Three years and we managed to stay together. I guess it's proof that miracles can still happen. I would do anything for her and she would do anything for me. I can't imagine going on day after day without knowing she's mine. She is my life's meaning, my soul's companion, my song's rhythm. For me, there is no one else.
But how do I know there is no one else for Allie?
Michaelangelo sighed as balled up the sheet of paper he was writing on. "Defeatist. Doubter. Skeptic," he muttered.
"Pepperoni pizza," Zack catapulted into a seat next to Mike at the kitchen table.
"I've noticed that's what Allie tells you whenever she sees you're in the dumps. So I decided to do it for her." Zack watched the Turtle aim his paper at the garbage can and throw it. It went in cleanly. "You miss her, don't you?"
"A little," Mike admitted.
Zack laughed. "You don't miss Allie a little. You either miss her a whole lot or you forget who she is." Zack slumped in his seat.
Mike threw back his head and laughed. Zack looked at him curiously. "Did you and Raph work that out?"
Zack's expression of confusion was genuine. "Work what out?"
"Earlier today, Master Splinter asked me how Allie was. Before I could answer, Raph walked past and said, Allie who?"
Zack had to laugh at that one. "I feel sorry for Raph. I mean, without Allie here, there's no one to torment him."
Mike waved that aside. "Raph'll get over it; he always does. And I think deep down, he misses her."
"Well, I don't!" Zack exploded. "Everything was fine. Why does she always have to change something that's going good?"
"Allie needs a challenge."
"Aren't you the slightest bit angry that she moved out?"
"She never lived down here."
"You know what I mean."
Mike sighed, "I guess a little, but not the way you think. Let me put it this way. Say your friend Karen won a trip to Disney World. How would you feel?"
Zack shrugged, "A little jealous, but I'd be proud of her."
"Say she won it just because she had blonde hair and blue eyes?" Zack faltered and didn't answer. "That's how I feel about Allie going to college. She deserves to go because she smart, but guys dumber than me get in because they're human."
That last bit came out more bitter than the rest and Zack caught it. "Allie's not going to find another guy, Mike. She loves you." Zack decided not telling the Turtle Allie's description of their relationship--I gave up on the human race--was a good idea.
"I know that!" Mike said, rolling his eyes. "Allie gave up on the human race when she met me. It's just that, I worry about her. Allie's got bigger plans than just graduating with a degree." He waited for Zack to shrug the assessment off and when he didn't, Mike looked at him curiously.
Zack's face wore a frown and when he finally spoke, there was an edge of
concern to his voice. "What do you think would qualify as big for Allie to try
to pull it off?"
April pushed away a stack of papers in favor for just its top sheet. She laid the computer-generated hard copy in front of Leonardo and herself. This is the general information my source at Stern s office was able to compile thanks to the MO you guys were able to establish."
Leo frowned as he looked at the statistics. So you re pretty sure all these crimes were committed by the Purple Dragon Gang and not another one?"
"Only if another gang has started using ninja break-in methods." April wiped her face with her hand. "You almost have to admire the Shredder s audacity. He knows that anyone sees a ninja in this city and the cops will be crawling all over that case and for a lot longer."
Leo managed a quick smile, "They re still upset about Billy Baker s death."
"So he starts a gang, almost unrecognizable from the other street gangs of New York, and trains them to be ninjas. Result: Sterns is ranting and raving that I m holding out on him."
"Only if you want him to know where you guys live."
Leo sighed, "The only problem with Shredder s Purple Dragon Gang acting like all the other street gangs is that we can t tell where they re going to strike next."
"Speaking of striking next," someone grunted from the stairs.
April and Leo jumped up. Dan was trying to help a badly-injured man down the steps. The speaker lifted his head, letting his unkempt, shoulder-length, brown hair fall back to reveal the cracked and bloodied hockey goalie s mask covering his face. Leo sprang forward and helped Dan hold him up as April gasped, "Casey?"
He eased back on the couch Dan and Leo guided him to and lifted off the mask, showing off the bloodied and bruised features of his face. "Hi, April," he tried to smile. "Long time no see."
Leo frowned at the wounds. "I m getting Master Splinter."
"Don t bother the old . . . ." Casey tried to stop the Turtle, thought better of it as he moved and eased back down on the couch.
April pulled up a chair next to it. "What happened?"
Casey realized he was attracting an audience as Splinter entered the room followed by Leonardo and Raphael. Donatello noticed the commotion from somewhere further back in the sewers and headed over. Michaelangelo and some kid entered from the kitchen. "I ran across some of those Purple Dragons you re always talkin about on the news." He winced as Splinter pressed something against a cut on his face. "I cornered them in a dead-end alley."
"All by yourself?" Raph asked incredulously. "That was stupid."
"Did that just come from Raph or did you guys switch masks?" Casey demanded.
"You just better be glad those Dragons heard my police siren before they saw me," Dan commented as he patted the portable recorder. "Or there would be a lot less of you than there is now."
Raph started pacing. "Are we going to let them get away with this?"
Leo sighed, "I suppose you want to go Dragon hunting?"
"Yeah! Besides, it's time for patrol anyway."
"Great!" Casey struggled to sit up.
Splinter rested a paw on the man's chest. "No, Casey. You need to rest."
"I figured you'd say something like that." Casey sighed as he laid back without a struggle.
"Let's go, bros," Mike headed for the ladder.
Leo activated his Turtle Comm. "Lotus?"
"I'm here, Leonardo," she answered, her Oriental-accented words matching her face on the viewscreen.
He grinned, despite himself. Three years, and--if anything--his feelings had only grown stronger for the beautiful female ninja. "We could use your help on patrol tonight."
"I will meet you at our usual spot."
"Usual spot?" Mike asked as they entered the sewers above the Lair. "You and Lotus have a usual spot?"
"Mind your own business, Michaelangelo," Leo growled. "You got the river
district. Raph, you take the west side. Donnie, you take central. I'll take
Little Tokyo and the rest. Remember to check in with Zack." The Turtles nodded
and ran off in different directions.
Zack quickly bounded over to the side of the Lair where Donnie's computers had been set up before they had moved his lab to another part of the sewers. Dan followed him curiously, besides Splinter and April could take care of Casey. "What are you doing?"
He looked up with a grin. "This is the command center. It's where I get to keep track of everything the Turtles find on patrol, so they can come back and try to make sense of it." Zack waved a hand at the city map tacked to the wall with red, blue, purple, and orange tacks marking different locations. "Those are were they have met up with some Dragons or ninjas."
Dan looked around appreciatively. "And here I was think they were just beating them up."
Zack sighed, "It still doesn't amount to anything. Not when the Shredder s still out there where he can just recruit more Dragons and ninjas to cause more problems."
"We'll get him, Zack. The good guys always win."
Only in the comic books, Dan."
Donatello sighed as he entered the warehouse furtively. He was reasonably sure that some punks were holed up in here and he didn't relish having to confront them. The constant fighting might suit Raph, but he preferred to be left alone with his experiments.
He found them. Four punks playing cards sat at a table below the catwalk he was on. And from what Donnie could see of the pot, it looked like they were playing for stolen bounty. He sighed, there was no way he could call for back-up without them hearing him. And he had to get that stolen property back to its owners.
Suddenly, a door opened somewhere out of his sight and Donnie could hear muffled screams. Two more punks pulled a struggling girl to the vicinity of the table. "Looky, what we found, boys." One of them petted her brown hair. The girl tried to pull herself out of their grasp and all the punks laughed at her efforts.
Looks like the decision was made for me. Donnie screwed his eyes shut and leaped.
The table gave way under his force but the Turtle had already flipped off of it by the time it collapsed. He punched one punk holding the girl before the punk knew what was going on and the girl yanked herself away from the other one and positioned herself behind Donnie. The other punk tried to come after him, but Donnie's kick landed him against some crates. "Get out of here!" Donnie yelled to the girl.
"Don't worry! Thanks!"
The instant the Turtle was watching the girl's back, a punk tackled him from behind. Before he could shake him off, another punk helped pull Donnie to his feet.
Another punk, apparently the leader, grinned--standing well out of range of Donnie's feet. "I hear you Turtles are pretty tough." He pulled an automatic pistol out from under his jacket. "But are you bullet-proof?"
He aimed the gun straight for the Turtle's heart. Donnie felt his mind run through all possible scenarios that might get him out of this. In each one, someone got shot--something he couldn't let happen.
Suddenly, a gleam of metal flashed from the shadows and the shurikin embedded itself into the punk's aiming hand. He screamed and dropped the gun. Donnie flipped the two punks holding him as a black figure somersaulted out of the shadows and punched the leader. He looked up briefly to see the female ninja take down the other punk with a bola as he was trying to make his get-away. When he looked up again, she was gone, leaving all the unconscious punks for Donnie to dispose of. That irked him, Lotus maybe a good fighter and he now owed her his life, but she didn't have to cut and run.
He pulled out his Turtle Comm. "Zack, I just had a run in with some punks. I'm calling it a night as soon as I get it cleaned up."
"Right," Zack answered. "Were they Purple Dragons?"
Donnie turned one of the punk's jackets over, looking for the distinctive logo--an embroidered patch of a purple dragon s head. "No, they're just ordinary street punks. At the warehouse at Sixtieth and Twentieth."
"Right. You okay?"
"Do you need any help? Raph's close by."
"Nah, I already had help. If Lotus comes down with Leo, tell her to stick around awhile, okay?"
"Sure. Anything else?"
"Nothing on this end. Donnie out."
"Zack out." He faithfully entered the information in the computer set up just for the purpose of holding patrol statistics. Donnie would fill-in the particulars. Since he only handled one incident each patrol unless the Turtles were together, he tried to take as much off Zack as possible.
Splinter gazed up, expectantly. "It was Donnie. He's on his way back." The rat nodded and turned back to watching the sleeping patient.
Zack felt sorry for Donnie. The Turtle only fought when necessary and unfortunately the Shredder was making it very necessary. He wanted to patrol to help take some of the pressure off Donnie, but he wasn't ready yet. He was beginning to feel like he would never be ready. "How's Casey?" he called softly.
"He will heal with time," Splinter answered. "He has a strong spirit."
"I've never met him before. I've heard you guys talk about him, but how come he never comes down to the Lair?"
"Casey chooses to forge his paths alone," Splinter answered slowly. "But he knows he has friends if he needs them."
Just like now, Zack thought. He decided he was going to like Casey Jones.