A/N: I am so sorry that it took this long! Freshman year of college is rather crazy. Thanks for being patient! And to everyone who reviewed last chapter, thank you so much! I really appreciate it! I hope I didn't lose all of my readers, so if you've waited this long for it... thank you! I'm finally going to start adding in more characters of my own! Yay! Onto the story!
Special thanks once again to asherfreak, KleeZeeNex, katielgk, and MickeyJo for beta-ing this for me!
Disclaimer: Not mine. Only the OCs introduced in this are mine.
Rating: PG-13 to be safe, but I took one reviewer's comments to heart and really cut back on the swearing. And it still works... imagine that.
"Come on, let's get inside, then," Raph moaned, opening the door. "It's like freakin' five in the morning and I wanna sleep."
"Amen to that, bro," Don said with a yawn as they all piled out of the vehicle. He reached back up and grabbed his gadget bag before slamming the door shut.
"Whoa, easy there, Mikey," Leo cautioned as Mikey stumbled forward. He grabbed his brother's arm to keep him from falling over. "You sure you're okay?" he asked.
Mikey gave a lopsided grin. "You know me, Leo - morphine and I aren't the greatest of pals ." He looked around and shivered a little. "'S cold out here," he muttered.
"Your drugged up brain figure that out all by itself?" Raph teased with a smirk. Mikey rolled his eyes and followed Don into the farmhouse. Leo paused on the deck and turned back, looking around. The air was crisp and cold, filled with the scent of the dying leaves of fall. The moonlight made the trees look solemn, almost sinister. His head jerked up when he heard the faint hooting of an owl. The bird flew across the sky, silhouetted by moon.
Leo sighed contentedly. It wasn't often he got to stand outside and not hear any traffic or voices fluttering up from the city below. It had been a long time since they were up here - too long, in Leo's opinion. His eyes widened slightly. Last time we were up here was for Splinter's burial, he realized. His eyes immediately scanned the ground in front of the barn. He could make out the faintest hint of a mound. The rosebush they had planted over top of the grave had no buds, but there were still many leaves on it. Leo felt his heart twinge a little bit. "Leo? You comin'?" Raph called, stepping back onto the porch.
"How come we only come up here for bad times?" Leo asked softly, never taking his eyes off the grave.
Raph moved so that he was standing by his brother. His eyes followed Leo's gaze, and his throat closed up. "Dunno," he said gruffly, leaning against the porch railing.
"I mean, we only ever come up here when someone's hurt or-" Leo cut off, casting his glance down at the ground.
Raph paused for a moment as Leo struggled to get his emotions under control. "We could start comin' up here more often," he murmured finally. Leo glanced up at him. "I mean, if that's what you want. It's… nice… up here," he finished with a shrug. Leo smiled faintly. There was a moment of silence before Raph finally said, "What're we gonna do about Bishop?"
The smile dropped off Leo's face. He sighed, rubbing his neck. "For now? Lay low, I guess. At least until Mikey recovers and all the commotion on the news over this dies down. I don't like it either," he said as Raph snorted, "but we don't have much choice."
"I just don't see how that guy's alive," Raph muttered as they headed back in. Mikey and Don turned, getting blankets out of the hall closet while listening to the conversation. "I mean, he got a sai through the head, and we blew the place up!"
"Yeah, I mean, I know he's gotten out of some bad situations before, but…" Mikey trailed off, moving to dump his armload of blankets on the sofa. He stifled a yawn, then winced as pain laced through his chest. "I think this has been the longest night of my life," he mumbled.
Don grunted in agreement as he deposited his pile of blankets on the floor next to the couch, sending up a small cloud of dust. It's almost impossible to believe that less than ten hours ago we were training on that rooftop, he thought as he started unfolding the blankets. "Don, what're you doing? There's a bunch of beds upstairs," Mikey pointed out.
Leo moved to help the purple-clad turtle. "We're gonna sleep down here tonight," he declared, shaking the dust out of a quilt.
They all jumped when they heard a loud thump, whirling to see Raph dropping a mattress on the floor. He cocked an eye ridge at them. "What? I intend to get my full eight hours, and I'm not gonna get that on a hardwood floor," he told them, heading back for the stairs. "I'll be right back."
"You guys don't have to-" Mikey began.
"Mikey, I'm not going to be able to sleep unless I know you're safe, okay? So just… play along," Don said, looking his brother straight in the eye.
"Besides, this way hopefully we'll all keep the nightmares at bay," Leo added as Raph reappeared with two more mattresses. He immediately set one up for his bed.
"Now get your butt on that couch and go to sleep 'fore you pass out," Raph ordered, marching over and forcing Mikey to lie down. "You're whiter than a sheet."
Mikey stared at them all for a moment, then sighed and smiled. "Thanks, guys," he whispered as he relaxed back into the couch cushions. "G'night."
"Technically, it's morning," Don whispered sleepily, settling down onto his mattress. That brought a chuckle from each of his brothers. Don smiled faintly, staring up at the ceiling as he sensed the others drifting off to sleep around him - even Leo, who didn't normally sleep a lot, fell into a deep sleep, judging by his breathing. Every now and again, there was a soft snore from Raph, and Don could hear Mikey's heavy breathing from up above him on the couch. He sighed, letting his eyes drift close as the previous night's events ran through his head again. Two questions kept popping to the forefront of his sleepy mind: How can Bishop be alive? And what are we going to do about Mikey? At the rate his brain was going, it would be unlikely that he would… be dropping off… to sleep… anytime… soon…
Don blinked blearily, then gingerly rolled over on his back. Sunlight was streaming in through the cracks in the curtains, illuminating lazily floating dust specks in the air. He stared blankly for a moment, wondering what had woken him up. Then he heard the quiet sound of utensils clattering against pots and pans and the tantalizing aroma of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. His eyes flicked up toward the couch, and he saw that the blankets Mikey had used earlier were draped over an armrest. Don grunted as he sat up, reaching up towards the ceiling and feeling the satisfying pop of some of his joints. Next to him, Raph muttered something in his sleep as he rolled over, burrowing himself deeper into the blankets. Leo's bed was also empty.
Don stumbled towards the kitchen, leaning on the doorframe for support. Before he even knew what happened, a mug had been shoved into his hands, and he took a sip without thinking about it. The welcome taste of hot coffee slid down his throat, and he took several more sips, blinking blearily at his grinning brother. "Man, Don, that caffeine kick of yours is gonna kill you someday," Mikey teased, heading back toward the stove to flip some pancakes.
"Might already be too late for that," Don agreed with a chuckle. His eyes fell on the figure leaning back in a chair. "When you'd get here?"
"'Bout an hour an' a half ago," Casey replied with a smirk. "You and Raph were snorin' loud enough ta wake the dead. Mike and Leo were already in the kitchen havin' some tea."
"Where is Leo?" Don asked, settling into another chair and wrapping his hands around the warm mug, taking another long draw of the black liquid. One quick glance around the small kitchen revealed no blue-clad turtle.
"Outside meditating," Mikey replied quietly. "I think he's by sensei's grave." Don's eyes narrowed slightly, and he didn't comment.
Casey's face fell slightly. "Home. By the time the police and the doctors had finished questionin' us about Mikey's 'kidnapping,' she was real pale. Started pukin' the moment we arrived back home," he answered wearily. "She thinks it's the flu, and she never could handle bein' sick."
Don clucked his tongue in sympathy. "Man, that really sucks. How did it go last night after we left, anyway?"
A hint of a smirk creased Casey's lips. "The media went bonkers. So did the police and the doctors - though luckily for us, Bishop didn't show up again. I did catch a glimpse of him at the end of the hall, and he looked real pissed off, but he stayed away. Probably doesn't want us to know he's alive."
Both Don and Casey jumped in shock as a plate crashed to the ground. They whirled to see Mikey hurriedly scooping up bacon onto another plate, cursing softly. "Sorry, guys," he murmured, standing up and setting the plate onto the counter without looking at them. Don stared at his brother as he started sweeping up the shattered pieces into a dustpan. His thin frame looked positively tiny in Casey's too-large jeans, held up by a tightly cinched belt, and by the giant, faded gray sweatshirt he had pulled on. His dark brown hair made his pale skin stand out all the more, and Don could see Mikey's hands shaking as he dumped the plate into the garbage.
"Mikey, maybe you should sit down," he suggested softly. "I can finish breakfast."
"N-no, I'm fine, I can do it," Mikey said hurriedly, whirling around to look at his olive-green brother. His blue eyes were large, and Don could see the faintest hint of panic in them. "I wanna do it, Donnie."
Don frowned slightly as Mikey moved to grab another package of bacon from the fridge. "I take it you brought all the fresh food?" he finally asked Casey, never taking his gaze off his younger brother.
"Yeah," Casey replied. "Figured you guys might want somethin' besides canned goods and stuff. And I wanted to make sure there would be enough food and stuff. Didn't get a chance to get any smaller clothes, though," he added apologetically.
"I already told you, Case, it's fine - I'll survive for a little while wearing your old stuff," Mikey told him over the sizzle of bacon in the pan. Don noticed with some relief that Mikey's hands had stopped shaking, and he seemed to be a little calmer. Guess we need to be careful mentioning Bishop around him, then, he thought, taking another swig of his coffee.
He glanced over his shoulder as Raph stumbled into the kitchen. "When we eat?" he grunted, blinking rapidly.
Mikey smirked. "When turtle talk good English, that when," he joked, pouring another cup of coffee and handing it to the red-clad turtle. Raph glared at him for a long moment, draining half the mug in one go. He blinked a few more times as he took another draw from his mug. Suddenly his eyes bulged and he choked on his coffee. Mikey stared at him in confusion. "What's wrong, bro? Not to your liking?"
"What the shell are you doin' up?" Raph demanded, wiping his mouth off furiously. "You should be restin'!"
"Raph, I've got a broken rib, not paralysis," Mikey said patiently, nudging his brother towards the table. "Besides, if I hadn't been up, Case or Leo would've been the ones makin' the coffee, and I know how much you despise rocket fuel first thing in the morning-"
"Okay, I get your point," Raph said with a wry grin as Casey folded his arms angrily and Don chuckled. He sniffed the air, eyeing the stove. "I think your pancakes are burnin'," he added with smirk, leaning against the sink.
Mikey's eyes widened and he whirled around. "Crap!" he shouted, rushing forward to pull the pan off the burner. Don smiled as his brother gingerly scraped the blackened flapjacks off the pan and into the garbage. "Perfect. Just great," Mikey muttered under his breath, reaching over to grab a paper towel. He winced slightly as he grabbed it and began wiping the pan down. Don and Raph exchanged looks as Mikey set the frying pan back on the burner and poured more batter over the hot surface. He grabbed a set of tongs and flipped the bacon with one hand, stirring some scrambled eggs with the other.
Raph glanced at the plates on the counter already heaped with steaming breakfast foods. "Yeesh, Mike, what're you tryin' ta do, feed an army?" he commented, raising an eye ridge.
"No, just you and Casey," Mikey replied with a grin. Raph rolled his eyes.
"Har har," Casey growled. "For your information, some of us had to get up 'fore one in the afternoon. I've already had breakfast."
Don choked on his coffee a little. "O-one o'clock?" he spluttered.
"Actually, it's almost two now," Mikey offered, scraping the rest of the scrambled eggs onto a larger plate. Noticing the looks on his brothers' faces, he shrugged and commented, "Well, we didn't go to bed till like five."
"That's true, I guess," Don replied, getting to his feet to take the platters of food to the table. Raph moved to grab some dishes from the cupboard.
"Morning," Leo called as he entered the kitchen quietly. His eyes lit up. "Great! Breakfast! Or is it technically lunch?"
"Brunch," Raph and Mikey said together, grinning at each other as they sat back down at the table.
"How come you only got four plates, Raph?" Casey asked, looking at the stack of plates in front of Raph.
"Well, you said you already ate breakfast, so I figured…" Raph trailed off with a satisfied smirk.
"I didn't eat lunch, though! I'm starvin'!" Casey exclaimed, moving to grab his own plate. The others started laughing as they started grabbing food for themselves.
They ate ravenously for about five minutes before Casey suddenly declared, "Oh, I fo'go' - the's a 'ewspa'er i' mah tru' 's 'bou' 'ike. Oo's. 'Orry," he added as he sprayed Raph with bits of eggs and pancakes.
Raph wrinkled his break and brushed himself off. "Wanna try that again - after you swallow this time?" he said sarcastically.
Casey gulped noisily, then repeated, "I forgot - there's a newspaper in my truck. It's about Mike."
Leo paused, the fork halfway to his mouth. "What's it say?" he demanded, ignoring the food falling on the table.
Casey shrugged. "Not a whole ton, really - it's basically just speculation, although they did get a few of the guards' names out. It also mentions one survivor who was mysteriously taken from his hospital room. There's been quite an uproar about that."
"Oh, yeah, speaking of that, how'd it go?" Leo asked. He moved to eat the food on his fork, but was slightly surprised to find none left - it had all fallen on the table.
"Yeah, and where's Ape?" Raph added, noticing the redhead's absence for the first time.
Casey repeated what he had told to Mikey and Don already. "And Ape figured we'd better save you guys all the papers, so we can see jus' how this plays out in the media," he finished, taking a drink of orange juice.
"Any chance it's gonna drop off the radar any time soon?" Leo asked with a hint of a frown, shoving his eggs around his plate with his fork.
"Unless something just short of a nuclear attack on the city happens, I doubt it," Don replied grimly, glancing at each of his brothers. "This is the kinda think the media loves - a bloody attack with a mysterious perpetrator and a missing kid. Not to mention that it happened at O'Neil Tech, the location of a mysterious disturbance three years ago."
"On the other hand, if no one's able to feed the media new info, maybe it'll just die off and they'll move on to some other strange thing," Mikey suggested, a hint of doubt laced in his voice.
"Let's hope so," Leo declared, standing up and gathering the empty plates. "Or we could be stuck here for a while."
New York City
"Blevins! In my office! Now!" a harsh voice barked over the din of the newspaper office.
Mandy Blevins' head swung around, hazel eyes wide, coffee cup halfway to her mouth. "Whaddya think the chief would want with me?" she asked breathlessly, looking back at her best friend and coworker, Zaraida Bukhari.
Zaraida smirked, a twinkle in her dark eyes. "Oh, I don't know, maybe give you an assignment or something? I can't imagine why, though. It's not like you're a reporter or anything… oh… wait," she teased, focusing on her computer screen again.
"Ha ha, listen to the comedian," Mandy shot back, hurriedly brushing some of her dishwater blond hair back over her shoulder as she practically sprinted to the office.
"Try not to appear too eager, girl," Zaraida called. "I've been telling you since we were eleven that you're easier to read than a picture book - and that's not a good thing around the Madman."
Mandy ignored her childhood friend as she opened the door. "You wanted to see me, Chief?" she asked calmly, taking a sip of her coffee. She cringed inwardly. That didn't just sound like a Lois Lane knockoff, she thought sarcastically.
"Take a seat, Blevins," Maddox "Madman" Gaines ordered, gesturing at a small chair placed in front of his desk. Mandy obeyed, gripping her coffee cup tightly in both hands. Gaines peered at her with his rather beady blue eyes, idly pulling at his small mustache perched on his very round face. "You've heard about what happened down at O'Neil Tech, right?"
"You mean with that mysterious attack and the kid that went missing?" Mandy replied, sipping her coffee again. "Who hasn't?"
"The kid's got a name now - Michael O'Neil," Gaines said shortly, standing up with a thin file in his hand. He moved around the desk and set the file down on her lap. Mandy picked it up and rifled through it as Gaines perched his rotund frame on his desk, one thumb hooked through his suspenders. "Apparently he's related to April O'Neil-Jones - a cousin, or some such nonsense."
"How come no one's seen him before?" Mandy asked, curious. "There aren't even any pictures in this file!"
"That's the point - no one has heard about him before. This kid just showed up out of nowhere - all we managed to find was a small file on him from O'Neil Tech's personnel computers," Gaines replied. "This kid is supposedly twenty years old, related to one of the most famous women in the country, and no one's ever heard a peep out of him before, apparently. It says he was home-schooled, he has the equivalent of a third-degree black belt, whatever the hell that means, and no license. The guys down in research can't even find a birth certificate for this kid."
"So he suddenly appears just to disappear again? That's interesting," Mandy murmured, perusing the file again. Gaines was right - there really wasn't much listed in this personnel file. She looked at the mailing address given. "Manhattan, huh? Isn't that where O'Neil-Jones lives with her husband?"
Gaines smiled thinly. "Right in one. Apparently he was living with them. Would you be interested in finding out more about this kid?"
Mandy's head shot up. "Me?"
"Blevins, you've already shown to me that you're interested in this. I've asked three of my top reporters, and they all told me they'd prefer not to go on a wild-goose chase. Something just seems off with this kid, and I want someone to go after him. Think you can handle it?" Gaines said soberly.
Mandy swallowed, then nodded. "You can count on me, Chief - I'll find out everything there is to know about Michael O'Neil."
"Good. Don't let me down. You know what'll happen, right?"
Mandy stood, doing her best to hide her nervousness. "Yes, sir. I won't let you down, Chief," she answered firmly.
Gaines grinned. "That's what I like to hear! Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a meeting to get to over in circulation," he told her, placing a beefy hand on her shoulder and giving her a not-so-subtle nudge out the door.
Mandy stared as her boss disappeared down a corridor, then looked back down at the file still clutched in her hand. "I may not know what you're hiding, O'Neil - but I will find out," she murmured. "Soon everyone will know exactly who you are. That I promise."
A/N: Just a note... none of these characters are the one that was introduced in the Prologue. But don't worry - she'll be making an appearance soon! Thanks again for reading, and we'll see you later!