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By Medeah

Disclaimer: I don't own the Turtles, and have no intention to make money from this.

Author's Note This fic is based on the 2003 TV series.

III.- Strange attitudes

Raphael decided he had had enough of hitting the punching bag, so he finally gave it some peace. He picked up the towel from the floor, put it around his neck and left to the living room. It was empty, but he could hear laughs and yells coming from somewhere. He found Don on his laboratory.

"Where are the others? What's that noise?"

Don, completely focused on the book he was reading, didn't bother looking up. "I don't know, and those are April and Mikey. Training. Or something like that."

Again they could hear laughs, yells, and hurrying steps all over the place. Raphael turned around to find Mikey and April, still laughing.

"Did you notice?" she suddenly said, turning serious. "We had no practice at all!"

"Yes, but you had the chance to enjoy my charming personality. Besides, Twister develops your reflexes," Mikey pointed out with a huge smile.

"Yeah, sure."

"Where's Leo?" Raphael asked.

"He was on the library, I saw him there. But that was hours ago," April answered.

Hearing that, Donatello finally looked up from the book. "Ah yes, meditating. Was he alone?"

"Eh … I think so."

The three turtles looked at each other.

Raphael smiled. "I think someone is in deep trouble."

April stared at them, unable to grasp the meaning of his words.

Don stood up, and as they went to the library, he explained to April. "We are not supposed to meditate alone."

"Really? I see. But, is it truly dangerous?"

"No. Well, I really don't know. It's not something out of the world, only a technique to direct your energy. Anyway, Splinter was very clear when he forbade us from doing it on our own."

They found Leo sleeping on the floor, the back leaning on the bookcases.

"Aaaa-aw, look at that! He's sleeping! Isn't that cute?" Raphael moved closer. "Like a biggie greenie baby."

He was about to wake up his brother with a shout from the top of his lungs, when Mikey stopped him. The younger brother was sporting a serious expression.

"Don't, Oh brother of mine. This must be done appropriately." Then he questioned April. "By chance, don't you have on your bag some lipstick, eye shadow, mascara? Any makeup will do."

"Okay, this is odd." They looked at Donatello, trying to understand what he was talking about. He turned their attention to Leonardo's arm, and then moved it softly. Nothing happened. Then he shook Leo with a little more force, still not managing to wake him up. Next, he grabbed his brother's shoulders, shaking him violently but it triggered no reaction. "He is sleeping, there's no doubt about it. But I just can't wake him up."

Michelangelo raised an eye bridge.

"Let me try." He got closer to Leo and snapped his fingers in front of the other turtle's face. Leo frowned but didn't wake up.

"This is why a student should not meditate without his master's supervision."

Engrossed with their brother, they hadn't noticed the old rat coming into the room. Startled by his voice, they moved back to give him some space.

Splinter watched his sleeping student with a severe expression before bending over him. "It seems he is trapped in some deep dream. That's what happens when an apprentice meditates without dominating the techniques; the trance can't be undone."

Splinter moved his hand on the older turtle's direction, but pulled back immediately: Leonardo had just opened his eyes and was holding his Master's hand with his own, preventing him from getting close.

"Don't you dare touching me …" he growled between his teeth in a barely audible tone. His expression was an intimidating one.

The rat was shocked. "Leonardo?" he asked.

Leonardo held up his gaze while April and his brothers expectantly watched the bizarre scene, until Leo's face relaxed and he let go his Master's hand. The Sensei retreated, still taken aback. The turtle in blue scrutinized his surroundings and then looked at the others, as if he were meeting them for the first time. Finally he shook his head.

"I-I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Master. I think I still was sleeping -"

"It is all right," Splinter interrupted him dryly, standing up. Slowly, Leo did the same. Once on his feet, he studied the people on the room with even more interest, before examining his own hands with what could only be called surprise.

"Green," he whispered, and Raphael glanced at him.

"Yeah. Besides, mutant and ninja. Any other discovery you would like to share?"

Leonardo swiftly turned to face him, and his expression was the same he had when waking up: he appeared furious. Raphael couldn't stop himself from backing off, surprised by the sudden reaction, but Leo's face turned back to normalcy almost immediately.

"I need some air. If I'm excused …" he requested to his Master, who granted him permission. After making a reverence, Leo left the room.

They all remained silent for a while.

"He was acting somehow … strange," Donatello commented, thoughtful.

"Oh, that's a really scientific remark." Raphael pushed him with the shoulder. "Master Splinter …" but before he could continue, the old rat shrugged.

"I already told you, meditation can be extremely disturbing if you don't dominate it; that is why the prohibition exists. Maybe it is true that he only needs some fresh air. Let's give him some space." And saying so, he retired to his room.

"Oh yes. But he has make me clean the entire place with a toothbrush for less than this," Raphael stated once Master Splinter disappeared, but nobody paid attention to his words.

Hours later April announced she was leaving, and the three turtles returned to their every day routine. Leonardo still was out. Mikey ran to the couch and bounced on it, turning the TV on. He zapped around and, when he finally made his choice, a last hour news bulletin interrupted the transmission. Raph and Don got close to the couch.

"An unexplainable criminal event is perplexing the police this night. Our reporter is at the crime's scene, sending us more information."

"That's right, studio. We are in front of the city's Ancient Story Museum, where an extremely valuable piece of art was robbed. Its antiquity, according to scientists, goes down to the beginning of the human civilizations' history. We are talking about a unique object, due to the mystery its age involves, and that hasn't been explained to the date. The police declared this theft could only be done by experts, as alarms were deceived and vigilance cameras could not detect them. Furthermore, they left behind the guards' dead bodies, who might have been murdered …"

The screen showed the image of the robbed object, some kind of sphere not bigger than a man's palm, and of a golden crystalline color.

Mikey turned the TV off.

"Who would want to go thru so many problems for a stupid marble?" he asked, yawning.

"It is not just a stupid marble, Mikey," Don retorted. Raphael rolled his eyes and decided to get as far as he could from the incoming geeky explanation. "It is Leng's golden sphere, the oldest relic ever found; older than the pyramids, older than the Greek amphitheatres, older than …"

"Alright, alright, I get the idea. So, you are saying it is worth a lot of money."

"Yes, but its scientific value is even higher. In fact, it has yet to be discovered what it is and what it does; but it has been traveling around the world for centuries without any visible damage. This sphere was named after the place where it was found, and …"

"Well, finally!"

Raphael's scolding interrupted Donatello's detailed explanation; both he and Mikey turned trying to figure out his brother's reasons.

Leonardo had just arrived after several hours of absence, and he was in the middle of the training room. None of them have noticed his return. His laborious breathing suggested he had run all the way back home, but it was his stance what bothered them: angry and gloomy, he kept his head down, almost as if hiding his face. He was in front of Raphael, visibly annoyed.

Leo usually kept his cool; it was an odd day the one when he got mad or angry with any of them. But right now he seemed about to lose control because of Raphael's remarks. It was even more surprising when his face relaxed and changed into a half smile.

"And since when you worry about me, brother?"

Raphael frowned. He was getting angry, yet he understood it would he wise to take it easy. He put a hand on his brother's shoulder, as a friendly gesture.

"Cranky are we, huh bro?" With a despise grimace, Leo looked from the hand on his shoulder to Raphael's face.

"You should be able to say, being Mr. Bad Mood and all," he answered with displease, shoving his brother's hand apart.

Raphael raised an eye bridge. Interesting, he thought. Where does this aggressiveness comes from? Let's make a test.

"What, am I bothering you?" he questioned, smirking.

"Since when do you care about bothering other people?"

"I do not get worried, so I recommend you don't forget it."

Leo's face was hard as stone.

"Get out of my way. You don't want to fight me, trust what I say."

Raphael didn't answer. He knew his brother was serious about it, that he'll fight if provoked. Leonardo was ready to jump at the smallest encouragement. It was Leo who definitely wanted to fight.

Weird. Really weird.

"I don't know what you are up to," he finally acknowledged, "but you are acting a tad … differently, wouldn't you say?" Raphael then looked him at the eye. "Where have you been all this time?"

For some tense seconds they looked at each other menacingly, and neither Michelangelo nor Donatello dared to say a word. Finally, Leo looked away and passed past Raphael.

"What I do is not your business," he simply stated in a low and deep voice. "Don't mess with me and you will save yourself from a lot of trouble, turtle."

Raphael wrinkled his forehead, seriously considering kicking some sense back into his brother. He would have loved to, but he let it pass. It seemed that, for once, Leo was acting like him and he was acting like Leo. The older brother was the one who always tried to avoid physical violence when an argument took place, but now it was the hothead who avoided it.

None of them were acting as their usual, then.

Leo got into his room and locked the door. The tree remaining turtles exchanged worried glances.

"Maybe you should follow his advice and let him alone for a while," Donatello carefully suggested.

Raphael turned to face him with a growl. "I don't like this."

"That's not unusual, you don't like anything," Michelangelo intervened, "and maybe he is just stressed. Let him be, turtle."

Raphael looked at his brothers and directed a menacing grunt to Mikey before leaving. Mikey and Donnie shrugged before returning to their previous activities.

After many hours of intensive television, Michelangelo found out he was sleepy. He looked at the clock: almost midnight. Deciding it was time to get to bed, he turned off the monitors and moved to the bathroom. Once there he smiled to the mirror and winked to his reflection. Taking his toothbrush, he suddenly found himself freezing.

The sewers were not precisely a warm place, not with that humid and cold air; but the current temperature was so low he could actually see his own breath. And he was shivering.

"B-but it is summer …" he stuttered. Letting the toothbrush aside, he took a towel to cover himself in order to get some warmth. Turning around, he let the towel drop: right in front of him was a human figure, a man with sad eyes that directly looked at him before vanishing.

Michelangelo remained frozen on the spot for a couple seconds before rushing out of the bathroom, screaming.

"Ghost! Ghost!"

Entering Don's bedroom, he turned on the lamp. Donatello looked at him, drowsily.

"What is it?" he questioned, trying to adapt his eyes to the sudden brightness.

Mikey gesticulated and opened the mouth, but no sound came out of it. Finally, he jumped onto the bed, took the blanket and hid under it.

"I see dead people!"

Donatello looked at him again before lying down.

"Okay, that was a good one. Now give me my blanket back, I'm freezing."

"No, Donnie! It is true! There's a ghost in the bathroom!"

"Sure, and the last week there was a giant crocodile on the sewers; and before that …"

"Really, you have to believe me! And there is a giant crocodile on the sewers!"

"Sure, whatever."

"Don!"

Donatello opened an eye and took his brother by the nape, getting him close to his face.

"There are no ghosts in the bathroom, you had a nightmare. And there is no giant crocodile on the sewers, only a very tired turtle that gets really, really mad when his sleeping time is disturbed."

"But … the ghost …"

"Good night, Mikey," and saying so he turned the light off.

Finding himself in the darkness, Michelangelo looked on every direction while biting his nails.

"All right, there are not ghosts." He left the room, nervously. "There are not ghosts, there are not ghosts …"

Donatello looked for his blanket and covered himself with it. The room was suddenly oh so cold! He didn't even paid attention to the figure that looked at him from one of his room's corners.

Raphael woke up with a start. He was sure there were some voices … yes, he still could hear them … murmuring in his room. He remained still, eyes half closed, and waited until he got used to the darkness. Now he could clearly discern there was someone in his room, at least two people. He knew they were really close to him, talking.

In a sudden motion, he turned on the light and jumped to his feet. Except for him, the room was empty. He waited a few seconds before relaxing and sitting on the bed. Resting his head against the wall, he turned it to the side to find the face of a pale, semitransparent woman, whose lower half went across the bed.

He retreated with a shout.

The woman followed him, grabbing his wrist. Raphael felt her cold contact. The apparition's lips were moving, but no word was uttered; then she slowly vanished. Raphael found he was sitting on the floor, with a perplex expression and the arm stretched in front of him, as the ghost left him.

"No … tell me that was not a ghost. Anything but a ghost. Aliens, I can handle. But ghosts?" he mumbled.

A yell made him rush out of his room. He found Donatello outside, startled and with a horror expression on his face.

"Eh … uh … ah …" Don was unable to form a coherent word.

"A pathetic, semitransparent figure that then vanishes?" Raphael anxiously provided.

Don nodded affirmatively. They were at that when Mikey came out of his room, covered with his blanket and a bit pale.

"But there aren't ghosts, are there? Now I hope you believe me on the crocodile bit."

Raphael scrutinized his younger brother before turning to Don.

"Mikey believes there is a giant crocodile on the sewers," Donatello explained.

Raphael warily looked at his brother. "There is a giant crocodile on the sewers. I have seen it."

Don remained shocked for a second before shaking his head.

"No, this can't be true. Those … things … there's no way they are ghosts. I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation for this all."

"Well, yeah, the sewerage is bewitched!"

"Right, just what we needed."

"No, it is not bewitched." They jumped. Again, they have failed to notice Splinter's presence until he was in fact in front of them. Michelangelo turned even paler. "But strange events are taking place," the rat continued, "I can feel it."

"And I could see it. What's go-" But Raphael was unable to continue, as all the lights suddenly turned off.

"The light went off!"

"No, really?"

"Nooo! Don't you get it? This is the part when the vengeful ghost starts taking victims! Once the light is back, one of us will have disappeared! And that surely will be me!"

"Mikey, relax. The comic relief always happens to survive. Now, come with me; we have to check the fusible box."

"No, that's the worst idea ever! Have you learn nothing from the movies? When a group disbands, the members disappear one by one. We must stay together, and you all have to protect me!"

Dragging Michelangelo by the bandana, Donatello left.

"I must admit Michelangelo's words are wise ones," Master Splinter told to Raphael when they were alone.

"Do you really believe there's a vengeful ghost?"

"Not that part! We should remain together. Where's your brother Leonardo?"

"That's a good question," Raphael admitted and decided to go get him.

"Mikey, get off! I can't walk like this."

Michelangelo was practically on his brother's shell, still covered from head to toe with his blanket, and nervously looking on every direction.

"Why the fusible box always has to be at some remote place? Why there's always someone that has to insist on fixing it? Why can't we wait on the living room until the morning, and come back to fix the fusible then? Why –?"

"Could you please shut up? There's the fusible box, do you see it?" Don shoved his brother aside and, taking a lantern from his duffel bag, he directed the light beam to the box. "Hmm, I can see what the problem is. It will be very easy to fix."

He held the lantern with the teeth while working. After a few minutes he closed the box.

"All right, now we just have to turn on the switch and … Mikey, get off my shell, I've already told you!" Don could still feel somebody behind him, but there was no response. Then he noticed the sudden drop in the temperature. "Mikey?"

Again, there was no answer. The pressure on his shell was still there, but he finally noticed it was as if something humid and cold was attached on him. He felt a chill on his nape.

"Okay, I'm sure this is gonna be a very bad idea."

Slowly and with the lantern still on the hand, he turned around. The light showed a dark figure, with the face covered by what looked like locks of dirty hair, and only a few feet away from him.

Involuntarily he dropped the lantern, running to turn on the fusible switch. The light returned immediately. Looking around, he found himself alone and released a relieved sigh, until he noticed something missing.

"Mike? Mikey, where are you?" There was no answer. "Damn! Could it be that he was right? He has disappeared."

Michelangelo had the slight feeling that he was not at the lair anymore.

"It definitely was a bad idea to make that last turn," he mumbled between his teeth, tightly holding the blanket in place. "Great! I just somehow managed to be left alone, in a dark and humid tunnel. Don, are you there? Is anybody there? Preferably not a walking dead, most commonly known as a ghost? Hey, I remember this tunnel! Next turn should lead me back to -"

He suddenly stopped and grabbed his weapons, as he has heard steps coming on his direction from the darkness. On the tunnel's walls a shadow danced, that of the thing that will appear in front of him any second now.

"STOP, YOU DEMON!" a voice yelled.

Mikey's eyes went wide. It was not a ghost, but a young human female.

"What the sh-" he started, but the girl interrupted him.

"I said: STOP, YOU DEMON!"

"Stop, you demon?" Mikey repeated, before interrogating her. "Who are you?"

The girl looked scared but was not trying to escape. She just frowned while rummaging into the huge bag hanging on her back. Her eyes remained on Mikey, who looked back with curiosity.

"Now you will face your destruction, demon. Just … wait a second." Her arm was now almost completely into the bag, franticly turning around its contents.

"Yeah, whatever, but I think you might be slightly confu-"

"Here it is, demon; the instrument of your demise!" She took the arm out of the bag and there was a paper strip on her hand. Mikey half closed his eyes to have a better view of it.

"That's my demise's instrument?"

The girl paid no attention and attacked him, but Mikey didn't even try to defend himself. Next thing he noticed, the paper strip was glued on his forehead, hanging in front of his eyes. He really wanted to laugh at that, but somehow he couldn't move. There was a tingling feeling all over his body, which didn't answer to his commands.

"What's this," he mumbled, barely able to open his mouth.

The girl grinned, but her expression changed almost immediately.

"This is weird." She got closer, examining Mikey with curiosity. "You were supposed to explode. Maybe I did something wrong?"

"Explode! Now, wait a minute …" Michelangelo tried to move but that proved to be impossible.

"Well, that means I'll have to use the traditional method."

"What? What traditional method?"

The girl returned to her bag, taking out of it a short, thick dagger with foreign inscriptions on the blade.

"Wait, I'm not a demon! You are in a mistake! Demons live on the sewer next door, there are only turtles here!"

"You are lying, demon! You are only trying to avoid your destruction!"

"Yeees, that's truuuue!"

"Yet I don't think you should destroy him right now, child."

The girl turned to find who had talked. Mikey couldn't move, but he recognized Splinter's voice. The girl drawled back with a panicked face.

"A rat! A giant rat! And it talks!"

Splinter sighed. "And I should go thru this every single time …"

But then the girl's face relaxed.

"What am I saying?" she chastised while slapping her forehead. "A talking giant rat? You are Splinter!"

"Master Splinter to you," Mikey corrected. "And now that we are on friendly terms, do you think I could be de-paralyzed?"

Splinter smiled at him.

"Hmm …"

"Don't worry, Master! I immobilized this demon, and was about to get rid of him."

"Oh, that's tempting, child. But as I said before, it would not be necessary. He is not a demon, but one of my sons."

"Sons?" The girl's gaze went from the turtle to Splinter and then back to the turtle.

"Yeah, well, I got the looks from my mom."

"It's … I just … I believed he was a demon, what with that appearance …" the girl stuttered.

Splinter moved to Mikey's side and inspected the paper strip.

"Mm, many years have passed since the last time I saw one of this seals. I didn't know there were people on this city that was able to use them."

Splinter snapped his fingers in front of Mikey's face, and the paper strip immediately detached from the turtle's forehead. Splinter grabbed it on the air and barely had the time to notice the Japanese calligraphy before the paper disappeared in a ball of fire.

Mikey happily stretched arms and legs.

Splinter turned towards the girl. "I'm afraid, young lady, that you have me in disadvantage."

The girl looked at him, trying to understand his words. "Oh," she finally acknowledged. "We have never met, but you surely remember my mother. From what I've been able to gather, she visited you some years ago."

The girl's face was serious, and the rat looked at her in silence before talking again.

"Yes, I remember," he conceded with a somber expression. "It would be better if we get into our home. Your presence here coincides with some dark premonitions of mine."

The girl hesitated before agreeing to follow them.

Raphael moved with precaution. The lack of light was not a problem; neither was the possibility to stumble on some supernatural being wandering around. No, what made him nervous was the fact that he was looking for Leo. The older turtle had been acting weird since he woke up on the library. Never before he had been in bad mood, looking for fights, but earlier this night …

All right, he was at his brother's door, and there was complete darkness and absolute silence all around. Raphael shook his head. This is stupid, he thought.

"Hey, Leo!" he called. There was no answer. "Leo, are you in there?" He cautiously walked into the room; it was as dark as the rest of the lair. The bed was empty.

"Are you looking for something?"

He jumped at the voice. Leonardo was sitting at a corner. Raph hadn't noticed his brother, but the turtle in blue had obviously been observing him since he got into the room. Leo was sporting a smile that made Raph nervous. He tried to ignore the nagging feeling.

"There you are! Why didn't you answer to my calling?" Leonardo kept his mouth closed; he only looked directly at him. Raphael was intrigued. "What's wrong?"

Leo softly laughed, resting his arm on his knee.

"Nothing. Go get the others, I'll meet you latter."

His voice was deeper than usual, and only the white of his eyes could be clearly discerned in such darkness. For some unexplainable reason, Raphael felt the urgent need to get out of that room as soon as possible.

"You know you've been acting somewhat weirdly, don't you?" and without waiting for an answer, he turned around and left.

"Yes I do," Leo answered with a smug smile, but Raphael couldn't hear him.

Just as Raphael left his brother's bedroom, the light returned. Sighing in relief, he moved to the center of the living room right when the lair's door got open. There were his Sensei, Mikey and someone else.

"And who's that? Great, just what we need right now: visits," he mumbled to himself.

Donatello catch up with him. "Have you seen Mikey? I don't know what happened to him; one moment he was by my side and the next …" he trailed off when Raphael pointed at the three figures getting into the lair. "Oh, there he is."

Mikey moved in their direction while the unfamiliar girl and their Sensei remained a little apart, talking in low tones.

"Who's she?" Don whispered.

Mikey got closer to them while looking at the girl. With the light, now he could see her clearly: barely taller than them, she was thin and blonde, had short hair and was wearing glasses, jeans and a sweater with a rhomboid pattern. And ah, yes, she was carrying a huge bag pack.

"I have no idea; if you ask me, I'd say she escaped some loony bin. But it seems that Master Splinter knows her."

"Oh," his brothers exclaimed at the same time looking at their Sensei, who still was talking to the girl. They paid close attention to the conversation.

"… yes, I agree with you. Some subjects should better be discussed under the day light. Besides, this is a very late hour," Master Splinter was saying.

The girl nodded. Suddenly, they turned and discovered they were being observed by the turtles, who immediately looked on any other direction. Splinter motioned them to get closer. The girl's eyes were wide open.

"So, these are your … eh … sons, right?" And then, whispering to the rat, "Where did you found them? Were they invoked, created? Are they some kind of chimera?"

Master Splinter just smiled.

Raphael moved extremely close to her, almost touching her face with his own. She flinched, nervously smiling.

"Is there a problem?"

"Jejeje … hi? No, there's no problem at all."

"Good. Now, if you have the kindness to tell us who the hell you are," Raphael growled.

"This young lady will help us with our apparitions' problem," Master Splinter interceded.

"That's right," she informed, getting away from Raphael. "First thing, we have to put some seals around. I don't know why, the spirits are extremely active this night."

She waved a package of paper strips in front of their eyes.

"Ah no, forget it. Don't even think I'm gonna touch those," Michelangelo exclaimed.

The girl glanced at him. "That won't be necessary," she simply stated. Getting her hand into her pocket, she took out a shinny chain with a crystal object hanging at one extreme. The girl held it in front of her face, attentively watching at it. The object oscillated side to side for a couple seconds before, apparently by its own accord, moving to the front.

"This way," the girl motioned: the diamond shaped object pointed directly to the center of the room. "The energy center is right in the middle of the room. Great Feng Shui!"

"Thanks," Master Splinter replied with a smile.

The turtles blankly looked at him.

Putting the crystal object back in her pocket, the girl stepped in the center of the room. With both hands she took the paper strips and put them by her temples, closing her eyes and reciting some strange words.

"Just what we needed …" Raphael mumbled one more time.

Suddenly the girl grew quiet, and she let go the paper strips. Instead of falling to the floor, those floated in the air for a second before shooting on several directions: north, south, east and west, they firmly got stuck to the walls.

"That's it!" she happily exclaimed, as if asking for approbation.

"Uh … nice?" Don said, on the belief that something should be acknowledged.

"Sure, you'll have my recognition, after you explain what the hell was that for," were Raphael's angry words.

She adjusted her glasses. "This is a spiritual barrier; it will prevent more spirits from getting into your home. You might have seen some already, I found many while coming here."

"It will be explained tomorrow," Splinter informed before any of his sons had time to make another question. "Now you'll go to rest without worry, we should not expect more surprises this night."

"We'll do it, once she answers my first question," Raphael addressed to the stranger.

She seemed surprised. "Oh yes, sure." And, breathing deep, she informed with shinny eyes, "My name is Muffy, Muffy Simmons."

TBC …

Translator Notes: This was translated with permission from the authoress, Medeah. The original story, in Spanish, has the number 2158172. THIS IS CHAPTER THREE OF FIFTEEN. This story has been nominated for the Strangest Scene category on the Fanfiction 2005 Competition. Congrats to Medeah!