Leo never fidgeted, physically. But his mind was a whirlwind of possible outcomes as they waited near the entrance ramp into the fortress. Clin-san waited with him and Donnie while April filmed the war machine from the boulder pile. Donnie turned to him. "I don't like the possibilities this thing could have on the city."
"Neither do I."
"Do you think we can stop it?"
"I hope so."
"Do you think Mikey's okay?"
"He should be."
"Do you think we can trust Lotus?"
Leo couldn't suppress the grin, "Yeah, we can."
Donnie frowned. "The girl almost took your shell off and you want to trust her?"
"But look at how skillfully she almost took it off. Besides, she volunteered to take Raph." Leo watched the doors of the fortress carefully. "Something familiar about her though."
"Maybe it's just the ninja outfit and the trying to kill you that's jogging your memory," Donnie suggested.
Leo gave him a dirty look but was distracted by the doors at the top of the ramp sliding open a few feet. They trotted up to them and Lotus led them into a branching hallway. "Most of the ninjas are in an assembly of some sort. But we must be careful, there are still some guards."
"Did they take the bait?" Leo asked worriedly. Without Raph, they could never get Mikey out of here.
She smiled, "They even believed I was one of them. The Shredder did not pick the brightest Foot Clan ninjas."
"What bad guy does?" Donnie grinned.
"What to do now?" Clin-san turned to Leo.
Leo was grateful for the older man's support of his leadership. "We need to start a diversion near wherever they have Raph and Mikey."
"We have much room to choose from," Lotus informed him. "Follow me."
Captivity and inactivity never had held much patience with Allie. Mike leaned against a wall as he sat cross-legged on the floor of the furniture-less room. He watched her pace the room, test the solid-steel door, and try to jump up to the air vent. "Even if you manage to get out, how are you going to get past all those guards?"
Allie whirled around, her blue eyes snapping with barely contained fury. "I'm not standing by helplessly while those... those... those... murder my brother! I won't! I can't do that to him!" She turned away, still distrustful enough of him not to expose any weakness and added in a choked voice. "He's all I have left."
Mike chose to ignore what he should. "I still haven't figured out where Billy fits into the picture. Wasn't he your brother too?"
Her terse laugh was sarcastic and bitter. "In name only. After our parents died, our grandmother--Mom's mom--took him. She hated me and Zack, I guess because we look the most like Mom and Dad. Kids pick up on hostility and there was a lot between her and my parents. Any ways, there was a stipulation or something in their will--said we had to be adopted together by the same family. No one knew about Billy so me and Zack stayed in foster homes. After that, Billy wasn't family; he was just another stranger to live with." Then she punched the wall in fury. "But they're not going to get away with killing him! They're not! They're not! They're not!" Her fist hit the wall with each not until she collapsed against it sobbing.
Mike jumped up and wrapped his arms around her. "Don't do that. It'll be okay." He turned her around and let her cry against his shoulder. "I won't let them get away with killing anybody."
She pulled back and stared sadly into his eyes. He gently wiped the tears away. "I feel sorry for you," she said at last. "You care for me and I can't care for you."
"Because I don't know how," Allie whispered.
"What about Zack?" Mike asked, confused. What had he done to keep getting the brush off?
Allie didn't laugh this time. "What about Zack? My whole life has been what about Zack?. I remember after our parents died, somebody asked that, "What about Zack?" And I told them I would take care of him, because that was the last thing my parents told me to do. And I'll take care of him until I die." She paced away from the Turtle then whirled around. "You wanna know why I ran away? For Zack. I thought he would have a better chance of getting the family he deserves if his nutball sister wasn't around. Too bad the social workers didn't see it the same way. That's all my life is, taking care of Zack!" She looked down at the floor, her voice full of despair. "I've been dead inside so long I can't remember how to care for someone any other way."
"I could teach you," Mike boldly grabbed hold of her hands. "As soon as we get out of here."
Could it be there was finally something to hope for? She didn't pull away. "Okay, what's the plan?"
His shoulders fell and he dropped her hands. "I haven't got one."
"You haven't got one? What do they keep you around for--morale?"
Mike slumped against the wall and sank to the floor. "Leo's the leader, Donnie's the brain, Raph's the dude you don't make mad, and I'm," he shrugged, "the comic relief."
"I don't believe that." Allie dropped to the floor next to him. "What about sticking up for me the way you've been doing? What about just hanging with me period? That takes something more than just comic relief. What else can you do?"
"Well," Mike screwed up his face in thought. "I can cook. I have this recipe for pepperoni pizza," he kissed his fingertips. "The others don't have the kitchen knack."
"We're you born knowing how to cook?"
"No! You have to work at it--especially if you want something edible."
"Right. And with practice, you could do some of the things you say your brothers are so good at. I'm not saying you'll be perfect but at least you'll have an idea of what to do when you're on your own."
"That makes sense." He turned to her accusingly, "Did you just make that up?"
Allie smiled, "Actually, a friend told me that when I complained that learning to shoot a gun was too hard."
"Oh. Why did you do that?"
"Do what? Complain?"
"No, make me feel better?"
"Why did you make me feel better?" Allie scooted closer to him and pulled his arm around her shoulders. "I was just returning the favor. That's all," she breathed as Mike pulled her face closer to his.
"I think you know how to care better than you thought you did." Mike finally dropped his mouth on hers. He pulled back. "I'm sorry."
"For what?" Allie leaned against the Turtle. "It's really the first thing you took initiative on."
"Is that how you see me, indecisive?" He held her tightly, almost afraid to let her go.
"No, if you were indecisive you would have taken back your decision to stay with me hours ago."
"Then what do you think about me?"
Allie bit her bottom lip. "My first impression was that you really didn't care about the long term problem, just the immediate one. But that's not true--not for you. You're persistent and you've made a genuine, no, you've been a friend when I needed one even though I didn't want one. Thank you. I'm sorry I was so mean to you."
Mike watched her face. Such candidness hurt her, he could tell from the way she chewed her lip and averted her eye; she saw it as a weakness. "I want to be more than a friend if you'll let me." He brushed back her hair. "You're stubborn. You're try to put people off by acting tougher and meaner than you really are, but I don't care. It makes you who you are, Allie Baker. And I think I love you." Allie looked into his eyes and suddenly kissed him softly. Mike didn't push for more after one breakthrough. "I'm sorry I got us in this mess."
"It's not really your fault," Allie answered. "I was the one who pushed coming here."
"Yeah but you'd think a ninja wouldn't trip over his own two feet." Allie laughed, a genuine laugh. "If you don't mind me askin', why do you have friends that hang out in bars? You feel sorry for the lower scum of the earth?"
Allie sighed. She didn't blame Mike for asking questions, a lot of them were the same questions she asked herself. "Most of them are scum but some aren't. It's a complicated answer. I guess it's because the scum and non-scum respect me and the way I act. If I killed someone in the middle of Nickey's, most people there would assume I had a good reason to and go on treating me the same--with the possible exception of trying hard not to tick me off."
"Hanging out for respect." Mike replied thoughtfully. "One of us has it backwards."
"What do you mean?"
"Master Splinter always taught us that you had to respect yourself before you could get any respect."
Allie gazed into space, thoughtfully. "Maybe that's the way it is in the world you come from."
"Dudette, I maybe green but I'm no Martian."
"Your world is one where you don't have to fight for survival, can do what you want, be at peace with yourself, trust people, and maybe even love them."
He was losing her, he could sense it. He tightened his grip around her shoulders. "It can be your world too."
Allie pulled away and stood up. "Not anymore."
Mike stood up beside her, "Give yourself a chance, Allie. Some things are worth taking a risk. I wouldn't think you would be the type that was afraid of risks." He took hold of her arms and forced her to look at him. "You kissed me; do you like me? Could you love me?"
"I do like you, Mike. And I could love you. But the streets make you cold, hard. I don't even know how to go back to the way things were before."
"I can show you, if you just give me a chance." He grabbed hold of her hands. "My world will be yours, I promise."
Allie drew closer to the Turtle when the door flew open with a bang. The ninja guards threw Raph inside and pulled the door shut. He picked himself up and began to dust himself off. "How do you like that? And I specifically requested the V.I.P. treatment!" He turned to Allie and Mike. "How can you stand this room service?"
Mike stared incredulously at his brother. "Raph? What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to bust you out." Raph jerked a thumb at Allie. "But since she's here, I guess she has to come too."
Allie narrowed her blue eyes. "If it wasn't for the shell, I would say that you were a pig instead of a Turtle."
"Yeah Mikey, I can see you've made considerable progress with her manners." Raph folded his arms and glared.
Allie turned to Mike. "Is there anyway that you can stuff his head into his shell where it can't come out?"
Mike had enough. "Would you two cool it!" Raph turned to him, shocked that Mikey gave him an order. Allie turned to him, silently proud that Mike had taken charge. "Raph, is this one of your shell-brained schemes?"
"No. This is Leo's shell-brained scheme."
"Then go ahead."
Raph attached a small box to the door. "Donnie said this would open the door to Fort Knox, but he never said how." He pressed a button on the side, starting an ominous beeping.
"I think I know, duck!" Allie threw herself to the opposite wall and Mike and Raph fell on top of her.
The explosion ripped the door away. Raph looked up at the gaping hole. "Donnie can't do anything simple."
Mike pulled Allie to her feet. "Are you okay?"
Allie nodded. "Maybe simple, maybe not. But nobody's going to argue that it wasn't direct." They stepped out onto the balcony. Across the vast cross-section of the Technodrome, they could see Leo, Donnie, and Lotus battling Foot ninjas. On their balcony, ninjas quickly blocked escape. "Especially the bad guys!"
"Climb on," Mike presented his back to Allie.
She grabbed hold tentatively. "What are you going to do?"
"We can't let Leo and Donnie have all the fun," Raph answered as he pulled his grappling hook off his belt.
"Ever seen Tarzan?" Mike asked. Allie squealed as they left the balcony, arced over the empty space, and landed on the opposite balcony. "Got you here in one piece, you ought to trust me more."
"Don't ask for the impossible," she joked weakly.
Lotus tossed a pair of sai to Raph and a pair of nunchuku to Mike. She then kicked away a ninja that tried to attack her from behind. "Nice girl," Raph commented, "doesn't like me much though."
"You must have that affect on a lot of people," Allie grinned, then squeezed Mike's hand. "I'm going to find the Shredder's office."
"We have to get those papers!" She jumped into an elevator.
Clin-san watched Mike chase after her. "They know something," he whispered.
"Try to get out, Lotus!" He followed after them.
Allie entered the office silently. The friendly Technodrome computer had told her exactly where to find it. The Shredder pulled a folder out of a filing cabinet, turned around, and froze. "I figured you'd be here." She walked further into the office.
The Shredder cursed in Japanese. "I should have killed you when I had the chance, but this could benefit both of us." His eyes glittered with eagerness. "Join with me and we could rule this city, this country, this world!"
She shook her head. "That wouldn't be a good business move. I could do what I did just now, act on impulse." She paused, "And kill you."
The Shredder moved around the desk. Allie blocked the door. He stopped in front of her. "Then you should learn not to be so impulsive." He lunged forward with a knife but Allie dodged to the side. The knife sliced across her upper arm.
She regained her balance behind him. He whirled around. "And you should learn not to leave a job undone!" She slammed her body against his, knocking the Shredder against the door. With a gasp, he dropped the folder, pushed her away, and wrenched open the door.
Mike rushed into the office as the Shredder rushed out. Fear gripped his heart. Allie! What had he done to Allie? He threw open the door and saw her struggling to sit up while she held her arm. "Allie!"
She waved her uninjured arm at him. "Don't worry about me! Make him pay!" He stood, his heart torn between his desire to help Allie and his desire to bring the Shredder to justice. "Please, Mike!" He threw one last agonized look, tossed her his grappling hook, and ran out.
Clin-san knelt by the girl's side. Past her American heritage, he could see the Hamato valor and pride. "Stop. I will help you."
Allie stared at him, trying to disguise her fear as he steadied her against the desk. "Who are you?" He stood up, searched the desk drawers, found a roll of bandages, and began cared for Allie's wound. "Who are you?"
Once finished, he stood with a bow. "I am Clin-san. I have searched a long time for you, Hamato Allison."
Allie gulped nervously. "I'm afraid you're mixed up, Mr. Clin-san. I don't know any Hamatos and Allison's not my last name."
"I have not made a mistake. Come we must help your friend."
Mike jumped aboard the Shredder's elevator before the doors shut. "First floor; ninjas, Turtles, and criminal masterminds trying to make their getaway."
"You fool!" the Shredder hissed. He kicked the Turtle in the stomach,
knocking him across the small elevator. He moved so fast, Mike had no time to
maneuver, no time to protect himself. When the elevator reached the floor of the
open arena, he was unconscious. The Shredder ordered his ninjas to carry him
Allie looked over the side of the balcony. Her face deadened. "No," she
whispered as she saw Mike's motionless body being carried. She hooked the
grappling hook to the railing and slid down the rope. Clin-san frowned but
The four ninjas threw Mike into the bed of a vehicle. Allie launched herself on top of two of them. The Shredder looked up at Clin-san, his face twisted evilly. He shouted something in Japanese at the old man, turned, and ran, barking order in Japanese to his ninjas. They looked at the two enemies but followed their leader.
Allie crawled into the bed with the Turtle. "Oh, Mike, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
"We have to get him out of here," Clin-san looked up. Lotus and the Turtles
were no closer to leaving than before. "Lotus!" he screamed.
Leo tapped Lotus's shoulder. He hated to interrupt a ninja of her caliber, that moved so gracefully and executed each maneuver so effortlessly. But the fight was winding down for now. "I think Clin-san wants you."
Lotus peered over the railing. "He has your friends and a way out. I suggest we take it."
"Sounds good to me." Leo turned to Donnie and Raph. "Ready to leave?"
"Yeah," Donnie kicked another ninja against a wall. "The hosts here forgot to bring the refreshments for this party."
"And they're real tired from all this dancing," Raph pushed another one away.
"Oh look, more party animals," Leo pointed to the stream of ninjas running into the elevator from the ground floor.
"I guess someone forgot to tell them that we are ready to call it a night." They looked at Lotus who grinned. "What? You thought you were the only ones who can treat this like a joke?"
Raph and Donnie hung their grappling hooks on the railing. Leo turned to Lotus who fought off the last ninjas that decided to try one more round. "You comin'?"
"Go ahead." Leo frowned, but hooked his grappling hook and swung over the side of the balcony. Lotus pulled a pair of sai off her belt and jammed the elevator doors shut. She ran to the railing, grabbed hold of it, and flipped over it. Leo gasped as her body hurtled through the air. Her arm extended to him and he grabbed it. "Thank you," she cried as he kept his grip tight.
"Don't worry, I've got you." Leo let the girl climb onto his back. "Do you always do that?"
"When I have someone to catch me. You ought to try it, it gives you an
Donnie jumped into the vehicle. "What happened to Mikey?" he cried.
"The Shredder," Allie replied dully. Mike's head rested on her lap. Donnie watched her unemotional face, slightly angry. It didn't matter to her at all that Mikey had risked his life for her.
Raph jumped into the driver's seat as Leo and Lotus jumped into the vehicle.
The ninjas not stuck inside the elevator ran for them. "Hang on!" he shouted as
he shifted into gear.
The blast opened up the doors on top of the ramp leading into the war machine. April gaped as the flatbed, tread-wheeled vehicle shot out of the Technodrome.
Raph guided the vehicle past April. Donnie stood up and grabbed the reporter, pulling her onto the vehicle. "You came out alive!"
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, babe," Raph twisted the vehicle and fired another volley into the rock wall. "Do you think I can get back to the sewers from here?"
"Go for it," Donnie encouraged.
April turned to the back and gasped. "What happened to Mikey?"
"The Shredder," was Allie's toneless reply. April looked up at the girl. She knew she hadn't met her before, but this girl acted as if her soul had died. Mikey's head rested in her lap. Had she come to care for the Turtle? April gazed thoughtfully into those empty blue eyes. Allie didn't notice.