Something about this particular sewer was giving Buffy the willies, and she had no idea what exactly it was; it was a faint feeling, a tingling on her ‘spidey-senses,’ as Xander liked to call them, but like no other tingle she’d ever felt before. It was similar, in a way, to the sense she had when there were vampires or demons around, except without the evil taste those vibes always had. Or maybe it was closer to the way she’d felt when someone was doing magic, as that was less of a dark flavor, but even that wasn’t right. Whatever it was, though, it was getting stronger the further into the sewers she went.
“Oh gross,” the blonde groaned as she felt something squelch beneath the heel of her boot, and with a shudder, she resolutely did not look down to see what it was. She did, however, make a mental note to ignore any feelings like this in the future, unless what she found was really worth it. After all, the only reason she was even down here was because she’d noticed her senses going off when she’d been ordering pizza for she and her dad. At almost the same time, she’d noticed a group of larger men in long trenchcoats and big hats leaving the restaurant, and made the snap decision to follow them down here. And look where that had gotten her. Lost. In the sewers. In New York. And she half expected to round a corner and run into an alligator at any time. Which- Slayer- she could so handle, but that didn’t mean she wanted to.
“Right,” she muttered to herself, fingers itching to grab at the stake she’d shoved in her purse before leaving the hotel room. “If I don’t find anything in the next five minutes, I’m turning around and going back for that pizza.” Wiggy feelings or not. This was her summer vacation, which meant she had a guilt free pass to ignore all things business and Slayer, or at least that was what she’d tell herself if, ,i>when, she turned around.
If only it were so easy.
Right as she began to decide to turn around, she heard the faint sound of a voices from around a corner up ahead… in the middle of a sewer in New York. They were faint enough that she couldn’t make out what was being said, only that they were loud and unruly, and they were in the direction she was getting those freaky feelings from. A groan escaped the blonde, and she fought down the urge to stamp one foot. There went her plan of getting out of here guilt-free. With a sigh, she finally gave in and slipped the stake from its hiding placing, wrapping slim fingers around it and creeping up to the corner carefully. Then, around the corner, where she could see a warm light far down the sewer past another corner, the clear origin of the voices.
“Time to use all that training Giles drilled into me all year.” Because she’d totally paid attention in every session. Really! Not that she needed a whole lot of help being stealthy- she’d been sneaking out at night to fight vampires for the past two years just fine, hadn’t she? That, and the closer she got to the corner and light, the louder the voices were, covering any noises she made quite nicely. And the clearer it became that she was not dealing with demons, like she’d been afraid of. That is, unless the demons were teenage guys with huge cravings for pizza.
“Dude, they totally got our order wrong on this pizza! I know I told ‘em extra, extra anchovies, and look at this! There’s only, like, one!”
“Are you kidding? How could they forget the anchovies! We always order them; they’re usually so good about getting it right!”
“I know, it’s crazy isn’t it? And they were so busy, man. It’d take forever to go back and get it fixed!”
“Are the other ones alright? Or did those get messed up too?”
“Oh yeah, they’re totally fine. It’s just the one. What’re we gonna do with it?”
“Do not worry. If you are adverse to it, then I believe I shall eat it.” And that was an older voice, finally, raspy. Their dad, maybe? Right. Raising his kids in the sewers. Although, maybe that was normal here; she’d seen worse things back in LA, before she moved to Sunnydale with her mom. Apparently, she’d been wrong about whatever that feeling was, though, because taste in pizza toppings aside, the conversation seemed perfectly normal, and like nothing demonic in the last. “A ninja does not waste food.”
Yup. Perfectly normal teenage boys, with funky tastes in pizza, and a ninja for a dad. Nothing strange here!
Buffy was so ready to leave that when her mind actually caught up with what the older voice had said, she was mid-step turning around. And then she realized what he’d said, and stopped so abruptly that her body kept going without thinking, making her step off the side of the walk and splash loudly into the filthy water below.
She froze. Utter silence stretched out from behind her. Feeling like she was trapped in some clichéd horror movie, the blonde turned slowly to look back. The light still shone warmly from around the corner, but it was as if the people she’d been listening to had simply disappeared into thin air. Cautiously, tightening her grip on the stake in her hand, she crept forward to look around the corner, ready to jerk back at a moment’s notice.
What she found on the other side was a large, circular opening, typical of what she’d seen in the sewers so far, but through it, instead of more sewer, it looked like the opening of a home. To one side she could see a couple couches and chairs set up around an old, rickety TV that looked like it’d seen better days, and to the other, there was an entire kitchenette. It was no ‘Better Home & Gardens’ set up, but it was nicely stocked, complete with sink, an old fridge, and a large square table piled high with pizza boxes. The top one, she could just make out, looked like a plain cheese pizza, with a single blotch of darker color near the middle; the single anchovy, she assumed. The pizza was still steaming. The boys, however, were no where to be found.
Something flashed past the corner of her eye, and it took all her willpower not to jump. Instead, she shifted into a comfortable stance for fighting, holding the stake in a defensive position. There was a blur of dark green that dashed across her peripheral vision, and the tingling awareness that had led her all the way down here surrounded her. Buffy frowned and slid her eyes closed, stretching out with the senses she’d honed during training with Giles-
The wood of her stake shattered when it struck a hard surface, startling her and drawing an equally surprised sound from whatever it was she’d hit. Her eyes flew open, wide as she stared, and-
“Whoa! Lady, calm down!”
It was a turtle. A human sized, walking, talking, turtle! And it wasn’t just one, there were four of them, the other three half staring at her in shock and half checking on the one she’d hit. Her stake was in pieces, and while it hadn’t been a particularly good stake, just a small one to hide from her father, she’d never had a stake do that before. Of course, she’d never hit a turtle in the back of their shell before either.
“I’m alright.” It was the one she’d hit, a red bandana tied around his eyes- eyes that were looking at her with something like respect.
“You sure, Raph?” the one with a purple bandana asked, looking back and forth between the red turtle, ‘Raph,’ and her. “Looked like she hit you pretty hard.”
“All shell,” he answered, shrugging as he got to his feet. He grinned- at least she thought it was a grin, it was kind of hard to tell, what with him being a turtle and all- and gave her a nod. “I’ll feel it for awhile, but I’m not hurt.”
“She is a very skilled warrior.”
Buffy all but jumped a mile high, because the elderly voice came from behind her, where she’d thought no one was. And when she turned to look, she decided she’d broken reality. Somehow. Maybe fallen down a rabbit hole? Because this one, not even a turtle anymore, was a rat. And he was smiling wisely at her as he stepped forward carefully, cane in hand.
“Yeah, tell me about it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone hit Raphael like that before.” The blue one spoke this time, a thoughtful look on his face, a thought which in of itself made her wonder for her sanity. How could a turtle look thoughtful? How did she know what a thoughtful turtle looked like?
“It was totally awesome!” Orange piped up, eyes sparkling. “How’d you know he was there, lady? Raph’s, like, the stealthiest of all of us. I mean, that is, if you don’t count Master Splinter.”
“It was almost like she could sense him,” Blue puzzled, eying her seriously. “She closed her eyes. Master Splinter, it reminded me of when you meditate.”
“You,” the rat addressed her directly, and was she imagining a welcoming warmth in his voice? “Have had training in the art, have you not? You are able to sense chi.”
“U- uh huh?” Giles had called it that once, hadn’t he? The rat, who she assumed was the ‘Master Splinter’ the turtles had mentioned, gave her a wider smile, his eyes kind, as he nodded and extended his cane out and toward the well lit kitchen not too far away.
“Michelangelo, Donatello; prepare another seat for our guest. It seems we shall have much to talk about this evening.” His words were gentle, and Purple and Orange gave a little bow before grinning and heading off to do what they’d been told. “Come. It seems we have startled you. Let us repay that with food. Tell me- do you like anchovies?”
A bit of her nervousness washing away, Buffy shook her head with a little face. Red and Blue fell into step as the rat led them toward the dwelling, and the rat laughed.
“Then it seems we are in luck. Perhaps the restaurant forgot the anchovies for a reason.”