"Did you know your name has psychological meaning?" Sammie flicked through the book she held.
"What are you talking about?" Allie looked up from her homework.
"Well, you know names have meanings. But they also carry connotations people have about them. Those connotations give names their psychological meanings."
"Your extra-curricular reading is effecting your mind, Sam."
"Allison means little truthful one. Boy, your parents really knew what they were doing."
"Very funny," Allie scowled. "And what does Samantha mean?"
"And you're making fun of my parents? What does Zackery mean?"
Sammie flipped a few pages. "Zackery means Jehovah hath remembered."
"Jehovah hath remembered," Allie repeated musingly.
"April means opening or born in April. Was she?"
"Yeah. Funny, I never thought of her as an opening."
"Ha, ha," Sammie frowned. "Very funny. Give me another name."
"Michael . . . ," Allie faltered.
"Michael, Michael. Here it is. Michael means who is like God. Does that fit this particular Michael?"
"In my personal opinion . . . ." Sammie leaned closer. "It's none of your business."
Sammie recoiled and stuck out her tongue. "You're no fun sometimes, Allie. Especially when you're keeping secrets."
"So that's why I'm never invited to any parties. Don't you have to go to work tonight?"
Sammie glanced at the digital clock radio. "Oh gees. Mac'll kill me if I'm late." She grabbed her tape case and slung it onto her shoulder, pausing at the door. "Are you going out tonight?"
"Not until after I finish this Pre-Cal homework," Allie answered. "And it looks like an all-nighter."
"Alrighty, I'll see you when I get back."
The street leading to the studio was well-lighted, something Sammie was thankful for every night she had to work. She walked rapidly down the sidewalk, not out of fear but worry that she should be late.
Two black-clad ninjas jumped down in front of her. "Out of my way, boys. You're late for Halloween and I'm late for work."
"You will come with us." One reached out and grabbed Sammie's wrist.
"I will not! Let go!" She wrenched her hand away and backed into another ninja. He wrapped his arms around her chest, pinning her arms. Sammie threw her heel into his toes. He tossed her to the ground. Sammie sat up and looked at the five ninjas surrounding her.
"You will come with us," the speaker ninja announced again. "Your friends cannot help you now."
"Think again." The ninja whirled and received a green fist in the face. Within a few seconds, they overcome the ninjas.
"Are you okay?" A Turtle wearing an orange mask knelt beside her.
"Yeah, I think so," Sammie shook her head and stared. "You're the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!"
"That's right. Do you have a name?" He helped her to her feet.
"Sure, Sammie Yutang. You guys are the real thing?"
"If we're not, nobody's told us," the Turtle in the red mask answered.
"That's Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello, and I'm Michaelangelo."
"Wow, I can't believe it. My roomie's gonna flip!"
"You shouldn't be left alone," Donnie said. This girl struck him as just slightly ditzy. "Maybe we should escort you to your destination."
Sammie might seem ditzy but she wasn't completely. "No way. If I go to work, what's to stop some more of those guys from jumping me as I head back to the dorm? I'd ask one of my coworkers to drive me back but I don't want any of them knowing where I live." Her face brightened. "You can take me back! And you can meet my roommate."
"I'm not sure if that's such a good idea," Leo began.
"Oh please," Sammie begged. "Besides, how would it look in your profession if I disappeared off my doorstep? I watch the news and I wouldn't hold it past this bunch." Her thumb jerked in the general direction of the comatose ninjas.
"Oh, all right," Leo gave in, exasperated. "But no autographs."
"Wouldn't dream of asking," Sammie murmured innocently.
"She's good," Donnie whispered to Mike as they fell in step behind her.
"I think I know how she got that good," Mike answered, too low for Donnie to make out.
Sammie left them at the back door of her dorm as she went around to open it. "We could run for it," Raph suggested.
"Come on, Raph. Isn't it nice to be admired every once in a while?"
"I just don't want it to become a habit, Leo."
Sammie threw open the door. "Come on in. I need to call Max and tell him what happened."
"And Max is?" Donnie prompted.
"My boss. I scout out new bands for his studio. He'll be upset I didn't show, but he'll be more upset that I almost got mugged." She stopped on the stairs and stared at the Turtles. "Is that a good cover story?"
"Good as it'll get. But how will you explain that nothing happened?"
"I'll just say someone came to my rescue," Sammie replied airily. "That's true enough." They reached the third floor, and Sammie unlocked her dorm room doors. "You'll never guess who I just met!" She announced to someone in the room. "Tada!" The Turtles entered the room hurriedly. They didn't know who might see them in the hall.
Allie leaped to her feet. "Mike!"
"Allie!" The Turtles gasped as one.
"Is there anyone in this city you don't know?" Sammie grumbled as she dropped onto a bed.
"What happened? You left this room just knowing they existed."
"She almost got kidnapped by Foot Clan ninjas," Leo answered for her. "We rescued her and she wanted to show us off."
"Are you all right?"
"You sound almost concerned, Allie," Raph remarked acidly.
"Don't mind, Raph. I beat him in a battle of wits when he fought unarmed and his ego is still recovering. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Sammie answered testily, then softened. "How do you know them?"
Allie squirmed, "Remember all that trouble with Billy's murder? They helped me and Zack."
"Yeah, ninjas killed him." Sammie's mouth formed an O. "The Foot Clan ninjas are after the Turtles and you got in the middle of it!"
"More or less. But it's too long of a story. That's when I met Mike," she blushed, "I mean the Turtles."
"I know what you mean," Sammie turned a critical eye on Mike. "That explains why you don't have a picture."
"One of Sammie's psychological insights," Allie explained to Mike's look. "She figures something was wrong with me because I didn't have a picture of my boyfriend out on display."
"She's not too far off," Raph grumbled.
"Would you like to wait in the hall?" Allie asked him sweetly.
"The question is why did the Foot Clan go after Sammie?" Donnie said, deftly defusing the bomb about to explode between them.
"Maybe they went after Sammie to get to Allie to get to us." Leo took a deep breath, "That's a mouthful."
"If that's the case, you need to come home, Allie."
Allie's blue eyes narrowed slightly. "What do you mean, Mike? Go back to April's?"
"But this is my home."
"This isn't a home, it's a stopping-off point."
"Okay, so it's a stopping-off point! That's all April's was!" Allie's voice rose and her eyes flashed.
Mike tried to stay calm. "You're not safe here."
"I'll never be safe anywhere until the Shredder's neutralized!"
"Is that supposed to be my fault?" Mike asked quietly.
"Do you want to claim responsibility? The point is I won't run and I won't hide, so you have to learn to live with it."
"Even if that gets you killed!"
"It's my life, it's my decision!"
"And my opinion doesn't count?"
Sammie backed away from the arguing couple. "Tell me they fight all the time."
"This is the first time they have ever fought in front of an audience," Leo replied.
"Tell me they fight all the time," Sammie repeated.
"I guess it doesn't!" Allie shouted, then wished she hadn't. Mike's eyes were so wide, even though the rest of expression hadn't changed. She had hurt him, hurt him more badly than she ever had before. But she couldn't back down, wouldn't back down. He had to see her point.
"You're not coming back with me?" He asked softly and slowly.
"Not as a prisoner to be kept in the Lair."
"Then you've made your decision." Mike turned and walked out of the room. The three other Turtles paused and looked at Allie, then looked at the door. The best thing to do was leave, and they did.
Allie sat shakily on her bed as Sammie watched. When she was sure that Allie
was calm, she bolted out the door.
The Turtles detoured around their brother. "Something big just happened," Raph muttered.
"I thought you'd be happy about it," Donnie frowned.
"I thought I'd be happy too. But Mikey's really upset. I think I know how he feels. I know how I would feel if Mona did to me what Allie did to Mikey."
"Don't look now, but I think that girl is awakening some spark of compassion in you."
"Very funny, Leo," Raph growled.
Sammie noticed Mike was trailing behind the others. "Michaelangelo!"
He turned to face her. "What is it?" His voice was tired.
"I can help you help her."
Sammie took a deep breath. "I can help you help Allie. She needs your help."
"She doesn't seem to want it too badly."
"That's just the way Allie is. It's her psychological reaction to trouble. The more she's in, the harder she pushes everyone away. I don't know what happened when Billy died, but I'd bet she was a real witch during the whole thing."
Mike smiled slightly, "She was."
"The same thing is happening now. You didn't forsake her then; are you going to forsake her now?"
Mike sighed, "I don't know. I don't want to. I love her, but she has to trust me."
"Trust doesn't come easy for Allie," Sammie announced.
"I know that. But I trust her, why can't she trust me?"
"I don't think it's a matter of trust anymore. She thought she got hold of something and could let go of it any time she wanted. Instead, it has grabbed hold of her and won't let go."
Mike frowned, "She's in over her head, isn't she?"
"Yeah, but I don't think she knows it yet. Just remember that I can help."
"I'll remember." Mike joined his brothers and Sammie sighed. Michaelangelo
might want to help, but he wouldn't understand how.
Allie was still sitting on the bed when Sammie returned to the room. "Are you okay?"
Allie took a deep breath. "I've really done it this time."
"You can't blame him for being protective."
"That's not it, Sammie. He knows. And he doesn't like it."
"He loves you. Would you want someone you love risking their live every night?"
"I support Mike. That's what he does almost every night. I don't complain about it."
"Yeah, but he told you from the start what he did."
"They never believed I could do it!"
"If Mike really believed that, would he know?"
Allie wilted, "No, he wouldn't."
Sammie repented for her harsh words and took a softer tone. "Look, this is Sammie talking. Not only am I a psychology genius, I'm good at reading people--especially boys. What's got him miffed is three, you're risking your neck; two, you don't care that you're risking your neck when he doesn't want to see you die; and one, you didn't trust him from the start to tell him that you were risking your neck."
"I know, I know . . . ."
"I don't think you do, Allie. Let me put it this way, would you marry Mike?"
"What kind of a question is that?"
"Just answer it."
"Not now, and besides, who would we find to perform the ceremony?"
"All that aside, hypothetically, would you marry Mike?"
Allie's head snapped up and defiance shown in her eyes. "Yes, I would. I would in a heartbeat."
"Marriage is the ultimate sign of trust. Believe me, I know that from watching my parents kill theirs. If you can trust Mike with your heart, why can't you trust him with your secret?"
Allie didn't answer right away, and Sammie's glance at her friend's expression confirmed her suspicions. Allie's blue eyes were brimming with tears that never spilled over. Those same eyes were torn with conflict. It won't let her go, Sammie realized sadly. It'll never let her go and it will never share her with someone.
"I have to go," Allie finally said. "I have appointments to keep."
"I thought you didn't run any more." The door slammed softly into place.