Allie sat on a couch in the Turtle's Lair, starting to come to her senses. Dan handed her a teacup as he sat beside her. "Drink this."
She took it obediently and sipped the hot, green fluid slowly. "What is it?"
"Something Splinter concocted. He said it would help calm you."
"Good," she sipped it again. "I made an ass out of myself, didn't I?"
"No worse than usual," Dan grinned. "I'm used to it. But I think the Turtles want to have you institutionalized."
"Sometimes I want to myself." Splinter walked into the room. Allie looked up hopefully as she set aside the cup. "Has he?" Splinter shook his head. Allie's face fell. "Why did I make him fight?"
Splinter watched her. "The healing process of the heart, once begun, is a long journey. But it is not a journey you have to travel alone."
Allie groaned and covered her face with her hands. "Is everyone a shrink?"
Zack plopped down against the back of the couch. "She's feeling better."
Allie tousled his hair. "I'm glad you believe in me. Too few people don't."
"Did Mikey?" Dan asked softly.
"Yeah," she answered. "He better be okay."
"He will be," Raph answered as he walked in. "We're not lucky enough for him to be otherwise."
Allie jumped up to face him. "How can you be so cruel?" Leo, Donnie, and Keno walked into hearing range. "How can you, to your brother?"
"Lighten up. It's only Mikey."
Allie's voice was bitter and cold. "Why should I expect a different response? It's only Mikey. Did any of you ever listen to him? Hear his hurt, serious voice? Hear that the only thing he thinks he's good for is comic relief? No, of course not. Because he's the only sensitive one of you!" She held back a sob.
Leo stepped closer to her but safely kept his distance. "Allie, he'll be fine. Don't worry."
She laughed sarcastically and bitterly. "I've heard that before. One of my best friends looked me in the eyes, smiled, and lying on the street with a gaping hole in his chest, told me he was going to be fine." She wiped the tears off her cheeks. "He died right there."
Splinter frowned, "Allison!"
Allie didn't pay attention to him. "Think about that before you pick on him again." She ran into the bedroom.
Dan and Zack looked at each other. "New cause," they said together.
"What do you mean?" Donnie asked suspiciously.
"If you think about, it's funny," Dan answered. "As much as Allie claims to be cold and hard, she'll let certain things...."
"Or certain people," Zack grinned.
"Underneath her act," Dan finished. "And if you mess with them, watch out!" He turned to Zack. "What's been some of her other causes?"
"Me--for eleven years. Then there was Latisha at one foster home, and the
biker gang she ran off with. That's all I can remember off the top of my head."
Lotus stretched in the Turtles' training room. The exercise helped keep her mind clear and focused. Leo walked in, worried and brooding. She straightened her back. "What is wrong? Is your brother worse?"
Leo shook his head. "Mikey's the same. But Allie." He sat on a bench along the wall. "Allie saw that he wasn't happy. He even admitted it to her."
"This upsets you, that he told her?" Lotus sat beside him.
Leo shook his head again. "No, no one confides in the people or Turtles that make them miserable. I guess I'm mad at myself. For not seeing it."
"You cannot see everything."
"I know, that's what Master Splinter said."
Lotus walked across the room and pulled a katana off the wall. "Brooding does no warrior good." She tossed it to Leo who caught it with one hand.
He replaced it on the wall. "No katanas, just throws."
Lotus smiled. Unknowingly, he had stumbled upon her forte. "If that is what you wish." She laid her sword belt on the bench and settled into a fighting stance. "Ready." Leo grabbed her arms and tried to wrestle her to the ground. She started to spin them around until Leo tucked his foot between hers. They both fell to the mat, Lotus on top of Leo. He didn't release his grip even though she tried to squirm free. But she didn't try too hard.
"Ya know, from this angle, you could be considered beautiful."
Lotus blushed at the Turtle's words. "Careful, I sent the last boy who told me that to the hospital."
"Why? It's true." Leo let her go.
Lotus stepped away from Leo and extended her hand to him. "I didn't like the way he said it."
Leo took her hand and let her pull him up. "The only reason?"
She swallowed, "He was not dedicated to learning the way I am. I cannot respect someone who does not respect the martial arts and I cannot love someone who is not dedicated to them."
"I know, I feel the same way myself." He stepped closer.
"Do you know what you are saying?"
Lotus looked worried, "Love is of the heart; attraction of the body. When do you know the difference?"
"You're attracted to me?"
Lotus stepped away from his astonishment. "To your dedication, abilities, frame of mind, perhaps to your appearance." Her eyes dropped shyly.
"But I'm a Turtle!"
"I apologize. What I meant was that you and your brothers resemble characters in an old family legend."
"Not kappa," Leo grinned, "good Japanese demons?"
Lotus's eyes opened wide. "How did you know that? The story is very familiar in my family, but?"
Leo interrupted gently. "Lotus Norinaga?" Lotus nodded, confused. "I am attracted to you. It may go further; it may not. Is that okay with you?" He took her hands in his. She shook her head. "Why not?"
Lotus pulled away sadly. "I need to return to Japan." Leo dropped her hands. "Do you not see, I was chosen because I could stay with Allison and Zackery. But you are here and I am not needed."
"What would happen if you didn't go back?"
"Probably nothing." She shook her head, seeing his eager look. "It cannot be that way, Leonardo. I will make my decision and you must respect it."
Leo took her hands again. "I will, because it's your decision." She looked relieved. "Do you still have the scroll?"
"Yes, as eldest in the direct line, I take it wherever I go, but how?"
"It's a long story. Come with me."
Leo brought her to Donnie's lab. He took a covered parcel down from a shelf and handed it reverently to Lotus. She unwrapped it eagerly. "I cannot believe that you were the kappa. But I suppose it is justice, in a sense." She held up what was inside the wrapping. "The scepter; it has been lost for ages. I never thought I would see it."
"Thank April--she's the one who found it."
Lotus turned it over in her hands. "It is broken!"
"Thank Mikey." Leo's face fell.
Lotus recovered the scepter and set it back on the shelf. "Come, let us
Allie held Mikey's hand, oblivious to Splinter's entrance and settling into a chair. It wasn't fair. He helped her regardless of her ungrateful attitude. He argued with his brothers over her. He fought the Shredder for her. And all she did was fall in love with him. "Please don't die," she whispered. "I don't want anyone else to die because of me."
"I guess I'll have to stick around then." Mike opened his eyes and grinned. She threw her arms around him. "Easy, easy, I'm suffering from a mild form of shell shock."
Splinter eased up to the bed as Allie pulled back. "How do you feel, my son?"
"Nothing's broken, but I feel like someone stuffed me into a blender and turned it on."
"What do you remember?"
Mike frowned. "I remember you, Sensei. And I remember you, Allie." He squeezed her hand. "And I remember everything that happened to us. When was that?"
"It started Friday night and now it's Saturday afternoon."
"If you say so. I also remember the Shredder beating the crap out of me. What happened to him?" Mike sat up and watched Allie's saddened face.
"He got away." Allie looked down at the floor. Mike risked his life to try to stop him and no one would let her sacrifice her life to stop him.
She had come close to doing something stupid; he could tell from her expression. And it would be just like her to try to kill the Shredder. He lifted her chin. "I'm glad he didn't hurt you."
Leo, Donnie, and Raph walked into the room. "Mikey...."
"Don't get emotional on me, Leo."
Leo looked embarrassed. How come he always got stuck being the spokesturtle? "We want to apologize for the way we were treating you. Why didn't you say anything?"
Mike turned to Allie, "What did you tell them?"
Raph answered for her. "She gave us the chewing out we deserved."
Donnie sat on the edge of the bed. He and Mikey shared a special comradeship, mainly because Leo and Raph spent most of their time clashing. "You're our bro and you mean more to us than just comic relief. We never thought of you that way and never will. So just tell us the next time we act like we do."
"Or tell me and I'll tell them." Allie squeezed his hand. Donnie caught the gesture and wondered what it meant.
Mike blinked rapidly. They really did care. And Allie really did care, otherwise she would have never confronted them about it. "I don't know what to say."
Allie smiled, "Sue them for having some feelings."
Zack stuck his head into the room. "Have you guys seen my sister? Allie! You're smiling! You're a month early on your recovery!"
"Thanks a lot." But Allie hugged him back. "Now you can meet Mike."
Zack's eyebrows rose. "You're alive! Lots of guys that follow Allie aren't that lucky." Allie gave her brother a dirty look but he ignored it. "Are you dating her now?"
Donnie stood by Raph and Leo. "If her reaction is anything to go by, I think Zack has a point."
"What?" Zack demanded. "You got all bothered by the way they were talking about him and you jumped all over them. I thought there might be something to it."
"That's none of your business!" Allie pressed her hands against her flaming cheeks. Mike chuckled. "What are you laughing at?"
He turned to Zack. "Why do you care if I'm dating your sister?"
"Somebody has to watch out for her."
"I've been doing a pretty good job so far, thank you very much!" Allie retorted.
"And I'm the only one left for the job. I have to make sure your intentions are honorable."
"Master Splinter, what have you been telling him?" Leo asked. The rat shrugged.
"I would be happy to date your sister, if she'll let me." Mike looked at Allie and there was no mistaking the intent in his eyes.
"Mikey, do you know what you're saying?" Raph cried. "She's psychotic!"
"No more than you," Mike retorted as he waited for Allie's answer.
Allie scowled at Zack. "I do not like being a show for an audience!"
"Is that why you're blushing?"
"I'm furious, Zackery James Baker!"
Zack gulped, she had used his full name. He had a feeling that he had overstepped it but he couldn't stop himself. "Does this mean we're not going to find out?" Mike kept a surprisingly tight grip on Allie's arm as Zack darted behind Leo. "Inquiring minds want to know!"
"If I killed you, they'd never find the body!"
"Stop antagonizing your sister." Splinter commanded quietly.
"I wanna live for a long, long time," Donnie turned to the other Turtles. "I suggest getting out of the crossfire."
"Good idea." Zack tried to sneak out with them, but Leo grabbed hold of him and set him inside the room. "Oh no, you don't. You have to face the music."
Zack grinned sheepishly at Allie's seething face. "Good time to change the subject. Do you think we should tell Grandpa and Grandma the truth?"
"The truth about what? Why I'm going to kill you?"
"Duh! About Dad and Hamato Yoshi, remember? Lotus said she told you."
"I don't remember! I was worried about other things!"
"We'll have to debrief you later. Right now, Ms. Pat's waiting for us."
Allie's face paled, "Just Ms. Pat?"
"No," Zack answered confused. "No, April and Grandpa and Grandma. They want to decide what's going to happen to us."
Mike gripped Allie's hand tightly. "What are you thinking?"
Allie looked away sadly. "I was thinking of saving them the trouble."
"Allie, you can't run away again!" Zack implored. "Ms. Pat just told April that she's tired of pulling strings to keep you out of trouble."
"Then I won't get in any trouble." She stood up, but Mike kept a hold on her hand. "Let me go."
"Nope. Running away ain't the answer. You're going up there. Even if I have to take you there myself."
Allie fell back into the chair and cried out in a choked voice. "I'm not going to another foster home, where you can't put down any type of roots or feelings because just when you get used to them, they get torn out the most painful way possible!"
"That might not happen this time. Maybe April can pull some strings."
She swallowed hard, "Don't get my hopes up, Mike. I don't think I can take it now."
"I mean it!"
"I know you do! That's why I'm so worried."
Her face softened. "You're worried about me?"
"Yeah," Mike answered softly, "And I don't think I'm going to quit by your running away."
Zack gripped Allie's shoulders. "Don't go. Who's going to take care of me?"
"Go listen to what they have to say," Mike encouraged. "If it's too terrible, you can always move down here." Splinter gave his son a sharp look, but Mike never noticed. "I made a promise to you and I'm in the habit of keeping my promises."
Allie finally smiled. "All right, all right. I'll go, I'll go."
Zack released her shoulders and grabbed her free hand. "I'm not letting you out of my sight."
Allie sighed and turned back to Mike. "I'll come back as soon as they'll let me--maybe sooner."
Mike leaned back on the pillow with a sigh as Allie and Zack left. "She cares for you." Splinter told him.
He started, "I forgot you were here, Sensei."
"So I noticed," the rat commented dryly."Do you care for her?"
"I do. I would do anything for her whether she wanted me to or not," he shrugged, "but what does it matter?"
"What do you mean, Michaelangelo?"
Mike's face had fallen. "She's a normal girl. Even if she feels anything for me now, it won't last. She's going to fall in love with a normal guy."
"Why do you say that?"
"Would you fall in love with a Turtle when there's a billion human guys to fall in love with?"
"Depends on the Turtle." Splinter rested a gentle hand on his son's shoulder. "Do not give up so quickly, Michaelangelo. Allison needs your compassion and support now and in the time to come. It will be difficult facing the truth about her family and her future alone."
Mike gazed at his father figure, confused. "What's the truth?"
"She and Zackery are Hamato Yoshi's grandchildren and will inherit the leadership of the Foot Clan."
"How come everybody finds this stuff out before I do?" Mike demanded in
"Please promise me you'll behave, please!" Zack begged.
"I guess that means no cussing, jumping up and down on the furniture, and tearing my hair out, huh?"
"Chill out, Zack."
Ms. Pat's deep baritone voice carried out into the hall. "I am telling you, Ms. O'Neil, that child is incorrigible. She will not come, despite that you have made this as unorthodox as possible."
Allie breezily glided into April's living room. Zack followed, looking glum. "I'm afraid you lost your bet, Ms. Pat." She lazily threw her legs over the arm of a recliner and leaned her back against the other arm. "What's on your minds?"
Ms. Pat kept her anger in check. How Allison could be so nonchalant about important matters was beyond her comprehension. So much for hoping that the recent events had matured her any. "We're here to discuss your and Zack's futures."
"I suppose you have to put us in another foster home," Allie replied scornfully.
"Not necessarily. The situation has changed with William's death. Since he took you in, relations rights come back into play. Mrs. Keene refused to have anything to do with your situation before so we haven't said anything to her about it now. As for Mr. and Mrs. Baker...."
"Forgive us, Allie," Sara Baker interrupted tearfully. "It was the only thing we could do."
"Grandma, what horrible thing did you do that I need to forgive you?" Allie sounded amused. "You can tell me; very little shocks me any more."
"We put you and Zack up for adoption. Don't blame us, Allie, it's the only thing we could do. We couldn't break you apart--not after all this."
"Blame you for what?" Allie replied dreamily. "You can't be expected to raise another kid--especially a hell-raiser like me or one as young as Zack." Zack scowled and folded his arms. "Adoption makes sense."
This upset Ms. Pat's mental base. "I'm glad you're taking this news so... so... so reasonably."
"You thought I wouldn't like it? Maybe I wouldn't if it concerned me more." She shrugged, "Maybe Zack can have a chance this way."
"You've said so yourself, Ms. Pat. No one in their right minds would want to adopt me. But for Zack, I think it's a great plan. I'll be going now." She started walking to the door.
"No!" Zack darted in front of her and barricaded the door. "If you leave who's going to beat up the bullies, tell me when to do my homework, hold me down while I'm getting shots, and help me grow up?"
Allie looked weary, eleven years had taken its toll. "Those are jobs for parents."
He shook his head stubbornly. "They're jobs for family. And we're a family."
"Why don't you give it a try?" April spoke for the first time. Allie faced her. "Being a kid is fun, if you give it a chance."
"I've been in charge too long to let someone else call the shots."
April smiled, "That's not how it works."
"You're April O'Neil, Channel Three News?" Allie wanted to add, "and a friend of the Turtles," but didn't dare.
"That's me," April nodded and winked.
Ms. Pat decided it was time to take charge. "I don't think you understand. Someone already wants you and Zack."
Allie had turned back to the door but now she turned to face the adults, stupefied. "What?"
April grinned, "A lot of people share the opinion that I'm crazy."
"Do you have any objections?" Zack grabbed Allie's hand as she shook her head.
Ms. Pat sighed with relief. "Good. I'll start the proceedings Monday and by the end of the week, you three should be a family."
Sara hugged Allie and Zack. "I'm so glad you're safe and everything worked out." She released them and grabbed their hands. "Come on, we're treating you two to a day on the town. You're welcome to come Ms. O'Neil, April."
"Go on ahead," April encouraged, "you haven't seen your grandchildren for months. I'll have plenty of time to get to know them."
Sara nodded and squeezed Allie and Zack's hands. "I want to know about everything that happened."
Zack gulped, "Everything?"
Allie pulled herself back. "I need to make a phone call. I'll catch up." Ms. Pat, Sara, and Zack continued out the door but Will stopped.
"Allie, I don't think the truth about this is ever coming out."
"You're probably right, Grandpa. No one ever knows the whole story."
Will looked at her quizzically. "But you've changed. You still act the same but something's different."
"I can't explain it, Grandpa. I can't explain it to myself."
"I understand," Will paused. "Remind me, there's a story I need to tell you and Zack."
"Later, Grandpa," Allie could see that he was uncomfortable with the subject he was thinking about. "You don't have to tell me right now." Will smiled at her and left the apartment. Allie turned to April who leaned against the counter in her kitchenette. "Why?"
April frowned, "I suppose I should say I did it to help Zack or keep you and Mike together, but I didn't. I guess I just have a soft spot for troublemakers. I'm one, you're one, the Turtles--well, the harder they try to stay out of trouble, the quicker they get into it."
"You didn't owe us that."
"I know. But you need to stay close, where the Turtles can keep an eye on you. Better me than some stranger that doesn't understand."
"I'm not the easiest person to get along with."
"If I could put up with the Turtles for three weeks, I think I can handle you." Allie picked up the phone. "555-5637," April rattled off. Allie gratefully dialed it.