Whenever she looks at him now it's with a sad expression on her face, but she doesn't try to talk to him again. She comes around less and less, and he stops following her, stops running into her, and tries, desperately, to stop thinking about her.

Months go by.

Mike gets a girlfriend.


Raph stands off to the side as Mike and Jennifer make the announcement. No one seems very surprised. No one but Raph.

When Mike turns his eyes toward his last brother, the one who hasn't given him his congratulations yet, Raph has already slipped out.


It's not raining.

It should be. His life is one big movie, right? When it's not being a monster movie or a sci-fi film it's a chick flick, and he's standing on the top of a building at night, the animal inside him a paper-thin wall away from clawing out of his chest. Were there a crack of thunder to bury it in, he would roar at the sky. But as it is, he stands there, the city lit up below him, its rhythms and harsh drumbeats familiar and suffocating, and though the sky is cloudy no rain falls.

He can see Angel's apartment from here.

Aw, hell. Why not.

He jumps down to the roof of the adjacent building, leaps across an alleyway to the next, and with every jump he can feel one hand unclenching from around his heart and another one start to squeeze.


"Mikey got a girlfriend."

She looks up impassively from hunching over the coffee table where she is doing her homework, one eyebrow raised, as though it hasn't been over a month since they'd spoken.

"Yeah?" she says, sounding almost wary. He makes himself at home on the armchair across from her, his relaxed posture a lie.

"Yeah. Some chick he met online playing Halo. She's a furry, can you believe that? Thinks she's a fox."

"That's pretty crazy," she agrees vaguely. "Raph, what are you doing here?"

He freezes, the hand closing around his heart starting to squeeze his lungs too.

"Just thought you'd like to know," he says guardedly. She sighs, and puts down her pencil, leaning back onto the couch cushions.

"What do you think about it?" He knows that's not really the question she's asking, but mind games aren't his forte, and he tries to answer honestly.

"I think it's dangerous."

Too honest. She raises both eyebrows. He can still see the scar from where she'd taken out her eyebrow piercing, and he looks at it instead of her eyes.

"What do you mean, dangerous?"

It's a good question, one he doesn't know the answer to himself, though he feels it fiercely. Getting this close to humans is dangerous. But he can't say why.

"Never mind," he says, getting up. Faster than he'd thought she was capable of, Angel is on her feet, and she moves swiftly between him and the window.

"No, Raph," she says, scowling just like she used to when she was thirteen and still had delusions of being some kind of street warrior. "You can't keep running away."

"M'not running away," he protests reflexively.

"Yes, you are," she says stubbornly, arms crossed over her chest, and it really is as though the months have not happened, because they are right where they had been the last time he'd walked away. Run away. The only difference is that the purple of her bangs has grown out, and nearly an inch of black roots are showing. He thinks it looks weird, but it does nothing to make her any less beautiful.

"M'not," he mutters, looking away, and she hears it for what it is: defeat.

"Raph, look," and she runs her hand through her hair, looking weary. "I can't be what you need me to be. You need someone who's willing to drag you kicking and screaming into a relationship, and I can't do that. I like you. A lot. But I can't. I just… After Marcus…"

Raph remembers Marcus, the jerk. He remembers breaking his jaw, and his fist clenches just thinking about it. She sees the fist, and her shoulders slump.

"I got an essay to write," she says, and sits back down on the couch, looking as tiny as she really is.

"I can't be what you need either," Raph blurts out, quivering. He feels more naked than a mere lack of clothes could ever make him feel. "So there."

Her mouth quirks up in a sad smile, but she doesn't look up from her homework.

"Good night, Raph."

"I'm not running away," he blurts out again, even though that's exactly what he wants to do. But he has never run from danger, and he will not start now. Her pencil wavers at his outburst, but she doesn't look up. "I—" he starts again. "I'm not… I'm not good at— at this kinda stuff." Abruptly he drops his gaze to the floor and grips the pommels of his sais, but he stands his ground. He doesn't know if Angel is even looking at him, but he doesn't care. "But if you wanna try, then… so do I."

He clenches his eyes shut, waiting for her to tell him to get lost, but after a long moment where nothing happens, he opens his eyes and dares to look up at her. It is the bravest thing he's ever done.

She's still sitting on the couch, but she's looking at him, and the expression on her face is one he's never seen before. It looks almost amused.

"Did you just ask me out, Raphael?" she asks teasingly. Heart in his mouth, he meets her eyes and nods sharply; once, twice. She smiles, slowly, and leans back, bringing her arms up to rest on the back of the couch. When he doesn't move, she beckons to him with one hand.

"Aw, get over here, you," she says, and he uses what is left of his pride not to run to her.


Fin