A/N: I'm sorry guys. I'm still alive, just had a lot going on. I enrolled into school and it wasn't as easy as I remember it being. It seems like all I ever do anymore is go to work and study. I know my updates have never been regular, but now they may get even more irregular because of this. If it's been a while since my last update, don't worry. I haven't abandoned my stories. Anyway, this is going to be a short one. I'll try to double the length of the next to make up for it.

Beauty and the Beast: A Leatherhead Story

Rated: M

Chapter Five:

The doorknob was cold beneath her fingers. Chills ran down her back as she hesitated to open the door. Some part of her expected to find her father maimed on their living room floor, blood and flesh covering all their humble belongings.

Brooke closed her eyes and swallowed thickly, banishing the gory images from her mind. When she was a child, her father used to tell her that she was too imaginative for her own good. After graduating high school, life kept her too busy to make use of that imagination, but since the attack, all she could do was picture the worst and she could only blame it on those horror stories she and her father shared a love for.

The thought only made her think about what she'd probably lost.

Very aware of the giant reptile behind her, as strangely quiet as he was being, she gathered whatever resolve she could and twisted the knob. It opened easily.

Even in the darkness, it wasn't hard to see that her imaginings were not too far off. Though her father's corpse was nowhere in sight, their home had been destroyed. Debris littered the tiny living room, the couch had been upturned-all the cushions cut open and emptied, all the drawers had been pulled from the desk furthest from the door and were scattered about, and shards of glass glittered in the moonlight.

"Oh no…" Brooke whispered, covering her mouth as she took a step in. Glass crunched under her feet, but she paid no mind to that. She couldn't pull her eyes from small bodies of her reptiles. Some had been crush and even severed in half as those strange Foot men tore through everything. Wood shavings, peat moss, and soil covered everything. Spots of something dark painted the walls and floor. She could only assume it was blood. Though she was sure some belonged to her reptiles, there was too much to have only been from them.

The sight was too much; she let out a sob and sank to her knees.

Tiny shards of glass cut through her jeans. She could feel them piercing her tender flesh. It burned and wetness soaked through the denim, but she didn't care. What was she going to do now? How could she stay here? Where would she go?

In a single night, her world had been turned upside down and she didn't know where to turn from there. The Foot people would surely come back. She couldn't stay. But, how could she go back with the mutants? She didn't even know them. Not to mention she had enough scientific knowledge to understand how unstable mutation was. If she did go, and it was looking as though her choices were limited, who knew what could happen. And what then? Would she hide in the sewers forever?

If she went to the police, they would never believe her. They might even pin her as a suspect. If anything, they'd say she was insane.

"Oh God…" She moaned, covering her face with her palms.

Leatherhead watched as the girl curled into herself, her hunched form beginning to tremble. He looked away and sighed.

"There is no God," he replied. She ignored him, apparently consumed by her despair.

He lifted his snout and sniffed the air.

Though it was old and stale, the stench of blood was thick. Despite the sourness that indicated the beginnings of decay, the sweet metallic scent still lingered. Deep in his gut, he liked the smell. His animalistic side wanted to breathe deeply and savor it. That made his tail curl in disgust.

Stepping around the woman, he surveyed the damage. Donatello and Leonardo would want to know every detail. From his point of view, the Foot had obviously been looking for something. Judging by the destruction that didn't seem to end in the living room, but actually extended into the kitchen and into the shadows of the hallway, he doubted they found whatever it was. It also explained the absence of Thompson.

He'd been around the man enough to tell that much of the blood in the room was his. He doubted Thompson was alive. However, he wouldn't have needed his sensitive nose to have come to that conclusion. The evidence was painfully clear. Over the years, Leatherhead had seen so many scenes like this that he could practically picture every move.

Dark lines trailing into the hall said that the attack started in the living room and then moved to the bedroom. Thompson had been dragged, probably half conscious, judging by the amount of blood everywhere.

In their expansion, the Foot clan was getting more vicious and less honorable. They probably barely touched their katanas in this attack. Blood splattered on the corner of the desk and on some spots along the wall as though they'd smashed Thompson's body parts in an effort to get him to talk. He wondered if he did. Whatever the man had, it was precious and probably very, very dangerous.

A small movement in the center of the room captured Leatherhead's focus. Frowning, he squinted in the darkness, watching for another move.

Glass glinted and he saw it! A tiny snake, no longer than six or seven inches long froze in its flee as if sensing the crocodile's stare.

Leatherhead glanced at Brooke. She had not moved.

How this tiny reptile had survived was beyond him. All the others were certainly dead or had all ready escaped.

He and Donatello all ready knew that the situation with the Foot clan and Thompson was getting out of hand, but now it was spinning out of control.

Leatherhead was not an ignorant crocodile. He knew how humans worked. Most were out for themselves. When given an opportunity, they take it without regard to others, especially mutants. Despite his dislike for humans, so far this woman had done nothing to him. He was not so mindless as his relatives. He wouldn't push her out the door into the hands of certain danger. If she must stay around, he could put forth some effort.

As he neared the little creature, it sensed the predator in him and panicked. He could feel the fear and aggression levels rising and he knew he'd have to be fast, or it would escape. In one quick swoop, he captured the little snake. In an equally fast reaction, it swiveled its head and bit his hand. Little as it was, he couldn't feel a thing, but it only wriggled its head in a vain attempt to sink its teeth deeper.

"Miss Thompson?" He said softly, uncomfortable and unpracticed in the area of comfort. His skin prickled and his stomach flipped in displeasure at this task.

When the girl looked up, her pale cheeks were flushed and glistened with tears. Her eyes were guarded, which bothered Leatherhead. Until now, she'd been as easy to read as an open book. She'd had no qualms with showing her emotions plainly. Stupid, he thought, but useful—for him. Still, he cupped his hands, where the serpent had finally released his hand. Now, it was reared back, curving into an 's' shape and flicking it's tongue threateningly at him.

Brooke blinked owlishly at the snake for a few moments as though she wasn't quite sure what she was looking at. Finally, just when Leatherhead was getting really uncomfortable, she gingerly took the snake. As she did, it tried once last time to snap at him, missing completely. Rising stiffly, she cradled the reptile close to her chest and looked up at Leatherhead.

She didn't seem able to say anything, but her eyes welled with tears.

Leatherhead's study of human emotions had been inconclusive. It seemed that they cried whenever they felt any emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, or happiness. However, his studies had always been from a distance. Standing so close to Brooke, he could feel rather than see that she was grateful.

Embarrassed and now extremely uncomfortable, he turned away.

"We should go. It's dangerous to stay here," He said. She said nothing in response, but obediently followed.