Welcome to my second-ever fan-fiction! (the first is "Raphael's Wish", if you care to look it up.) :)
Dear readers, I apologize, for the delay in updating, and for re-posting my opening chapters with changes. I ended up re-writing the beginning chapters somewhat extensively. I was afraid this "post as I write it" thing wouldn't work for me, and it doesn't. Rewriting and revisions are a habit too deeply ingrained.
I also needed to change the summary as the story evolved differently than my original vision.
So I've completed the story, and I'll be posting a chapter or two a day (depending on the reviews- how anxious people are to see the next chapters) until I get them all up.
Thanks for reading. Please review!
Rejoicing in the day,
Chapter 1 -Security-
She was running. Always running. Always ducking, always hiding. Danger lurked, she must always be ready to run, or he would find her again. He had taken everything away from her. Hope of ever finding her way back to her family, security, her voice, nearly her very life.
No, he would never find her again. She would run, always run, silent and invisible as a shadow moving through the streets, unseen. She had escaped, she had earned her freedom. She intended to remain free.
"Donnie! DonnieDonnieDonnieDonnie! Yawannagosewer-skatin'wiffme?" Michelangelo's voice bounced off the walls of the lab, making Donatello's head ache.
"Not now, Mikey," he said, trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice. "One of the perimeter cameras is down again, and I've got to fix it."
"You mean those cameras you put up in the tunnel, so I can have videos of my mondo skating moves?" For once, Mikey's infectious grin wasn't quite enough to ease the pounding ache at the back of Donatello's skull.
"No, Mike, I mean those cameras I put in so we can see anyone who approaches too closely to the Lair. Not so you can have tapes of yourself sewer-skating."
"Well, what's wrong with 'em?"
"Nothing's wrong with all of them. Just the one. It keeps breaking. Last week a wire came loose. A couple days ago, water got into the casing, even though the whole wall's dry. Now it's out again, and I can't figure out why."
"Maybe you should call April, see if she can fix it," suggested Michelangelo.
"I should be able to handle it," grumbled Donatello, gathering some tools into a small duffle.
"Cool. Well, I'm gonna go ask Raph if he wants to see a movie."
"You do that, Mike." Donatello ushered his little brother out of his lab and closed his door carefully.
"Raph, yawannagoseeamoviewit'me?" He heard Michelangelo's voice echoing through the Lair behind him, and shook his head.
"Everything ok, Don?" Leonardo stepped out of the dojo as Donatello was heading for the exit. He glistened with sweat.
"Yeah, Leo, everything's fine. I'm just going out to fix that camera again."
"The same one as before?" Leo raised an eye-ridge. "Again? Do you want me to come along? I mean, it's right near the entrance to the subway, isn't it? Maybe you should have someone there to watch your back."
"Nah, it's ok, Leo," said Donatello. "You need to cool down from your workout, and you'll want a shower. It won't take me long to fix it. I might even take it down and bring it back here."
"Ok, if you're sure…"
"Mikey, I swear this time it's the end. I'm gonna tear your shell off!" roared Raphael from his upstairs sanctuary.
"Eeeeep! Leo, help, Raph's tryin' to kill me!" squealed Michelangelo, flying down the stairs to cower behind Leonardo. "I didn't do nuthin', just woke him up…"
"I'm positive," said Don. He closed the door firmly behind him. Another high squeal pierced the door. He shook his head. That Mikey. When would he learn not to mess with volcano-tempered Raphael's naptime? He hurried down the tunnel, anxious to avoid getting caught up in yet another hurricane of brotherly revenge.
Before long, he reached the junction. He reached up and carefully loosened the screws that mounted the camera to the brick. It was well camouflaged, hidden in a shadow where the tunnel wall had cracked. The tiny camera was nearly impossible to see against the dark background of the broken wall. It was a perfect spot, giving a full view of the tunnel leading toward their home, if only the camera would keep working.
Donatello sighed, and rubbed the back of his neck where it met his carapace. His head was pounding, the dull ache reaching in tendrils up the back of his skull. It had taken him weeks to scavenge and assemble the parts for this security system. Now, when it was finally all in place and he should be able to relax, this one camera kept breaking. Donatello couldn't understand why.
Lifting the camera down, he frowned. He couldn't see any external reason for the camera to have stopped working. There were no cracks, no dents or scratches marred the case. He turned it over in his hands, searching for any signs of damage or condensation from the damp sewers. The casing was perfectly dry. There was no reason, absolutely no reason at all, for the malfunction.
She watched the purple-masked turtle, shrinking deeper into the shadow of the hole in the tunnel wall that hid her. She could see him clearly, but he could not see her. She was one with the shadow, wrapping the darkness around her like a cloak. She held herself absolutely still, knowing the turtle's senses were far more precise than any human's, and the slightest movement or rustle of cloth against brick could give her away.
She watched him fiddle with the camera. Her eyes widened as he reached up to loosen the screws. He was strong, his muscles rippling under his green skin. She shivered ever so slightly. He was strong, too. But she'd never seen his hands handle anything so delicately.
She closed her eyes, and gathered her focus. Tentatively, she reached out, calming, soothing, barely touching the edges of his mind. "It's just a camera," her thoughts whispered. "Way out here, in a tunnel no one really uses anyway. We don't need security so far from home… it can wait…There's plenty of time…"
Donatello rubbed his hand over his neck again. He could see nothing wrong with the camera, nothing at all. He sighed in irritation, reaching for his tool bag.
I've forgotten the tool I needed to fix this. The thought drifted through his mind. He rustled through the tool-bag, searching. He pulled out one specialized little wrench, and stared at it, turning it over in his hand. Why had he even brought this? He felt distracted, tired. Why was he putting so much effort into one stupid little camera, anyway? This tunnel junction was the furthest from the Lair. Leo was right, no one but the occasional hobo would ever wander down the subway tunnel far enough to find the entrance to the sewers. He could fix it another day; there was plenty of time.
Donatello slipped the camera into the duffel, and stood up, stretching. His head suddenly felt better, clearer. He whistled softly as he strode off down the tunnel. Maybe he'd offer to go sewer-skating with Michelangelo after all.
She watched him go, letting out a sigh of barely-contained frustration. That tool, that last one he'd pulled out… He'd almost set it down. She hadn't counted on his emotional attachment to his tools, which fought her suggestions of distraction. She shook her head in annoyance. She needed that tool. But how to get it?
She slipped out of the crack. Staying close to the wall, but not so close as to brush it with the fabric of her clothes, she followed Donatello. She had to find out where his den was, where he kept the tools she so desperately needed. She only hoped she'd be able to slip in and out, unnoticed, silent and unobtrusive as the shadows which hid her.
Donatello headed back to the Lair, hardly feeling the weight of the bag in his hand. He hadn't been sewer-skating in months. He'd been too busy rigging new security systems around their Lair. Security was an increasing necessity. All four turtles had become quite attached to their latest Lair. There was room to move here, and space enough for them to each have their own rooms.
Donatello even claimed one area as a separate laboratory and hospital room for the rare occasions when one of them was seriously injured. He'd already acquired a steel examination table, sturdy enough to hold the weight of a full-grown turtle, and padded with specialized cushioning covered in heavy plastic upholstery which could be wiped clean. He'd collected an impressive array of first aid materials and medical supplies.
Fortunately, he hadn't needed to use his hospital equipment yet. It wasn't all that easy to sneak up on a ninja, so they weren't often injured. Sneaking up on a ninja… Don stopped short, and with a few steps, melted into the shadows of the tunnel. He was suddenly overwhelmed by the distinct feeling of being watched. His dark eyes scanned the tunnel behind him. Not so much as the rustle of the cockroaches could be heard. Don's eyes narrowed. He could have sworn… He shook off the lingering doubt. He'd been working too hard, that's all. He turned and strode down the tunnel toward the Lair.