Mike kept absolutely still. With his ninjutsu training, it wasn't that hard. But Allie's head resting against his shoulder while she dozed made him nervous. This girl was unlike any he had ever met before, considering that he had only known two. The train lurched and Allie sat up with a start. She turned accusingly to the Turtle. "Why did you let me fall asleep?"
He shrugged, "You looked like you needed it, okay? Sue me for having some feelings."
Allie sighed. She was acting horrible and he hadn't done anything but offer his help. "I'm sorry. Thank you." Mike recoiled in sarcastic shock. "Yes, I do know how to say it." She looked down at the floor worriedly, turning her back to Mike. "It's just," she stopped herself from finishing the sentence. It was easier to stay aloof, to push away help. And she wasn't about to explain herself to anyone.
"Hey, we got away--enjoy it while it lasts." Mike gulped and put his hands on her shoulders and started massaging them. She was tense, too tense. "Relax, I haven't see you even try."
She pulled away from his hands. They made her feel too trusting, too dependent. "I don't relax."
"You ought to try it. But you do have to let your guard down to even start."
"What is that supposed to mean?" She yanked around to face him.
"You act half-way decent to Dan, why is that?"
"Dan and I have been friends for a long time," Allie narrowed her eyes, suspiciously cautious.
Mike leaned back in the seat. "You might have a lot more old buddies if you were nicer to people. And reptiles."
"Look! Where do you get off giving me this friendly advice? In my opinion, the fewer people you know that can stab you in the back the better."
"Sooorry, didn't mean to offend." He slouched his fedora over his eyes. "It's just that I've done nothing but risk my shell for you and you still wanna bite my head off. Can we call a cease fire or something?"
"Why do you want to help me? Isn't there some old lady that needs to get across a street?"
"I'm not into old ladies. And besides, we're getting blamed for your brother's murder. For once, I would like to see the true bad guys get what's coming to them. If I help deliver it, some much better. And I wanna figure you out."
"I mean, you can't stand people being nice to you. It throws you a wipeout. It's like, you can't be nice to yourself so it drives bananas if someone else can." Mike leaned back thoughtfully and shut his eyes.
He was getting too close. I should have lost him hours ago. Allie turned toward him, her manner icy. "Don't you think the psychiatrist act is getting old?" She turned away again.
"What happened to you that made you so self-destructive?"
"If I wanna know what all my problems are, I'll take up Ms. Pat's offer on seeing a shrink." She gazed at Mike's closed eyes and looked away. "But it doesn't look like you care, just like everyone else."
Mike kept his eyes shut. "I might care more than you think."
Allie shifted away with a sharp intake of breath. He cared, regardless of everything else he had said, he cared. And that's why he was helping her. Who had truly cared for her? Zack? Dan? Those were the only ones she could think of. No, that wasn't true. There was Skulls and the Black Bones gang; Caine; and there had been Billy, who hadn't understood her but he had cared. And now this Turtle. Why did knowing that excite her? There wasn't anything different about this Turtle from any other guys except the obvious. Or was there? A shadow fell across her. "Excuse me, could you step...." She looked up at the punk holding a pistol in her face.
He grinned, "Hey Baby, wanna ride?"
Mike wrapped his nunchuku around the punk's wrist. With a pull on it, the punk dropped his gun. Allie scooped it up. "I don't think she does, do you?" The Turtle turned to Allie.
"Not anymore," she answered.
"You'll never get off this train alive," the punk snarled. "My buddies are all around, just waiting for their chance."
Allie poked the gun in his stomach. "What's the next stop?"
"Fifty-eighth street," the punk gulped.
"It's time to leave." The train pulled to a stop and Mike pushed the punk away as he and Allie jumped off the train. Mike stared at the unfamiliar neighborhood but Allie seemed to know where they were. "Come on, I know where we can hide." She led him through a dizzying run of streets and alleys until they finally stopped at a dingy-looking building holding a neon sign that labeled it Nickey's Blues. Allie took a deep breath. "People in here have info on anything in the city. We can find out about this Shredder guy from them."
She started to walk up the steps but Mike grabbed her arm. "Wait a minute. Can we trust these people?"
"Of course not!"
He shrugged, "I suppose you're the wrong person to ask; you don't trust anyone."
"I trust you, Mike," she told him softly and walked into the bar.
"But I'm a Turtle! I don't stab someone in the back!" He shook his head and followed her inside.
He met Allie in the doorway of the dimly lit bar. A small group surrounded the pool tables. An even smaller group congregated around the bar counter and tables. Allie led him to a table where a young, brown- haired man enjoyed his beer. She sat and motioned for Mike to sit beside her. He did, deciding that she knew more about the correct etiquette in here. "Hey Woody, what's up?"
He set down his beer bottle. "Why don't tell me, Allie Cat? Who have you pissed off now? And who's your bud?"
She jabbed her thumb at Mike. "This is Mike, he's okay. Now what do you know about a guy who calls himself the Shredder?"
"Info ain't cheap."
"You owe me. Remember the skirmish in the Bronx?"
"I remember," Woody answered. He pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket. "I figured I'd see you before this night was over." He handed it to her and stood up. "I ain't seen ya."
"Right." Woody walked away. Allie turned to Mike. "He's the best in the business. This address is legit. Let me guess, you're coming?"
"How did you know that?"
Allie scooted her chair back. "I'm going to get rid of this gun. Do what you want."
He spied a pay phone. "Thanks, but don't think you'll sneak out on me."
Donnie answered the phone in the Lair. "Hello?"
"Hey Donnie, it's me!"
He clapped a hand over the mouthpiece. "Hey guys! It's Mikey!" Leo, Raph, and Zack ran to him. "So what's been happening?"
"We have an address on this new Shredder and we're at Nickey's Blues Bar right now. Allie wants to go after this guy."
"Dan told us," Donnie answered. "But this Shredder is behind the Hi-Tech Robberies too."
"I don't think that's going to matter any to Allie."
Donnie turned to the others. "They got an address on the Shredder and they're at a bar right now."
"Tell him to stay there," Leo told Donnie.
"Is my sister okay?" Zack demanded.
"Have they kicked any butt yet?" Raph wanted to know.
"Have they been hurt?" Splinter asked concerned as he managed to reach the group.
"Are you guys okay?" Donnie asked Mikey.
"Physically, yes. Mentally, I'm a bit worried."
"Tell him to stay put," Leo insisted.
"Um, Mikey. Is there any way you could hold off the attack until we get there to help?"
Mike sighed as he watched Allie. She moved from table to table, talking to a few people and greeting others. "I'll try to stall, bro. But it ain't gonna be easy."
"You're the one who wanted to follow her. It's your fault if it ain't easy."
Donnie probably saw himself as doing him a favor, but Mike was tired of those favors. "Go ahead and lecture me. Poor, stupid Mikey can't do anything right. Well, you're not the one who has just spent several hours building a relationship that'll keep her from killing you! And I'm not abandoning her. If she wants to take down the Shredder, I'll be right there with her!"
Donnie held the receiver away from his ear as Mikey slammed the phone down. "When did Mikey get sensitive? We better hurry. Nickey's Blues Bar."
"I wanna go," Zack started after them.
"No," Splinter ordered. "Zack, you must stay here. It is not safe for you
yet." Zack looked down, dejected, and the Turtles scrambled up the ladder.
Allie handed the bartender the gun. "Get rid of it." The bartender nodded as he set the gun down under the counter.
"Why don't you keep it?" Mike asked as he stood beside her.
"Too many friends of mine have died from guns. I won't use them. What's wrong?"
"Do you think... do you think it's a good idea to go--just the two of us?"
"I'm not planning an all-out attack. Just a scouting mission to get enough info for the police. Small groups have a better chance of getting in and out unseen. You ought to know that." Allie frowned. Mike was acting strange, even for him. "You don't have to go if you don't want to."
"No. No matter what happens, I'm not going to run out on you."
"Why?" Allie asked. His loyalty touched her. Maybe there was a reason to stay longer in New York after all.
"Because I want to be your friend, if you'll let me." Mike watched her carefully. He did want to be her friend and something more. But it was all up to Allie.
She smiled, "Let's go."