She shouldn't have known he was there. He didn't give himself away; there was no particular sound or movement that caught her eye.

But she wasn't friends with a bunch of ninja for nothing, and April O' Neil knew she wasn't alone as soon as she emerged from the backroom of her antique shop. It was evening, past closing time, and green eyes narrowed with indignation that anybody would have the audacity to steal from her.

But first things first. She slipped soundlessly for the counter, calm fingers extracting the cell from her purse. She ignored the alarm; she didn't want to panic him into running, and without visual confirmation of an intruder she was reluctant to bring in the police. She used the phone instead, crouching behind the counter and speaking in a whisper.

"I think there's somebody in the store… No, I wanted to call you before doing anything-"

The first blow came from behind.

This she hadn't sensed coming, and April struggled to voice the pain exploding in the back of her head as he approached. She was dimly aware of the worried voice issuing from the cell not a foot away but couldn't understand the words. It was rendered a moot point as she was stepped over like a rug and a foot clad in innocuous tennis shoes stomped down on the little phone, crushing it to pieces. The owner turned on his heel and lifted her up by the hair, studying her with cold eyes.

A high- pitched, pained sound choked its way out of her throat. April tried to distract herself by returning his assessment: about six feet tall, lanky, close- cropped brown hair, a somewhat flat nose. Thin lips… and the coldest brown eyes she'd ever seen. If it hadn't been for the eyes he could've passed for normal.

And probably did.

She gasped for air, a thought occurring to her unbidden; he let me see his face. Oh God, he's going to kill me.

Not a thief- oh, how could she have been so wrong?

A smile spread across those thin lips and without a word he began dragging her toward the backroom- the back entrance.

Panic infused April and she struggled not to give in to it, to control it and work it into something she could use. She got her feet under her and without giving him time to react reached up, twisting his wrist until he cursed and released her hair, turning to face him and pulling him toward her as she did so to plant her fist into his solar plexus. He let out an oof and leant forward; April clapped her hands over his ears, smashed a fist into his nose and ran for her life as he snarled and groped for her.

She was gone, streaking through the shelves of inventory, grabbing a bookend as she went.

Fast as she was in her fear he was faster still and caught up sooner than she expected, tackling her into one of the crowded shelves. The breath was knocked out of her; antiques, man and woman alike fell to the concrete floor, April on bottom, winded from the impact.

He took advantage, driving a punch down to her cheek. April felt something snap.

His other hand found its way to her throat, choking her, bashing her wounded head into the floor even as he brought his fist down again. She twisted and bucked, throwing off his balance enough for the punch to miss. Any thought of reining in her panic was gone now and April shoved the bookend upward with as much force as she could muster, all rational thought dissolved in the fear of death.

He cringed back hips- first, pushing a hissing breath through his clenched teeth and making a high noise somewhere in the back of his throat. Apparently she'd gotten lucky with a crotch shot.

She didn't waste the opportunity, diving forward bookend- first into his middle.

He recovered quickly and grabbed her arm, lunging up and using his shoulder to knock her off- balance. The bookend slipped from her hand. He straddled her; one hand went to his side and came out with a wicked- looking hunting knife and he brought it down.

April flung up a desperate arm; the knife streaked down it, laying it open to the bone. He wasn't fazed and drew his arm back, this time going for her heart.

She screamed and twisted, the knife going down her side instead. He released her arm, using his hips and knees to pin her down while he shifted his grip to her throat, pushing her head back utilizing gravity. The knife came up again-

-but never got the chance to go back down. Shuriken peppered his arm and he yelled out, looking toward the doorway.

The sight of the four humanoid turtles was enough to stun him. It was possible he didn't even notice the sai that flew forward, impacting hard enough to rock him backward.

The dark- haired human male was there first- or rather, his bat was. Casey Jones hit April's assailant so hard the cracking of ribs was audible, and it only took three swings to have him completely off her.

The turtle with the red bandanna was there next, ignoring the shouted warnings of the purple and blue ones for restraint and plunging his remaining sai into the man's throat as Casey swung the bat for the final time, smashing the other man's skull and putting a sizeable dent in the bat itself.

The other turtles were there by this time, the blue one preventing them from desecrating the attacker's body, the purple and orange ones kneeling by still- prone April. A shouting match was forestalled by her weak voice, responding to Donatello's questions.

Casey and Raphael both spun on their heels at the sound, abandoning the object of their wrath in favor of their wounded friend. Raphael spared enough time to retrieve his sai before going over to her.

April was taking in deep gulps of air, trying to keep her mind on answering Don and answering Don only. She sat up with Michelangelo's help, leaning against the shelf.

"You okay, April?" Casey asked worriedly as he crouched down next to her, brushing her hair back with the hand not holding the dented bat.

She tried to smile at him. "I'll be fine… thank you, oh God, thank you guys…" her voice trembled and her eyes squeezed shut as she swallowed. "I thought… I thought I was going to… he…" The green eyes flew open again. "I'm gonna hurl."

Mike and Casey took her shoulders as she moved to her hands and knees and started throwing up right there; with a worried frown, Donatello leaned forward and rubbed her back. He looked up at Leonardo, who was watching them with a much more subtle but similar expression. "I think she's got a concussion, Leo."

He came forward to hold her hair, smoothing it as he drew it back and carefully avoiding the wound on the back of her head. "You'll be okay, April, the ambulance will be here soon." He looked at Mike, who nodded; he'd been the one to call. "Police, too."

"Police," April groaned as she finished, shuddering. She spat miserably a couple of times and looked up at Leonardo. "You weren't here… you can't be here… I'll be fine."

"It'll be a few minutes yet, April, we have time." Donatello soothed, though his worried face didn't relax.

"No. No, go, I'm fine." she told them, voice gathering strength. Leonardo met her eyes, then gave her a brief nod and began gathering the shuriken.

"I'm stayin'." Casey said firmly.

She glared right back at him. "No, you're not."

"Yes he is." Raphael ordered.

"You're in no shape to make me leave." Casey threatened.

She looked past him, to the man. When her eyes met his again they were somber. "He's dead, Casey, and you're holding a bat. It's better if you're not here. You can come to the hospital later."

"He's got holes in him that didn't come from no damn bat, either!" Casey shot back. "How're you gonna explain that? I'm not leavin' you." he repeated stubbornly.

"I- I dunno, the knife…" Her eyes glazed slightly.

Donatello looked to Leonardo, who nodded. "April, we have to leave, but we don't want to leave you here alone. Say you called Casey when you heard somebody, let him go to the hospital with you."

"If we can't be here, at least let him be." Mike added softly.

"I-" she looked from one to the other, all equally resolute. "All right."

"We'll see you later, April." Mike assured, giving her a careful hug.

Donatello rubbed her back in goodbye; Leonardo and Raphael both squeezed her shoulder before leaving. When they were gone Casey slipped an arm around her shoulders and hugged her to him as they waited for the ambulance.