Karai leaned against the brickwork of the alley entrance, watching the fight with interest. April's folded tessen slammed into the Foot soldier's face, she grabbed the poor sap's arm, and there was a circular motion and a mighty clang as head contacted Dumpster.

Then the soldier was on the ground, and April stood over him with clenched fists, panting. She reared back to kick him in the ribs, thought better of it, and turned aside in disgust.

"What do you want?" she spat when she noticed her audience.

Karai held up her hands. "He wasn't under orders. Must have seen an opportunity and taken it." She gestured down at herself. "Street clothes, see?"

A glance took in the spiked leather jacket made supple by years of stinging cinders, the jeans and harness boots. "That doesn't prove anything."

There was something ugly simmering in April's blue eyes. Karai was intrigued. She stepped closer. "Your turtle friends aren't around? Don't they usually play bodygu-"

"They aren't my friends!" April shouted, snapping the iron fan open. Karai raised her eyebrows. That had gotten a reaction.

It took a scant few steps for the two to come together. April's first slash was easily deflected by the steel strips concealed in Karai's left sleeve, but the Foot kunoichi was startled. April was apparently attacking with murderous intent.

"Christ, princess, what's your problem?" she said as she blocked another attack and snapped a kick into her foe's midsection.

April grunted and fell back a step, her lips tight. She wasn't fighting at her best, and she slumped back against the Dumpster. Her hands were shaking, so she squeezed them into fists and looked up hopelessly at Karai.

"I'm... I'm not in the mood for this right now, H... Karai. Things aren't good."

Her eyes welled with tears that she wiped away angrily, almost cutting herself with the still extended tessen.

Karai gestured towards the alley mouth. "Bike's around the corner. Want to go for a ride?"

April seemed to sag. "Yeah. Sure."

She slid into the seat behind Karai, wrapping her arms around her with no apparent misgivings.


Karai grinned to herself as she roared down the road. April's arms squeezed her tighter as she took a corner, and she couldn't help but feel a bit grateful to the turtles for... well, whatever it was that they'd done to piss the redhead off. She'd been wanting a chance to talk with her.

She rolled to a stop in front of Murakami's noodle shop. "Hey, princess, we're here."

April climbed down reluctantly. "I'm not sure..."

"Don't worry. They're not here, and you should eat. You just had a fight, right? You deserve a snack. Anyways, it's almost seven. You need food."

She knelt down and punched in buttons on the ordering machine. April didn't protest when she ordered for both of them.

"Hi, Murakami-san," April said dispiritedly as she assumed her stool.

Karai set her tokens down, and Murakami scooped them up, tracing the designs with his thumb.

"April-chan, are you sure this is...?" His voice trailed off, his forehead furrowing.

"It's fine, Murakami-san," she replied. "Anything is fine."

He shrugged and turned away.

"I'd like a Sapporo," Karai broke in.

Murakami turned and raised an eyebrow. "How old are you?"

April looked up. "Please?"

The old man sighed, hearing the unhappiness in her voice. He couldn't refuse her. "Very well."

Two steaming bowls and a gleaming silver can of beer stood in front of the two. Karai pushed April's spoon into her hand. "This seemed appropriate."

April stirred her soup and took a sip. "Turtle soup?" she said colorlessly. "Okay."

"Want to tell me about it?"

It all came pouring out. April told Karai everything – her dad's trauma, the scout ship, the mutation. She spoke between huge gulps of soup, stabbing her spoon into the broth like she was gutting a turtle.

"So, what happened in the ship?"

"Who fucking cares," April growled. "They've been trying to reach me. Mikey has, anyways."

Her face softened a bit. "Poor Mikey..."

They talked on and on. Karai told April about her life in Japan, her father, about the Foot clan – nothing strategically important, just talk. The kunoichi part of her brain screamed that this was the perfect opportunity to get information without giving, but she felt... wrong. There was something soft in her about this little redhead.

Maybe it was just their shared loss. Neither of them was willing to discuss their mothers, not yet.

So they talked about other things. School and music and weather, and then they'd finished eating and Karai helped April up a fire escape to watch the sunset from the roof. They shared another beer, passing it back and forth as the sky glowed, darkened, and the stars came out.

April had cried twice, and now her head was leaning against Karai's shoulder, the spiked jacket covering their laps. Karai drained the beer and set the can quietly aside. She looked down at April as she snuggled closer.

"What makes you so special?" she murmured, almost silently. Her breath moved a few strands of April's red hair.

Leo's tall brother wanted April terribly. And from a hundred things in their conversation, she knew that April liked him, maybe a lot; maybe as more than a brother. Why else the special bitterness in her voice when she said his name?

There was a griping, aching feeling in the pit of Karai's stomach, and she didn't know why. She stood, pulling a half-drunk April with her. "Come on, Princess. Let's get you home."