Well, here we are, the very end.

This has been fun to write. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
Please do review, I need feedback to improve as a writer. Not to mention, like all authors, I love hearing from my readers. : )

Thanks so much to Clementine-Rose, my first-ever reviewer, for her kind encouragement, to S.E. Ragland for her reviews (Love your stories, Stephanie! Update AMNT/TMNT soon!), and to Silverfalcon, MS, Westhaven18, and Sabra Jaguar for taking the time to read and review.

Finally, a special thank-you goes out to Raphfreak, for sleepless nights, for addictions, for beta-reading and just for being a great writer.

I'd recommend Raphfreak's stories, folks, but I'd feel too much like a drug-dealer. She writes literary crack, and once you start reading, she'll torment you with cliffhangers and not update nearly fast enough unless you threaten to send Raphael after her. Even then, she'll just take to the sewers and dodge the guys, cackling evilly while you sob in desperation over her latest scheme... er, plot.
You've been warned!

Happy reading!
Rejoicing in the day,

Ps Look for my next story, Paradise, coming soon.

Chapter 17 -The Final Word-

Drifting… Shouting, a crash… but far away, so far away… Fear, anger… rage… The emotions rolled over her, touching her consciousness, sliding over her psyche. She heard a guttural cry, it sounded like the scientist.

Fury… burning… fire…

Hands were grabbing her arms. She moaned. The splint had been removed from her arm, and movement sent pain stabbing through the unstable bones. Hands on her arms, touching her wrists, tugging at her ankles and knees…

The straps were already tight, why were they fussing with them? She couldn't get loose, she'd tried. She'd fought the straps with all her might until the leather was slippery with blood and sweat.

She felt tugging, and miraculously, the straps fell away. Her hands were free! Sylvia struggled instinctively to sit up. Arms came around her, encircling, enclosing. She tried to squirm away, but her ankles were still attached to the table.

"It's ok, Syl, we've got you now," A familiar, friendly voice, soothing, comforting. "Let's get her outta here." Movement, something brushing her ankle, and her feet were freed as well.

Shouts, crashes. Clang of metal, thud of wood… She was being lifted up, cradled against a strange, smooth, hard chest. She let her head flop onto the muscular shoulder, too weak and hazy to hold it up.

A surge of emotions… anger, grief, and something else… protective… warmth. It was too much for her to sort out. She felt herself carried, away from the noise, away from the chaos. The noise was further away now.

"Come on, I've got her."

"Fall back! Come on, Raph! There're too many of them. We've got to get out of here…"


Jeremy glared at the huge man holding the hockey stick. Casey was pacing, glancing out the window every third step. His knuckles were white on the handle of the stick in his hand.

"I'm goin'."

"No, Casey. The guys said to wait here," said the red-haired woman for the tenth time in as many minutes. "They can handle this."

"What if ol' tin-grin shows up?" growled Casey. "What if they need back-up?"

"What, yer gonna take him down wit' a hockey stick?" Jeremy shook his head. "If dis dude can take down the turtles, I don't t'ink yer gonna handle him."

"Aah, whadda you know, Kid? I take on street punks wit' more moxy than that tin-plated freak." Jeremy caught April rolling her eyes, and giggled.

Casey stopped pacing and stood squarely, holding the hockey stick in front of him as if he were a goalie facing a penalty shot. "Oh yeah? Ya t'ink dis is funny, do ya? Dat's it, I'm goin'!" He strode toward the door, but before he could reach the knob, there was a sharp tap on the window. April rushed over, and swung it open.

"Guys! Are you ok? Did you get her? Is anyone hurt?"

Jeremy jumped up as an oddly shaped figure filled the window. Donatello climbed in, carefully cradling the limp form in his arms. Leonardo followed him into the room, then Raphael and Michelangelo.

"Sylvia!" shouted Jeremy. "What'd they do ta her?"

"It's ok, Jeremy, I think she's been drugged, but she's going to be ok," said Donatello. He laid Sylvia gently on the couch. He took her wrist in his hands, feeling for a pulse. He made a face over the raw wounds, and reached for her neck instead.

"It's ok. She's going to be ok," he repeated. "Her pulse is strong. I think they gave her some kind of drug, but it should wear off. She hadn't been there that long. They didn't have time to do much damage." As he spoke, Donatello's hands were moving, searching for wounds and broken bones. He felt Sylvia's arm, and frowned.

"They took the splint off. I'll have to re-set this. April, do you have any first-aid supplies?"

"Sure, Don, I'll get them," said April.

"Bring the painkillers I keep here for us, too, April," called Donatello.

"Who got hurt? What'd ya do, Raph, let one of dem Foot freaks get da drop on ya? I knew I shoulda came wit' ya guys," said Casey.

"It's for Leonardo, Casey," said Donatello, not looking up.

"Oh geez, Leo," said Casey. He caught the swaying blue-masked turtle's arm. Leonardo winced. "Hey, man, sit down before ya fall down, huh?" He led Leonardo to a chair and lowered him into it with surprising gentleness. "What'd they do to ya?"

"Ol' 'Fearless' has to play da hero," said Raphael, with a hint of pride behind the sarcasm. "Here he was, callin' the retreat, when about six more Foot showed up. Mike and I had 'em handled, but Leo couldn't stay outta da way."

"Mikey… the… guy… in… white… had… a… needle," Leonardo whispered between shallow breaths. "Was… going… to… stick… Mike…"

"Ok, ok, 'Fearless', we know. Ya saved Mikey from that crazy scientist guy and his hypo. It's cool bro. Just relax." Raphael leaned back against the wall, tucking his sais into his belt.

"Raph, you're bleedin' on April's paint," said Michelangelo in a rather shaky voice.

"Oh, am I? Sorry 'bout dat, April." Raphael stood up, glancing at the wound on his shoulder. "I guess I'm still leakin' a little."

"I'll stitch that up in a minute," said Donatello. "Let me get Sylvia's arm set, and give Leo something for his ribs."

"Take yer time, Donny. I'm ok."

"He almost stuck that needle in me, Dude," said Michelangelo. Suddenly he went rather grey, and dashed for the bathroom. The others could unfortunately hear his retching clearly through the open door.

"What's wrong with him?" asked Jeremy, tearing his eyes away from Sylvia's face to spare a glance toward the bathroom.

"Mikey's got a phobia of needles," explained Donatello. "Comes from having people want to put us on a dissection table and take samples and stuff."

"Hey, I t'ink she's comin' around," said Casey, leaning over the back of the couch.

"Well give her some room," said Donatello. "You'll scare her to death if the first thing she sees is you, Casey Jones." Casey leaned back, shooting Donatello a dirty look.

Donatello ignored him. He took Sylvia's uninjured hand in both of his.


Voices… strange voices, not shouting now… Was this the hospital? Sylvia wasn't sure whether she were dreaming or drifting. Something holding her hand, but warm and soft, not hard and cutting like the straps… Warm, friendly feelings… but no, she must not think, must not feel…

"Sylvia?" Someone, far away, was calling her name. "Sylvia, wake up. You're safe now."

Must not think…

She became aware of a new presence, pressing on her mind, reaching toward her, soft, gentle, warm. She tried to resist, tried to close herself off, not to feel, not to think. She forgot to breathe.

Sylvia. You're safe now. It's ok. It's me, Don.

D… Donatello? But… the Shredder…

You're safe now. You're with me… with us. It's ok. We got you out. He can't hurt you now.

Tentatively, Sylvia reached out. She felt exhaustion, fear, anxiety. She felt the remnants of anger, of hate… she felt… security. Safety. Trust. She gathered her focus, feeling the hands touching hers. Warmth. Friendship. And… something more?

Slowly, Sylvia opened her eyes. Her lips moved.



Two months later…

"Are you sure you have your tickets?" Leonardo asked for the third time.

"We got 'em, Leo. Geesh, relax. I'm a street kid, remember? I know how to get on the train, for cryin' out loud."

"You'll do great, Sylvia. The University has an amazing science program," said Donatello. Sylvia smiled, and nodded. "Well, you two had better get to the station. The train will be leaving in twenty minutes." Donatello shifted his weight, not quite meeting Sylvia's eyes. "I know your folks will be glad to see you. They sounded excited on the phone."

"I just hope they like me," said Jeremy, suddenly sounding very young and very uncertain. Sylvia wrapped an arm around his shoulders and gave him a squeeze.

"Of course they'll like you, Jeremy," said Leonardo. "April explained everything to them. They're grateful to you for looking out for Sylvia when she needed a friend. You'll like living on a farm. Trust me."

Sylvia pulled a note-pad sized device out of her pocket. She wrote on the screen with a stylus, and the automated voice spoke.

"They always wanted a boy. I always wanted a brother. They'll love you."

Jeremy smiled. "Aww, Syl, yer da best."

Sylvia grinned, and wrote. "Don's the best," the voice said. Sylvia waved the device. "I can talk now."

Donatello shook his head. "It's just a touch-screen and text recognition software. No big deal," he muttered.

"Big deal, Don. You gave me back my voice," Sylvia wrote.

"You've got a train to catch," he said.

Sylvia grinned. She threw her arms around Donatello's neck, and planted a kiss on his cheek.

Jeremy laughed. "What was dat for, Syl?"

"Some things you can't say with words," intoned the robotic voice.

Donatello met Sylvia's eyes. She gathered her focus, and smiled. Donatello turned the deepest shade of red possible for a green-skinned turtle to turn. Leonardo's eye-ridges rose.

"Not a word, Leo. Don't you say a word," muttered Donatello as they watched Sylvia and Jeremy climb the ladder and disappear through the manhole a block from the train station. "Or I swear, I'll invent some obscure virus and put you in Raph-enforced bed-rest for a month."

Leonardo laughed, and clapped his arm over his brother's shoulder. "I didn't say a thing, bro. I didn't say a thing."