In the blackness that surrounded him Casey wondered if he had died somehow. He did not recall dying, but it was all he could think of that explained the dark and numbness that engulfed him. The only thing that argued otherwise was the feeling of his heartbeat which occasionally rumbled into his ears. Gradually, he tried to find his senses; he could not see but he could smell something dank and musty. It was the type of smell that whispered of old things; older than himself. He could hear what he supposed was the scratching of rats or the scuttling of bugs around him. What he felt gave him the least amount of comfort; he pulled at his arms and could feel they were being restrained by something cold and hard. No, he wasn't dead, but he didn't feel that he was doing much better.
Awake, concioussss, coherant..... rattled a voice in his head. He almost hadn't understood what it was saying at first. It had only sounded like a mess of static that may or may not have been real words. Casey Jonessss...
"What? Who is it?" Casey choked. He was surprised at how raspy and quiet his voice came. His throat was so dry it he may as well have been drinking sand.
Doesss not matter. Does not matter who you are. Not who you are now.
"Like hell!" he hacked. "You've *koff* locked me up... I need to know whose face I need to bust in." With his voice failing him, Casey was disappointed at how little strength his threats had. How long had he been here? How long had it been to make him feel so weak?
Does. Not. Matter. The voice repeated definitively, in such a tone that it insisted Casey agree. We need your OTHER. Shadows and shadows before.
Casey was getting tired of this nonsense. "What other me? Casey Jones is the one and only."
Casey Jones does not matter.
He jumped a little, as it sounded as though the voice was right beside his head. He could have sworn he felt the thick breath of its owner on his neck. For a moment, his heart jumped to this throat and gagged him.
I will find you, Yamato.... Doesss not matter how deep you hide. You will tell me.
Your OTHER. Deep, deep, and far away. Do not care for Casey Jones. You will give him to me, even if I must destroy you to find him.
Blinding whiteness consumed him now, but Casey knew he had not died. All he knew was pain.
As soon as April entered the underground home of the turtles, she was little alarmed. She did not immediately see anyone home as she had hoped. At the very least, Mikey was usually there playing on the arcade games. Just as she was about to turn and leave, a voice caught her attention.
"Hey, April. What's up?" Donatello's warm greeting calmed her mildly as she turned to face him. He had apparently been busy in his workshop since he still had goggles atop his head and his working gloves on. Though she smiled at seeing him, the worry on her face must have been obvious as his own expression mimicked the look. "Is something wrong?"
"Is Raphel here?" she asked after a moment. Donny shook his head and approached her.
"No. He and Leo are out sparring with Splinter. Mikey went to catch a movie. Is there anything I can help with?" April seemed hesitant, but then reached down into her shoulder back and pulled out a small bundle wrapped in a cloth.
"It's... It's this." She reached up and unfolded the cloth in her palm to reveal the crystal flower Raphael had given her. The dark veins were still present from the night before. Donatello looked at it over briefly before returning his gaze to the redhead.
"It's very nice," he offered. April continued to look troubled, which only confused the turtle more.
"It shocked me," she finally said, as if it explained everything. Donny scratched his head.
"Oh, I don't know, Donny," April replied, a little frustrated at how silly she sounded. She moved to the kitchen and sat the flower in the cloth on the counter. Donatello followed her, trying to make sense of things. "Raphael gave this to me a few days ago. A day or so after, these veins appeared.... and then this morning when I tried to pick it up it shocked me - like static." She gestured to it helplessly. Intrigued, Donatello reached over to pick up the flower himself. It separated from the cloth and he held it in his gloved hand with no trouble, examining it.
"That is a little strange." Examining it closer, Donny took a chance and slipped the glove from one of his hands to try holding the crystal in his bare palm. He felt nothing and shrugged, looking at April. Her face scrunched up indignantly.
"I'm not crazy, Donny!" she insisted, reaching out for the flower. The minute her fingers came in range of the crystal, a tiny arc of blue lightning shot out to contact them. She shrieked and pulled her hand back, cradling it to her chest with the other. Donatello's eye went wide at the reaction and he dropped the flower instinctively. It clattered across the floor, but failed to shatter.
"What was that??" he asked aloud.
"I told you!" she said, shakily, biting her lip. Donny reached over and took her hand carefully to look at it and make sure she hadn't been burned. Once he was sure there was no damage, he rubbed her hand a little to comfort her.
"I'm sorry... I didn't think it would...," he murmured, and glanced over at the flower on the floor.
"Well, I didn't exactly think it would either...." Donatello furrowed his brow a little. He had touched the thing with his bare flesh, and yet it didn't react until April got near it; nevermind that it seemed like a plain old mantel decoration. Why on Earth would it retain an electrical charge? Why shock only April? Did it have something to do with those veins? When he was certain April was alright, he ventured over and carefully reached out to pick up the flower. No arcs of energy came, and he scooped it up.
"I think I had better take a closer look at this," he said. April nodded in agreement and followed Donatello as he ventured back into his workshop.
".....so clumsy, I might have hit something vital."
"Go ahead n' try it, Leo. You could NEVER get a hit on me that I couldn't take."
"Says the guy who got JUMPED in the alleyway and knocked unconcious!"
"Be quiet!" Splinter commanded as he entered the hideout behind his two bickering sons. His eyes fell to April, who was currently sitting on the sofa, looking as though she was waiting for test results from a doctor. Raphael and Leonardo followed his gaze, having been too wrapped up in their argument to notice her at first.
"April!" Raph said, a little too enthused at first. He glanced back to Leo and his master, embarassed at how eager he had sounded, and promptly stiffened up his manner. "Echm... April."
"Hi, guys," April said, with a lift of her hand.
"Is something worrying you, my child?" Splinter asked, approaching her as he mounted the steps from the doorway.
"Well, I came here to see Raphael about something," she began. Raphael felt his heart swell in his chest, though he bit his tongue so as not to let the feeling melt his manly expression into lovey goo in front of his brother. "It's about the gift you gave me the other day."
"What about it?" he asked, perking up. He suddenly recalled the veins that had disturbed him the night prior. Had something else happened? The warmth he felt inside soon gave way to unease.
"Well, it -"
"It's AMAZING!" They all turned to see Donatello emerging from his workshop holding the flower. He looked positively ecstatic, like had just discovered a new solar system with a vast array of intelligent life and technology.
"What is, Donatello?" Splinter spoke up first.
"This!" Donny replied, gesturing to the flower as he came closer. "Do you realize what this is??"
"Aaaa flower?" Raph said, sarcastically.
"Not just that. These veins here - or what we THOUGHT were veins? It's an intricate...VERY intricate...map!" Donatello stood in overjoyed silence as his siblings, sensei, and friend stared at him blankly for a moment. He gestured a little wildly with his hands. "Okay, no, you can't see it with the naked eye...but if you expand every little strand in here, it perfectly matches up to a map of a land mass. Specifically, Honshu, in Japan!"
"..Where in Honshu?" Splinter asked, his ears falling back a little, warily.
"Well, as far as I can tell it appears to lead to the base of Mt. Fuji," Donny replied. Splinter let out a rumbling hum in his throat that seemed to be a mix of discomfort and thoughtfulness.
"What's at Mt. Fuji?" Leo asked, still a little perplexed at the sudden appearance of this mysterious map.
"I have no idea," Donny replied. "But I'm wondering if it has anything to do with April." He glanced over at her, and the others followed his gaze.
"Whattya mean?" Raph asked, semi-defensively.
"Well. Earlier, when April brought the flower here...we discovered that it reacts to her."
"Reacts?" Leo asked.
"It shocks me," April piped up.
"Literally," Donny added when the confused looks arose again. "Electric pulses eminated from this thing and shocked her. It's a wonder she didn't get burnt." Raphael idley slid onto the couch by April and took a glance at her hands to make sure that was true. It would have been horrible if he had given her something that had wounded her. Luckily, it seemed that wasn't the case. Still, what was this map business about?
"Where did you get the flower, Raphael?" Splinter asked.
"I don't remember," Raph replied defensively, shrugging. "It was just some little trinket shop down near the theater. I picked it up on my way home." He threw his arms over the back of the couch and frowned, irritated.
"There is definitely more to this than we originally imagined," their sensei said, stroking his chin. "April, may I borrow your gift for awhile?" April nodded without hesitation. Any answers Splinter might be able to give for the situation would be welcome. Donatello handed the crystal to his master, who wrapped his claws about it and studied it for a moment silently. With a glance back to his sons and April, he turned to head into his private quarters to do some research.
"I'm going to look at that map some more...," Donatello said after a few moments of quiet ensued. He hurriedly dashed back to his workshop, giddy to learn more from his new discovery. Leo shook his head, still trying to piece everything together, and moved to enter his own room.
Now alone, Raph let his eyes wander freely back to April.. His fingers tapped the back of the couch thoughtfully as he considered scooting inward.
"I'm sorry," April said. He was a little startled by it, since he had planned on apologizing for giving her a hazardous gift in the first place.
"Uh, no, it's alright. Uh, why?" he blabbered a little.
"It really was a nice gift," she said, reassuringly.
"Yeah. Next time I'll try to get you something that won't try to electrocute you," he murmured, sullenly. April put a hand to her mouth and laughed a little.
"It's okay. You didn't know. I just hope Splinter and Donny can figure something out."
"Yeah... I guess...," Raphael replied, turning his eyes to the ceiling. His fingers were close enough on the back of the couch to touch the ends of her hair, which she was wearing down today. He loved it when she wore it like that - it framed her face so well.
"Have you been okay since we talked last?" she finally asked.
"Yeah. I'm fine. It really wasn't anything I couldn't handle," he reassured her with his genuine pride. April looked at him with a slightly cocked eyebrow, silently mocking his tough-guy act. Raphael looked back and felt his face flush with the teasing gaze. Damnit, he thought. Why was she so good at making him feel like such a wuss! He hated it and loved it all at the same time - emotions were so confusing.
"I guess you don't need me then," she mused, crossing her arms and tossing her head dramatically to the side.
"That's NOT what I said!" he bellowed a little loudly, turning to face her on the couch. He glanced around, having realized the volume of his voice and shrunk down into the cushions, looking positively humiliated for a second. She had done it again!
April had been a little taken aback at his outburst, a hand to her chest and eyes wide. Once the shock of it had worn off though, she laughed wholeheartedly. "Oh, Raph... You shouldn't take things so seriously..."
"But it is serious," he murmured, still a little red in the face. It matched his mask perfectly. "I...missed you..." He coughed.
"Sorry, what?" she asked, leaning closer. Raphael gave her a look that warned her not to make him say it louder or else there would be dire consequences. April smiled and muffled a small laugh. "Okay. Okay....." Leaning back she gave a deep sigh. "I'm just glad you're doing okay after that run-in you had.... I was praying you'd be safe." Raphael lifted his head a little more and looked at her; his expression had softened some.
"Then I am well protected," he replied lightly.
April blinked a couple of times at the response, caught in a weird sense of deja-vu. She simply smiled and nodded in return, a warmth filling her then, like a treasured memory from long ago.
A/N: HI! I'm back! Did you miss me!? :) Sorry that I haven't gotten to this story in a long while, but I felt compelled to return to it, so I hope you guys like this chapter. Hopefully, the next one won't take me so long!