ya think he made it up just so we'd bust him outta there? Ya think leaving the Foot was wrong?"
"No! We had to leave the Foot. And I remember him – now. We did live with him in the sewers when we were kids and the Foot kidnapped us all. But it's been a long time, he's been locked up alone all those years. . . he must have changed. We just need to watch ourselves."
Raph scowled. "Man, I thought it would get easier after we left the Foot."
Leo laughed without humour. "Easier? I don't think so. Looks like we're going to be living in interesting times from now on."
"Yeah, great," said Raph.
"It could be worse," said Leo. "We got away, all of us. And maybe everything will turn out OK. I could just be being pessimistic."
"Man, I hope so. We've been through enough the last few weeks."
There was a moment of silence, then Leo spoke. "And Saki doesn't have the Sword of Tengu."
"After all the trouble he went through to get it and seeing what it can do, that's probably a good thing."
"But it's going to make him more likely to come after us."
"Let him try." Raph took out a sun and moon dagger and spun it around a finger.
Leo nodded. "We'll be ready for him when he turns up. But we should rest up first, give Mikey a chance to heal. And find a place to live."
"Yeah, maybe we can look up some apartments in the paper."
Leo laughed. "If only it was that simple."
"Come on bro, let's go inside." Raph headed for the edge of the roof, planning to jump down to the fire escape. "Make sure Donnie and Mikey aren't talking the humans to death."
"Yeah." Leo didn't follow and Raph turned to look at him. "Raph, do you think Mikey's going to be OK? You don't think there's anything serious wrong with him, internal bleeding or something?"
Raph shook his head emphatically. "He took a beating, but there's nothing that time won't heal. Saki was going to brainwash him, he wanted Mikey to stay with the Foot. He wouldn't do anything that could cause lasting damage."
"I guess not." Leo frowned, staring out over the city. "But did Stockman start trying to brainwash him?"
"I don't know," replied Raph. "Maybe ya should be asking him and not me."
Leo nodded. "In the morning. I think he's had enough for one day. Beside, we should make sure he's patched up alright."
The pair jumped onto the fire escape and went back through the window into April's apartment, into a somewhat bizarre scene.
April and Casey were practically nose to nose, yelling accusations at each other. In the background, Don and Splinter were tending to Mikey's injuries, pretending not to watch the scene. Mikey was making no such pretense, openly gaping at the scene, his face arranged into the closest expression to surprise as his scarring would allow.
"Why, of all the myopic, mysoginistic. . ."
"How am I supposed to understand ya when ya don't even speak English! Ahh, women!"
"You big ape!"
"Are we interrupting something?" Raph tried to lighten the situation, only to be totally ignored by the bickering humans.
"It's kinda like 'Moonlighting' isn't it?" Don grinned at his brothers.
"That's it! I am so outta here!" Casey stormed over to the door.
"Well, good riddance!" yelled April. She was answered by the door slamming shut.
Splinter started to chuckle as she turned back to the mutants, looking mildly embarrassed. "I'm sorry guys – he was just so annoying!"
Raph smirked. "More annoying than Mikey?"
"Hey! I'm injured, be nice to me!"
"Speaking of injured. . ." Don walked over to Leo and checked the wound on the side of his head. "That's gonna leave a scar. I wish I had something to stitch it up with."
"I'll be fine," replied Leo, touching the cuts and wincing. "Just lucky it wasn't my - " He glanced at Mikey and remembered too late to keep his mouth shut. But the unspoken words seemed louder than if he had finished the sentence. I'm just lucky it wasn't my face.
"How are you doing Mikey?" Leo cursed himself inwardly, trying hard to take attention from what he'd been about to say.
"I'll live," muttered Mikey, unusually petulant, letting Leo know he wasn't forgiven for his mistake.
"He needs to rest," said April. "I'll get some blankets. I don't think I've got enough for everyone though."
"That's OK April," said Donnie.
Leo watched as she headed for the bedroom to grab the blankets before turning his attention back to his family. Mikey was staring at the floor, face caught in the grimace that would never go away. Raph had gone to the window, still watching out for the Foot and Leo knew he couldn't keep him away from going for revenge forever. Don was staring after April, obviously smitten. There was no way that situation could end well. And Splinter was totally inscrutible. Leo wanted to be able to trust him, but he couldn't bring himself to do so.
There was no conversation between the five, nothing to say. Although he wanted to talk, Leo didn't know where to begin. Sooner or later they were going to have to decide what to do with the future but he couldn't think how to bring up the subject. Maybe in the morning they would find it easier – but he really didn't think it would work like that. In spite of their recent dramas, they were still too far apart to make it easy.
Estranged. . .
Leo vowed he was going to do something about that. No way was he letting his brothers drift apart like that. They needed each other, now more than ever. If they were going to survive, they needed to be able to trust each other. But looking at them now – it wasn't going to be an easy task.