SUMMARY: AU. What if Splinter hadn't been the only lonely soul wandering the sewers that day? After a teenage runaway with a love of animals and some street fighting skill gets caught up in the world of mutants, she finds herself becoming a mother figure for the boys. After all, how much trouble can four ninja turtles cause?

RATING: T.

DISCLAIMER: IF I OWNED TMNT, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A LOT MORE FOCUS ON THE SIBLING BONDS.

A/N: I'm not sure what exactly prompted this, but I think it was my two-o'clock-in-the-morning musing on how the 2003 series would have been different if the Turtles had someone to be a mother figure in addition to Splinter. At the same time, my brain also wanted to make it so that the Turtles could have someone to teach them a third language, since they obviously know English and probably Japanese too due to Splinter. Thus, Engracia was born. Oh, and translations of the Spanish will be at the bottom.

-TMNT-TMNT-TMNT-

The girl knelt next to the manhole cover, her eyes sweeping the surroundings before lifting it and climbing onto the ladder that lead down into the sewers. Replacing the manhole cover while on the ladder was a bit tricky, but a few MMA classes taken before she had run away had proven that she was naturally agile, even if her endurance had been somewhat lacking.

She fiddled with the the zipper on her black hoodie once she was down in the sewers, one hand almost constantly brushing aside her long and tangled black curls. Dark green eyes absorbed everything they could with the limited amount of light available.

The sound of something shattering followed by a quiet clinking caused her to freeze before peeking around the corner. What she say amazed her. A rat that looked like it had once been someone's pet had righted a coffee can and was proceeding to place four baby turtles inside. When she saw that the turtles had been covered in some kind of glowing green slime, she couldn't help but react and hurried over to where three of them still stood, gently scooping them up with a heart-broken look. "¡Oh, pobre bebés!"

The rat was startled and seemed to have half a mind to flee, but for some reason seemed transfixed by the baby turtles. The girl smiled sadly at the rat as she carefully used a bandana she had had tucked away in one of her pockets to clean the turtles off with one hand, reaching out towards the rat with the other. "Shh, it's ok, Señor. I just want to help. Estoy ayundando, ¿de acuerdo?"

The rat must have understood, because it relaxed and took a few steps towards her, although it kept its eyes locked on the turtles, and not in a way that made her think the rat was looking for a snack. "Cute tortuguitas, aren't they, Señor?" She lifted her hand and gently lifted the fourth turtle from the can, causing the rat to stiffen again. "They're safe with me, Señor. Lo prometo."

The rat just looked up at her before stepping closer, its gaze going back to the turtles. It still seemed to shy away from her, though. "Que está bien, Señor. You can come up here to see them if you want." She patted her knee. "Viene."

The rat glanced up at her again before leaping onto her knee, his gaze locked on the little turtles. The girl just smiled. "See, Señor, they're perfectly alright. You can trust me. After all, before I ran away from home due to my padre being a drunk and my madre not carrying about anything other than herself, the name 'Engracia Morales' had come to mean that if someone had a problem with their pet, they would come to me."

The rat looked up at her again, and then glanced at the open grate through which the turtles had fallen. Engracia did the same, and noticed that it seemed to be beginning to get dark out. "Guess I had better find somewhere to sleep, eh, Señor? After all, I'll have to go back up for food tomorrow morning."

The rat looked at her with an expression that Engracia somehow knew was pity before he leapt off her knee and started down the sewer tunnel, pausing when she didn't immediately follow.

"You have a place I can stay?" Engracia asked, surprised. "Gracias, Señor!" Carefully cradling the four turtles in her arms, she jogged after the rat. They had gone down a few tunnels when a dizzy spell struck. Engracia paused, leaning against the wall. The rat was quick to return to her feet, gazing up in what she could only describe as worry. "I'm alright, Señor. Just need to remember to actually get something to eat tomorrow."

Belatedly, she noticed that the ooze had covered her hands when she had scooped the turtles up off the sewer floor, and as much, it had gotten on her jacket. "Oh, that's probably not going to want to come off, is it, Señor?" With a sigh, Engracia pushed away from the wall, following the rat again at a slower pace than before.

When the rat stopped, Engracia took a look around. Noticing a manhole on just the other side of the sewer, she placed the turtles in the rat's burrow; feeling assured that he would protect them. "Keep an eye on the tortuguitas, would you, Señor? I'm going to go see where that manhole comes out." Moving fast so that she didn't spend a prolonged amount of time in the sewer waters themselves, Engracia looked back to the rat's burrow before climbing up the ladder.

She was in luck for once. The manhole came out next to a small grocery store in the poorer part of town, so even with the state of her clothes, she wouldn't stick out. And she still had several dollars left from the old wallet she had found dumpster diving.

Pushing open the door, Engracia bought a small loaf of bread, a small amount of raw fish, and a bag of salad. And after considering it, she also grabbed a bottle of Gatorade for herself and two bottles of water for the turtles and the rat. After paying for everything, she only had one or two bucks left, but what she had gotten would be enough for a few days, or at least she hoped so.

After glancing around to make sure nobody was around, Engracia pulled the manhole cover up again. Closing it was even harder this time due to the two bags she carried, but she managed. Quickly scampering down the ladder, she hurried back across to the rat's burrow. "Señor, I'm back. I brought some food and water, too." Grateful that she had also thought to grab a package of wipes, Engracia tore some of the fish into small pieces and placed it in front of the baby turtles. "Sorry, pequeñitos, but this was the best I could do."

The turtles don't seem to really care that the fish wasn't perfect, and Engracia watched with a smile as they gobbled down the food, noting that they all seem to have developed personalities. The biggest of them was also the most aggressive, but it was the second smallest that ate his portion of the fish the fastest. The smallest ate slowly, and the second biggest just ignored the second smallest and the biggest as they squabbled over a piece of the fish.

With a small giggle, Engracia tore up some more fish before wiping her hands on a wipe and opened the bag of bread. Tearing the end slice in half, she gave one piece to the rat and popped the other half into her mouth.

After a swig of the Gatorade and making sure each of the turtle had had a drink of water and a quick rub down, she filled a small steel dish she had found with some water for the rat and curled up on the floor under the rat's nest. As she waits for sleep to come, a soft thud on her stomach caused her to raise her head and see that the smallest of the turtles had fallen from the burrow and seems perfectly content to on her arm curled up against her side.

With a smile, Engracia cradled the the turtle so that he wouldn't get squashed if she rolled over, and then she let herself drift to sleep with absolutely no idea how different her life would become in the morning.

-TMNT-TMNT-TMNT-

E/N: Hopefully Engracia doesn't seem Mary Sue-ish to any of you, the readers. I promise that there will be less focus on her in the future; the plan kinda is to rewrite the series as I think it would have gone if the turtles had a mother with the main point of view coming from said mother.

Spanish translations:

¡Oh, pobre bebés! - Oh, poor babies!
Señor- Mister
Estoy ayundando, ¿de acuerdo? - I'm helping, alright?
Tortuguitas- Little turtles
Lo prometo- I promise
Que está bien- It's okay
Viene- Come (formal you form)
Gracias- Thank you
Pequeñitos- Little ones