Michelangelo hummed softly to himself as he made his way back home through the sewers. He was returning with take out pizza for him and his brothers, his mouth watered hungrily as he shifted the weight of the warm cartons. The delicious smell tempted him to eat the contents there and then, but he restrained himself. He was a ninja with a will of steel.
Of course, one slice wouldn't hurt…
Mike paused as he came to a fork in the path, the restaurant he'd been to was new and the underground route he'd taken was unfamiliar. The sewers felt even colder than usual.
"If we had a real house we could've just ordered it out like normal people," he grumbled to himself as he got his bearings again.
Mike was slightly annoyed that none of his brothers had come along with him. Leo had been too busy practicing a new kata and refused to take a break from it. Don was working on some project. It was always "some project" with Don. Mike shrugged to himself, as long as it was useful, like a flying skateboard or a robot that did chores. Raph was nowhere to be found, though he was most likely out with Casey. Mike thought about eating Raph's share of the food and then making the excuse that he didn't think Raph would be back in time to eat it.
As Mikey sloshed through the sewer water he began to get a strange sensation of being watched. He stopped and looked about him, his ninja instincts kicking in.
"Stupid..." he thought to himself, remembering Splinter's recently repeated lecture about always being alert.
There was a sudden movement in the corner of his eye, Mike spun around.
Whatever it was, it didn't co-operate. Mike balanced the pizza on a couple of pipes and from under his coat he drew out a nunchuck. There was the sound of an intake of breath, then a slim figure suddenly darted out of the shadows and ran back the way Mike had come.
"Hey!" Michelangelo immediately sprinted after it, eventually losing it to the maze of tunnels. Frowning to himself, he returned to the pizzas and made his way back home.
"What kept you?" Donatello stood in the middle of the room, bandana in hand, looking like he was about to gear up. Leonardo stood beside him, he turned at Don's words and frowned across at Mike before unhitching his katana with a heavy sigh.
"Where have you been? We were just about to go looking for you."
Mike put the, now cold, pizzas on the table, feeling irritated.
"There was someone down here. I spent the last forty five minutes chasing them around the sewers."
Raphael smirked, and poked Mike in the plastron. "Ha. You're getting soft."
Mike pushed Raph's hand away but not forcefully enough to ignite his temper.
"Why couldn't you catch them?" Leo demanded. "Who was it?"
"I don't know, I couldn't see them. It's dark down here, y'know."
The others glanced at each other. Mike seemed to be in an uncharacteristically sombre mood. Don tried to cheer him up, and slapped Mike on his shell.
"Thanks for getting the food, bro!"
Mike moved away to sit on the sofa.
The other three sat at the table and ate. They couldn't help but notice how quiet Mike was.
Mike's brow furrowed at the TV as he thought about the chase earlier. He couldn't understand why he hadn't been able to catch the creature. Whenever he'd gotten close, it suddenly flew from his grasp. He'd often lost sight of it, only really knowing it was there because he could feel its presence. Why had it been so difficult?
He knew it wasn't the darkness. He was used to the sewers and he and his brothers had been trained so that the darkness wasn't an obstacle to them.
A few weeks later Mike and Don were out scavenging. Don had heard about an IT company that had moved premises and so he'd convinced Mikey to come along. Donnie hoped there would be some old unwanted hardware left in the building or in the trash, and he needed Mike to help him carry it. Actually, when it came to helpful brothers Leo had been Don's first choice, but Leo had gone out on a run and Don was too impatient to wait for him to return, so instead he was accompanied by Mikey who insisted on repeating the plot and lines from a movie they'd watched (well Don had half watched it - he had better things to do with his time) the previous night.
"Did you see the robot explode?" Mikey exclaimed. Before Don could answer Mike supplied him with a sound effect of a robot blowing up.
"I missed that part," Don muttered. "Shh. Grab that box over there."
Mike retrieved the empty cardboard box as Don rifled through a bin full of discarded circuit boards.
"But it was the best bit!" Mike protested. "Well, apart form the dragon. That was cool." Mike then impersonated a dragon breathing fire. "There's nothing like a robot and a dragon fighting to the death."
"Uh huh." Don answered absently. "I got an idea. You stand watch, look out for the security guard."
"Sure." Mike hung out of the door and left Don to sort through his electronic junk in peace, for a while at least.
Donatello was happy with his haul. He'd found a lot of useful stuff, enough for many more projects to come, he gazed happily into his precious box of wires and circuits as they waded back home through the sewers.
Although his computer based imagination distracted him, Don began to notice that Mike seemed a little uneasy. He hadn't spoken in a long while, which wasn't like Mikey.
Mike nodded, but he was frowning.
"So, that dragon in the movie," Don said, trying to draw his brother into conversation. "Why was it fighting the robot again?"
"Can you smell flowers?" Mike asked abruptly.
"Are you kidding? All I can smell is sewer." Don wrinkled his nose. The part of the sewer they were in smelt particularly bad, which was unusual since he was used to the smell of the sewers. However, this was a part of the sewer they rarely travelled through. "Why? Can you smell flowers?" Don was incredulous.
Mike looked around vaguely as they sloshed through the water. He began to get the odd feeling of being watched again and spun around, glaring into the shadows. Don turned, alert, following Mike's gaze, and he thought he saw a figure move.
"Who's there?" Don said, sharply.
No one answered.
Don stepped forward and a small form flung itself from the darkness, and sprinted away. Don watched it go, following it would have meant dumping his precious computer scrap into sewer water and he wasn't going to do that.
"You wouldn't have caught it, anyway..." Mike said as though reading Don's thoughts. "It's too fast."
Don curled his lip, disbelieving. "Faster than us?"
Mikey nodded. "It's hard to describe, but I doubt even Leo can catch it. C'mon, let's get back. I'm hungry."
"I wonder what it is." Leo rested his chin on his hand. "Do you think it's spying on us?"
Mike shrugged his shoulders. Don shook his head.
"I doubt it, Leo. Mike said that it was in exactly the same place as he saw it last. It isn't anywhere near us. It might even live around there. It's not somewhere we go to very often."
Leo frowned in response. "What if it tried to find us? It definitely saw you?"
"Yeah, in trench coats." Mike answered. "Whether it knows we're giant turtles I'm not sure. I didn't get the chance to ask."
Leo looked from Mike to Don with slight annoyance. They really should be a lot more concerned about the risk of a strange being discovering their home.
"There's no need to be sarcastic. I think we should..."
Raph stood up suddenly, scraping his chair across the floor loudly and making everyone's teeth stand on edge.
"Why are we just sat here?" He scowled. "Why don't we go and find the damn thing."
"Raph… " Leo began in exasperation. Then reluctantly he realised Raph was right. What was the point in discussing it when they didn't even know what they could be facing?
"Do not engage it." Splinter called after them. "Simply observe. And if you have time, pick up some strong cheddar."
"There's no one here." Leo shook his head. "There's no sign anyone has even been here."
Don glanced around. "I never liked this part of the sewers. It's always too cold. And it stinks." He gave a little shudder.
Raph repressed a shudder of his own. "The whole sewer stinks. Let's go." He was bored and annoyed. He'd been hoping for some action at least, he was very disappointed that it wasn't a stray member of the Foot Clan or something.
The turtles turned and headed for home, Mike paused and looked back, puzzled. Whatever the creature was, it wasn't there now. He no longer had the feeling of being watched. They reached a junction in the sewers and began to follow their path home when Mike suddenly grabbed Leo's arm. "Look!"
Mike and his brothers gazed down the tunnel. A small figure stood looking up at the ceiling. As they watched, it jumped up with its arm raised as though trying to reach something. Then it stepped back and craned it's neck to look up at the ceiling again.
It was a human girl, she didn't look much older than fourteen. She was petite and skinny with long straight dirty blonde hair and bangs that fluffed out to the side. She wore a pair of filthy jeans and an old shabby and stained t-shirt.
The brothers watched as she climbed the corroded metal rungs in the wall and pushed at the roof of the tunnel. Leo remembered there was a manhole cover somewhere nearby and that must be what she was pushing at. She was trying to get out.