A/N: Can't thank the reviewers enough for all the kind crit. Everyone's reviews have been very kind. Thanks especially to Reinbeauchaser who actually chased me up on my Live Journal to review because review system was buggered then reviewed again here when it started working once more! Oh and many thanks to Random Passerby whose review actually made me get off my lazy ass and upload this chapter :D
Anyway, this chapter focuses on the day and the life of Michelangelo. These first two chapters are really and introduction to the main protagonists, Michelangelo and Lina. I'll get into the murder mystery later. Also, this TMNT story doesn't really belong in any one universe because I am going to introduce Irma into the story soon.
Notes from a Pizza Parlour
Le Fabuleux Destiny of Michelangelo
Last born and first to party. Michelangelo hated Mondays.
Before - that is, when Leonardo was still around - Mondays had signalled the start of another new and exciting week. There had always lingered a feeling of excitement mixed with danger, like the air before a lightning storm. Sure enough, a bulletin on the box would catch his eye or April would call with more news on the Foot's dealings and the call to another adventure would trumpet. Together, the four brothers would charge out of the Lair following Master Splinter's wise words, Leonardo always taking the lead.
That was then. Now Mondays had the cold stale smell of leftover pizza.
A pair of dreary, monotonous voices on the morning political debate droned over the constant beeps and bleeps of the arcade machines. Mikey groaned. He'd fallen asleep in front of the TV again.
"Donnie's gonna be mad," he mumbled to himself while picking his way through the debris of scattered chips and pizza boxes.
But the likelihood of Donatello tearing himself away from his new IT Help Line for anything less than sleep was very little. Even now, Mikey could hear his brother bickering with some technologically challenged old biddy on the phone. It wasn't just a way of making money, Mikey realised; it was his brother's way of dealing.
He scanned the Lair for a sign of Raphael.
"Nope, nada, nothin'." He sighed. "Another non triumph. Geez…This place is deader than disco."
He didn't want to acknowledge it, but since Leo had left for his training abroad things just hadn't been the same. The mood had rapidly changed from dull to tedious to downright grim in his eldest brother's absence. April's visits had also become few and far between due to work restraints and her developing relationship with Casey. As for Raphael, he had taken to sleeping all day and disappearing through the night – the family barely ever saw him. And due to a severe lack of funds, both Michelangelo and Donatello had been forced into finding paying occupations. Pizza didn't come free after all.
But if he was completely honest, working was just a way to waste time. He vaguely wondered when everyone started wasting time as opposed to running out of it.
Michelangelo could have obeyed Splinter's wishes and found a way of making money underground like Donnie had, but the thought of spending more time in the dark, dreary Lair made him grimace. Home just didn't feel like home anymore. It felt exactly as it looked: a dank, dark, underground sewer. Unlike his brothers, Mikey was very much a creature of the daylight and he was sick of hiding in the shadows. He suspected he missed the fame and the glory days more than anyone in the family.
A sudden clatter from the kitchen brightened his spirits.
"Raph! You up?" he hollered, skidding into the kitchen.
Raphael was sitting at the table looking grim and very hung-over. "What's it look like, el genius?"
Mikey reared back dramatically in horror. "Whoa, dude… you look like crap, bro."
"Sure you ain't lookin' in a mirror, bro?" Raph retorted and continued eating breakfast.
"Where've you been? Out? Were you with Casey? How'd the move with April go? Oh, you didn't get any take-out did you, cause I've got a mondo case of the munches?"
"No, no, no and no." Raph dropped the spoon into his cereal bowl and rubbed his brow. His eyes were bleary and his movements sluggish.
"Really, Raph, you look like something a rat dragged in. Sure you're not sick or anything? I've got a great recipe for a pizza sauce that'll blow your blues awa-"
"NO, Mikey! What's with the twenty questions this morning? Geez! Go put that stupid costume and entertain the ickle kiddies or somethin'. Just get outta my hair for a while, 'kay?" Raph raised his hand to quickly silence his brother before he replied. "And yeh, I know I don't got hair!" Raphael pushed his chair away from the table in one violent gesture and stormed towards the door. "I'm goin' to bed. Don't wake me unless it's an emergency." Once again, he raised his hand before Mikey could speak. "And deciding on a pizza topping ain't an emergency!"
Last born and first to party. Michelangelo lived in a concrete jungle.
Leonardo was far away, training to become a stronger leader. The last letter the family received from Leo four months ago informed them that he had left Japan for the wild forests of South America.
'As if he needs to train in a jungle,' Mikey mused, turning the wheel of the Cowabunga Carl mobile sharply around a corner, narrowly missing a trashcan.
A jungle was just what they lived in. The city was just as raw, just as wild and just as unpredictable as nature. Though metal and manmade in construction, New York was still a wild labyrinth and in the days of Shredder, its Minotaur was the Foot - its eyes and ears around every corner, in every shadow. As a team the Turtles had taken the horns from the beast and afterwards Leo had left to train far away from their own concrete jungle. It worried Mikey. In the city he knew how easy it was to lose yourself in the crowd and the noise, but he still had his brothers. Who did Leo have during the long, deafening, silences of the jungle?
But if he was completely honest, if he made himself face the reality of his situation, Mikey would admit that despite being literally close to his brothers, metaphorically they were each in a jungle of their own. Which made him think that the past year and a half had been as much a test for Donatello, Raphael and himself as it had for Leo. If that were the case, had they passed or failed?
"Why don't you find yourself a hobby?" the waitress at the Cheesy Pot Pizza Parlour asked one particularly rainy Monday shortly after his unpleasant encounter with Raphael.
"A hobby? Nah, I've got plenty of those," Mikey replied gloomily and resumed drumming his fingers on the wooden table.
The waitress quirked an eyebrow, seemingly unconvinced: "Oh yeah? Like what?"
"World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, Final Fantasy-" he rattled off.
The waitress refilled his cup with a disapproving shake of her head. "That's not a hobby. That's called playing computer games, you big geek. Maybe you wear that mask all the time because you burned your eyes out," she said and pushed a floury finger against his nose, grinning.
"Hey, slow your horses babe, you didn't specify! I do other stuff," Mikey protested.
The waitress was now clearing up the pile of empty dishes from his table, a smirk on her face. "Enlighten me, Carl."
It was a shame she couldn't see the face he was pulling.
"I skateboard," he replied and folded his arms smugly. "Pretty nifty too, if I do say so myself! … Which I do. And I'm awesome."
"Alright, but that can't take up your whole day," she pointed out.
"Like, how'd you know?" he retorted. "Taken up spying on me now? I'm flattered, but maybe it's you who needs to find a hobby."
The waitress stared blankly. "If it did you wouldn't be here all the time, would you?"
Mikey felt his face flush. "Yeah, I mean no, I mean… uh…bummer." He hated being outwitted. "Well what about you? What outstanding hobbies fill your day, spying on me aside?"
The waitress only shrugged her skinny shoulders and replied, "I read."
He grinned. "Trash romance novels, huh?"
"No!" she denied a little too quickly. A small blush graced her cheeks. Now it was Mikey's turn to wear the superior smirk.
"You can wipe that look off your face."
Mikey's expression dropped along with his jaw. "How'd you know?" he asked, checking to see that the turtle mask was still firmly in place.
The waitress said nothing. Instead she walked towards the coat rack and picked a book out of the pocket of a long duffle coat. Tossing it to him, she said, "Here, you might like this."
Mikey read the title out loud. "The Neverending Story? Huh… sounds time-consuming."
The waitress slid into the seat across from him. "It was my favourite book as a child. Has everything a good fantasy novel should have: adventure, heroes, wizards, werewolves… giant talking turtles."
Michelangelo flinched. "Giant talking turtles?"
"Your interest piqued?"
Michelangelo scratched the back of his neck and chuckled nervously. "You could say that. Hey, don't suppose there are any gnarly robotic monsters in this thing, huh?"
"No, just gnarly witches and rock giants."
"Good ol' Harry Potter style! I'll give it a shot." Mikey pondered the cover of the book in his hand. "Maybe I can get some ideas for my book."
The waitress looked surprised. "You write?"
"Yeah! Well, a little, but it kinda… it sorta… it's majorly bogus. I used to write back home, but now, I dunno, I've kinda lost the gumption."
"I don't know, makes sense to me. You're always in here bothering my customers with some silly tale or another. You might as well put them to paper and give me some peace."
Michelangelo slumped back in his chair. "But I wouldn't know where to start."
"Just stick to what you know and write from your experiences."
"My experiences?" His experiences were a little more implausible than your average Joe's, he thought dismally. But then, why not chronicle them? 'The Chronicles of Michel J Angelo. Hmm, has a nice ring to it. Babe might be onto something here…' He leapt to his feet and dragged the waitress into a fierce hug. "Lina, babe, you're a genius!"
Lina was blushing furiously. "Anytime, Carl."
A/N: Please, please read and review! I always like to know whether or not I have everyone in character and Michelangelo, being one of my all time favourite characters, isn't a character a want to mess up in this fic. If you think anyone's OOC please tell me!