Failures in Romance

Or: How The Various Mysterious Humans or Other Creatures Failed To Woo The Ninja Turtles

Embarrassingly Failed, Really.

Seriously, These Were Absolute Trainwrecks.

By: Serendipity1

Standard Disclaimer: I own nothing involving ninjas, or turtles, or weird hybrids of the two. I own only the OCs, for what good that may do me. They do not have strong arms and soulful eyes and really awesome ninja weapons. It is sad.

Warnings: Sexual references and homosexuality along with the het.

Author's Note: This is NUTS. I write crazy stuff, I freely admit it, but this is insane and off the wall and I blame Dierdre and Winny-chan and their long and tantalizing conversation about OC/Turtle romance in the SS forums. So curse you people, for momentarily sidetracking my muses. Taste my magnificent vengeance, which is, in fact, this fanfic. I hope it deters you from future challenges! I wave it like a beacon of sanity! Which is silly, really, because I've already stated that this fanfic is NUTS.

In which Raphael has a stalker and Michelangelo thinks he has seen the face of his doom.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" Michelangelo asked the ravening girl in front of him. They started out as sane, all of them, he thought rather melodramatically. He based this off of teen dramas and not necessarily real life, but it seemed to strike true in this case. This girl was very frightening. She'd managed to track him down while he was on a pizza run and somehow seemed to see right through his brilliant human disguise. In the shadows, he saw his brothers shake their heads fervently and motion for him to be off. This was easier said than done, as the girl had a death grip on his arms.

The girl tightened her grasp on his wrist. "You can't fool me, I know who you are. You are actually a very large reptilian hulk of muscle and sinew, and I long for your touch!"

Michelangelo choked.

"Yes!" the girl screeched, seeming highly excited, "Since I saw you screaming on that rooftop, I knew you were perfect for me! You are intense and brooding, and quite clearly in need of firm, feminine guidance. I must ask where your red headpiece is. I found it quite dashing."

The horror that had suffused him since the nutcase in front of him had started talking began to dim. "I'm sorry, that's, uh, that's not me. You're thinking of Raph. Total chick magnet," he added, gleefully tossing his brother to the wolves, "Can't walk around without random people flinging themselves at him. He just inspires OUTRAGEOUS LUST in people. It's insane. I mean, there's a long list here."

He was fairly sure that he would be killed for this later, but that hardly mattered at the moment. He was armed with a clearly unstable young woman, and was therefore invulnerable to harm!

"I will crush the opposition with the force of my love," the girl said with complete conviction. She wore glasses, and the light flickered off of them eerily. It was spooky.

"Oh," Michelangelo said, at a loss for a few seconds. In the shadows, his brothers waited grimly. Either that, or they were also completely at a loss for words. "So…what's your name? I mean, can't have a torrid romance without knowing the name, is all I'm saying. I'll totally pass on your info, dude…er…girl…er…yeah, I'll tell him about you and stuff."

"Really? I am overjoyed! I am filled with delight! I will faint!"

"Please, don't faint," said Michelangelo, a victim of her dangerous grasp.

"My name is Gertruida Runcible Clarence," she said, like this was a title of honor instead of an incredibly horrible name. "But he can call me Trudy," she added with a girlish giggle.

Trudy was a strange name for someone who was so obviously criminally insane, he thought.

She paused in contemplation. "And as for my occupation," she said with slow and definite phrasing, "I have decided to become a Victorian Heroine. I will be uselessly prim and proper, will be aware of every subtle distinction and nuance in such subjects as social status and local gossip, and all the eligible bachelors will swoon most satisfyingly at my feminine graces. This will include my dark and sinister love interest, who I shall spurn, as he is a horrid and wretched piece of humanity, and he will fill his days with plots to take me away to some dark corner and do woefully sinful things to me. I will be constantly attired in sensibly elegant dresses, and never shall I be bothered with such things as politics and science. I will also be prone to the vapors."

"Um, okay," he answered.

"Unless, of course, I can woo my dark and tragic prince to the side of good and sanity. I am a good woman, and as such, it is my duty to change the brooding and angst-ridden creature of the night. Where is he, anyway?"

"He is busy," Michelangelo said, knowing full well that Raphael was hiding somewhere in the vicinity and quite possibly making plans to flee the country. "Um, what are your plans for the future? It's good to know these things ahead of time, you know," he said quickly, "Modern times and all."

"Later in life, I will grow tired of my frivolous lifestyle and become a Black Widow figure who is quite adept at choosing poisons that become undetectable when added to tea. I look forward to killing off at least five suitors and growing rich from their collected fortunes."

She blinked at him owlishly, and he had the fleeting and frightening thought that she was searching for weaknesses.

"That sounds really great," Michelangelo said, with what he hoped was a good enough smile, "I'll be sure to, uh, tell him everything. Especially with the black widows and the poison, that…that's really a turn on right there."

"And you must give him this book of poems," she demanded imperiously.

The book was a vivid red. It called to mind other red things, such as blood, and bloody knives, and blood-covered hearts. It had a strawberry on it. Michelangelo took it with hesitation.

Trudy focused on him with her disconcerting gaze, and then smiled. It was actually a nice smile, but the reality of the crazed brain behind it ruined the effect. "I expect you're off to slink into the deepest pit of the nether hells," she said throatily.

"Sure. We can call it that." Backing off seemed like a wonderful, wonderful idea. She let go of his arm and he used all of his amazing ninjitsu skills to melt into the shadows and leave that place before the crazy infected his brain. Raphael attracted the weirdest chicks.

In which Donatello has no idea how to put this tactfully.

"I really don't know how to say this," he said with total and complete honesty, " I mean, your attention is extremely flattering and believe me, I would be happy to…"

"She said, and I quote, 'fulfill my dreams of wedded bliss and carry me away to a bower of roses which incidentally you can buy at the nearby Costco for only twenty dollars, which is a bargain'," Michelangelo inserted with obscene amounts of glee. "Internet access has been good for her!"

"Shut up, Mikey," he snapped before turning back to the pressing dilemma at hand. "You see, there are several key points that I feel should be brought up before we go any further into this topic. First of all, it would be very uncomfortable for several reasons. We are not built for intimacy. Not at all. Not even a little bit, in fact. There have been many horrible accidents that arose from situations quite similar to this one." He waved the screwdriver in his hand to illustrate his point.

"Have there been?" Michelangelo puzzled aloud.

His would-be bride stared at him mournfully. On the monitor, a sad-face emoticon loomed.

"I mean, I'm a giant turtle," he sputtered desperately, "And you're, well…you're a vacuum cleaner."

The vacuum vroomed in a distinctly unhappy way.

"Dude, you are so blowing this gentle rejection thing," his brother, whom he longed to strangle with his bare hands, grinned. He was standing just out of reach, because he was tricky that way. "First, you bring this poor appliance to life, like some weird Dr. Frankenstein, and it gets a crush on you, first thing. That's cool, man, why don't I have appliances that get crushes on me? I want to have an out-of-control romance with the blender. It could make me milkshakes all day long, dude! It would be awesome!"

Donatello glared at him. "It's not like I knew it would achieve sentience," he said, feeling as though he should defend himself, "Or identify as a particular gender, or any of these crazy things that make little to no sense! And I hooked it…her up to the computer so I could see if it was able to communicate!"

"Oh, boy, is it able to communicate!" Michelangelo said, gleefully, "But I think you're being prejudiced against the poor…what do we name this thing? Hoover? Against poor Hoover."

The vacuum indicated its agreement by making a loud noise and typing 'Yes, give me a chance, we can work this out!'

"Mikey, are you honestly advocating a relationship between me and the vacuum cleaner?" he asked, shocked. It sounded even dumber after he'd actually said it.

"No way, not at all!"

His brother had that cheerful tone of voice he generally had right before he was about to launch someone into a pit of misery. Donatello grimly waited for the rest of it.

"I'm just saying you're being sexist. I mean, why do you think the vacuum's a girl?"

This was a new level of insanity. He had to process this for a few seconds. "I'm sorry, what?" he finally said.

"I mean, it's not too out there, right? It could be a boy vacuum cleaner, and you're just thinking that only girls get crushes on boys. Yes, it could be the very first gay vacuum cleaner!" Michelangelo said, obviously getting excited about this, "I mean, look at it! Doesn't it look manly and stuff to you? That's your problem, Donnie, you're just too heteronormative."

"What? WHAT? And how do you even know a word like heteronormative?"

Michelangelo looked at him gloomily. "I do watch TV, you know. And I hang out on internet forums. Some of this stuff's gonna sink in, and I think you're being it. Well, this vacuum cleaner should have none of it! Time to stand up for your rights, vacuum cleaner! You are the first in a long line of differently-normal household stuff, and you will lead the gay pride parade! If we can get you a cord long enough, I guess," he added uncertainly.

The vacuum seemed confused. 'Will we get married then?' it typed.

"No," Donatello said, putting his foot down on the matter, "Besides, it's not a girl or a boy, so it's really impossible for it to be gay."

'But I want to have a parade,' typed the vacuum cleaner.

"I'll just leave you two to work out your issues," Michelangelo said, and drifted off.

'Can we sit at the head of the parade in a giant float shaped like a swan?' the vacuum cleaner typed, 'With romantic music drifting through the speakers?'

It was clearly going to be a long night.

In which Leonardo is pursued by a tall, dark and scaly young gentleman.

Getting lost in Usagi's home dimension was bad enough, but he was completely trained in survival skills and would get by with living on the land until he could manage to find his friend and grab a portal back home. Apparently portals could only be created in certain points, called 'nodes', and he was not yet completely taught in how to find them. This meant a long stay in the remote wilderness with uncertain food supplies. He was ready. He was boldly unafraid of camping.

What he hadn't expected was what looked like a ninja garden party, being carried on in the middle of the forest. The forest that he was, in point of fact, camping out in. These ones were iguanas, and they seemed to be building an enormous fire. Apparently Smoky the Bear didn't exist here.

Leonardo also found it disturbing that, being ninjas, these people were quite able to spot him from where he'd been lurking in the shadows. Being strangely festive ninjas, they invited him to join in the party and someone offered him a drink.

"I was actually trying to sleep over there," Leonardo said reproachfully. The drink was tall, and orange, and had pieces of undistinguishable fruit in it. Some basic instinct told him that it would be a good idea not to drink it.

The iguana ninja cocked his head to one side and gave him a look of mock-puzzlement. "It's odd, really, sleeping in a tree. Especially when there's all this nice, soft, forest floor to use. I should think you'd get an awful crick in your neck, too. You should come sleep with me. Er, us. In our tents that we will put up shortly. Oh, how rude of me, my name is Takeo. "

Takeo bobbed his head and seemed to take in the whole forest in general with a proprietary look in his eye.

"Leonardo," he said, a little uncertain of the decidedly hungry way he was eying him, "And thank you very much for your offer of hospitality, Takeo-san, but I think I'll just go elsewhere."

"What? Nonsense! At least stay for the party! It's going to be amazing. It is one of our clan rituals. I will tell you al about it," he said firmly, and it was clear that he was not to leave until this was done. "First, we gather together in a great, big group and find a forest suitable for holding this great event."

"I see you've done this already," Leonardo remarked.

It looked like it was an enormous cook-out, actually. Someone had put up a kind of metal grille and a spit over the fire, and a few of the smaller ninjas were hanging up red lanterns. Fish were cooking nicely on the grille. It was a generally pleasant scene.

"And then, since we're communing with the spirits of nature, we wear our ceremonial forest spirit garb. It's very traditional, and it helps us achieve a greater bond with the forest. This is absolutely necessary for the ceremony. After that, we each select our partners and give them the sacred nectar of the gods."

This was sounding private and formal, and he didn't really want to intrude on something like that. Still, Master Splinter had taught him to make polite conversation and all. "Like for a dance?" Leonardo asked. He became aware of the drink in his hand and decided to take a sip of it.

"Actually, no," Takeo said breezily, "It's for the Glorious Rite of Fornication."

Leonardo's glass froze midway to his mouth. "I'm sorry?" he choked.

"See, at a certain time of the year, we are complete overcome by the raging and wanton need to indulge in our base desires, which I'm sure you understand," Takeo said, coming at him in a distinctly predatory way, "And so, every year, we raise a week-long celebration of unbridled lust. I'm glad you've accepted the invitation to be my mate."

"I what?" Leonardo sputtered, feeling panicked as he backed into a tree.

"Yes," Takeo muttered, his eyes glazing over with passion, "When you accepted the nectar from me, you stole my heart away."

There was definitely not enough space between him and this crazed sex fiend.

"You know, I just thought you were offering me a drink! I didn't know it came with a whole relationship involved!"

Takeo's tail wrapped tightly around his leg and he decided never mind, there wasn't enough room in this entire forest to put between him and this crazed sex fiend. He would have to get out, and fast, or suffer the terror of a ninja orgy. Then he realized the pure insanity involved in the words 'ninja orgy', and wondered when his life had become a bad bar joke.

"Together," his disturbing new suitor muttered, "We will reach new heights of ecstasy." He had what Michelangelo would refer to as the crazy eyes. It was all over when people had the crazy eyes.

"That's great. Only I'd…really like it if you'd let go of my leg, please," he said, ready to reach for his swords at any minute. Then he remembered that his swords were still in the tree where he thought he'd have them on hand when he awoke, and cursed.

"Yes, speak dirty to me," Takeo said, lost in a fog of passion. And then he leaned forward and closed his teeth around Leonardo's neck, and Leonardo felt hysterically and utterly sure that tonight was the night he would die, surrounded by sex-crazed lizard ninjas dressed as tree spirits.


And suddenly there was Usagi's voice. He looked tentatively around Takeo's crest of spikes and saw him staring at them in abject and unfeigned horror.

"Oh, thank god you're here," he said, flailing an arm out in a mute plea, "Please…at this time, I could really use a weapon. About now. Please!"

"Yes, I like it rough," muttered the evil molester of a ninja iguana.

After he had been saved from the sexual advances of a maniac iguana, he learned that the Iguana Clan had been preparing a deeply evil and horrible scheme against a prominent daimyo, and Usagi and some other samurai had been sent to stop them.

"They're particularly vulnerable at this time," Usagi explained, trying not to look too amused at Leonardo's predicament. He was failing. Miserably. "They're completely focused on, ah, other matters."

"My love, you have betrayed me," said Takeo from the cage. "But that's all right. I forgive you."

"We will speak of this to no one," Leonardo said, suddenly completely aware of the heaps of brotherly teasing the ninja orgy incident would get him. Then he poured the drink of Satan into a nearby bush, happy to be rid of it for all of time.

Takeo turned to Usagi. "He totally digs me," he said, sounding smug. "I can tell."

In which Raphael saves nothing in particular, but is very attractive to America's youth.

"…And that's why ya shouldn't be jumpin' off of buildings!" Raphael admonished the cringing young person in front of him. He said person, not boy or girl, because it was wearing a full-length black outfit of some kind that covered everything, and a panther face mask. It lifted the face mask to reveal a young face beneath, boyish and round and freckled. He looked about eighteen.

Raphael had spotted him standing at the very edge of a high apartment building, and driven by a lack of desire to see a suicide that night, had swung over and pushed him away from the edge. He didn't look very pleased about being rescued. In fact, he seemed almost annoyed.

"I wasn't going to jump off," he said, sounding a little disapproving of Raphael's critical thinking skills, "That would be a selfish and destructive thing to do, my mom says. I was actually perching."

Raphael stared at him.

"Perching," repeated the boy, savoring the word, "Because I am a panther, the lord of the night. I'm surveying the beautiful jungle."

"We're in Manhattan," Raphael pointed out, feeling that someone should be on the side of reality.

"The urban jungle," the boy corrected, looking a little miffed, "I have a panther soul, you know. I was one in a past life. I miss prowling around the rainforest doing panther-y things, like crawling around on trees and hunting prey and stuff. Oh, and surveying the local wildlife like a god. Which I am doing now," he added, "And not jumping off of a building. Sorry."

Raphael felt a little moronic for trying to rescue someone who was in no danger from anything expect for perhaps the strange workings of his own mind.

"But I don't remember seeing you here last year," the boy continued, "Did someone recruit you? I bet they pulled you off the forums. Isn't it great how many of us live here?"

"I got no idea what you're talking about," Raphael said, "But, uh, glad to know you're not bent on killing yourself tonight or whatever. I got other stuff to do, so you go and have a good night." He issued a little wave in the boy's direction, and turned to go.

The door to the roof flew open and an assortment of young people dressed as various animals poured out, looking a little breathless and disheveled. There was definitely something to be said about their costumes. Several things to be said, really. Most of them about how animals typically weren't clad in skintight materials with attractive collars.

"Theodore, are you posing heroically in the night again?" snapped one who was dressed as a cat, "It's about time for the party and the melted chocolate is cooling and you have left all of your guests completely unsatisfied. Are you having mad trysts with this person?" she looked at Raphael as if he was the source of all her problems.

"He can't help it," said a badger soothingly, "You know he has that dramatic streak. It's what comes of wanting to be a Performing Arts major."

"Hey, my personal choices are, uh, personal!" Theodore said, "Personal which means none of your business, you total prying pedestrians!"

"What does crossing the street have to do with anything" Raphael asked aloud, and was sorry he did so when all heads swiveled to inspect him.

"Still, your friend is an impressive creature," mused the cat girl. "Nice, strong, athletic legs. And a wonderful attention to detail. How much body paint was necessary for that effect?"

"Uh…" he said intelligently.

"Yes, I love a man with a good appreciation for the finer points of costume design," she purred.

"Do you work out much?" asked the badger, "You have such wonderfully muscular shoulders. I want to massage them with gleaming coconut oil under the warm tropical sun."

"Look, don't take this the wrong way or nothing," Raphael said, "But you all are totally freakin' me out."

A snake looked like this was actually a turn-on. "I love it when they play hard to get."

The group of animal-people converged on him en masse. They were like a giggling and overly-affectionate petting zoo in sexy lingerie.

"He is kind of cool, isn't he?" Theodore said, nodding in agreement, "I mean, the whole attempt to save me from myself was really hardcore. It was, like, poetic and romantic and stuff."

The cat looked impressed. "That is brutally awesome. Was he a dashing shadow in the night, all made of moonlight-kissed skin and rippling biceps?"

Raphael considered using the delicate and subtle art of pressure techniques to knock out everyone there and make his escape. But no, he was doing that whole restraint thing as was advocated by Fearless Leader. He could do tact and diplomacy and that other PC crap. He could do it just fine!

The snake put a delicate hand on the rim of his shell and stroked it. "Is it removable?" she asked with an absolutely wicked smirk.

But now was probably not the time.

"I'm gonna jump off this building now," he told them seriously, "And I don't want no one to follow, and this ain't a good practical demonstration of what you guys should do with your life, okay? This is what not to do. Watch closely."

Then he did a back-flip off the edge of the apartment complex, turned as he fell, and neatly caught himself on the fire escape of the adjoining building.

"I call that hypocritical!" he heard Theodore remark from a few stories up, among gasps and shouts, and then he was gone into the night, firmly resolved to never return again. But still kind of curious about the snake girl and the melted chocolate, despite himself.

In which Trudy realizes she is indeed a bit late.

"And he was dressed as an enormous turtle, and he had a really cool-looking red bandanna on," said Cleo, the cat-girl, lounging on the couch as much as anyone with five pounds of jewelry could actually lounge. "And he was surly and snappy and he jumped off the roof. I wish you'd been there. It was viciously hot."

Trudy narrowed her eyes and the pencil she'd been using to write love sonnets with snapped in half. "Oh, balls," she said, and proceeded to project her anger onto the world by painting a really frightening picture.

It had strawberries in it.

In which Donatello learns the ways of the Klingon women.

He didn't know why this new and puzzling turn of fate had to happen to him. It was like reverse karma. He was a relatively blameless and inoffensive person, so why did these things have to happen to him? There was an evil deity somewhere in the universe, scribbling explicit torture methods on a piece of paper, and this had to be one of them.

They were tracking a thief who had stolen quite a few costly things from April's store. This was an act of kindness and goodwill, and should not inspire any mad injustices to come hurtling from the heavens. But he was wrong, because this person had chosen to stay at a hotel that was currently revamped for a Star Trek convention. This made it fairly easier to get in, since they could pass themselves off as very odd fantasy fans, but it could not hold back the hordes of obsessed lunacy that were Star Trek fans. No, it could not.

Donatello had been cornered by a girl. She was blonde and fair-skinned and doe-eyed, and probably would have been relatively attractive had it not been for the excess of armor and leather. She was garbed as a Klingon warrior and had probably spent a fortune on face putty for her forehead ridges.

She also was doing a very good impression of a face hugger.

"SING TO ME THE SWEET LOVE BALLAD OF CARNAGE! SING IT TO YOUR BELOVED KURAK! " she roared, and he was hard put not to fall over under the weight of her armor.

His brothers were standing not two feet away, the unspeakable bastards. They were completely useless because they were mainly supporting each other from falling on the ground in a heap of hysterical laughter. When he got the fan girl off of his head, he was determined to chase after them with his bo staff until glorious retribution had been had.

Meanwhile, Kurak had thrown back her beautiful, blonde, pigtailed head and issued forth a scream that was very like the death cries of a moose.

"Are you okay?" he asked her, more than a little disturbed. At this point he was harboring suspicions that a cocktail of absinthe and ecstasy had driven her to this unfortunate state.

"AAAARRRRGHRAAAAH!" she screamed again, and began beating on the sides of his head with her fists.

"Hey, dude!" Michelangelo called from the sidelines, sounding like he had a very tenuous grasp on his self-control, "I think she's trying the Klingon mating call!"

"This is rapidly killing my brain cells!" he said, confused and in pain. "Why is she killing my brain cells?"

"You gotta read her some love poetry! Love poetry soothes the savage, Klingon female soul! Especially Shakespeare! The Klingon chicks totally dig Shakespeare!"

Kurak was making more noise than he thought it was possible for any human female to make. "YES, MY MUSCLED LOVEBEAST! TAKE IT LIKE A TRUE WARRIOR! TAKE ME NOW! THINK OF THE MOTHER LAND!"

Donatello summoned the spirit of Spock and did what logic dictated. He flung Kurak bodily from him and into the nice, soft fountain, and fled into the crowd of people, looking for refuge.

"KURAK WILL TAKE VENGEANCE FOR THIS SPURNING!" The girl screeched from behind him as his brothers picked themselves off the floor and followed him to the one sanctuary the hotel had to offer: the men's restroom.

"I hate romance," Donatello panted as he leaned against the sinks. "Also, I think I hate Star Trek."

The door swung open and a Q cosplayer darted in. "There's some wet Klingon woman out there screaming about the mating ritual," he said, looking frankly appalled.

One of the various Star Trek geeks occupying the restroom with them raised a fist joyfully. "I love conventions."

In which Michelangelo is absolutely sure that he has seen the face of his doom.

It was a dark and stormy night, lots of ominous lightning and overcast skies without any actual rain. It was the sort of night that heralded something ominous and portentous, something that could change the world for the worse. Something that could plunge the future into chaos and misery. Of course, people were walking around and buying sodas and going to movies and other mundane things like that, but there was a generally gothic feeling in the air and if they were any more sensitive to dramatic atmosphere, they probably wouldn't have carried on doing them.

Michelangelo opened the sewer lid with care, and stepped out into the dark and empty alley.

He was promptly hit in the face with a very thick book.

"Ouch," he said to the dumpster, the brick walls, and the various garbage bags littering the alley. And the strikingly familiar girl leaning grimly against a wall.

"There are thousands of sewer lids in this city," she said carefully, "And I have stood careful vigil over each one. I don't think I should have to say how goddamn annoying that was. Do not ask how I know that you traverse the dark underworld by means of the underground tunnels that weave through our city's bowels. Only know that I have my ways, I have my connections, and I am not a woman to be scorned. Hell hath no fury like me scorned, because I have not yet been to hell. While scorned," she added with a touch of uncertainty.

Michelangelo felt as though the moment would be perfect if he had some bed sheets he could snatch modestly to his chest. Instead, he stood there and gaped at the mad, mad stalker in front of him.

"Oh, you're the other one, too," she said unhappily, " don't even get the pleasure of meeting my red-masked avenger of the night. I shall take poison and die here in this very alley, a tragic heroine who has suffered the injustices of fickle Fate, who has kept me from the warm and loving arms of my dark prince for too long. Tell my beloved that I lay curses upon his doorstep as my dying wish."

Her glasses glinted sadly in the light of a sudden bolt of lightning.

"Uh…don't kill yourself?" Michelangelo said, with hesitation borne of sheer confusion.

"Well, no, I'm not about to," Trudy said with scorn, "I was merely being metaphorical. I'd never get anything done if I did that."

Michelangelo nodded to humor her. "Yeah, I'd say that'd be a problem."

"I'm not going to do that because I want to construct a finely-tuned orchestra of revenge," she said calmly, "I will find him and grind his feet into mush and feed him it. And then I will flay him alive and make him wear a coat of his own skin. And after that, I will never speak to him or write him poems again, see if I do!"

"Boy, that'll show that jerk, all right." It struck him that he was a ninja, and he didn't have to stand here and listen to this head case rant about his brother. He started to slowly move backwards, readying himself for a leap.

"But, of course!" Trudy announced in tones of great realization, "I have had an epiphany! I don't need to prostrate myself before the feet of a brooding and dark, dangerous, intense man machine! This is possibly dangerous behavior and indicative of a Bad Boy Complex! I shall be a Modern Woman! And therefore, to that end, I have chosen you as my new lover!"

Michelangelo let out a squeak and Trudy advanced on him, her narrow and intense face gleaming with new fire.

"Yes, you orange-clad ray of beautiful sunshine into the dark and gloomy skies of fair Manhattan! You shall be my savior! You will inspire me to purity and goodness and whisk me away from the world of corruption and depravity!"

"Well, if you need cab fare, you only need to ask," he said. He refrained from saying: "I have money! Take all of it! Take my Rolex! Just don't take my soul!"

"We will be a match made in history! They will write out names in the annals of romantic fame, and we shall be the next great love of this century! You will sweep me off my feet to climes various in the golden chariot of your love, and I will never want for anything! Please! Take me away from all of this!" She looked up at him beseechingly.

"But we…you…you don't even know my name," he spurted.

Trudy's expression went blank.

"And also," he felt he needed to mention, "I think you're totally bonkers."

"You do?" she asked quietly.

"Yes," he said bluntly, "Absolutely totally crazy. You're scary. I want to write a restraining order."

"Well, I'm not! I'm perfectly sane! I'm just a bit distrait!" she cried. And then she burst into tears.

Michelangelo felt a heavy weight of guilty horror set about his person, and he went and followed what his instinct told him was right. He gave her the awkward Man Pat on the shoulder. "Uh, there, there?" he asked.

"I'm a horrible person!" she cried miserably, "I am crazy, mad as a hatter, completely off the bend crazy! I am professing my love to total and absolute strangers because they perform rituals in the sewers and dress as the strangely compelling demonic figures I have complicated feelings for!"

"It's not that bad!" he said desperately, trying to find points about her that were not completely twisted. He came up blank. "I mean, you, uh, it's not that bad!"

"Yes, it is!" she burbled, and withdrew a lace-edged handkerchief from her bosom. This seemed to bolster her spirit's a bit. "But I shall carry on! With you by my side, I will become a strong and independent woman!" she wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled a bit drunkenly and stared into his eyes.

He was very new to this whole crying young woman in the arms thing, but so far, it was very disturbing.

Fortunately, she spared him the need to answer by noticing her watch. "Oh dear, it is eleven, my curfew is over and my parents are going to be angry. They are tyrants, you know! They lock me in my room and forbid me to read my novels because they claim that it turns my head!"

She seemed to want a response, so he nodded his head dumbly.

"I'm going to flee into the shadows now," she informed him, "Like a grey shadow. A beautiful, graceful shadow. But I want you to know that if I ever see you with another female I will rain fiery vengeance upon you from the skies."

This seemed to be it.

Michelangelo came to the conclusion that Donatello was going to have to build cloaking shields or something for them.

They just attracted the weirdest people.