Raph rolled over in his hammock when he heard someone pounding on his door. Falling back asleep didn't work so well when the pounding continued. Groping around below him, his hand landed on his night stand and one of his sai. Without looking, he chucked it at his door, the tip stabbing into the old wooden barrier.
The door flew open. "Good you're awake." Antonello stormed in and glared down at the turtle still trying to sleep. He poked him in the forehead. "We need to talk."
Ant grabbed the side of the hammock and turned it over flipping Raph to a tangled heap on the floor. Still half asleep, the groggy turtle flailed and sat up as he lashed out with his fists. "What the hell Ant?" He rubbed at his face as he looked up.
Squatting down in front of his apathetic older brother, Antonello glared at him. "Listen up Raphael, I don't know what the hell happened between you two but you need to fix it. And I mean today!"
Raph shoved him away. "What are you talking about?" He got to his feet.
"Oh don't pull that shit with me." Ant followed him as he staggered to his night stand. "Ever since she got her job two weeks ago, you know, the day after we killed that guy, things haven't been the same! Instead of coming to you, Jackie comes in my room every night… she cries herself to sleep most of the time! What the fuck happened?!"
"None of your damned business!" Raph shoved him away as he picked up his mask, searching for something. Didn't find it. He stumbled a bit further and found the liquor bottle on the floor. Empty. "Shit." He tossed it aside.
Ant grabbed the bottle. "Are you fucking kidding me? She's in my room crying over you and you are in here getting drunk?! What the hell happened to training us, and defending her?"
Raph hung his head and couldn't look at the younger turtle. He had dropped into a tailspin after he told Jack he loved her. She didn't say anything back. Not a single word. She just got up and walked out. They hadn't spoken since, hell, she walked out of the room every time he walked in.
"What am I supposed to say to her?" He asked quietly. "She won't even look at me."
Ant groaned as he ran his hand over his face. "I don't know… but think of something. I can't deal with her crying. The house is getting depressing again. No one is training anymore…. The look on her face all the time… I can't stand it." He sighed and stood. "She'll be at work for another few hours so, you have a little bit to sober up and think of something to say." He patted Raphs' shoulder and then left.
Out in the living room Michelangelo was sitting on the floor trying to figure out how to hook up the new television they had acquired. He looked up when he heard the door shut. "So… What'd Raph say?"
Ant shook his head. "Idiot's still half drunk, wouldn't really tell me what happened between them." Falling into the sofa he sighed again. "I don't know if he'll talk to her or not."
Jacquelyn brought over a carrier with four cups of coffee sitting securely in it. Setting it on the counter she smiled at the young man waiting. "Here you go! Sorry about the wait."
The man smiled and took his drinks before leaving.
Smile fading from her face, Jack leaned on the counter and stared around the empty café. There were only two customers in, but they were already served, now off at their own small tables doing whatever it was they wanted. It was a pretty boring Saturday. Just what Jack didn't want. Her mind kept going back to the one person she didn't want it to.
"Hey, are you okay?"
Looking over her shoulder Jack shrugged at her new coworker. "Eh, I guess."
The red head brushed a curl out of her face and came up to lean against the counter beside her. "Oh yeah? Then why have you been sighing all day?" She paused. "Make that every day for the past two weeks." Her pale brown eyes looked intently at Jack's. "Look I know you don't know me very well, but I'm here to talk to if you want."
"Thanks Arionna." Jack gave her a small smile. "But it's a long story."
She ignored her book under the counter for once. "Well I'm done cleaning all the dishes in the back, so we have time." She had this eager look in her eyes. "It's a guy isn't it?"
"What?" Her eyes got wide, heat turning her cheeks red.
"Well, the only reason a woman is ever so distracted this long is when it's about a guy….or so I've read." She started to twirl a curl around her finger subconsciously. "So who is the guy?"
Jack shifted her weight to another foot. "His name is Raphael."
"Okay, so tell me about him."
"Well I live with him and his four brothers." She said a bit quietly.
Arionna straightened. "Wait… you live with him?... Them?"
"Oh my gawd this already sounds like something I've read…" Her own face turned red. "Sorry, I don't mean that in a bad way… you just don't hear that often."
Jack nodded. "I know. They took me in when I was in a bit of a rough spot. I just never left, I became part of the family."
The other woman nodded. "Okay, so if you are part of the family, what happened with Raphael that you are sighing so dramatically then?"
Jack wrinkled her nose at the other girl a moment before she ran a hand through her hair. "He told me that he loved me. And not in the way that a brother would love a sister."
"So? How do you feel about him?"
"I…" avoiding looking at Arionna, Jack didn't know what to say.
"It's not that hard of a question." Arionna frowned. "If you like him you do, if you don't you don't. He's not here and I have no preference so… you don't need to be scared of telling me anything."
"So uncomplicate it for me."
Jack crossed her arms. "I just… I have never had luck with guys. And I mean, I have had some pretty shitty luck." She looked at her as if telling her not to ask details on that issue. "So I've always had a hard time trusting those things. Raph is different, in more ways than you know, and I want to be close to him but… I'm scared."
"So you do love him."
Jacquelyn's face turned a bright red as the Arionna stared at her.
Arionna grinned. "So what was so wrong when he told you? Did you just get scared?"
She shook her head. "No… well yes, but not because of that… it was because he said something else. He did something stupid, said he did it for me, but it was incredibly dumb." Hanging her head Jack took a deep breath.
The door chimed and both girls whirled around to face the approaching customer. Jack plastered a smile on her face as she looked up at the man. "Hi, how can I help you?"
The man wasn't their normal clientele. He had a tattered jacket on, and long hair tied back in a ponytail. Scars flecked his face as well as his clothing. He scratched his neck and revealed the edge of some purple tattoo. "Just a black coffee…" He peered down at her name tag. "Jacquelyn."
There was something eerie in his yellow toothed grin. "Y-yes sir." She stuttered before giving him the total and taking his money while Arionna fetched his drink.
"You haven't worked here long, have you?" The man asked.
Jack shook her head as his cup was set down. Handing it over to him she spoke. "No, just a few weeks."
"That's what I thought." He grinned. "Thanks for the coffee."
He took his cup and left.
"That was awkward." Arionna frowned.
"Tell me about it."
"Hey Arionna! I'm taking the trash out while you lock up!" Jack called up to the front of the café while she tied the big black bag shut. The rest of the day hadn't been all that exciting; her coworker was still asking for more details on her situation with Raph, but besides that nothing interesting had happened.
Jack dragged the bag out the back door of the café and towards the dumpster on the other side of the ally. It was late, dark, the only light was a dim street light a few yards away. "Perfect." Opening the putrid smelling dumpster she hefted the bag into it and let the lid slam shut.
Something scurried behind her.
"Arionna?" She turned around, her back against the cold greasy metal. "Arionna was that you?" Her hands went to her pockets. In them she felt the small cell phone Donatello had given her and the tiny weapons she had learned to use, but hadn't practiced with in weeks. Her fingers closed around the small rods as she started to walk back toward the café.
Something clanged against the dumpster.
She spun around, this time her weapon in hand and her body already in a defensive posture. Jack said nothing as she tried to spy who was hiding in the dark. Her fingers flexed around her weapons as she tried to listen for movement.
Something whirred through the air but Jack hit the pavement. The kunai thunked into the bricks behind her. She jumped to her feet and looked in the direction it had come from. Whoever it was, wasn't trying to hide anymore. Jack was glaring as she looked at the tall figure moving in the shadows. It wasn't until she saw a large bushy tail flick out from behind the figure that her heart rate really picked up.
"W-who are you?" She couldn't keep herself from stuttering as she squinted to try and see.
Another sound behind her.
Jack's hands lashed out, her shobo jabbing at the man's arm, aiming for the pressure points she had memorized. It was some gang member, she had no idea why this man was attacking her. He screamed when one of her hits sent his arm limp. Another came out, it was the man from earlier. While the first one grabbed her neck, the other tried to grab her legs. Jack lashed out. Kicking and still trying to attack with her hands. But the second man tackled both of them and knocked them to the ground. Jack tried to scramble away after kicking one in the gut.
She didn't get far.
The one in the shadows jumped out and landed on her chest, sword at her throat. A white fox face stared down at her, a purple splash across her eyes. A clawed hand reached down and grabbed Jack's face. "Who we are is none of your concern." The fox mutant hissed. Then her elbow connected with Jack's temple and the woman went limp. "Pick her up. Quickly."
The two men picked up the unconscious woman and followed the fox as she slinked back into the shadows.
"Hey Jack are you done?" Arionna poked her head out the back door. "Jack?" She blinked a few times before stepping out back. "That's odd I could have sworn…"Her eyes fell to the odd little trinket sitting on the pavement. Walking over to it she picked it up and looked it over. It was a small metal and plastic thing about the size of a cell phone. Flipping it open it had a few buttons on the inside, none were numbers, but rather, colors. Blue, red, purple, orange, pink, yellow, and three grey buttons. She looked around the alley some more. "Jack! Hey are you out here?" She frowned, something didn't feel right. Jack never left without saying good bye and making sure everything was locked up.
Heading back inside Arionna shut the back door after she entered and locked it, but stood there in case she heard Jack come back. She stared down at the odd phone in her hand and decided to press a button.
It had an odd buzz for a few moments until someone finally answered.
"Jack? Jack what is it?"
"Um no… This isn't Jack." Arionna said a bit concerned.
There was silence for a moment. "Why do you have her cell? Where is she?"
"That's just it, I don't know. She was taking out the trash and then she was gone. I found this phone thing in the alley behind the café."
A sigh. "Hang on. Do not hang up the phone, do you hear me?"
There was shuffling as the male on the other end moved around. "Mikey, go wake Raph up… We have a problem. Get Ant and Leo too, it's not good." Another sigh. "You um, you work with Jack?"
"Y-yeah, my name is Arionna. We were closing up just getting ready to leave… is Jack in some kind of trouble?"
There was hesitation. "No. Don't worry about her."
"Well should I wait for you guys? Maybe I can help look for her?"
"No." He said it faster than he should have. "I mean, there is no need. I'm sure she is fine. Thank you for the call but we have got it from here."
"Donnie hurry up!" A voice shouted in the back ground.
"That's my cue. Bye Arionna."
Arionna stared down at the phone for a long moment before looking out the back door. She closed her hands around the phone and went through the café turning off all the lights except one. She hated the dark, but she didn't want anyone to know she was still there. Vowing to see who it was that would come to Jack's rescue, Arionna hunkered down near the back door and waited. Maybe seeing who she lived with would tell her more about the girl that kept her life so private.
"What do you mean Jack is missing?" Raph demanded. His head was pounding and he still had this nagging urge to puke but he could ignore it.
"That's what the girl said. Jack wasn't there, her phone was just lying in the alley. It makes me think something bad happened to her." Donnie explained as he rewrapped the center of his staff.
He glared and shoved his sai into his belt. "We need to go find her."
"That is what we are going to do Raphael." Leo snapped. "Now let's move."
The brother's picked up their gear and headed out. Slinking up from the sewers, they kept to the shadows as they made their way to the café Jack worked at. Raphael was the first one there. He dropped down from a fire escape to the alley floor. He picked up a shobo and clenched it in his fist before he turned around and looked at the other turtles that were dropping down around him.
"What'd you find?" Ant asked.
"Her weapons." He held his hand out and showed the others.
Mikey whistled and called them over to the wall. "Guys… look at this." He yanked the kunai out of the wall. "Something went down here. Something not good."
Donnie was poking around the dumpster, looking for some kind of clue, Leo was at the other end of the alley, Mikey and Ant were looking at the throwing knife. Raph punched the wall in frustration.
There was a small gasp from the building. The turtles all froze, then vanished into the dark. But only for a second. The back door to the Café was wrenched open by the turtles, weapons drawn, to reveal the red headed woman sitting there clutching her book and Jack's phone tight.
"Oh shit." Raph mumbled as he relaxed and walked away. It was not his turn to deal with some new onlooker.
Mikey and Ant backed away leaving Leo and Donnie there before the awestruck girl. Donatello hunched down before her as he set his staff down. "Hey." He said softly. "You must be Arionna."
Slowly, very slowly, the woman nodded, her dark curls bouncing slightly.
"Listen, you don't have to be afraid of us, we aren't going to hurt you." He smiled softly. "My name is Donnie. We talked on the phone."
"Y-yeah, I know your voice." She said in a whisper.
"Donnie we don't have time for this!" Raph growled from a few feet away. "I need to go find her!"
"Shut up Raph!" Donnie hissed through gritted teeth. "I have a different issue at the moment." But before he could say something else, the woman did.
"Jack… she lives with you guys?" Her eyes flicked from Donnie to Leo and then to Raph. "Giant turtles?"
Donnie nodded. "Yes, but it's a secret okay? You can't tell anyone about us…"
She nodded mechanically.
Reaching over Donnie carefully wrapped his hand around hers and took the phone from her. "I need this back however."
"Come on Don, we have wasted enough time." Leo said. "I found something."
Getting to his feet Donatello paused and looked back down at Arionna. "That's a good book. Chapter 27 was my favorite." Then he turned and went to his brothers. "What did you find Leo?" He asked.
Leo opened his hand. In his palm sat a small tuft of white fur.
"Alopex." Raph growled. "That bitch." He took off running, jumping back up onto the fire escapes to launch himself into the darkness. His brother's started to follow.
The one wearing purple hesitated before he turned around. Jack's coworker was tentatively stepping out into the ally. He looked at her for a moment before turning back around, hoping he was right and that she wouldn't say anything.
"A man came here earlier." She spoke.
Now Donatello really stopped. He walked over to her, but kept a comfortable distance when he saw her still holding the novel uncomfortably tight. "Yes? What kind of man?"
"He uh… he didn't really look like out normal customers. Kind of grungy and maybe like a gang member?" She was fidgeting. "He had long hair and a tattoo on his neck, it was purple. I only saw it for a second though, so I don't know what it was… He just paid a little too much attention to Jack."
Donnie nodded. "Thank you, that is helpful." Then he turned and ran to catch up with his brothers. He had to sprint to catch up, but he caught them in short time. "Leo," he said in a hushed voice. "I think Alopex is working with the purple dragons. Arionna said a man came in earlier with a purple tattoo."
"Shit." Leo stopped and peered over the edge of the building top they were on.
Raph glared at them. "Why are we stopping?" He demanded.
Leonardo turned to face his bulky brother. "Because we need to come up with a plan. Not charge in there halfcocked to get our asses handed to us."
"Every moment we waste out here is another moment that she is with them. God knows what they are doing to her!" Images flashed in his head of a time many months ago when the woman had confided in him. Dark secrets. He didn't want her to face that again. "I promised her I wouldn't let anything happen to her."
"Good luck keeping that." Leo mumbled.
Raph punched the nearest thing which happened to be an air conditioning unit. The metal crunched under the pressure and the machine started to whine.
"Nice." Mikey said sarcastically.
"So, what's the plan?" Ant asked, spinning his axe in his hand.