"Are you sure you're okay?" Sean asked in concern as he bent over the bed stroking Jennifer's brow.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm all right," she said with a smile, swatting his hands away halfheartedly.
"Just don't strain yourself today," he began, moving away to fix his shirt buttons. "You're fever is still pretty high."
Sean caught her rolling eyes in the mirror and stopped fussing. He knew she hated feeling helpless and waited on. Nothing grated on her nerves more than people doing things for her she could have otherwise done herself.
"I'm gone," he stated, sweeping in for a quick kiss before trotting off to work.
Once alone Jennifer pulled back the covers and trudged into the kitchen. A lazy glance at the clock told her it was about time to make some lunch. A vibration sounded on the kitchen table and she sighed at the text. It was Josh again, asking how she was feeling and when she might be coming back to work. For the second time since yesterday she texted him back, telling him her fever remained high and showed no signs of dropping anytime soon. His reply made her scoff a bit in insult. Since she'd come down with the fever on New Years after the party, Josh had assumed she'd caught it from kissing someone or sharing a drink. First of all, the only person she'd kissed that night was Sean. And second of all, she stuck to her own liquor and never set down her glass. Jennifer knew exactly where her fever came from.
After Donatello had left, Jennifer's mind had been a jumbled mess. She had been confused, hurt, scared, and even more confused, and the combination of it all had her feeling nauseous. Dragging Sean with her she'd quickly hailed a cab and headed home early, the image of Donatello's lower facial features becoming clearer and clearer. And the more she'd sat in the cab thinking, the more she realized she was going into shock. Sean drunkenly hugged her as she began shivering violently, though he remained ignorant, concluding she was just cold in her skimpy nurse's outfit. Once home Sean was able to make it into the apartment relatively unharmed (only a few bruises from falling) while Jennifer had bolted into the bathroom and locked it. She'd sat quietly on the toilet seat replaying the night, the words and dances she'd shared with Donatello, and when Sean's snores were heard drifting from the bedroom, she'd finally allowed herself to sob.
The next morning Sean had found her laid out on the bathroom floor, sickness in the toilet and forehead hot enough to fry an egg.
Not even bothering to text him back she slowly went about making some soup. It was the only thing she could really keep down right now, even if what she really craved was some chocolate. She was just getting the soup to boil when her phone vibrated again. Jennifer smiled when she saw it was from Julie but it quickly vanished at the message.
"Here's to you and lover boy!"
Beneath it was the picture she'd taken of her and Donatello at the New Years party. Her first instinct was to delete it, get rid of it before she got herself worked up again. But just as that night, Jennifer found herself captivated by his brown eyes. They sparkled nervously from the flash, but she could tell he was smiling underneath his scarf, examining intently the crinkled corners of his eyes. Sighing again Jennifer, instead of deleting or simply ignoring it, saved the picture and haphazardly threw her phone onto the kitchen table. She hadn't realized how long she'd been staring at the picture until she discovered her soup burned.
It was around eight 'o clock that night when she found herself stressed again. As if her fever hitting 102 again hadn't already made things worse, she'd received a text from Donatello, and the image of his...in-humanness plagued her mind once more.
It wasn't anything unusual, but the notion that he still thought she would talk to him after seeing his...face, was completely absurd.
And it was even more absurd that she was going to do just that.
"You're green." she replied simply, as if accusing him. But she wasn't, not really.
"...Yes." he texted back after a full ten minutes in which she filled by changing out her ice pack and wiping her forehead dry.
"Would you believe skin condition?"
She almost smiled.
"Of course not."
She pictured him flinching. Yes, feel guilty. He deserved to suffer just as much as she was right now.
Almost immediately her phone began ringing, and she slowly settled on the living room couch before answering.
She heard his breathing. It was fast and light, like the beating of a hummingbirds wings.
She hated hummingbirds, they were annoying.
Donatello's light tenor drifted through the speaker and caressed her ears. He sounded so nervous, so dorky, like a shy, awkward teenager. Jennifer had never realized how nice it was, and she soon found herself reluctantly relaxing into the cushions.
"Hi Donatello," she finally returned, and she could've swore he sighed in relief.
"I thought I scared you off for a while."
"You did actually," she replied bluntly, and his soft chuckle really did make her smile that time.
"I get that a lot."
There was a lull in the conversation then, and they both sat silently, listening intently for any sign that the other was going to speak. In a soft voice, Jennifer was the first to break it.
"I'm still afraid you know," she nearly whispered, and her eyes teared up slightly. She blamed it on the fear, but they both had a feeling that wasn't really the case. At least not all of it.
"I know," he replied at the same volume. His tone was somber, and it left a sour taste in her mouth. He sounded as if this was something he went through everyday.
"Are you..." she began, almost chickening out but forcing herself to finish the question. "Are you human?"
Her breath hitched as she waited for his reply, and the silence was driving her crazy. The urge to just hang up nearly overtook her before he finally answered.
Technically? She thought incredulously. What the hell did that mean?
"I don't understa-"
"And I don't know if I want you to," he suddenly cut in. His voice was harsh now, pained. Jennifer did not like where this was going, and she felt the longer this conversation went the more shit would hit the fan.
"Well if you won't let me then I'm hanging up now. Don't ever bother me again."
Her words were cool but her anger had risen, and she quickly jammed the 'end' button and threw the phone out of reach onto the carpet. A long moment passed as she simply stared at it. Huffing in annoyance Jennifer left the couch and picked it up. She hadn't wanted to hang up on him, but his refusal to explain what the hell he was made her want to scream. She hated not knowing, hated being ignorant of a situation. It always messed with her plans.
There was suddenly a tapping sound and Jennifer jumped with a squeak. Her head whipped towards the direction it had came from and froze. Someone had been tapping the glass of her fire escape window. Getting a hold of herself she slowly made her way towards it. Just outside on the landing Jennifer's eyes widened at what appeared to be a bowl covered in saran wrap. She stared for a long moment before finally opening her window (with much effort) and retrieving it. As soon as she picked it up she recognized the liquid inside to be soup, but it wasn't until she set it down in the kitchen that she found the note stuck to the bottom.
Get well soon.
P.S: We need to talk, I'll call you again tomorrow.
"Babe, sit down. You're going to make your fever worse."
"I can't sit down Julie! Not when I've got a freaking stalker!"
Julie sat on Jennifer's couch as she watched her friend pace relentlessly around her small living room.
"Well he didn't seem so bad at the party-"
"The creep knows where I live! And I didn't even tell him! Does he still not seem bad to you?"
Julie sighed and went to the kitchen.
"So he made you this?" she asked as she tapped the soup bowl Jennifer had yet to throw out. "At least it's a nice gesture."
"How did he know I was sick?" Jennifer huffed in annoyance as she realized Julie was not absorbing the seriousness of the situation. "I came down with a fever in the middle of the night three days ago and had not contacted him until the night he left this."
Julie shrugged and replaced the saran wrap with a paper towel.
"What are you doing?" Jennifer asked as she watched her friend pop the bowl into the microwave.
"I'm gonna try it."
"Wha-! Are you mental? It could be laced with poison!"
"We'll never find out if we don't try it, huh?" she teased with a wink.
Jennifer sat down slack jawed at her friend's stupidity as the microwave beeped and Julie grabbed a spoon.
"I"m taking you to the hospital as soon as you swallow that," Jennifer warned with malice.
"Well if you weren't planning on eating it why did you refrigerate it?" she shot back with a grin before slurping up the bowl's contents.
Jennifer stiffened as her friend's face contorted in disgust.
"That is the saltiest chicken noodle soup I've ever tasted. God! How much sodium is in the shit?"
Julie's reaction prompted Jennifer to sag in relief.
"Nope, just a cheap brand of soup."
Julie smiled and slurped up some more as Jennifer grabbed her some water.
"So he's coming to see you again?"
"Tonight I guess."
"Ooo, a romantic rendezvous on the fire escape?" she asked which earned a light punch to the shoulder.
"Yeah right, as long as he's okay with cop cars hanging out underneath it."
Julie rolled her eyes and offered Jennifer a spoonful. It was not-so-politely rejected.
"Just keep the window locked," Julie began as she stood to wash the bowl. "And only if he starts trying to break the glass you call 911."
"So what am I suppose to do? Talk to him on the phone while I'm on the couch and him on the fire escape?"
Julie's mouth turned down and eyebrows up in a way that said "pretty much". Jennifer laid her head in her hands and sighed.
"All right!" she finally exclaimed, head still in hands. "I must be going crazy..."
With a squeal Julie grabbed her up in a hug. Jennifer groaned as she began jabbering anew at the fairy tail situation she was in.
More like sci-fi... Jennifer thought before settling down and ignoring Julie.
It was eight o'clock at night when Donatello found himself once again on the fire escape just outside Jennifer's window. Nervously he fiddled with his shell cell as he silently watched Jennifer trudge around the kitchen. At that moment he felt like a total creep, but he'd already taken the risk of letting her know he knew where she lived last night. After the New Years party he was just as equally freaked out as she, possibly even more. But he was at the point of no return now. She'd seen him, his facial features at least, and the excuse that it was just an obscuration of the dark had run its course. Going to her apartment however, as he thought back now, had been kind of a stupid idea. He'd been stressed, and that made him impulsive.
Donatello nearly dropped his shell cell when it vibrated, signaling a call and shocking him out of his thoughts. A brief moment of panic seared through his veins as he thought it was one of his brothers calling to ask where he was. He sagged in relief however when the caller id showed it was Jennifer. Nervous and sweating he answered.
"You're here aren't you?"
Donatello peered into the window and saw that she had his back to him in the kitchen.
She still didn't move.
"Stop," she commanded with a shaky breath. "I'm still trying to absorb this."
He submitted and kept quiet. She was still so scared of this situation, but really, what did he expect? That she would just let him in her life with open arms? Even with April it had taken at least a couple days for her to not jump or scream when they would suddenly appear in her apartment. Mikey even got pegged in the head with a bow dryer once.
"I see you're still wearing that disguise."
Don jumped and whipped his head towards the window. Jennifer was now on her living room couch staring intently at him. He briefly wondered how long she'd been there before answering her.
"I try not to let people see me."
Her eyes narrowed in a glare.
"You could've tried harder."
She was angry at him for ever coming into her sight in the first place, and he accepted her fury. In her mind he had ruined her perfectly stable life by his unnatural presence. This was not the Jennifer who sent him quirky texts and smirked at his awkwardness. This was the Jennifer he had first pinned her to be. Cold, calculating, and close minded. She was denying him access into her life, he could see it in her eyes. If he had been a regular human things would have turned out different. But he was a turtle, a mutant.
Something that had no place in her plans.
"You don't want me here," he stated more than questioned.
She gave him no reply.
"I'll go then. I won't bother you anymore," he began, standing. Then he turned his back to her and looked down into the ally, hope rising in his voice. "But...if you change your mind..."
A beeping sounded from his phone.
She'd hung up.
Jennifer let the phone drop to the floor as she watched him jump from the fire escape. A gasp escaped her lips and before she knew it her legs had driven her to the window. It was dark so she couldn't see anything, yet she still squinted in vain to try and make out any movement. Nothing stirred.
Biting her lip in irritation she paced the living room.
"I'm a bitch," she said out loud, then pinched the bridge of her nose. "And I'm talking to myself."
Scooping up her cell phone once more she dialed Julie's number.
"So how'd it go?" she asked immediately after the first ring.
"I screwed up," was Jennifer's simple summary of the whole encounter. She heard Julie curse on the other line and rolled her eyes.
"Jennifer Elaine Wilkinson! There are very few people who are able to put up with you and you just drove off another potential friend! Now tell what he said before I go ape shit on you!"
Jennifer huffed at the full use of her name but complied.
"He said he was going to leave me alone but-"
"Jennifer why would you-"
"Let me finish!" she yelled before her friend could chew her out even more. "But he also said if I changed my mind-"
"Then you'll call him!"
Julie did a full 180 and was now excited and happy with Jennifer rather than irritated. But Jennifer stayed quiet, and she could feel Julie sensing her resistance.
"Jen babe," she began softly, comforting, almost as if she were right next to her. "Just give this guy a chance. I can tell he's...different, because you act really weird when you talk about him, and I get the feeling I'm not hearing the whole story. But still, you were happy when you told me about his texts. And at the party...girl you never dance! If he can do all this, then he's worth letting him into your life."
Jennifer sniffled and realized she'd teared up a bit at her friends heartfelt speech. She sighed in annoyance however to cover up her smile.
"You always know just what to say to manipulate me don'tcha?"
Julie laughed so hard she snorted.
Donatello cried out as he landed hard on his right shoulder. Leonardo gazed worriedly at his brother as he picked himself up and slid once again into a defensive stance. Michelangelo repeated the move once more, faking a kick to the knee, then to the neck, and finally giving a real spinning back kick to the face. Don blocked it but was not prepared when Mikey suddenly landed on his hands and kicked out like a donkey. Don grunted and fell backwards at the blow to his plasteron.
"Score two for Mikey!" he shouted in triumph before being elbowed in the back of the head by Raph.
"I'm about to knock you down a peg...or twenty."
As they commenced sparring Leo watched Don slowly stand up and trudge out of the dojo. He'd been like that ever since he'd come home the other night. He seemed unfocused, which was unusual behavior for him to say the least. He was always aware of his surroundings, and although he wasn't the best fighter, defense was what he exceeded in. Leo followed too late and was met with the lab door slammed in his face. Don hadn't even noticed he was there, or if he did he made a point by ignoring him. Leo wasn't sure what to do and stood there awkwardly. Don had always been just as mature as he, and Leo could count on him to not need consoling all the time. Over the years Leo had trained himself to be able to deal with Raph's anger and Mikey's whims, but since Donny never really had problems Leo was at a loss as how to go about addressing them. Would he resolve it himself like he always did? Or would he need help this time?
Clenching his fist he prepared to knock, but a muffled sound caused him to burst through the door in alarm.
Donatello sagged into his computer chair in anger. He was above self-pity, but still childish enough to blame others for his problems.
And right now he felt like blaming Jennifer.
He was annoyed how her actions left him an emotional wreck. He'd been rejected by society so many times he would have thought he was over it all by now. But the fact that he'd been so close...!
Leaning forward he put his head in his hands and took in a shaky breath.
She was just like all the others. Cruel, cold, hurtful...and afraid. He wondered if this was how Raphael felt all the time, and at that moment he never understood his brother clearer. The anger burned his soul, fueled his adrenaline, and clouded his mind all at the same time. But he didn't feel like beating the shit out of people like Raph. He felt like crying.
"This is ridiculous," he whispered to himself but couldn't stop his vision from misting. "I'm so pathetic."
A whir sounded and he recognized it as his shell cell receiving a text. He hoped it was April, then he could focus on something else for a change and try to forget Jennifer. Slowly he righted himself and rolled to edge of his computer station where the phone was. The tears hanging at the edge of his eyes finally dropped at the identity of his messenger.
"Jennifer..." he breathed, almost too quiet for even him to hear. He nearly dropped the shell cell trying to open the message.
"I have a feeling I'm going to regret this."
He smiled. That sounded more like the Jennifer he knew. He noticed there was more to the message, and when he scrolled down he choked out a loud laugh that turned into a sob. It was the picture of them at the New Years Eve party, and all he wanted at that moment was to just stare and absorb the happiness it radiated.
But then Leo kicked in the door.
"Don! Are you okay?!"
Without thinking Don chucked the phone into the lab cot and quickly wiped his eyes.
"Geez Leo, ever heard of knocking?"
Leonardo examined his brother's reddened eyes and set his mouth in a rigid line.
"Don, what's wrong?"
Donatello stopped the snapping retort he wanted to give. If he wanted to leave the lair tonight without being followed, he needed to keep his cool.
"I'm just...tired, Leo." Leonardo watched his brother spin his rolling chair towards him. "And...lonely."
At this confession Leo felt like he understood. He shifted from foot to foot, a little uncertain how he could comfort his brother. They had all gone through this, even himself, and he remembered when Splinter had all sat them down one at a time and listened to their frustrations. It wasn't the sexual loneliness, (Leo nearly blushed when he remembered that talk) but just the lack of companionship. Raph had never really gotten over and accepted their isolation, but he'd been sure Don wouldn't have been the one to bring it up more than once. He always acted like his machines and technology were enough, but apparently Leo still didn't fully understand his brother. He felt like an idiot for thinking Don wouldn't have these kinds of problems.
"It's okay Leo," he cut him off.
Standing he gave his brother a tired smile, but something shined in his puffy eyes that surprised the eldest brother. It told him Don was really going to be all right, and somehow in the span of five minutes all the negative emotions he'd been harboring had suddenly been lifted. And when he said he was going out, Leo didn't hesitate to let him go.
Because everything was going to be all right.
Jennifer didn't know the exact moment he arrived, but she knew he was there. It was night time again, Sean was at work, and she was nervous. Not so nervous that she was going to chicken out, but close. Slowly she made her way to the living room and sat on the couch. He was sitting on the fire escape again, leaning against the barred railing and head turned towards her. He held up his hand in a wave and she could clearly see that lack of five fingers.
It was then she noticed he was soaked.
Rain was pouring outside and the fire escape's holey design left little to no protection against the freezing droplets. And yet he still sat there, apparently waiting for her to initiate the conversation. Standing she walked cautiously towards the window. He watched her, or at least she thought he was for the hood he wore only revealed his mouth. When she stopped and stood for a moment he did as well. They stayed that way for awhile and Jennifer inwardly commented again on how short he was. They were the same height.
She still wasn't sure if he couldn't really see, but she made a motion for him to pull back his hood. He complied and she took in the way he squinted as the rain assaulted his eyes. He wore a purple mask that frayed slightly at the edges and whipped fiercely about his head in the wind. All the rest was green, and she took in a breath as she absorbed the strangeness of his features. Her eyes finally traveled down his heavily clothed body and back up to his eyes. She gave him an upwards nod and he slowly began to peel off the layers.
His plasteron was revealed first and she remembered how hard it had been when he'd prevented her from falling. It looked scuffed but smooth, and she wondered briefly what he'd done to have earned the imperfections. Jennifer fought the impulse to turn her gaze elsewhere when he dropped the sweatpants. She knew enough of turtle anatomy to know what to expect from an ordinary turtle, but he was a mutant, a combination of human and turtle DNA. Who knew what would be dangling between those muscular thighs? Relief hit her when she saw nothing (though she was pretty sure if he did have something there in the first place he wouldn't flash her) but her eyes soon widened at his enormous two-toed feet. She would hate to see the bill for his custom made shoes, if he even owned any.
After the last bit of clothing dropped away he held out his arms, almost as if to say "Satisfied?". Jennifer gave him another once over and noticed he was shivering slightly. Freezing January rain would do that to you. She held up a finger for him to stay put and jogged away into her bedroom. She returned with the biggest and fluffiest towel she could find and put it under her arm. With both hands she popped open the rusty lock on the window with a grunt of effort, and Donatello waited patiently as she pulled it open. Once she succeeded she unfolded the towel and offered it to him.
Donatello stared silently at it, then at her, and then to the floor. Rain had begun to blow into her apartment and Jennifer's face screwed up at the chill. His hesitation was beginning to grate on her nerves.
"Are you coming in or not?"
The harsh tone caught him by surprise, but her stormy eyes held a gentleness he'd never seen from her before. It melted away his uncertainty, and with a grin, he finally stepped into the warmth.
A/N: YESH! I have updated! So, what do ya think? Finally glad their interacting? Me too! The whole thing with him sitting on the fire escape and chatting on the phone had originally been planned to span over a couple of days but I figured I'd dragged this whole mess long enough. Some of the scenes were rushed but I figure this chapter isn't that bad. Please review and share your thoughts! :D