(One Week Later)
"I can't believe Doc's making me sit out a couple more weeks." Raphael said grumpily. "It's absurd. I'm fine - that accident was months ago."
"Yeah, and the amnesia lasted almost that entire time." Leo remarked dryly. "He just doesn't want anything else getting near your head for awhile. To be perfectly frank, I agree with him. That was really heavy Raph."
The red-banded turtle shrugged. "I gotta get on with my life sometime. I'm sure not gonna stay holed up down here, while you guys have all the fun."
"Hasn't been the same without you bro." Leonardo flashed him a grin, as he lightly fingered the hilts of the katanas he'd only just finished practicing with.
"I like the new blades Leo. They suit you."
"Typical Donnie move. I only needed to replace the one, but he insisted that they had to match. There's no arguing with him sometimes."
"You did end up saving his shell, huh? The thought of that creep hurtin' him...makes me wish I coulda got a hand on him even more. Nice to know you took care of business though."
"There wasn't much time Raph, it was really the environment that finished that work." Leonardo said dismissively, and then intentionally changed the subject. "You and Kari seem to be getting along well."
Raphael ducked his head for a moment. "Yeah, she...she's something else Leo. Gets under my skin, without even trying to it seems. I still feel kinda bad that I can't remember anything from before. She's got all these memories of 'firsts', that I don't know nothing about. That, and I bet she's getting pretty tired of repeating junk that she already told me."
"Raph, I don't think you should worry too much about what you can't recall. You're better off focusing here, in the moment. She came back because she wants this - no one forced her too."
"Do you have any idea how weird it is to have these kinds of feelings for somebody I barely know?"
"I can't imagine Raph - but I'm real glad that you decided to make a go of it. I've seen the two of you together, and I think she's just what you need."
"I never used to think I needed anybody, you know, other than you guys. Of course there were times that I wondered what it might be like, to have somebody the way Donnie does. But I never thought about it in the terms that it could really happen.
Now she's only been around a few days, and I feel like she's changed something in me already. It's sort of blowing my mind." He said partially to himself, smiling just a little. "She was kinda timid at first, but that sure didn't last. The way she came after me the other day, I thought she was really ticked. But two minutes later, she was laughing again."
"Karina won't take your lip Raph." Leonardo chuckled. "She never did. She thought we were too easy on you, especially in the beginning."
"Too easy how Fearless?"
"Nobody was challenging anything that you said or did. It was pretty much anything goes at that point. You were ignoring the Docs, but giving Donnie a really rough time. Whenever they left the room, you'd pounce to try to get a reaction out of him."
Raphael winced. "Do I dare ask you to go on?"
"Then you made the mistake of doing it in front of Karina, and she wouldn't listen to it. I believe she told you to quit, and when you kicked it up another notch, the story goes that you got slapped."
Raphael made a sound that was almost a laugh. "She stood up for Donnie to me? Karina is a live one, isn't she?"
"I'm not sure anyone else could handle your particularly unique personality."
"What are you tryin' to say Fearless?" Raphael mock challenged. "That I'm difficult?"
"You make life interesting bro." Leonardo grinned.
When the two came out of the practice room, Jenna and Karina were laughing like two life-long friends in the living area.
"Ladies." Leonardo greeted them with a somewhat solemn nod, before shooting them a real smile.
"Boy, you're just thrilled to have another female down here, aren't you Jen?" Raphael teased the woman.
"God knows there's enough testosterone to go around." Jenna replied, as she got to her feet. "But all good things must sometimes wait."
"You really have to go already?" Karina asked her.
"My Mom's waiting for me." Jenna said a little sheepishly. "That stupid event is tonight, and we still need to get ready for it. I don't even have a clue what they're putting me in this time. But I can't stand to let her to these things alone, so it's off to the torture chamber again."
"You're so dramatic." Raphael snickered.
"If William is there, he might actually get decked this time." Jenna said darkly. "Even the ring on my hand wasn't enough to send him packing at the last Ball."
"He doesn't get that you're not interested?" Karina said curiously. "It doesn't seem like you have a problem expressing yourself Jen."
"This has been going on for years Kari. The idiot still won't even get my name right. If I have to hear him call me 'Jenny' one more time, they might need to drag me out of there in handcuffs."
"I doubt he's worth all that Jenna." Leonardo tried to say seriously.
"You have no idea Leo. Anyway...I have to go. I'm going to find my husband to tell him I'm leaving, and I'll see all of you later."
As Jenna left, Leonardo moved in the direction of the stairs. "I'm gonna get cleaned up a bit. I'll see you guys later too." He announced, and headed for the second floor.
Karina met Raphael's gaze with a slightly flirtatious smile, now rising off the couch to meet him.
"Get a good work-out in?" She asked.
"Decent enough. Still craving a real piece of action though."
"It won't be that much longer, will it?"
"No, it just sorta feels like it." He replied sardonically, tugging on her sweater sleeve. "Are you ready for tomorrow?"
She nodded. "I'm excited, can't wait to start teaching my own choreography. I could barely sleep last night."
He cracked a smile at that. "Good for you. I wish I could see the finished product myself."
"It seems to me there have be lots of way a ninja could sneak into a practice session in that hall Raph. I'm sure you've made your way through much trickier spots."
"Is this you asking me to come see it?"
"You catch on quick. I'm gonna hit the kitchen, do you want something to drink?"
"Anything that doesn't involve 'green' or 'tea'."
"That shouldn't be hard."
As the woman walked away toward the next room, the shadow that had been hovering over the railing of the banister could finally make his move.
Karina spun back around when she heard Raphael gasp, as a balloon struck his left shoulder, exploding in a frenzy of water and shaving cream.
The red-banded turtle heard familiar laughter from above him, and the shock was immediately replaced with a very dangerous look.
Karina bit her lip to hold back her own laughter, as she brushed a spot of shaving cream off of his cheek.
"Are you alright?"
"You're gonna have to excuse me for a second, I have to go commit murder."
Luke and Katherine were just heading out the back door of their Brownstone, when Kat's cell-phone went off from inside of her purse. She immediately set it down on the counter, so she could rifle through it for the phone.
Work? She thought briefly, before picking it up. "This is James."
"Agent, this is Director Kelley. I was notified that you'd asked to be updated, on information pertaining to that strange identity case. Something that ties back into Luke's original kidnaping last year?"
"Yes sir. I understand that the object of my concern was killed back in November." Katherine replied.
"I don't want to get you all excited or anything, but you need to know that there was a mistake within the NYPD's Crime Lab James."
"What kind of mistake?"
"They definitely found traces of DNA that matched that 'Stolle' character, but they also made some incorrect assumptions. Only finally got a positive identification off of the body they recovered yesterday, something off a very old dental record. It was some other guy, last name Kizirnis? Records indicate that he was part of Morello's old circle too."
"So wait a second. Are you telling me they didn't find Stolle?"
"I'm sorry James. None of the other evidence recovered from that building can support whether the man actually made it out or not. I've been going through some reports that were filed, by paramedics from the scene. They treated that one cop, who was it...Long? But there was another victim too, guy was kind of singed, nasty blade wound. They'd patched him up somewhat outside the building, but then they turned their backs, and he was gone.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of uncertain news, but I figured that you'd wanna know."
Katherine felt rather numb all of a sudden, and it was all she could do to keep her voice steady. "Yes, I appreciate it sir. Please, if you hear anything else..."
"I'll make sure you're notified James."
As she hung up the phone, Luke ducked back inside of the kitchen. He took one look at her face, and stopped in his tracks.
"Kat, what's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"He's alive Luke." The woman answered with a slight tremble. "Stolle is alive."
*Oh yes dear readers, I actually went there. Just goes to show you that nothing is certain, unless you actually see the nail go into the coffin. That's all for now, but the next story that I eventually post will feature more to do with Stolle, in addition to being my first attempt at something "Mikey-Centric". Should be a real challenge for me - I've always felt like I have the hardest time capturing him out of all of them.
We'll also find ourselves outside the confines of New York City again, and inside the heart of the Mid-West. I might be crazy for what I'm trying out, but what can I say? I get an idea, and I can't get it out of my head. Until then, thanks for reading and reviewing. You make all of us this so much more satisfying. See ya.