Wow! You're still here! :D That's awesome! I've got plans and stuff is brewing!
I'd like to extend an enormous truckload of thanks to my amazing beta, Peechy-keen. She is the best.


Dear Journal,

It's that time of year again—midwinter. It's been way too cold for way too long and he sun is so small up in the sky that it feels like I'll never be warm again. To add to the joy, Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Whoop-de-freakin'-do. I've officially got the mid-winter blues. Nothing is wrong per se, but I just can't seem to shake the way that every day drags out like an endless row of Mondays.
I'd really like to see some green in the trees that didn't climb up there to throw snowballs at me.

Dear Journal,

Don must have a new project because Max has been down in the Lair for dinner more often than not this week. The quiet is nice. Weird… but nice. I love how I've gotten so used to living with Max again. I can't believe I used to spend so much time alone. Now I can't imagine this apartment filled to capacity between the two of us, our open window policy, and all of the science! slowly taking over the kitchen. Sometimes I try to imagine what it was like Before. It seems so empty; why didn't I realize how empty it was?

-Later

Oh Irony, thou art a cruel and fickle bitch. Raph has a concussion. He wandered into my apartment with a concussion as I was brushing my teeth. I am currently in the process of keeping him awake and have sewn up the bleeding gash in his skull (Why is my home suddenly an emergency room?!) because I cannot reach ANYONE down in the Lair. If there is not trouble down there, I swear by my fuzzy pink socks, there will be. The book has been a tremendous help. Google doesn't really work in this case. The only thing I'm getting about bleeding head wound/concussions is "OMG! Take him to the hospital NOW!" which is so not an option it isn't even funny.
Raphael will be staying here tonight. He's not quite… all there at the moment. I fear that if I let him leave he might wander around and get… somewhat stabby. He's in no condition for violence or stealth. An hour of Bohemian Rhapsody can attest to that. I would take him to the Lair, but I have no clue what's going on down there. What if it's bad? I've got enough on my plate to worry about as it is with Raph as a patient, but I can't help but worry about what may or may not be going on down in the Lair. Maybe it's a science experiment. That's cut off all communication to the surface. Electro-magnetic pulse? What if there's somebody down there attacking them? What if there was an accident (scientific explosion) or a gas leak or a pipe burst dumping tons of raw sewage all over them? They'll all get so sick! We could take April and Max to the hospital, but what about the turtles and Master Splinter? What would we do? What am I supposed to do?

-Even Later

It's doing no good to speculate. And I think Raph is starting to get suspicious. I haven't told him about there not being any contact with the Lair. I know he'd insist on running there right now if he thought his family was in trouble, but he's in no condition to be any help if they are. So I called Casey and explained the situation. He's headed there now to check on things. He'll call back when he knows what's going on. Hopefully, this means that I can have Raph home safe and sound in less than an hour. Fingers crossed.

Even Laterer-

They're fine. Don and Max are experimenting with a new signal jamming device for the BattleShell. Apparently, two wires accidentally touched and it turned on. They didn't notice until Casey came by to make sure that everyone was alright.
Raph is home now, in the care of those better equipped to deal with him than I am. It is a relief to hear that I did okay with my second ever emergency patient. Now, I need to call Macie and Steph before they leave for class so they can take notes for me. Then, I need to get some sleep.

Dear Journal,

I am never pulling an all-nighter ever again. It is going to take a week to get my sleep schedule back to normal. Well, it looks like my life-long dream of being Batman is out. Darn. At least I made it through my own nights work in one piece. I never thought I'd say this, but thank goodness for coffee. It tastes awful, but the caffeine did wonders for me today. Er, tonight… I mean at work. This is confusing. I'm probably not going to sleep tonight either between the 'jet lag' and the caffeine. I managed to finish my homework, so at least I'm not behind.

Later-

Breaking out the big guns. Chamomile and classical music. Fingers crossed.

Dear Journal,

My sleep schedule is on the mend. Hopefully. Still tired from last night, but at least tired means I'll be able to sleep tonight. In other news, I locked in plans for Valentine's Day. April and I were overheard mutually bemoaning our lack of plans when I dropped Max off at the Lair. By the time I came to pick him up, the boys (including my brother) had decided that our current plan to watch a movie at my place with a pan of brownies was unacceptable when we have a Lair full of guys who care about us. It may not be the 'Valentines' we'd been lamenting over, but the men in our lives are something even more precious, more permanent, and more real than any fleeting romance.
Those boys are so sweet. I don't know what I've done to deserve them in my life.

Dear Journal,

Ugh. Finally finished with my term papers just in time to start studying for exams. Training may be taking up more of my time this term, but I can really feel the effects when it comes to my health. My focus has received a big boost as well. I actually feel confident about finals without arranging a solid block of panicked study sessions with either Max or Donnie. I do have a few evenings of tutoring lined up, I'm not an idiot. When geniuses are available, it's stupid not to accept their help.

Dear Journal,

I had a visit from Raph tonight. He's kinda ticked off about how I handled the jamming device last week, specifically not telling him about it at all. Granted, the concussion didn't make it that hard to keep him from figuring it out on his own, but I can't fault him for his complaints with my deception. Even the point that I did it to protect him falls flat. He just has to give me one look and I know that if there had been trouble, if I had been keeping him from going to his family when they were in danger and something had happened to them he'd never be able to trust me again. He accused me of 'not thinking about the big picture,' to which I reminded him that Max had been down there, too. He's about as big as my picture gets. Everything outside of him, and the Hamatos, too now I guess, is periphery. I really am that selfish. If I had thought that Raph's brand of kicking ass and taking names would get them out of whatever mystery trouble my mind concocted that night, I would have let him go. If I thought that he would hold up in a big fight, I would have let him go, concussion be damned. But I lied to him and kept him back. If he had gotten hurt because I was selfishly scared for my brother, I don't think I'd be able to forgive myself. And yeah, I told him all of that.
So now we're at the point where we each understand where the other is coming from, but still would do it our own way if we could to do it over. And he's still mad. It might take a few days for him to really calm down, and I wouldn't blame him at all if he never changes his opinion on what should have happened that night. The tension is a little nerve-wracking though. I hope we can just sort of agree to disagree and move on?

Dear Journal,

I am scared. We're all a little shaken up down here at the Cheesy Hut. Ben got carjacked delivering pizza today. He's okay. They didn't hurt him too bad, just took the car and his wallet, and roughed him up a little (he's not even in the hospital, and the cops all say that he got away lucky). It's still pretty terrifying. Max wants me to quit. But with the economy the way it is, I don't know if I could find another job. I would like to step up my training though.
What is this city coming to? We're hearing more of these sort of stories every day. The gangs are getting bolder, and there's hardly a night that goes by when the boys don't run into trouble of some kind. I'm afraid. We just finished up with one big mess, and now it feels like all of this is going to become our sort of mess and I don't know what to do.
I have a shift at work tomorrow. I hope I've been trained well enough.

Dear Journal,

I guess Raph isn't too mad at me. He followed me around on his bike while I was working. It made me feel a million times safer. Then again, that doesn't necessarily mean he's not still miffed. It just means he's not petty enough to be indifferent about my safety.

Dear Journal,

This was probably the best Valentine's Day ever. And I am counting the one when I was dating Trevor. Also the one when Patrick took me to the dance. And the one when Steph and Jesse were taking a break so we all had 'Single Ladies' girls' night in. This was better than all of that.
So I got each of the boys one of those chocolate oranges, and there was a collective gift card from work as a show of appreciation. They certainly put a lot of thought into what eventually amounted to a night in with my favorite dudes, and they made sure that April and I got what we wanted. Or what they thought we wanted. I'm not sure I want to put too much thought into which one of them owns that copy of Sleepless in Seattle. And I have definitely had my fill of chocolate for the year. Still, it's probably the sweetest thing anyone not a Pennington has ever done for me.

Dear Journal,

Sensei brought in the boys today to help with training. We're learning about breaking holds. Max kinda panicked about halfway through and Leo took him to work on meditation. He's getting better. At both, I mean: the meditation and the not panicking during training. Today was hard, though, and I am so grateful for everyone. I don't know if I could do this without them. They get it. Maybe they aren't the ones who have to calm him down in the middle of the night, but they get it. I could see it in Don's face and hear it in the way he kept asking "Is this okay?" during training. Max wouldn't have lasted nearly as long as he did if it had been anyone but his lab buddy.
On the ride home, I asked him if training was making him uncomfortable. He said "God, yes." I asked him if he wanted to quit, and he just looked at me and said "Hell, no." He told me that, as excruciating as it is for him sometimes, he needs it. He needs the peace of mind that comes with each new skill that he can use to protect himself and me. "I'm not an idiot," he told me, "They mean well, and they try hard, but they can't keep all of the fighting away from us forever. You and I have three options, Katie: we can either move away and have nothing to do with them; we can die in the crossfire; or we can make ourselves strong enough to stand with them." It's pretty obvious what the only option is.


Hey there! I've got an opportunity for you!
If you have liked this story and the original characters in it (or even if you don't), please take a moment to visit the poll on my profile. You might just get an opportunity to see more of Kate and Max.
At the moment, the plan is to close the poll one month from when this chapter goes up (6/4/2013).

Thank you for reading, and have a nice day! :D