Okay...I got tired of seeing typos and mis-spellings, so I'm reposting my chapters. Also, I changed Tara's age from fifteen to sixteen. Anywho, this probably means I'm going to lose all my reviews -,-

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters except for my OCs...unfortunately -,-


In the night time streets of New York, the hustle and bustle never died. The voices of the citizens and the sound of the traffic all came together to form that singular buzz of life that the Big Apple was famous for. It truly was the city that never slept...and right now, four of its residents were very much awake as they moved secretly through the night.

"Mikey, I really think we should've called first."

"I agree with Leo," Don said as he followed his two brothers up the fire escape of April's building, with Raphael bringing up the rear.

"Relax, dudes," Mikey said with his usual happy-go-lucky smile as he jumped onto the balcony, opened the window to April's extra bedroom and crawled inside. "She's always happy to see us."

Leo breathed a long-suffering sigh as he crawled in after his baby brother. "Be that as it may, Mikey, it's still not polite to drop in all the time without calling first."

"Yeah, what if she has plans?" Donatello added. "She does have a life, you know."

Raph rolled his eyes in annoyance as he climbed in through the window before sliding it closed behind him. "So we'll wait around for her to come back. She won't mind. It's not like she doesn't keep her fridge stocked..."

Mikey grinned. "See? Raph's on my side. I'm telling you guys, it's fine," he said as he opened the door of the second bedroom and strode out into the large living room…only to be greeted with the sight of April curled up on her couch, sobbing uncontrollably. Mikey's blue eyes widened in shock. "Then again…"

Leo hurried to April's side, with Donnie not two steps behind him. "April, what is it, what's wrong?" Leo asked as he sat down beside April, his eyes filled with concern for his friend.

"Are you hurt?" Donnie asked as he knelt on the floor and quickly shifted to doctor mode as he checked April for any possible injury.

Mikey waited a few moments before running into the kitchen, getting a glass of water and bringing it to April. Raph, not quite sure how to handle his friend's hysterical weeping, hung back silently behind the couch.

April took the glass of water with shaky hands and took a small sip before shaking her head at Donnie. "No…there's nothing wrong with me…I'm fine."

"You don't look fine," Mikey ventured tentatively.

"Mikey," Leo reprimanded softly.

"It's okay, Leo," April said softly as she wiped her tears on her sleeve. "Physically, I'm fine…but emotionally…" She allowed her head to fall on Leo's shoulder.

Leo gently slid an arm around his friend. "We're here for you, April." It was then that he noticed the large book April was clutching to her.

April took another sip of water in attempts to calm herself. "I got a phone call and hour ago," she said softly. "My brother…he's dead." She tightly clutched the large, leather book to her chest.

"You're brother?" The four brothers asked in unison.

"I'm so sorry," Leo and Donnie said together.

"Back up…you have a brother?" Raph and Mikey asked in unison.

April leaned forward and put her glass on the coffee table before moving the book to her lap and opening it. "Yeah…my big brother," she said mournfully as her lightly traced her fingertips over a photo of a tall, handsome man with vibrant, green eyes and strawberry-blond hair dressed in full uniform. "Patrick…he's a U.S. Marine…or he was…" Tears splattered on the photograph.

Donnie sat down on April's other side and gently rubbed her back. Mikey sat down on the coffee table, his shell making a soft clunking sound. Raph, grabbed a box of tissue from a nearby shelf and held it out to April. Always awkward around crying, Raph had no idea how to act around this kind of behavior, and it killed him seeing his friend like this and not knowing how to help her.

April nodded her thanks to Raph before taking a tissue and blowing her nose. "Oh, God…and when I think of poor Tara…"

"Who's Tara?" Donnie asked gently.

"My niece." April sniffled and turned the page of the photo album. "My brother's little girl." She lightly tapped the photograph on one of the pages that showed her brother hugging a small, pretty, wisp of a girl with large hazel eyes and a head of gorgeous red hair that fell just past her shoulders.

"She's cute," Mikey said with a grin.

"She's beautiful…" Donnie said softly--his gentle, intelligent eyes fixated on Tara's smiling face.

April nodded. "And she's so smart…she's such a great kid. She's already lost her mom...she doesn't deserve this." She blew her nose again before taking a sip of water.

"How old is she?" Mikey asked.

"This photo was taken two months ago on her sixteenth birthday…" April took another sip of water. It seemed to help calm her nerves. "I don't know how she's going to deal with this. Her mother died when she was eight…and now her dad's gone..."

Leo sighed softly. "I can't even begin to imagine how she must feel..." he said as he gazed down at the photo of Tara and her father. Leo, along with his brothers dreaded the day when Splinter would leave them forever, though they would never verbalize this fear aloud--as though speaking it would make it a reality they would have to face...

"I'm flying out to Virginia tomorrow morning..." She pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration. "It was the earliest flight I could get. God...when I think of her all alone right now..."

Leo gave April's arm a reassuring squeeze. "I'm sure she'll understand April. You'll get there tomorrow in plenty of time to help her."

Raph grunted softly as he nodded. " 'sides, you shouldn't be drivin'...not like this."

As his elder brothers and April spoke, Donnie had managed to gradually ease the photo album off April's lap and onto his own where he began slowly turning the pages, looking for more glimpses of Tara. Mikey peered down at the pages as well. At sixteen, Tara was only a year younger than the turtles. The four bothers had never been in contact with anyone of their own age range before, and Mikey and Donnie were visibly the most excited at the prospect of a new friend.

Donnie smiled and his eyes lit up as they landed on a photo of a smiling Tara standing beside an exceptionally detailed model of the solar system, complete with stars, constellations and black holes. The model had a blue ribbon carefully attached to it. "She won the science fair...just look at all that detail..." The brainy turtle could already imagine the conversations the two of them would have...

"Dude, what's with the funky swimsuit?" Mikey asked as he tapped the photo on the opposite page.

Donnie rolled his eyes. "That's not a swimsuit, doofus, it's a leotard. She's a gymnast."

Raph rolled his eyes at his younger brothers and gently rested a supportive hand on April's shoulder. "Do you…uh…do you know what'll happen to Tara now?"

April nodded and blew her nose again. "Since her mom is gone, I'll be awarded full custody…that's how Patrick wrote his Will." She sighed softly. "Which means you guys can't just drop in any time you want anymore…at least, not until I've had the chance to tell her about all of you...and have her get used to the idea of four anthropomorphic turtles and their rat father."

"Aw, man..." Mikey pouted at the idea.

Leo shot his baby brother a warning glance. "We understand, April."

Raph was not as forgiving towards his brother as Leo, and stepped around the couch, lightly smacking Mikey on the back of the head. "Yeah, April, we understand."

April managed a smile after blowing her nose yet again. "Thanks, guys...I should start packing," she said as she stood.

"Do you want us to go?" Leo asked.

April slowly shook her head after a moment. "No, please stay...I really don't want to be alone right now. Oh, and I've got to clean the second bedroom...it's a mess."

Donnie closed the album and put it on the coffee table. "We can do that, April. Right, guys?"

April smiled at her friends as they nodded in turn. "Thanks guys...you're so sweet. There should be some boxes in the hall closet...just put everything in there for the time being until I get a chance to organize it all."

"You got it, April," Mikey said with his normal enthusiasm, trying to lighten his friend's mood.

"Oh, and I've tried calling Casey, but I can't get a hold of him…he always keeps his phone off when he's out playing vigilante. If you guys see him, would you please let him know what's going on?"

"Sure thing," Raph said.

April strode to the hall closet and pulled out a suitcase. "There's soda in the fridge and pizza in the freezer," April said as she started for her bedroom. "Help yourselves..."