"When did you start practicing medicine?" Mike bit his bottom lip as Taro finished stitching the cut on his arm.
"My ninja training included first aid."
"So why isn't Lotus helping stitch us up?"
"Her training did not include first aid. Norinaga Lotus, no matter how gifted, is a student of the martial arts. She has trained to train at other dojos and become a vessel of knowledge. If you are a fighter, you learn methods that will save your life."
Donnie picked up the wet washcloth, wiped away the blood on Mike's arm, and began to bandage the stitches. "Thank God, you're a Turtle. That slice scarred your shell. And be glad he knows what he's doing. I couldn't have patched you four together alone."
Taro turned Allie, who sat in front of Mike, to look at her back. He tore her blood-soaked shirt and leotard away from the wound. "This almost went to the bone." Allie shied away from his touch. "Be still, Mistress. You will die if it does not heal."
She shied away, making a small noise in her throat. "Hold her, Mike," Donnie ordered.
He wrapped his good arm around her waist and laid her head on his shoulder. "Don't," she whispered.
"We're getting you fixed up. You were hurt bad."
Taro finished stitching her back and Donnie bandaged it as he stitched her left cheek. "The time of danger is past. But you will both need to rest."
Mike leaned back on the couch and drew Allie back with him. Zack handed the Turtle a soft drink and sat down nearby. "Has Allie said anything yet?"
He gulped down the drink. "I think she's still in shock."
"Do you think she'll be okay?"
"I don't know if she can bounce back from this one."
Raph nudged Leo as they watched Taro patch up Keno and Dan. "Do you think it's a good idea to let him know where the Lair is?"
"Did you want Allie and Mike to bleed to death? Besides, he wouldn't have stayed behind. He considers himself her honor guard."
Casey cleared his throat slightly as he joined them. "What are we going to do about Allie?"
Leo sighed, "I don't know. Conference time."
Raph, Casey, and Donnie followed Leo into Splinter's meditation room. Splinter and April looked up. "Allison?"
"We don't know what to do, Master Splinter."
Taro set the last bandage on Keno's face. "Just tell your parents that you were in a fight. That should not worry them."
"You don't know our parents," Dan grumbled.
Taro partly turned and saw Lotus watching him. "Do you ever take off your hood?"
"Still as controlling as you were once." He pulled off his hood, then pushed his black hair out of his eyes. "Are you satisfied now? Your suspicions have been proven correct."
"You two know each other?" Keno asked incredulously.
"We did, once," Lotus admitted. "Why did you follow Nagi? You owed no allegiance to the Oroku clan."
"What was waiting for me in Japan? I am a fighter, Lotus, not a student. I must go where the battles are, regardless how I get there."
"Even if you got there on the wrong team?" Mona asked.
"As long as I fight for the right goal, does that matter?"
"What an interesting mind set," Sammie leaned closer. "I can understand how you and Allie started working together. How did you meet?"
Taro looked pained. "Let me keep some of my secrets. That was not my finest
hour, and I pay for it now."
Allie shuddered. This wasn't right. Mike had his arm around her waist. "Why am I here?"
Mike stroked her uninjured cheek. "You were hurt. We had to slap on a couple of Band-aids."
"You should have left me."
"For the police? I wouldn't do that."
"I committed a crime."
"You didn't commit a crime," Zack frowned when Allie didn't respond to him.
"I murdered him."
"You executed him. There's a difference."
"You should have left me."
"I'm not going to leave you, Allie."
Mona stood up, "I'm going to see what they're discussing."
"Who's discussing what?" Sammie glanced up and around the main room.
"Just about everyone and probably about Allie." She walked around the train car.
Sammie touched Mike's arm. "They're trying to decide something about Allie. We need to explain what's she done."
"They should already know," Lotus joined them.
"They know what she did, but not why."
Mike eased away from Allie. "I'll be back in a minute. Zack, watch her."
For the first time, Allie was aware that Zack was there. "Do you think I did something wrong?"
"No, I don't. And you shouldn't either. You executed him. Who can convince
you of that?"
Mike and Sammie entered Splinter's meditation room. "She killed him in cold blood," Raph stated flatly.
"No, she didn't!" Sammie grabbed hold of Mike before he rushed for Raph's throat. "She's not a murderer!"
"No one called her a murderer, Michaelangelo."
He sat down heavily and Sammie sat down beside him. Raph gulped. "I was making the point that we don't know what Allie's capable of."
"I don't think she has done anything we're not capable of doing." Mona pulled Raph down onto the mat.
"What do you mean?" April frowned.
"I'll give you an example. Raph, if you had seen the Shredder kill me what would you have done?"
"I'd kill the bastard!"
"I rest my case."
"But Mikey's still alive?" Casey tried not to look as confused as he felt.
"But Allie didn't know that. She thought I was dead!"
"The real question is whether it is safe for Allie to stay with us?" Donnie looked lost in thought.
"What are you going to do, kick her out because she managed to do what we couldn't? That's not right."
"It's not a matter of right or wrong; it's a matter of what's best for Allie. She has completely broken down. We can't fix her."
"So what do you wanna do, turn her over to the police? They'll treat her like a murderer; they have to. She's not a murderer!"
"Mikey . . . ."
"She's not a murderer! And if you guys can't accept that, I'll take her away, so she doesn't have to remind you of what she's done!"
"You would leave us for Allie?" Leo asked quietly.
"Yeah, I would. And you would do the same for Lotus and Raph would do the same for Mona."
"Stop it!" Sammie ordered. "None of this is helping Allie! Mike, you can take her away from these people, away from this city, but you can't stop her mind from dwelling on this. And she will dwell on this until her guilt is absolved."
She glanced across to the rat. "I don't know who you are."
"I am Splinter."
"Allie thinks highly of you. It's not easy to earn her respect."
"You are Allison's friend. What insights about this can you offer?"
"What exactly are you asking for? Insight into her character, why did she become the Ronin, why she isn't a murderer, or what it will take to get her out of this funk?"
"All. If you can."
"Can I tell is no problem. Can you listen might be one."
"Wait," Mona looked at her quizzically. "What makes you qualified?"
Sammie laughed. "I've been observing Allie for five years. I'm using her for my case study in my thesis for my doctorate."
"Isn't that sorta using your friendship?"
"Allie's the one who suggested herself."
"Explain what you know, Samantha."
"Okay, Allie has something I call the Batman Complex."
"Batman?" Raph snickered.
"I'm assuming you have had some exposure to popular culture. Someone suffers from a traumatic experience from their childhood and that person feels they must do something personally to stop what happened to them from happening to other people. Usually, the trauma was crime related, so they start trying to stop crime. That's the Batman Complex. Allie's traumatic event was the death of her parents, separation from Billy, and protecting Zack out of guilt. This was made worse by watching Billy die. That's why she became the Ronin, to strike back at those who hurt her and to keep them from hurting others like her."
"But why didn't she tell us what she was planning?" Leo demanded. "She told you."
"She didn't tell you because she was afraid of being responsible for your deaths. In Allie's mind, everyone she has ever loved--except for Zack and Mike--has died. The only reason Zack hasn't is because she keeps pushing him away from the life she leads. She told me because we were planning on living together through college. She was afraid some of the less-than-bright ninjas would mistake me for her--which they did. So she explained everything, who you were, her connection, the Shredder, the Foot Clan, and how she wanted to toy with your ideas about who can help and who can't."
"If Allie tried to do what we do every night, she would have gotten herself killed," Raph declared.
"But she did do what you do every night. As the Ronin. And it didn't kill her."
"What do you call tonight?"
"She almost died tonight, not because she was outclassed but because she didn't care anymore." Mike argued.
Sammie nodded, "Besides, she's helped you lots of times before becoming the Ronin."
Mike nodded, "It's true. We never told you guys because we knew how much you'd hate it."
"Okay, okay, but you still haven't explained why she isn't a murderer," Donnie frowned.
"Because the Shredder deserved to die," Casey offered.
"No, I must have left that out. Someone suffering from the Batman Complex can't kill, especially if that's part of their traumatic event. It would make them as evil as the ones they're trying to stop. Allie killed the Shredder because she lost control. And she'll live in constant fear of losing control and killing again."
"So she'll stop being the Ronin?" April rested her chin on her pulled-up knees.
Sammie frowned, "I don't know. The desire to help might be stronger than the fear of killing. But she won't ever kill again, once she's convinced she's not inherently evil. But now she's suffering under her own guilt. She has killed, she is just as evil as the Shredder, she must be punished. That's her current mindset."
"How do we convince her of that?"
"I don't know, Mike. I don't think we can. Allie has to figure it out on her own."
"Then we must do what we can to help her," Splinter decided. "It has been a
long night, let us sleep."
Zack yawned as he looked up at Mike. "She finally passed out. Taro gave her a sedative. Probably the best thing for her."
Mike picked her off the couch, wincing slightly with the pain in his arm. This probably wasn't the best thing to do in his condition, but he ignored it. "You better find a bed soon, too."
"I will, don't worry," he yawned again.
Mona sat up. April and Sammie were still asleep, but someone was moving around. Her biological clock told her it was early morning. She eased out of bed.
Allie was gathering things together into a back pack. "Where are you going? Off to commit ritual suicide?"
She whirled around, "Mona!"
"Answer the question. Are you planning a trip?"
"Yes. There is someone I have to see. And I don't know where he is."
"So you were just going to take off without telling anyone." Mona crossed her arms. "He must really be something."
"It's not like that! I respect his decisions. He can tell me whether I've done something wrong."
"And you don't respect their opinions?"
"They're biased. They've been trying for three years to destroy the Shredder. My friend has no reason to want the Shredder dead."
"Fine, I'll go with you."
"You don't have to."
"Someone needs to," Mona retorted. "You don't want any of the others, otherwise you wouldn't be sneaking around."
Allie swallowed. "I . . . I can't take Mike. He wouldn't understand why I have to do this."
"I understand and you shouldn't go alone. So write your Dear John letter and let's go."
"It's not a Dear John letter."
I'm sorry, Mike. I have to go. If I stay, I'll go crazy. I'm going to try to find Caine. I've talked to you about him, how he helped me survive on the streets, how he gave me a second chance. He can help me reconcile the part of me that wants to be the Ronin and the part of me that wants to punish myself for doing what had to be done. He helped me before and I know he can do it again.
I wish I didn't have to go. But try to understand why I have to go and why I can't let you come with me. You would push me toward healing, and I would pass it up altogether. I know you would do it out of love, but I can't upset this process. Just ask Splinter; I'm sure he'll tell you the same thing. Mona's coming with me, so I'm not alone. I love you enough to go through with this journey. And I know you love me enough not to interfere. Trust me, Mike, like I trust you not to follow me.
I love you,
Sammie touched the Turtle's shoulder and Mike jumped. "Allie's not here and Mona's gone, too. What wrong?" He wordlessly handed her the letter. She read it in silence, then looked up. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to tell the other she's left and that Mona's with her, And I'm going to wait for her to come back."
"You're going to trust her?"
Mike smiled at her. "She trusts me. I can't betray that trust."
"But she didn't tell you what she was going to do?"
"Because she knew I would try to stop her. She's trusting me not to follow her and try to stop her, so I'm not." He waved the letter. "She finally told me that she trusted me and I believe her."
Sammie smiled, "They're not going to like it."
"No." Mike folded the letter and put it into the pouch on his belt. "But they're not going to know where she is."