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Requiem for Assassins

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"You can find peace amidst the storms that threaten you." - Joseph B. Wirthlin

 

New York, a city full of hustle and bustle of everyday life. Even a year after the defeat of Shredder and Krang, a year after Bebop and Rocksteady were put behind bars; life was back to normal for the citizens of the Big Apple. All thought that with Shredder gone, there would be some semblance of peace. That did not seem to be the case what so ever. Karai had managed to slither her way from being apprehended by the police and eagerly kept up with the mantle of leadership to the Foot Clan. She was doing everything she could to prepare for the return of their master back to this side of the galaxy with the help of Baxter Stockman. The Foot Clan continued their reign of terror and with that, there came no rest for the unsung heroes of New York City.

Four brothers, mutant turtles, that stayed in the shadows to protect their city. Their home. The events with Krang helped ease some of the burdens of being detected by the normal citizens. They even now had the complete support of the New York Police Department, a new friend in the former Corrections Officer turned Hockey-masked vigilante and as always they had the continued support of their savior, friend, sister; April O'Neil. With the activity still going thanks to the Foot Clan and the rise of a new gang calling themselves Purple Dragons, there was definitely no rest for anyone.

The nightly patrols were a consistency in their lives now, some of those nights yielded complete boredom for the turtles due to lack of anything going down on the streets below. This night was feeling like one of those nights as the four vigilantes kept watch from atop of one of the many buildings in the city that offered a good view of those said streets. Their eyes watching as they waited for something, anything to happen. What they were unaware of at that very moment; they themselves were being watched.

“We’ve got them where we want them, Tanuki. If we don’t do this now they’ll be even harder to find tomorrow night.” A female voice whispered sharply from behind a maroon and white fox mask. She got closer to the edge of the building clad in her maroon and black Samurai-esque gear. She looked down seeing the brothers from the advantage point just slightly above them thanks to a higher connected building. A male clad in black and navy blue gear similar to hers gripped her shoulder, his mask that of a raccoon but in the navy and white theme as to match his clothing.

“Your impatience is starting to wear me thin, Kitsune," his whispered words he knew were harsh yet, rightfully stern. His light gray eyes beneath his mask locking on to her bright violet ones just to hit the point home more. He could almost hear her rolling them.

"Just wait a few seconds more and we will strike."

"You two keep fighting like that and our marks will bring that fight to us." Another woman leaning against the door that leads to the stairwell for the building was looking at them. Her dark violet eyes seemed pure black in the shadows she kept to, the white and amber wolf mask hiding the rest of her facial features. She uncrossed her arms while walking over to the ledge so she could take a peek at their marks. The amber and black clothing similar to Kitsune's and Tanuki's but a bit more elegant in style.

"Go easy on them, Ookami. After all, the months of surveillance haven't been kind on any of our nerves," the third female of the group spoke up, her voice came out in a whisper but, the tone was more cheery than any of the others had been. That voice came from a figure that stood on top of the ventilation cage to the left of all of them, the plum and black colors of her cutesy outfit made it almost impossible to see her without light. She had her dark gray eyes trained on the four turtles below, her plum and white rabbit mask keeping her face just as hidden as her partners' masks did.

“Cheerful as always, Usagi." Tanuki released Kitsune's shoulder as he got even closer to the edge. For the fifth time since they arrived on the rooftop, the turtles gathered to the farthest right corner. The only difference this time was the way their body language was translating to the four stalkers. They were planning to go to another location and within the next few seconds, Tanuki was absolutely sure of it.

“Your call, wonder boy,” Kitsune spat out in a harsh whisper using her favorite nickname for their little groups’ leader. She reached behind her to grab a hold of her weapons she had hidden beneath her cloak. Her twin metal and fabric lined tessen.

“Usagi, get their attention would you?" Tanuki ordered gently as he grabbed up his naginata from its resting place on the ledge.

“As always, I get to start the fun." Usagi reached into the pouch that sat against her right hip, pulling from it four throwing knives. Ookami poised herself as she pulled out her kusarigama she had tucked at the small of her back. With a soft chuckle, Usagi let loose the throwing knives, her aim set at the back of the turtles' feet.


 

“I’m tellin’ ya, Leo! Somethin’ ain’t right!” The biggest of the four brothers had been complaining more than usual for most of the night. There had been something off in his mind every time it was a quiet night. Like they were missing something or were not seeing the whole picture.

“Everything is fine, Raph. It's just another quiet night, so let's get moving." The eldest turtle in the blue mask was not about to get into another pointless argument with his red-clad brother. He himself was convinced that tonight was going to be just one more added to the countless nights of peace. Oh, how wrong he was. The sound of metal being buried in the asphalt-covered roof made all of them pause.

“You were sayin’?” Raphael sneered at his older brother as they all turned around. The knives that stuck from the pebbles were not at all comforting to the notion of peace. Neither were the four shadows on the rooftop just above their own.

“Get ready. I don't think they're on our side." Leonardo carefully withdrew his two katana before putting himself in a familiar defensive stance.

“Man, now our dinner is gonna get cold!” The youngest clad in the orange mask pulled out his set of nunchaku with a teasing whine in his tone.

“Shut up, Mikey!” The three brothers barked out in unison.

“Why 're they just standin' there?!" Raph had been itching for some action all night and with this new challenge, he was becoming even more impatient. He gripped both sai tight in his hands, his teeth clenched.

“Chill, Raph. They’re just trying to get our attention.” The fearless leader glared up at the four shadows; prepared for either a fight or a very interesting exchange of words.

“If that was their only motive why do I get the feeling we’re being played?” The tallest out of the brothers adjusted his grip on his bo staff, making sure to keep his golden brown eyes on the ones that were sizing them up.

“What if they're Ninjas like us, bro?" Mikey grinned sparing a quick glance to the purple masked brother; that proved to be an almost painful mistake. He quickly deflected the next dagger that was aimed at him with his nunchaku. His baby blue eyes looked to where the four shadows were just in time to watch them leap down, joining him and his brothers on the same rooftop.

“Insults like that can get you killed, Michelangelo,” Ookami spoke as the group moved toward the light. The way their gear looked slightly confused the youngest of the turtles. They had the whole Ninja vibe going with the weapon choices, the masks, and the outfits they were wearing.

“Granted, none of you will be leaving this rooftop alive.”

“Just how do you know his name?!” Leo shifted closer to Mikey taking note that both Raph and Donnie had done the same. His eyes caught the movement of the four in front of them mirrored their movements like they were stalking prey.

"It isn't just his name that we know, Leonardo," the one in the raccoon mask had spoken up this time. By the tone and the way he was carrying himself, Leo, figured that the male was the leader.

“For fuck's sake, can we drop the small talk?!” Fox girl seemed like a short fuse as she brought her hands from behind her back. With a pop of her wrists the bladed fans opened, the metallic riveting sound they made emphasized her intent.

“We got their attention, what more do you want, Tanuki?!”

“Ain't you a piece of work.” Raphael had his eyes set on the girl in the fox mask. Her attitude was something similar to his own. Actually, damn near the exact same as his.

“Rude much, Kitsune?” The one that looked like a bunny had brought out more knives into her hands.

“What fun would it be to kill them off quickly? We could at least play with them for a little while.”

“Or you could tell us why you're trying to kill us in the first place. Are you working for the Foot Clan?” Donatello had not seen any of the usual tattoos denoting the Purple Dragons or even a Foot Emblem either anywhere on their clothing. He quickly spun his bo, knocking a throwing dagger that was aimed at him off course.

"Didn't Ookami just say insults could get you killed, Donatello?" Usagi's voice was seeming a bit too sweet to come from a cold-blooded killer. That's when Donnie really looked them over. The shape of their hoods, the emblems that were a connecting point for their sashes; should have all been a dead give away. Of course, one meant only for someone that was a fan of that particular franchise, or even knowledgeable of it.

“Code names. Hooded robes. I'm going to make an assumption you all have wrist blades hidden in those kimono sleeves.” The purple-clad turtle was trying to give his brothers a helpful hint or two about who they were dealing with.

"Whoa! No way!" Of course, the game nut, known as Michelangelo, would be the first to catch on. He was quite proud that he was about to get something right on the first guess.

"You guys are Assassins! Sweet!"

"Give that turtle a cookie!" Ookami laughed which only made the other three Assassins groan out. She looked at them and shrugged, feigning complete innocence.

"What?"

“I'm done with the warm and fuzzy crap! We end this now, one way or another!” Kitsune growled out and hastily ran towards the four brothers.

“Finally, some action!” Raphael was all too eager to greet the Assassin's hotheadedness with some of his own.

"Kitsune, stop!" Tanuki knew that his orders were not going to work on her now, she was just too angered by all of the waiting around. He rushed in after her as he saw not only Raphael advancing on her but, Leonardo was joining in with his brother. He managed to swing his naginata in time to catch the twin katana that were about to slice into Kitsune's side. Kitsune had been able to block out both of Raph's sai but was taken by complete surprise as he kept rushing her, giving her no choice but to back peddle. The battle officially kicked off as each of the Assassins squared off with one of the Ninjas. Usagi kept the distance in her favor staying as far from Donatello's bo staff as she could while still keeping him on his toes with her throwing knives.

“It really is too bad we have to kill you and your brothers. You're pretty damn cute, Donatello.” Usagi was toying with him, trying to get him to not focus as much. In doing so, she had a feeling it would not work on him.

“Why do you have to kill us, exactly?” He was not at all surprised at how quick and agile she was. The rabbit mask definitely suited her. With each step he took to get closer she would leap away from him.

“Don't you say a word, Usagi!” Kitsune groaned out as her back slammed against the side of the building they had jumped from. Her tessen were closed and hooked in Raph's sai as he kept her against the wall.

“Aw, is the little fox having trouble with her mouse?” Usagi giggled out as she jumped to the ledge above the both of them. She had been a little too careless teasing Kitsune buying Donnie enough time to get up to the ledge and behind her. He put his bo over her head and pulled her back against him, cutting off her oxygen as he pressed the weapon to her throat.

"Damn it, Usagi!" Kitsune growled softly and brought her head back down so she could keep an eye on Raph.

"Tanuki! Ookami! A little help here?!"

"A little busy, Kitsune!" Ookami was keeping Michelangelo at bay with the use of her kusarigama cursing every time he would bat away the chain with one of his nunchaku.

“Come on,” Mikey teased her in a sing-song voice knowing she was getting frustrated fighting him. He was actually having fun with this. Well, it beat having to be bored on another event-less patrol any day.

“Just tell us why you're wanting to kill us and Donnie will let the little bunny go.”

“Excuse me?! Little!” Usagi yelled out before she grabbed a hold of the bo. She did not give the poor turtle behind her a second before she launched him down to his red masked brother below.

Kitsune rolled out of the way the second she felt Raph's focus falter and she had to bite back the laugh seeing both Donatello and Raphael now trying to untangle themselves. Usagi jumped down and stood next to the fox masked woman, leaning against her. A second later, laughter rang out from the two women as Michelangelo joined the pile having been kicked there by Ookami.

“Man, we did not just get our asses kicked by girls!” Raphael sat up pushing his brothers off of him but his eyes widened seeing Leonardo's back now flying toward them. Tanuki had been able to use the dull end of his naginata to send the fearless leader off his feet. The four Assassins surrounded the unguarded brothers. They were all but ready to carry out their mission.

“This is a simple act of revenge for the family you destroyed!” Tanuki pointed the blade of his naginata right at Leo's face, the anger in his voice heard loud and clear.

“Murderers don't get the luxury of long lives.”

“Dude! We've been called a lot of things but, murderers hasn't been one!” Mikey rubbed the back of his head but he stiffened as the blade of the kusarigama Ookami wielded was right at his jaw, the tip pressing uncomfortably against the skin.

“Do not lie!” She spat out the words like venom. Her patience was beginning to wear thin which was a rare thing for her.

“Thirteen years ago you four killed our parents and set our home on fire!”

“For cryin' out loud lady, it ain't us!” Raph growled and was not too happy that fox girl had her bladed fan open and at his throat.

“What proof do you have that it wasn't you, Raphael?” She growled softly wanting so much to slice his neck wide open. Her fingers gripped her weapon tightly in anticipation of his answer.

"How 'bout the fact we're eighteen!" He grabbed a hold of her wrist since she had got so carelessly close and he pulled her down easily getting her into a headlock. He and his brothers managed to move away from the other three Assassins as Raph kept a tight grip on Kitsune. When he felt her shift her weight he grabbed a hold of the wrist that was trying to connect to his temple and that's when he saw the hidden wrist blade.

"Ya don't know when to give up do ya?"

“Part of my charm,” she retorted out but winced when his grip around her neck tighten.

“Let her go.” Tanuki put himself in a stance and bit back a curse seeing the turtles were not backing down on this.

"Tanuki, was it? Can you honestly tell me you saw four six-foot talking turtles come into your home in the middle of the night to kill your parents and set it on fire? We'd be kind of hard to miss. Even harder to forget about I'd think." Leo did not falter from his stance but he sighed out wanting to at least get some kind of headway in all of this.

"Raph, ease up. Let the girl breathe some."

"Ch' fine." He loosened his arm hold on Kitsune's neck and smirked hearing her gasping for air. He had not really noticed how tight he had gripped her in the wake of all the adrenaline. Yet, he could not excuse her for trying to kill him, so it seemed fair either way. Taking the wrist he had a hold of he placed it behind her back toward the middle of her shoulder blades. Feeling her wince he knew he got the point across for her not to try anything.

“Alright, you've made your point.” Tanuki eased his stance placing his naginata at his side in a completely rested position.

“Stand down girls.”

“Aw, so we're done playing with them?” Usagi chuckled as she put the knives she had in her hands back in the pouches on her hips.

“Looks like it's your lucky night, boys.”

"Usagi, don't be an airhead," Ookami chuckled out as she put her kusarigama in the holder at the small of her back.

"Look, we had to give you some kind of reason for us to attack you. We had to see for ourselves how good you guys are, so we could see if you would be able to help us. Soon as we got the contracts and were told you were responsible for what happened to our parents, we did the math ourselves.”

“Wait a minute, you want our help? Help with what?” Mikey was completely confused.

“Can you guys take off the masks? Your faces are hard to read and they're creepin' me out a little.”

“This sounds like it's going to take a while to sort out. Maybe we should take this off of the rooftops?” Donnie was pretty certain that they were not in the safer parts of town.

“Donnie's got a point.” Leo was trying to think of another place they could all go, somewhere they would not be interrupted.

"Put me down." Kitsune had her head tilted slightly upward toward the red-clad turtle's face. She had figured when the weapons were being put away he would have let her go but seeing that was not the case now, she was starting to get pissed off again.

“Ya gonna try an' hit me again?” He raised a brow ridge at the woman he held on to and he smirked seeing the look in her eyes. He knew that look because he'd given the same one all too often.

“Yeah, yer gonna try an' hit me again. We're good right 'ere.”

“Raphael, I would put her down befo-” Tanuki did not even finish the sentence having heard a soft whistling sound. He saw the dart come from the darkness and it was headed straight for Raphael.

Kitsune growled as she kicked up to block the dart with the side of her knee, taking it from the intended target of Raph's neck. She groaned plucking the thing off with her free hand when she put it in range. A wince came next when she realized the arm that had been forced behind her back had dislocated from her little trick. She glared up at Raphael now completely out of patience and highly irritated.

"Put. Me. Down."

“Okay, fine,” Raph was grateful to her for blocking the dart so he sat her back on her feet. He could see the arm he had a hold of was now dislocated which made him feel a little regret. When she stumbled forward a little he grabbed a hold of her good arm to help steady her.

“Hey, whoa. What's wrong?”

“Nothing. We've got bigger problems now. Looks like the Foot Clan came to have fun too.” She shook her head a bit and pushed his hand off her shoulder gently. She then grabbed up both of her tessen from the ground making sure to put one away for now as they became completely surrounded.

“Yo, Ookami!”

“What now?!” She caught the dart Kitsune tossed at her and her eyes widened.

“You've got about ten minutes before you're completely knocked out, Kitsune.”

“Thanks. I just need five.”

"Or you could sit this one out and let us deal with these jackasses." Raphael had his sai out again and moved in front of Kitsune all but ready to fight again. The rooftop seemed to be getting more crowded by the second, only this time it was nothing but the Foot Clan Ninja ready to do who knew what.

“You four are coming with us,” one of the Foot Clan members leveled their tranquilizer gun toward Tanuki as they spoke. Tanuki was none too happy with being surrounded or interrupted.

“Either willingly or unconscious. Your choice, members of the Black Lotus Clan.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." - Sun Tzu

 

You four are coming with us. Either willingly or unconscious your choice; Black Lotus Assassins.”

 

This night was just getting even better for the ninja brothers. What seemed to be a peaceful night became a battle against four animal mask wearing assassins to a now stand-off with about fifty Foot Clan members all armed with ways to neutralize their targets.

 

“We've done this before guys. They've got nothing that will kill anyone but that doesn't mean it won't suck if you let them hit you.” Donatello lifted up his tech-goggles, his body bringing back that oh so lovely sting the cattle prods had given him. It brought back the memories of being captured and his blood drained thanks to the corrupt Eric Sacks trying to use the mutagen in the blood to line his pockets.

 

“They're only after us. You four better get out of here while you still can.” Usagi had moved to stand closer to the purple-clad turtle.

 

"We're not leaving you here." Mikey got into a stance waiting for someone to make the next move. He too remembered the sting from the cattle prods, the lovely time being strung up and drained of blood. Damn near dying. Not pleasant memories for sure and he was not about to let the same thing happen to the four assassins either. "Not after we were becoming such good friends."

 

“You're adorable, Mikey.” Ookami glared seeing the tranquilizer guns being aimed at her and her siblings. She did not like the situation nor the fact that minutes were ticking by and they would be down one less fighter. “We're not going with you assholes so back off or your lives are forfeited!”

 

“Very well. Have it your way!” The lead Foot guy shot off another dart which in turn set off the rest of his buddies to either fire or start rushing in. The second battle of the night now underway and it was becoming very apparent that they had no interest in capturing the turtles what so ever.

 

"Hey, hothead. Pop my shoulder back into place." Kitsune moved closer to Raphael and when another dart came flying at her she blocked it out with her tessen, stepping on the thing and smirking when she heard the sound of glass breaking beneath her boot.

 

"You want me to pop it back in right now?" Raph growled out and quickly kicked one of the guys that were coming at them wielding a cattle prod, he had got a little too close for comfort. The turtle smirked watching the man go flying right off the side of the building. "I think you should sit this one out, fox girl."

 

"Kiss my ass, turtle boy!" She jumped over him and sliced open the throat of the Foot member that was coming in toward the left. "I've got about six minutes left before I'm down and out. I plan on making the most of it so pop it back into place!"

 

"Fine!" He spat out punching out the one who had tried to come up behind the woman, she did not flinch even once when he threw the punch as if she knew he was not aiming at her. Placing one of his hands on her shoulder blade and the other to the front where her shoulder joined with her chest. He locked eyes with her a moment contemplating on giving her a countdown but figured that would just get them in more danger. In one swift motion, he snapped her shoulder right back where it needed to be the sickening pop of it going back into place gave him the sound he needed to know he got it in one shot. A smirk played on his lips when she did not whimper or even wince but his eyes widened when her fist suddenly went toward his face. He shut them just before the impact figuring this was going to hurt like hell since there was no time to block it out what with his hands still holding her shoulder.

 

"You can open your eyes now." Kitsune pulled her hand back as Raphael opened his eyes. The hidden wrist blade came to view and he saw it covered in blood, an eyeball impaled at the base of the blade. The aim had been for a baton wielder at his shoulder who was now one eye short and so not breathing anymore.

 

“I've gotta get one of those.” He smirked shoving the body away from him before he let go of Kitsune's shoulder.

 

"Only works if you have sleeves to hide them." Kitsune pulled out her second tessen and gave Raph a fierce nod before she joined in on the action. Raph had looked around to see how bad the situation was only to watch Tanuki go down from about five cattle prods being jabbed into his side.

 

“Tanuki!” Ookami growled before looking over to Usagi. A smirk glinted in her eyes seeing the agile woman had found a good place to hide to get a better advantage point. The wolf masked woman felt something at her back but she relaxed a little seeing it was only Michelangelo.

 

“So we've been out looking for the Foot Clan. You've been out looking for us. The Foot Clan have been out looking for you. How am I doing so far?” He smirked and deflected a dart from hitting Ookami in the right hip launching it right back at the shooter who was not expecting for his own ammo to lodge in his left eye.

 

“Doing pretty good actually.” She tossed her sickle and grinned as it cleanly sliced off a few heads. She caught the sickle as she swung it back towards her and her thoughts instantly went to her fellow assassin that had been taken to the ground. “Tanuki, how are you holding up?!”

 

"I'm fine!" Tanuki was back on his feet again gripping his naginata tightly, the five men that were giving him the shock therapy now lay lifeless around him after being slain by Leonardo. He looked to the blue-clad leader but his eyes widened seeing a dart sticking from the turtle's left shoulder. "We've got to finish this quick."

 

“I thought that was already the plan?” Leo stiffened for a moment when Tanuki got closer to him but watched him pull the dart off of his shoulder. He blinked when the guy held it in front of his face to show that was the reason for their close proximity. Leonardo had not even felt the dart strike him at all which meant he was not as focused as he should be in the battle. “Oh, that's why you're in a rush.”

 

"Yeah, that's why. You're going to be taking a nap soon and it looks like Kitsune is running out of time." He had no idea exactly how much time Leo had and he was seeing Kitsune beginning to slow up. That was when he caught Usagi up on the roof that had started off this whole night on. His eyes widened beneath his mask seeing what she was about to do, the look of shock not settling well with Leo. Thinking quickly, Tanuki grabbed out the ventilation mask from his belt before he put it on Leo's face.

 

“What the hell?!” Leo tried backing away from the assassin, not really appreciating how bold he was acting. He did not get the distance he wanted when Tanuki's hand clamped on the back of his neck and pushed him more to the mask.

 

"Trust me, Leo." Tanuki saw the disbursement of the poison bombs as Usagi jumped down from the roof ledge only to land at Donnie's side. She grabbed out the ventilation mask from her belt and standing up on her tiptoes she was able to press it against the purple-clad turtle's face. Just as the bombs made their impact to the ground exploding in growing clouds of purple smoke he saw Ookami pin Michelangelo up against a wall, his face equally covered. Tanuki's eyes shifted to where Kitsune was and he felt his heart sink seeing her falling to the ground. Time was up. "Raphael!"

 

“I got 'er!” Raphael knelt down to the fox masked woman hearing the explosions going off all along the rooftop. He had been keeping a close eye on her when she was slowing up on her fighting and the moment she had gone to the ground he knew she was out for the count. His eyes looked up to see the purple smoke billowing up all around and he quickly held his breath. 'Shit!'

 

“Raphael! The mask is on her belt!” Tanuki cursed softly as he felt Leo's body sway slightly. He made sure to keep the mask against the leader's face while he grabbed hold of him, letting his naginata fall to their feet. “Lean on me, Leonardo.”

“What were in those bombs?” Leo groaned seeing his vision starting to blur on him, his body starting to become heavy and numb to him as he leaned against the assassin for support. His eyes flicked over to Raphael's direction and he was relieved to see his red-clad brother tieing the ventilation mask from Kitsune's belt onto his face just before the thick smoke billowed over all of them.

 

“Nightshade gas. Instant death if you inhale even a tiny bit thus, why we are letting you guys use the masks for a bit.” Tanuki could hear the bodies of the Foot Clan dropping left and right around them. The sound was complete music to his ears at that point.

 

“What about you? What about your sisters?” Leonardo was fighting to stay awake now, not wanting to pass out yet. He knew it was a futile effort since he could feel the tranquilizer serum doing its job even more now. He felt Tanuki helping him to kneel on the ground now which was actually a little bit of a relief for his body.

 

“Aw, you care about me.” Tanuki chuckled seeing Leo's sapphire eyes snapping to lock on to his own light gray ones with a glare to them. “Relax, fearless one. These masks we wear aren't just for show.”

 

"Have my brothers take... all of you to our place. Safer there." The blue-masked leader could not fight it anymore as much as he really wanted to get everyone to a safer place his ten minutes were up. Tanuki felt the ninja go completely limp against him and he carefully shifted both of them to the ground, letting Leo's head rest against his shoulder. He could see the smoke finally beginning to clear away since there was no breeze it had taken a little longer than he liked but he could not really complain too much. Tanuki could see the rooftop was littered with bodies of the Foot Clan while the ones who mattered were safe. He moved the mask away from Leo's face and set it down on the ground next to his naginata before turning his attention to his wolf masked sister.

 

“Ookami do you have antidotes? We're down two!”

 

“You know I do!” Ookami took the mask away from Mikey's face and she winked at him. “Sorry for the sudden closeness and for shoving you up against the wall like that. Couldn't have you dying on me.”

 

"Believe me, I don't mind but you assassins have officially confused me! First, you're trying to kill us then next you're fighting beside us. Keeping us from breathing death fumes." He chuckled trying to get a grip on what really happened but his eyes looked over to Tanuki and his very unconscious eldest brother. His eyes widened, the worry slamming him and spurring his body to quickly rush to his brother's side. "What happened?! Is he going to be okay?"

 

“He'll be just fine, Michelangelo. He just took a tranquilizer dart to the shoulder is all.” Tanuki kept still as not to disturb the turtle laying against the crook of his shoulder.

 

“Sorry I couldn't give you guys much of a heads up on the poison bombs!” Usagi called out to the group as she looked up to Donnie. He had taken the mask from her so she wouldn't have to stay on her tip toes but now that the danger was over she carefully took it back from him with a wink. “Couldn't let our would-be kidnappers here in on my plan.”

 

“That was some pretty quick thinking actually.” Donatello smiled at the rabbit masked woman and followed her over to where Tanuki was. Ookami was filling up a needled syringe with some kind of clear liquid while she was knelt down by the two that were on the ground. “Is that the antidote?”

 

“Yes it is but I can hear the distrust in your voice, Donatello. Would you rather I give it to Kitsune first?” Ookami tapped the needle to make sure there was no air in it, she was concentrated on her work not really sparring anyone else a glance at the moment.

 

“No offense, yes.”

 

“You had better give it to her first.” Raphael with ventilation mask still tied on his face made his way over to them. The aforementioned assassin was in his arms still very passed out.

 

"Very well. This will take about ten minutes to take effect but its better than letting them wake up with severe pain." Ookami moved the hood of Kitsune's cloak back and slid some of her black hair that fell out of the way before she injected the serum into the vein at her neck. She then looked up at Raphael, her eyes completely stern. "Now that I've injected my own may I do the same with your brother?"

 

“Yeah go ahead but Donnie's gonna watch the whole time.”

 

“So cautious.” Ookami chuckled softly and true to form Donatello watched her the entire time she filled a new syringe. She knelt down and carefully injected Leo the same way she had injected Kitsune.

 

“We can't blame them for being so cautious. We did try to kill them earlier.” Usagi shrugged her shoulders before placing her hands behind her head in a carefree stance. “Maybe if we show them our faces they'll start trusting us more?”

 

“No. Not out in the open like this. Leo said for you guys to take us back to your place. Said it would be safer.” Tanuki looked to Donnie who in turn gave Mikey and Raph a glance. Raphael was not buying that one bit.

 

"No way." He was quick to answer that one for all of his brothers. He was notorious for ignoring Leonardo's orders so that was an easy one to deny. Ookami, let out a sigh while she rolled her eyes to his response.

 

“Look. These two won't be waking up for at least ten minutes. When the goons we took out don't report back in you can bet they'll be sending in back up. Are you getting the picture or should I spell it out more?” She crossed her arms and did not even flinch from the death glare Raphael gave her.

 

“We can find somewhere else to hide until they wake up. We ain't taking a bunch of assassins we just met to our home! Leo can get pissed off all he wants for ignoring his orders when he wakes up.” As far as the red-clad turtle was concerned the tranquilizer serum made their leader's noggin not work quite right. As far as Raph was concerned, Leo was off his rocker for that little bit.

 

“There is an old abandoned church a few blocks from here. We could wait there for Leo and Kitsune to wake up.” Donnie offered up a more neutral solution to their little problem. He had been able to feel the tension and knew no one else was really going to budge.

 

“To the church then.” Tanuki carefully stood up with Leo, making sure to put the passed out turtle's arm around his shoulder. Donatello went to the other side and wrapped his brother's other arm over his own shoulder giving Tanuki a small grateful smile.

 

“Mikey, lead the way. Raph you get to keep carrying Kitsune there.” The purple-clad one gave his brothers a look that said there was not going to be any debate on this.

 

“Fine.” Raphael shifted the assassin in his arms and looked down at her feeling her head resting against the crook of his shoulder. His eyes widened seeing a pair of hands reach up toward his face to remove the ventilation mask he still had on. Seeing Usagi's dark gray eyes staring at him from under her mask he could somehow tell she was smiling at him.

 

"There, now you should be more comfortable." She tied the mask back on to Kitsune's belt before she reached up toward her sister and took the fox mask off of the unconscious assassin's face. She gently placed it against Kitsune's stomach so it would not get lost. "Now she'll be more comfortable. Believe me, if she wakes up with this puppy on she'll come up swinging."

 

“Usagi get a move on!” Ookami called out from the next building over. Mikey was already a good distance ahead, both Donnie and Tanuki right behind him keeping up fairly well for having to carry Leonardo. Usagi gave a wave to Ookami who simply shook her head and took off to catch up.

 

"Come on. They'll leave us behind." She giggled softly as she took off after the others and just by the way she was practically prancing pretty much said she did not have a worry in the world. Raphael rolled his eyes with the thought of finding someone with damn near the same personality as his little brother. He looked down at the woman in his arms making sure she was still out cold. He took note of her porcelain skin, her ebony hair and just how peaceful she looked. She was too damn gorgeous to be a cold-blooded killer. Growling softly at where his thoughts had gone he took off after the rest of the group.


 

“So, the four of you are assassins from an organization called Black Lotus? They marked us as targets for assassination and gave you the motive that we killed your parents fourteen years ago?” Donatello stood with his hands on his hips as he stared at the two female assassins sitting in one of the old pew benches that had not deteriorated from neglect.

 

“Pretty much.” Usagi shrugged as she looked up toward the gap littered ceiling. It provided enough light from the city lights that they could still see but so did not help in the creepy factor the church had going.

 

"The second we began surveillance we figured out you guys weren't the ones behind it. This whole charade was actually Kitsune's idea, to begin with." Ookami glanced back over her shoulder to Kitsune who lay on another still intact pew. She took note of Raphael standing against one of the columns that supported what was left of the ceiling which happened to be just two feet from where her sister was laying. He had not moved from that spot the moment he had put her on the bench, nor had he let go of her fox mask after retrieving it from off of her while she slept.

 

"My question is still the same. Why won't the rest of you take off your masks? Kind of goes against the whole you trying to get us to trust you right?" Michelangelo was sitting on the back of the pew in front of the two females, his eyes never once left Ookami which was making her a little self-conscious.

 

"I would rather not have to explain who we are twice when your brother wakes up. Besides, it makes the big reveal much more extravagant that way." Tanuki was leaned against a column similar to Raphael's but this one was closer to where the last of the full undamaged pews sat. He was keeping close watch over the fearless leader that was still very much passed out.

 

“It's already been ten minutes. If Leo doesn't start wakin' up I'm gonna...”

 

“Not do anything.” A hoarse voice came from the terrapin laying on the pew. Tanuki went over and carefully helped him to sit up, knowing that if he got up too fast the head rush would be a killer. “I thought I said to head back to the lair?”

 

"Yeah, you did. Unfortunately your brother there didn't trust in that judgment." The assassin leader chuckled softly giving Raphael a teasing glance which only got a sneer in return. Tanuki turned his attention back to Leo again. "Which I can say if I were in his shoes I would feel the same way."

 

“How are you feeling, Leo?” Donnie came over to his older brother kneeling next to the male that had helped him carry their leader to the church. He smirked when he got a simple thumbs up in response.

 

“A little groggy but I'll live.” He looked over to where Kitsune was laying and saw she was still sleeping. “Did you guys give her the antidote too?”

 

"Yeah, bro! They even gave it to her first so we could see it wasn't any more poison." Mikey grinned playfully from where he was sitting, his legs swinging a bit to give him that all too characteristic carefree look he had.

 

“If she got the cure first then why isn't she waking up?” Leonardo gave Mikey a grin as if that should have been an obvious question to ask. It certainly made Mikey stop swinging his legs and look over toward Kitsune. His eyes widened hearing her let out a small chuckle. Had she been pretending this whole time then?

 

“Been waiting for your butt to wake up first, Leonardo. Didn't want your brothers biting their nails with worry that you weren't going to.” Kitsune sat up slowly and rubbed her face. This made her tense for a moment realizing she was touching her own skin rather than pushing at the mask that should be on her face.

 

“It's right 'ere.” Raphael held up the fox mask so she could see it but did not make any move to give it back yet. The assassin moved her hand away and a pair of bright violet eyes were staring holes into his golden green ones. He smirked at her knowing she was getting agitated with him. “You ain't gettin' it back 'til we start gettin' some answers.”

 

“Did any of you tell them anything while I was out?!” Those violet eyes were now turned toward her siblings. Her sisters tensed a moment knowing her agitation was growing and was now trained on them.

 

“Who we work for and who came up with the plan to make introductions.” Usagi giggled from behind her rabbit mask. She was finding the whole situation to be quite amusing. “Other than that we were waiting for you and Leo to get up.”

 

“Leo's awake now, so we can see all of your faces right?” Mikey had a mischievous smile on his face as he reached for Ookami's mask determined to remove it so he could see her face. He let out a light yelp when she smacked his hand away.

 

"Patience is not your strong suit is it?" Her voice was gentle toward the terrapin as she stood up from her seat. She walked over toward the crumbled altar of the church with her siblings, the lights coming down on them from the holes in the ceiling, giving them an almost angelic appearance from the glow the city lights cast. Tanuki stood to the left of Ookami while Usagi stood to the right of her. Kitsune had moved to stand to the right of Usagi, her arms crossed and a slight glare in her eyes as she kept her glance to the left of her. The stained glass seemed more interesting to her in that moment than looking a the four brothers.

 

"We need you guys to trust us so we must now show trust in you." Tanuki was the first to pull his hood down revealing golden blonde hair tied back in a low ponytail. The mask came off next to reveal a beige chiseled face, clean shaven and when he opened his eyes the light gray color looked hauntingly angelic with his features. The next reveal came from Ookami who pulled off her hood and mask at the same time. She shook out her chin length dark red hair and with a smirk, she opened her eyes to show their dark violet color which seemed to go beautifully with her sand colored skin. Usagi took off her rabbit mask to show the same sand-colored skin as Ookami's though her eyes were a dark gray filled with a cheerfulness rivaling that of Michelangelo's. She pulled back the hood of her cloak and fluffed out her waist-length pastel rainbow colored hair. Yes, rainbow colored. Kitsune rolled her eyes looking towards her siblings and that was when the turtles could see her porcelain skin tone and black hair made her seem completely different from the other three. Her violet eyes looked a bit more Asian than her siblings but there were still some features that looked similar to the others.

 

"Wait a minute. So all of you are actually blood-related?" Donnie, of course, was the one to hit it right on the nose. He had thought they were calling themselves siblings as a sort of team thing, not actual blood ties. Usagi let out a bit of a laugh at that question, it was adorable to her that he was quick witted and so very blunt with his questions.

 

"We most certainly are. We've been siblings since birth. We're called the Quintus Quartet by a few clan members, pretty cute nickname huh?" She grinned quite excited she could give them more information about who they actually were. She let out a playful laugh when Kitsune nudged her side and smirked at her. All playful banter between the two youngest.

 

"We've got faces and last names. How about first names?" Mikey was actually enjoying this whole ordeal. They were making new friends, a group of siblings that scarily similar to him and his brothers. The fact they really were not scared to be talking to four mutant turtles gave them a win in his book really. There were only so many times he could take seeing fear or having someone pass out from the shock of their appearance before it started really bothering him.

 

“How about we go somewhere safer before we start working on first name basis?” Kitsune uncrossed her arms and placed her hands on her hips before turning her attention to her three siblings. “You guys disabled our trackers right?”

 

“Uh...” Usagi looked to both Tanuki and Ookami before she let out a nervous chuckle. She looked to Kitsune and gave a sheepish smile to match her small shrug. “Oops?”

 

“Oops?! OOPS?!” Kitsune growled at the other three who winced at the yell she gave. “Seriously?!”

 

"You've got this girl. Do yo' thang!" The cheery sister gave the fuming one a thumbs up before hiding behind Ookami. Kitsune had made a move at her siblings as if she was just about to pummel them which was not getting any of them anywhere faster. Leo clearing his throat caught her attention and she stopped. That was an all too familiar scene and he glanced at Raph with an accusing stare. Raph rolled his eyes and looked away from his brother not wanting to even go there with fearless.

 

“Trackers. As in your Clan can easily find you where ever you go trackers.” Donnie looked at his brothers worriedly before looking back to the siblings in front of them. That meant that they could be found being near them.

 

"I swear to all that is holy you three are going to get us killed! I'm just glad I had the foresight to shut off the damn communication links in the masks before we found them! Otherwise, this whole thing would have been a huge ass mess with the clan right up our asses!" Kitsune was none too happy with her siblings' neglectful behavior as she pulled a small tablet from the leather bag at her back. The glow from the screen illuminated her features more as she furiously tapped at it, concentration on her face made Leo instantly think of the technical genius brother when he was hard at work on something.

 

"Well, that's just peachy! We're gonna be runnin' all over the city and we're still not gonna have any real answers!" Raphael was none too pleased about the whole tracker situation. For all, he knew that clan of theirs was sending in people to come check in on them or worse.

 

“Calm down, Raph. We'll get answers.” Leo crossed his arms and smirked as he figured exactly where they would be going once this situation was handled. “They are coming with us back to the lair. They're putting themselves in a whole lot of danger to gain our trust, so why not give them some?”

 

“Master Splinter is so going to kill us or worse send us to the Hashi.” Mikey groaned out not really wanting to get punished again for their rash decisions. “I mean Casey was one thing but bringing home four new faces?”

 

“It'll be alright Mikey. Trust me.” Leo smiled at his youngest brother knowing full well his concerns.

 

"Got it!" Kitsune grinned and the light from the tablet shut off as she put it back into the bag she had pulled it from. "Bought us about twelve hours. When that time is up we're probably in for the shock from hell."

 

“We'll deal with the consequences later. We've pretty much broken all three tenets in one night so any punishment at this point should be expected.” Tanuki turned his attention from his younger sister over to the four brothers. He flashed his pearly whites at them in a smug grin. “So, where to next boys?”

 

Chapter Text

All of us have ways in which we mask and cover our pain.” - Iyanla Vanzant

 

“So, where to next boys?” Tanuki was all grins at that moment. The four brothers looked to one another before turning their attentions back to the siblings in front of them. Grins and smirks spreading their lips as they stared at the assassins.

“We're going to take you all to the lair. It should be pretty hard for anyone to find you but there is a catch.” Leo grinned at them while crossing his arms over his plastron.

“There is always a catch.” Kitsune had her hands resting on her hips with a small glare to the leader of the ninjas. She was not quite liking where this was going just by their expressions alone. “Let's hear it then.”

"You've gotta wear blindfolds the entire way there." Raph sneered at the ebony haired girl knowing she was going to give the most hell about it. Her glare only hardened more at him.

“Are we seriously going to do this?” She turned her glaring expression from Raph to her siblings hoping they would put up more of an argument about the blindfold idea.

"Just do it and stop being so stubborn." Ookami grabbed out her wolf mask from where she had it on her belt and began to tie it onto her head. The mask was sitting on the left side as she placed the sash over her eyes making for a pretty good blindfold. Tanuki and Usagi both did the same as their sister, mimicking her actions as Kitsune simply rolled her eyes. She still had one little snag to their plan. Raphael still had her mask in his possession. She looked to the massive turtle and gave a small groan in displeasure. Taking a few steps to where she stood in front of him she held out her hand hoping she would not have to ask him nicely.

“Need somethin' fox?” He grinned knowing exactly what she wanted but teasing her was more amusing to him. The simple fact that she was uncomfortable with any sort of nicety gave him a slight satisfaction in annoying her.

“Yeah, I need my mask muscle-head.” She looked up at him with a defiant glare still refusing to play nice with him. Two could most definitely play that game.

“Nah, I think I'll keep it. Payment for havin' to carry your knocked out ass here.” He shifted the toothpick in his mouth to the right side, still grinning his head off at her.

“Come on you two. We don't have the time for the stubborn acts.” Leo was guiding Tanuki toward the front door of the church.

“All she's gotta do is say please.” Raph let out a small chuckle before waving a hand toward the eldest that paused at the doorway. “Don't worry, we'll be right behind ya.”

"Yeah right! If I know my sister she'd bite her own tongue off before saying please." Usagi could not help but laugh at her own words as she was led the same way at the two leaders by Donatello. She kept hold of him by having her hands on his wrist while she called back in a singsong voice over her shoulder. "Don't take forever, Kitsune."

"Shut up, Ly-Usagi!" The violet eyed woman almost slipped up, almost gave the first name and that just proved to anger her more. "Just give me the mask."

“Not happenin'.”

"For crying out loud would it kill you to just say please?!" Okami was able to give her sister a stern look even blindfolded just before Mikey picked her up bridal style. He gave his red-clad brother a wink as he headed for the door with the assassin.

"Don't be too mean, Raph, or you'll never get her to like you!" Of course, he would not dream of a missed opportunity to poke some fun at his hothead of an older brother. That was his job, of course, annoyance guru.

“Shut up, Mikey!” Raphael bellowed out and could hear the over joyous laughter from just outside the church. “I'm gonna pummel 'im.”

“He reminds me of Usagi. All heart and jokes no matter what.” Kitsune sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose finding she was beginning to get a small headache from the situation she was in. When she looked back up at Raph he was staring right at her with the grin right back on his face. She raised a brow at him and crossed her arms over her chest. “What?”

“I can tell ya right now fox girl, I can be more stubborn than you.”

“My name's not fox girl, turtle boy.”

“It is until I know what your real name is. Now, you gonna ask nicer this time?” He pulled out her mask from where he tucked it under his shoulder armor dangling it just out of her reach. “I can do this all night.”

"Is that so?" A sly grin played on her lips, one that made Raph's eyes widened a little out of how bold she was getting. He was not at all prepared to go from towering over her to being pinned on the ground within two seconds. She had sat on his plastron, her knees lightly against his shoulders to make a point that she could keep him pinned down. "Assassin one, Ninja zero."

"Oh, you've got jokes." He was about to completely throw her off of him but as he began to move his arms he paused to watch her tie the mask on just like her siblings had. Wanting to double check that she could not see he lifted a hand up slightly to wave it in front of her face.

“Just because I can't see doesn't mean I'm less of a threat.” Kitsune carefully got off of him and stood up straight just to the left of him, her arms becoming crossed over her chest again. When she tilted her head in a questioning motion he let out a short laugh and stood up to tower over her again.

“Fair enough.” He did not give her a single warning before he picked her up and slung her over his shoulder. A grin of triumph on his face hearing the small squeak of protest and feeling her hands gripping his shell. “Better hang on girly.”

“Oh-ho I am so going to pay you back for this.” She adjusted herself to get a little more comfortable but stiffened slightly when she felt him grab hold of her rear end to keep her on his shoulder. “Could you just carry me a different way? Or you know, lead me by the arm or something?”

"Hell no. Now, we're tied one to one." Raph walked out of the front of the church and looked at the man-hole his brother's had used to head back. A mischievous grin spread across his lips as he got an idea. "Hey, fox? You wanna beat the others there?"

"Oh, you are so talking my language." She did not even protest when she felt him shift her completely. She was resting against the back of his shell to where she could easily wrap her arms around his neck, which she did so quite happily. Her face now next to his she was not sure if this was even remotely more comfortable or not. At least he was not gripping her ass so there had to be a plus there.

"Hang on tight and don't let go." He gave her fair warning and smirked when she tightened her hold the second he began climbing toward the top of the church, knowing a faster quicker route back than the way his brothers had taken. After all, he lived for shortcuts to not get caught when he went out alone.

 


 

"Wow! This place is amazing!" Kitsune had lifted the sash tie of her mask from her eyes but kept her fox mask against the side of her head, not wanting to give Raphael another chance to stake claim to it. She was looking at the whole place the guy called home within the underground sewer channels of New York. "I can't believe what I'm seeing here."

"Ya don't get out much do ya?" Raph let out a chuckle as he listened in for his brothers and her siblings. They had definitely made it back first and the awe in her voice was actually interesting, to say the least.

“Not really, no.” She glanced over at the turtle and raised a brow at him seeing the slightly shocked look he was giving her. “I'm an assassin remember? My whole life was nothing but contracts and staying in shadows. If we did have fun we had to be very sneaky about it.”

"I get it, trust me," Raphael smirked as he moved over closer to her, giving her shoulder a small pat. "I get it more than you know."

"Raphael!" The stern voice that sounded out had made both of them nearly jump out of their skins. The two slowly turned at the same time to see who had just given them the heart attack. Kitsune could not help but to hid behind Raphael after realizing the tone was that a father would use to get their child's attention. A tone that said he was in trouble with the giant rat that was now standing in the room.

"Hey-a, sensei." Raphael waved a little nervously at the five-foot tall old rat but could tell his father was now not paying him any attention. Rather that attention was focused on the woman that tried hiding behind him. With a smirk, he turned enough to put a hand on her back and push her back out beside him. "He's already seen ya, fox."

“You had better have a good explanation, my son.” The one Raph had addressed as sensei looked around and seemed to be getting more vexed with who he was not seeing. “Where are your brothers?”

"They're on their way back." Raph was tempted to give more of an explanation than that for what was happening but luckily for once, his brothers showed up right on cue.

"Welcome to our humble abode!" Michelangelo was the first one in with Okami in his arms. It was not until he put her on her feet that he saw his father staring right at him. "Aw crap."

“What? What's wrong?” Ookami lifted the sash from her eyes and seeing the large rodent who was now staring right at her she froze completely. She could see the agitation starting to grow in the old one's eyes. “A-are we in trouble?”

“More like me and my brothers are in trouble. Big trouble.” Mikey gave a nervous chuckle looking over at Raph who merely shrugged at him in return. The rest of the crew came in to join the party that was starting. Usagi had moved to where Donnie guided her and when he gave her hands a small tap was when she lifted the sash from her eyes. She saw the situation and stiffened slightly, feeling the tension. She kept her eyes on the one staring daggers in their direction as she reached up and tapped Donnie's shoulder.

"Who's that?" She pointed even though by the way, he was standing she could tell he was staring right at the one she pointed at.

“That would be our father, Splinter.” He swallowed the lump in his throat out of nervousness before looking back as Leonardo came in the very last with Tanuki. “Since this was your idea you get to tell him.”

"Thanks, Donnie," Leo smirked letting go of Tanuki's arm who was now lifting the sash away from his eyes. He motioned for the assassin to stay there a moment as he walked over to their father, kneeling down with his head bowed slightly. "Sensei, we kind of had an unexpected event happen while we were on patrol tonight."

“I can see from your guests. This is going to take a lot longer than the usual unexpected events, isn't it?” Splinter's eyes had softened, the agitation no longer there since all of his sons were home unharmed. He glanced up at the young man with the long blonde hair as he approached.

“It may take a bit to explain, yes. My sisters and I have a lot to answer for.” Tanuki bowed respectfully at the hips towards Splinter. He was not about to be rude in the least toward the father figure. That would have been unwise in his book.

“Then I will get the tea before we hear what you have to say. Luckily I had just started up some.” Splinter headed toward the kitchen as Tanuki stood up straight. Leo stood himself back up and looked to the male who gave him a thumbs up and a wink to go right along with it.

“Saved by the samurai!” Mikey grinned giving Tanuki a light smack on the back of his shoulder.

“Assassin, not samurai, but I'll take the compliment none the less. I am curious though on how you two beat us here.” Tanuki turned his light gray eyes toward both Raph and Kitsune who had only given him mischievous grins in return.

"Probably one of Raph's many shortcuts." Leo chuckled seeing the way the two had mimicked each other before he motioned for everyone to find a seat, get comfortable. Master Splinter returned with a tray that held a pot full of green tea and five cups. He poured one for each of the guests taking in that they had taken up spots on the floor so everyone could keep an eye on them. He poured himself a cup and sat the tray on the table before he sat in his favorite recliner. Mikey had returned from his trip to the kitchen passing out the sodas he snagged for himself and his brothers before claiming his spot on the couch, putting himself between Donnie and Raph. Leo stood at the side of the couch, arms crossed and staring at the four assassins that were knelt on the floor. Once everyone was all settled down was when Splinter took in their appearances.

“You four are from Japan aren't you?” He smiled softly at them catching on to their mannerisms and their facial features. Tanuki was the one to give a nod before setting his cup down on the table, making sure he had placed it on the tray before he leaned back on his legs.

“My name is Dorian Quintus, code named Tanuki of the Black Lotus clan.” Dorian bowed his head down making the first of the introductions.

“I am Calliope Quintus, code named Ookami of the Black Lotus clan.” The red-head bowed the same as her brother, she was kneeling down to the left side of him. “Callie works just fine as a shortened name.”

“Lyra Quintus! Usagi of the Black Lotus clan.” The cheerful toned girl rang out in excitement to get her introduction done and she bowed down to the floor, mimicking the same motion her siblings to the right of her had.

“Arietta Quintus. Kitsune.” The ebony haired one crossed her arms but Dorian being to the left of her reached up and shoved her head down, making her give a kind of respectful bow. When they all sat up she shoved his hand off of her head making the old sensei chuckle.

“It is almost like I'm seeing double.” He looked over to both Leo and Raph with a smile which got a short chuckle from the one in blue and an annoyed groan from the one in red.

“Your names are pretty unique for being Japanese. They're all music based names.” Donatello smiled to the Quintus siblings and Lyra gave him a gentle smile in return.

"Yeah, our parents were adorable that way. We're actually only half Japanese, our father was actually a New Yorker. Sucks trying to find name tag souvenirs though, let me tell ya!" She gave a soft laugh but straightened hearing Dorian's throat clear in a condescending way. "Right. Sorry."

"Your focus needs more focus, Lyra." Dorian shook his head before turning toward the turtles and the rat. "The Black Lotus is an organization of assassins that originate in Tokyo. We have operations around the world and even one here in New York City. Our parents were the heads of the clan until they gave up their leadership around the time Arietta was born. They passed the reigns to a man they head trusted, who was a dear friend of theirs and who they thought would keep the true purpose the same. Hamada Hisoka betrayed their trust in him and has turned the organization into something corrupt and evil."

"The contracts were once given to stop very corrupt people. Mafia, Triad, Yakuza and the like were our main targets of assassination up until about three years ago. That's when the targets began to change from the evilest men to innocent families. The only connection we began to see were the targets held the opposition to the Foot Clan and sought to go against Shredder." Calliope had her head bowed when she had taken explanation from her brother. The moment the leader of the Foot Clan's name rang out the sound of hasty shuffling and weapons being drawn were heard. She lifted her head to see that Raphael had his sai pointed inches from her face, Splinter was holding on to his arm but it was Arietta's tessen that had stopped the near fatal blow. The woman had intercepted the massive turtle, her other tessen opened and pressed to his throat kept him from moving any closer toward her eldest sister.

“Raphael!” Splinter looked up at the hothead before looking back over his shoulder at the other three who were equally poised to attack. His stare and Arietta's position alone kept them from moving closer. “Let them finish explaining.”

“They've explained plenty, Master Splinter! They're workin' for the Shredder!” He sneered but his eyes snapped from Calliope's face to the sai that was now being moved from their position. He locked eyes with Arietta as she slowly pointed the tip of his weapon at the junction where her throat met her chest. She removed the tessen that had blocked him out and let it hit the floor before moving the second one from his throat. The sound of the metal clanging on the ground perplexed him slightly. “What are ya doin'?”

“Let them finish talking. If you still believe we work for that demon when they're done then I will gladly let you stab me. Does that sound fair to you, Raphael?” Arietta was completely calm in speaking to him, her eyes never once leaving his as she spoke now to his brothers. “We will let you all end us if you still think we're the enemy by the end.”

The room was silent as the four ninjas stared at Arietta. They were contemplating on what the next move should be as her siblings stayed completely still in their positions on the floor. Leo was the first to put his katana away before claiming Raph's spot on the couch. Donatello followed suit shortly after pressing the button on his bo to make it collapse on itself before placing it back in the holder on his side. He took his spot back again on the other end of the couch, looking towards the group sitting on the floor. Mikey put his nunchaku away and sat down in the center of the couch again but popped open another soda. Arietta's hand grabbed a hold of Raphael's wrist gently and she moved to where she could stand straight, he moved the same as she did and kept himself in line with her. Their eyes never faltered from one another as they kept their stances, Arietta crossing her arms and waiting. Splinter could see the young woman was keeping to her word and going out of her way to keep Raphael's focus on her. He closed his eyes for a moment and let go of his son's arm before he took his spot in his recliner.

"Please, continue." He looked to the three still kneeling on the floor. It was Lyra who now bowed her head down slightly while she clenched both of her hands into fists on top of her thighs.

“We knew that our clan had lost its true purpose after the subtle changes. It was meant to be a safe haven for those who sought to protect the lives of the innocent. A home for those that had the will to fight for a good cause and who had no place to call home themselves. It wasn't until the contracts began to change that we figured out where Hisoka's allegiance lay.” She looked up with tears in her eyes but it was the painful shame that shone in them the most. “We never asked to become the assassins we are. To become the same monsters that haunted our childhood. The same that stole our parents.”

"The moment they gave us the marks on the four of you, we knew it was a contract from the Foot Clan." Callie gently rubbed Lyra's back to comfort her as the rainbow haired girl rubbed at the tears in her eyes. "We knew at that point we were losing our home, our world was going to turn completely upside down and with it, we were about to turn yours. Arietta came up with the idea to continue out like we always have with every mission. We were under constant surveillance through the trackers at the base of our necks. The Bluetooth system in our masks was rigged up so they could hear our every conversation until she disabled those as well. She has bought us enough time to explain everything to you."

“What about the ambush earlier?” Leonardo had his stare hardened, trying to keep up with everything they were telling them. Trying to make sense of it all.

“We had no idea the Foot were even looking for us nor did we think they could easily find us.” Callie looked toward Dorian who sighed out gently and looked straight at the blue-clad turtle.

"We may not have wanted this life but we adapted pretty damn well to it. Some of us more so." He nodded toward Arietta before he continued. "The Foot Clan more than likely wanted to capture us because the four of us are part of a subgroup in our organization called the Elite Eight. We're highly skilled and can be very valuable if we are ever captured alive. I plan to get more information on that as soon as we can but for now, we need your help."

“What do you need our help with exactly?” Donnie was not sure about any of this. It was all too much and way too fast. It also seemed like they were purposely keeping back information.

"We plan to take out the Black Lotus and if it comes to it we'll take out the Foot Clan as well if they are working together somehow. We want to right the wrongs that have been done by them. It may not redeem us but it sure as hell will stop the cycle. Please, will you help us?" Calliope bowed to the floor and both Lyra and Dorian did the same. Arietta kept herself standing in front of Raphael, her eyes not wavering from his. The three on the couch looked at one another before they all turned their attention to their sensei who looked lost in deep thought. He gave a small hum as he stroked his beard before he stood up and got closer towards the group on the floor.

"You have nowhere else to go, I presume? No base of operation so to speak?" Splinter's question made Dorian react with a slight wince. That made the rat smirk knowingly.

“No, Splinter-sama, we do not. We do have a few things at a mansion uptown that Hisoka owns but by now I'm sure they've caught on that we've gone rogue. We will have to completely disappear and we're prepared for that. Prepared to keep on the move and keep hidden. We will make sure-.”

"Then it is settled." Splinter interrupted the young man which caught the attention of all of his sons. "You four will have a safe haven here. There is plenty of room for you to stay and you will be safest here rather than wondering New York every day and night. Go gather your belongings after you do something about those trackers you were talking about."

“Master Splinter?” Mikey was not quite sure if he was hearing his father right. It sounded like their master was giving the green light for them to help.

"We will help them in any way we can, Michelangelo." Splinter placed his hand one by one on each assassin's shoulder getting them to stand from where they sat before he smiled at them warmly. "Your cause is a noble one albeit very dangerous. It is something that will take time and careful planning to make a complete success. You should not go ill prepared to fight against a well-trained enemy and with that, you will need training of your own."

"I swear to you if our presence brings any ounce of risk to any of your lives we will leave." Calliope looked at Splinter, her dark violet eyes held much resolve. "That will not be up for discussion.

She had directed that last sentence to her siblings in which two of them gave nods to her. The more sass-filled one simply rolled her eyes which was about a good of an answer as any would be from her. Arietta brought her eyes back to the golden green ones that were still trained on her. A sly grin spread across her lips as her hands moved down to her hips. She glanced down at his sai that was still at her throat before bringing them back up to his again. She raised a brow at him to add emphasis to their current position.

"Still want to kill me? Do you still believe I'm working for that demon?" The grin disappeared as her arms now relaxed at her sides. Her expression became very stoic which made Raph's become just slightly uneasy with how serious she was being all of a sudden. He felt her lean closer into his sai, the tip getting close to piercing her flesh and he pulled back just enough to ease the pressure. It had surprised him and the grin came right back to the woman's lips, eliciting a glare from him. "Thought so."

“Clever fox.” He brought his weapon down from her and sheathed it with a smirk.

"Oh, you haven't seen how clever I can be." She gave him a playful wink before she looked to her siblings. "So, what's first on our to-do list?"

"First order of business. Slice these damn devices out of our necks." Dorian smirked as he turned toward his sister, the tattoo at the base of his neck bared to them as he moved his ponytail away. That tattoo was that of a black lotus but there was an oddity within the ink. The blinking red light was definitely not normal as it flashed like a tiny beacon. "Someone mind doing the honors?"

 

Chapter Text

From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.” - Aeschylus

 

“First order of business. Slice these damn devices out of our necks. Someone mind doing the honors?”

Dorian pulled his ponytail to the side to reveal the black lotus tattoo at the point where his shoulders met his neck. The red blinking light showing just beneath the inked skin was definitely an oddity to Donatello as he got a little closer to the guy so he could examine it easier. Arietta quickly retrieved both of her tessen from the floor, a wicked grin on her face as she went closer to her brother. Raphael spun the sai from its holder with a grin the equaled Arietta's on his own lips as he followed with her.

“I'll cut it outta ya.”

“I've got your back, big brother.” They both stopped in their advances toward Dorian and looked at each other. Arietta was the first to narrow her eyes at the massive terrapin but Raph was the first out of the two of them to speak his mind.

"Backup, foxy. I'm gonna cut it out." His eyes narrowed and he sneered at her as she gave him a small little growl in return.

“I don't think so, Red. He's my brother so I get first dibs by blood!” The two of them started getting closer to sort out just who would do the job in their own violent way but they had not really expected for Donatello's hands to cover their faces. He had turned to the two hotheads having just about enough of their rash decisions for one night. Raph was bad enough but now with someone similar to him in temper the tallest turtle's patience was becoming worn thin.

“That's enough from both of you! We've got medical tools for this kind of procedure. There is no need to go hacking and slashing at something that could very well be attached to the spinal column.” He pushed both of them away from on another slightly before turning his attention to the three assassins that seemed quite shocked by his stern behavior. “Follow me and I can take the devices out. Safely.”

The last word Donnie put some emphasis on it after he had looked back to the two he had separated. The tone made Arietta stiffen up just slightly while Raphael gave his brother a small sneer before putting away his sai. Most of the group followed after Donatello towards the medical room except for Master Splinter who in turn motioned for his eldest son to wait with him. The second Mikey, who was the last to go in the medical room, vanished from their sights the wise rat looked to Leo giving him a gentle yet serious stare.

“You and your brothers are exposing yourselves to a very dangerous world, my son. The path those Quintus siblings walk is one filled with fatality and loss.”

"I understand, sensei." Leo bowed to his father but there was a deep-set emotion that was bubbling up after having met the four assassins. A feeling of uncertain fear that their world was about to be completely turned upside down. "I'm not sure what we are supposed to do."

“What does your heart tell you, Leonardo?” Splinter could see the uncertainty in his son's eyes. He could feel the exact same fear of the change that was about to come for he too felt the same as his son.

“It tells me that I can trust them. They went well out of their ways to get us to leave the fight when the Foot Clan showed up. They fought to protect us when we didn't retreat.” Leo paused a moment in his explanation as a thought crossed his mind. He slowly brought himself out of the bow to stand straight as the memory took hold of his mind. The second he had seen Dorian on the ground from the cattle prods the only thought that raced through his mind was the need to protect the assassin with his life. He had to ensure that Dorian was safe from the Foot Clan no matter what. That urge to protect the male was equal to the sense of protection he had for his own family. To a complete stranger.

“I am certain they have more to tell us about this Black Lotus clan. We may get more answers but, we may also have more questions as time goes on.” Splinter put his hands behind his back before nodding toward the medical room. “Go on and make sure you get the answers you seek. I will go meditate on all of this further.”

“Thanks, Dad.” Leo smiled before he started making his way to the room the others were in.

“Leonardo?” The old man called to his son just as he had reached the doorway. His dark brown eyes locked on his son's blue ones. “You all better be swift in retrieving their belongings. Do not let anyone get distracted. It will be daylight soon and with how many of you there are it will draw attention if you are not careful.”

“Yes, sensei.” He gave a bow of his head before going into the room so he could see what progress had been made. He had to bite back the laugh that threatened to escape as he saw Lyra sitting on the exam table swinging her legs like a child waiting patiently. Donatello had his goggles down over his eyes while he looked to the base of the woman's neck. The holographs from the projectors in said goggles were around him showing all vital signs and a close up of her spine. Leo could see the perplexed look on his brother's face which sent a small spark of worry through him. “Donnie, what's up?

"It's a good thing those two didn't just cut the device out. We would have all gone up in one pretty big explosion." Donatello raised up his goggles and gave Leo a worried look. One that was not easing Leo's mind at all. "I don't think we can even remove them without setting them off."

"Is there any way to completely disable them then? Any way to make it where the bombs won't go off?" Leonardo turned his attention toward Dorian who was standing at the head of the table with his arms crossed. His lips were set in a hard line as he tried to search for answers in his head. His light gray eyes shifted to Arietta who was standing off in the corner of the room leaned up against the counter with her arms in the same pose as herbrother.

"Ari, you have to give us a hand here." Dorian's voice sounded more like a plea than a command on that one. Arietta closed her eyes on a sigh seeing all of them looking her way in her peripheral. She reached into the bag that rested on her belt and pulled out her tablet.

“There should be a very tiny switch on the underside of it.” She made her way over to Donatello as she began pulling up the schematics for the devices. She handed her tablet over to him so he could copy over the plans to his own device. When he pulled it up on the holograph she carefully pointed out the tiny hole for the switch.

"That's way too small, how are we going to get to that?" Mikey was leaned into Donnie's side staring at where Arietta had pointed.

“Lyra has throwing needles that are just small enough to get in there and strong enough to be able to flip it. The only problem is once the devices are removed from their position they start letting out an electrical discharge that hurts like all holy hell. They may be small but they can pack a punch. The second the switch is flipped the electromagnetic pulse that goes through it fries all of the circuits and with it disables the bomb completely.” Arietta took a step back after putting her tablet away. Her arms crossing again as she stared at the displays.

“Can't we just cut them out and then flip the switch one by one then?” Raphael was standing off to the side far enough he could get a good read on the entire room. Lyra's small chuckle made him raise a brow at her. She had stopped swinging her feet at this point and was staring at the ground with eyes filled with a bit of sadness and regret.

"They act in a domino effect silly. When one started the countdown they are start up if they are within ten feet of another device. When we invented these things we didn't have any idea that we'd purposely try to take them out."

“You made them?” Donnie's screens turned off as he looked to Lyra both shocked and impressed.

“I came up with the idea, Dorian provided the bomb knowledge and Arietta was the one who did all of the programming and schematics.” Lyra gave a soft shrug of her shoulders before looking over her shoulder at him, the emotions in her eyes showing how much she was regretting her idea.

“Why would anyone need these things implanted in their necks?!” Leo was liking the whole situation less and less the more they spoke on it.

"It is a way to make sure information does not fall into the wrong hands. It's to ensure any assassin of the Black Lotus takes that knowledge to their grave. Keeps us from going rogue. As assassins we have three tenets we must always follow though we have broken them so many times in one night alone. Michelangelo you've played those games, haven't you? You know the tenets I'm talking of correct?" Calliope smiled at Mikey remembering how excited he got when he realized what they all were. He chuckled softly as he reached up and scratched at his cheek in a shy manner.

"Yeah, but I couldn't spout those off even if my life depended on it."

"Stay your blade from the blood of innocence. Hide in plain sight. Never compromise the Brotherhood." Arietta recited them without any hesitation and with a tone that spoke volumes of how it had been ingrained in her very soul. She tilted her head at the orange-clad turtle; a small smirk on her lips. "Our lives do depend on it."

“Damn.” Mikey was completely impressed with that one. “I never would have imagined that those games were real life deals you know?”

“Mikey, we're talking turtles. Almost anything should have a possibility of existing.” Donnie had a smile as he looked to his brother in that moment. His mind came back to the task at hand and he looked to Arietta. “Looks like the only way we can do this is remove them all at once and flip that switch. How long are the timers set for?”

“Thirty seconds.” Arietta wasted no time in replying to that as she ran her hand through her hair in a bit of frustration at the whole ordeal.

"Are we seriously considering this?" Leonardo looked at Donnie even though he gathered there was not really any other option. Raphael came closer and stood next to Leo; a scowl on his face that only added to the mood of the room.

“Sounds like we don't have a choice.” Raph sighed out knowing time was definitely not on any of their sides.

“Exactly.” Dorian gave a small chuckle and shook his head a little as if to rid his mind of the horrid thoughts that were trying to slither their way in. “Lyra could you fork over the needles and a few of your knives please?”

Lyra tilted her head at her brother before giving him a nod of confirmation. She reached down to the pouch that was strapped to her left leg where she carefully pulled out four slivers of metal and held them out to Dorian. Once he took those from her she brought her hand back behind her just under her cloak and retrieved four kunai from the satchel she had them in presenting them to Dorian handle first. He gave her a stern nod of approval as he took the knives from her. Turning he faced toward Leonardo who took a wary step back from the man.

"You can't be seriously asking us to do this, Dorian." The fearless one could not in any state of mind feel alright with causing anyone harm on purpose. He already felt the sharp pain of guilt with seeing the weapons being held out toward him. Dorian's eyes never left the turtle's face and never once showed any sign of changing his mind either.

"No, I'm not asking. We would do it ourselves but we're going to have to keep the pressure on the wound so we don't bleed out." Dorian did not back down in the slightest even knowing how much it was bothering the other leader. He was not going to try and wait for another solution either not with what little time they had to get everything else done. This was going to have to be done now or never. The other three ninjas moved closer to their brother. Their eyes were all looking down at the sharp weapons Dorian held in his hands for them to take. They were all uneasy about this, even Raphael was hesitant about it now that he was well aware of the risks all of them were taking.

"We've endured a hell of a lot worse than what you're about to do, boys." Arietta had moved to stand next to Dorian which had placed her just in front of Raphael. Her eyes were almost blank as if she had completely tuned her emotions out in that moment. Lyra hopped off the exam table and took up to Dorian's right side. She placed her hands behind her back as she gave Donatello a gentle apologetic smile while she stood there in front of him. Calliope got in front of Mikey which placed her to the right side of Lyra. She kept her stance confident yet her eyes were a gentle comfort to the youngest turtle that looked at her.

"This will all be over before you know it." Dorian held his hands closer toward Leonardo, his voice not once wavering as he tried to gently coax them into the task before them. With a sigh of pure defeat, Leo reached out and grabbed one of each of the weapons from the assassin's hands. Each of the brothers did the same until they held a kunai and a needle, waiting for the next step. Arietta had Donatello pull up the image one more time this time to make sure every single one of them had it committed to memory where the hole for the switch was. She must have gone over it about ten times just to make sure it stuck since seconds were all they had.

“You guys are going to put the devices in our hands. We'll take the brunt of the shock while it's resting against our skin but I can't promise you won't get a little of the zap yourselves once you stick those needles in.” Calliope placed her hand on Michelangelo's shoulder and squeezed it gently to reassure him. She could see the uncertainty in his eyes and knew that he was highly overwhelmed. “It's alright. I have faith you'll do just fine.”

"Thirty seconds isn't exactly slow, sweet cheeks." He was so not okay with this at all. This was highly nerve-wracking and they had not even cut into their flesh yet.

“It's plenty of time, little brother.” Leo looked to the youngest and gave him a soft reassuring smile. He was putting on the brave front to help ease some of the nerves even though at that moment Leo was just as uneasy.

They all paired off one ninja to the assassin that was in front of them. They had moved about the medical room to give each other the space they would need to get it done and over with. Each of the Quintus siblings bared their tattoos to the turtle that knelt behind them on the floor, the red blinking lights giving them their targets. Breaths were taken as Arietta closed her eyes to begin the countdown wanting everyone to move at the same time.

Three.

Hearts began pounding in several chests as adrenaline pumped hard through all of their veins.

Two.

Knives were shifted and tips placed against skin as the other three assassins closed their eyes, bracing for the oncoming sting of pain.

One.

There were only a few sounds of discomfort that issued from Calliope and Lyra while small hisses came from Dorian and Arietta as the bases of their necks were sliced wide open, devices pried from the wounds. The sound of ringing metal echoed the room as the kunai fell to the ground. The devices no bigger than a quarter were dropped into each of their open palms as the human siblings reached up with their free hands to quell the steady flow of blood pouring from their neck wounds. Arietta began another countdown keeping her voice loud enough they could all hear her as thirty seconds ticked. The brothers moved in unison to get in front of the assassin kneeling on the ground, needles poised and eyes searching out for the small entryway that would lead to the kill switch.

Twenty seconds left as the devices started up their electrical dance. The surges licking at the flesh they touched. Calliope and Lyra both whimpered in protest to the pain as Dorian groaned in discomfort. Arietta continued the steady count through clenched teeth. Needles found their way to where they needed to go and sounds of slight discomfort and annoyance issued out from the turtles as they were given shocked warnings to stop. They worked through their pain to hook the switch that would save them all.

Ten seconds to go and Donnie was the first to flip the switch, a small popping sound issued out as the device completely shut off. He acted quickly in catching Lyra in his arms as she passed out completely from the pain of the shock treatment. He reached up and clamped his hand over her wound to keep her bleeding at bay and held her tightly to him as he waited for the others to succeed.

Mikey had been the next just a second after Donatello and he defiantly grabbed the device from Callie's hand to throw it across the room away from them. Calliope smiled at him weakly and mouthed a silent thank you to him before her body completely gave out on her. He brought her into his arms and held her against his chest with his left arm while his right moved to keep the pressure.

Five seconds called out just as Leonardo shut off Dorian's device. He watched the guy toss the device to the side before giving his head a soft shake, fighting to stay conscious. Smirking he shifted the both of them to where Dorian could rest his head on Leo's shoulder for a moment to steady himself and get his bearings. A gentle push and he took over the pressure just to give the poor assassin a break. Raphael barely managed to flip the switch Arietta was holding as she had begun to mutter one. He muttered a soft curse seeing her finally give out and he did not blame her one bit. He wrapped his arms around her as shewent completely limp. His left arm held her against him allowing her forehead to rest against the crook of his neck as he kept the pressure on her wound with his right hand.

“Are any of 'em still awake?” He growled out figuring if they had all passed out it would make patching up their wounds more of an issue.

“I am. Give me a minute and I can free up Leo here to play nurse for us.” Dorian chuckled softly as he waited for his vision to stop swimming.

“This was the craziest damn thing we have ever had to do!” Mikey finally issued out the bottled up complaint once he knew they were explosion free. “I don't ever want to have to do it again!”

“For once I think you spoke for us all, Mikey.” Donnie let out a small chuckle which in turn made Leo have a small chuckle of his own. The mood in the room definitely lightened up substantially with the danger they faced now completely gone.

“That clan of yours are some pretty crazy people making their members have those things in them.” He smirked and moved his hand as Dorian reached up to take over. Making sure the male was sitting comfortably he got up to get the gauze and bandages he would need to get the patch jobs done.

“Guess that makes us pretty crazy for having them put in,” Dorian chuckled a little but he shook his head lightly as Leo came back over to him. “Ladies first. Arietta went down last, she gets treated first.”

“And you say you are not a Samurai,” Leo could not help but tease him as he went over to Raph who still kept a good hold on the ebony haired assassin. As Leo prepared the gauze he gave his brother a look before nodding his head. The second Raph moved his hand Leo put the square gauze over the wound and wrapped the bandage around Arietta's neck twice before tying it off on the side. Once he got back up to move on to the next one he was surprised to see his red-masked brother pick her up bridal style and head for the door. “Raph where are you going?”

“Gonna go let her lay down until she wakes up.” That was all the answering he was going to do before he was out the door and heading towards his room. Leo did not really feel up to arguing, not with three other patch jobs left over. The leader made quick work of Calliope next since she was the closer and when she was patched up Mikey took the same notes from Raph, leaving with the red-head assassin. Donnie had done the same with Lyra once her wound was bandaged which left the two leaders alone in what Raphael loved to call the needle room. Leo knelt down in front of the remaining assassin and smirked as he repeated the bandaging process one last time. He flopped down on his rear and let out a sigh of relief glad that it was all safe again.

"You and your brothers do have the right to say not to helping us. You know that right? What just happened is a slightly dangerous situation. A mere raindrop in the massive ocean of what is to come." Dorian looked to the leader of the ninja with his expression staying very serious. Leo made it a point to look into Dorian's eyes before he spoke up on the matter.

"You asked for our help and we will help you until the very end, Dorian. If you want to ease that burden a little then you need to start talking. One leader to another. I want to know everything about this Black Lotus clan." He smirked as he stood up and offered Dorian a hand up. The blonde let out a soft laugh before taking the offered hand making sure to stand up slow so he would not get a head rush.

“I promise you will have all the answers you could ever want once the girls wake up and we get our stuff. Not sooner and not later.” He winked which made Leo smirk with a shake of his head.

“Alright then let's get something to drink while we wait.” He turned toward the door to show Dorian to the kitchen his mind already set on either tea or soda.

“Sounds good to me! Got anything stronger than soda or tea?” Dorian let out a laugh seeing Leo giving him a look as he paused at the door. “I'm joking, kid. Either one is fine with me. It's too early for the strong stuff just yet anyway.”

 

Chapter Text

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” - Aesop

 

Raphael sat on the side of his bed with his arms resting on his knees while his eyes stayed glued to the floor at his feet. Hearing the occasional roar of laughter through the closed door; he could tell by the pitches that the other two females had finally woke up. He turned his head only slightly to look at the female that was laying in his bed. She was still out cold, the only sign that she was alive was the slow rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Why had he been so quick to bring her to his room was one of the many questions running through his head. Most of the time the answer he came up with was the same over and over. He was going with his gut. Well that gut of his just landed him in one hell of a difficult situation that he would have to explain. With a sighing groan, he turned his head back to the same position he'd been stuck in. Tilted down so he could just stare at his feet rather than stare at the girl like some creep.

Arietta slowly opened her eyes not too long after he had looked away, her vision slightly swimming from the whole event that had happened to her. She could feel a presence close to her and as her vision focused she looked to see just who was in the room with her. She was slightly surprised to see Raphael sitting at the side of the bed. She was even more curious that he seemed deep in thought and had not sensed her waking up. With a playful grin on her lips, she slowly sat up making sure not to disturb the bed. She froze as it finally hit her where she woke up at. This was most definitely not the medical room they had been in before she had passed out. This was a bedroom, Raphael's bedroom, and she had been put laying down in his bed the entire time she was passed out. The perplexed her greatly but she put it to the back of her mind as she let the sly grin play on her lips once more. Inching forward she carefully and slowly pressed her index finger to Raph's cheek. This made Raph tense as he felt the sudden lightly contact. Snapping his head toward the source his eyes widened seeing Arietta sitting up and looking right at him. The tap to his lips made his brain kick back in and he gave a low growl before snapping at her finger. She had the quick reflex to pull her finger back in enough time to avoid being bitten.

“Hey!”

“Took ya long enough to wake up, sleeping beauty.” He grinned and was quite pleased with himself for getting her back for the trick she just pulled.

“How long was I out?” Arietta ran her fingers through her hair, her violet eyes taking a better look around the room before looking right back at him. “I'm also curious as to why you brought me to your room.”

"You've been out for half an hour. I brought ya in here so ya could get some rest." Raph looked away from her hoping she would not ask him to go into any more detail than that. There were times he admitted to himself that he wished he did not hastily rely on his gut feeling. This was one of those rare occasions.

"Aren't you the gentleman?" Arietta let out a small chuckle and moved on the bed to where she was sitting next to him. Sliding her hair to the side she moved her hands to start untying the bandage. She tensed when she felt him grabbing her wrists to stop her.

"Don't take it off. It ain't done healin' yet." He had been a little shocked she was already trying to remove the bandage. That cut had not been a nice one he had made and he knew enough about wounds that it would take it time to heal. Not just half an hour of healing either. It was his turn to tense, however, seeing the look she was giving him, that sly grin gave him a shell tingling chill that he was not quite sure about.

“It's alright, Raph. Let go of my hands and I'll show you something pretty wicked cool,” The small glare he was giving her made her eyebrow raise. He kept the glare but he did let go of her wrists to allow her to finish what she had set out to do. She kept the back of her neck hidden from him as she undid the wrapping and removed the gauze. That sly grin still on her face as she looked up him for a moment before turning herself sideways on the bed to let him see where her wound was. “See? Told you it was okay.”

"How the hell?" The wound was completely gone. No scar, no bleeding, no nothing! Just gone. He brought his hand up and carefully touched where it should have still been an open wound. His mouth agape and eyes wide as all he could feel was smooth skin under his fingertips. Arietta tried calming the goosebumps that were forming on her arms thanks to his touch. He gave another small glare as he pulled his hand away and looked at her. "What, ya got magical powers or somethin'?"

“No not magical powers. Just a side effect of being a test subject for medical experiments. Gained the perk of faster healing.” She shrugged and adjusted herself on the bed to where her feet were touching the floor again.

“Just what kind of messed up organization is that clan of yours? First tickin' time bomb trackers and now ya tellin' me they did experiments on ya?!” The more he was finding out about the Black Lotus clan she was a part of the less he was liking it.

"It may not sound like it now but it was home at one point. Really the only place I could call home since I was too young to remember my life before then." She nudged his arm lightly and gave him a forced smile. He could see it in her eyes that the whole situation was getting to her. He knew all too well what bottling up and putting on a front looked like. He reached up and grabbed a hold of her forearm when she had stood up from the bed. No doubt she was going to go catch up with the others.

“Ya don't gotta hide it, Arietta. I can tell it bothers ya. Everythin' that's goin' on I mean.” He chose to look up at her at that moment and was surprised to see the shocked look on her face. He let go of her wrist finding the look she was giving him was making him feel a little uncomfortable. “What?”

“You... nothing. It's nothing.” She shook her head as she got over the shock of him calling her by her actual name rather than fox girl or something similar. She found that she liked the way her name sounded with him saying it. She turned her head to hide her face from him feeling the urge to say something she rarely ever said to anyone and she really did not want him to see her blushing at the moment. “Thanks for what you did earlier. You know, saving my live and all.”

“Don't worry about it.” He stood up and gave his shoulders a few rolls feeling the muscles realizing while a few joints popped as if grateful he finally moved. He put his three digit hand on top of her head with a smirk, figuring she was blushing or something instead of looking at him. “Wasn't that big of a deal.”

"Yes, it was," She turned her head to look at him over her shoulder, her violet eyes locking onto his golden green ones. His hand lifted just slightly from the crown of her head with that gaze. Those eyes of hers and the way she looked right at him made him feel completely bare. "It only gets harder from here, Raphael. This kind of life never gets easier, only bloodier. Deadlier. It isn't simple strolls on the rooftops or late night patrols. It isn't a few midnight brawls with a couple of street thugs."

He could hear the tone in her voice shifting from warning to pure agony within seconds. Neither one of them moved from where they were as she paused in what seemed like an attempt to scare him out of helping. His hand that had hovered over her head finally moved to where he now stood with crossed arms. His eyes narrowed at her daring her to keep talking as he felt his blood start to boil.

"You're about to follow a path that has been bathed in both the blood of the wicked and of the innocent. You're willingly walking into the world where one minute you have your family and friends at your back only to have them taken away from you forever." She had a dark look in her eyes with how serious she had become. She never once wavered her eyes from him even with how pissed off he was looking. "Are you absolutely sure you're ready for that? Are you prepared to take that step from childish games to death at every turn?"

“If ya were gonna regret askin' for help maybe ya should 'ave stayed the hell away from me an' my brothers! What choice do we have now?!”

“There is always a choice, Raphael! I am giving you that chance to make the choice for yourself.” She straightened herself up and squared off with him not liking the anger that was starting to fill his voice. She felt her own anger starting to bubble in her when he started laughing. “What the hell is so God damned funny?!”

"You are foxy! Ya honestly think I'm gonna fall for the scare tactic crap? Think I'm gonna feel bad that ya didn't get to choose your life?" He poked a finger right against her clavicle to get his point across. "Ya just said that there is always a choice. Obviously, you've made yours and I'm tellin' ya I ain't getting scared off by some little human girl who thinks I can't handle what's goin' on. News flash for ya. Ya don't fuckin' scare me. None of you do and neither does that Black Lotus Clan."

"You are a complete idiot." Arietta spoke in a deadpan tone which caught the male off guard for a moment before the words ignited the flame. In a matter of seconds, he had her slammed against the wall next to the door, her arms pinned above her head to keep her from those bladed fans of hers or from activated the hidden blades at her wrists. His right hand had a hold of one of his sai, the tip pressed under her chin. She had her head tilted up to avoid getting impaled and her eyes locked back onto his showing him absolutely no emotion or reaction to his rage.

“You're the idiot. Thinkin' ya could scare me with your words? That may work on the newbies in your clan but it ain't ever gonna work on me, got it?!” He growled at her as he moved the sai from her chin and back into the holster. “If there is a fight then I'm gonna fight. I never back down or run away. I never have and I never will. You'd better remember that, fox.”

“Good to know.” She let the grin she had been holding back spread across her lips, her eyes telling him she was only testing him. It had all been another test. He narrowed his eyes at her the grip on her wrists tightening so he could lift her up enough that her toes of her boots barely touched the floor. She did not even flinch and that smirk was only proving to fuel his rage more as he got closer to her.

“If you know what's good for ya, fox, you'll stop with the damn tests. I don't gotta prove nothin' to ya.”

"I never said you have to prove anything to me, Red. I was simply testing a theory is all." Arietta tilted her head enough to the right that her hair shifted to cover her left eye. The smirk turning from sarcastic into a more playful grin as she tried to move her body in his hold. He froze up the second her hips rotated feeling her move against him made the rage snap out of his system. He had even forgotten to breathe in that moment which made Arietta chuckle in amusement. His attention clicked back in and he gave her another hard glare. "I got my answer so you can put me down now."

"What are ya playin' at?" This assassin was messing with the wrong turtle. He knew she was trying to get into his head push all of his buttons. Two could play at that game. He lifted her up even more by her wrists pressing his body more to hers and a grin flashed on his lips the second she let out a gasp. The sheer shock on her face was exactly what he wanted to see. "Ya see when ya mess around too much ya get yourself into trouble ya don't wanna be in the first place. Ya got guts but no follow through fox."

“Oh, I have plenty of follow through, Red. I'm just being nice.” The shock was gone from her now but the small blush on her cheeks still stayed for the moment. She had not expected to meet anyone that could play her games and turn the tables so well. She could tell he was going to be one hell of a guy to have fun with. Hell possibly even become good friends with him at this rate.

“Nice? Ya call all of this nice?” He scoffed before getting even closer to her face with his own. She could feel his breath tickling over her skin as he exhaled from his nostrils but she knew exactly how she could get him to leg go of her. “I'd hate to see what not nice is.”

“This,” She quickly brought up both of her legs and kicked him square in his gut as hard as she could. The force of the kick sent him back making him release his hold on her so he could grab at where she just kicked him to ease up the discomfort. She did not even give him a second to recover or process what just happened before she swept her right leg at his ankles sending the red-clad ninja to the floor. She quickly straddled his chest pressing her knees against his shoulders as hard as she could to keep him down. She held her fist to his fast to keep him from moving or trying to throw her off. He knew exactly what could be deployed from her wrist if she pressed the release so he stayed right where he was at wishing he had taken those wrist blades from her. “Assassin now two. Ninja one.”

“Bitch.”

"You love me." Arietta chuckled and neither one of them flinched as the door to his room flew open. Apparently, Raph's little tumble made enough noise to alert the others.

“Oh good! Arietta's finally awake!” Lyra let out a small giggle from Leo's side. The leader had been the one to open the door and the sight before him almost made him burst into laughter. He stepped inside and walked over so he could look down at his younger brother. He crossed his arms and grinned down at him only to get a glare right back.

“Do I even want to know how she got you pinned down, Raph?”

“Shut it Leo and get 'er off me.” Raph looked to the assassin still keeping him pinned to the floor.

“You could just ask nicely.” Arietta winked at him as she moved her fist away and stood up with the not really needed assistance from Leo. Raphael simply sneered in response but a look of surprise crossed his face when Dorian offered a hand to help him up from the floor.

“Probably should have warned you she is a bit violent when she wakes up in a new place.” The eldest Quintus smiled warmly as he helped Raph to his feet. The fact that none of them knew what really led up to him being on the floor was definitely for the better. Saved his already bruised ego from more of a beating.

“So can we go get our stuff now? We're on a bit of a time limit people.” Calliope was standing at the doorway with her arms crossed over her chest. Donnie and Mikey were standing behind the two ladies at the door having been able to see what had happened to their brother. Raph was never going to hear the end of it now.

"You guys will have to lead us out of this place first and once we get topside you'll follow us." Dorian was looking at Leo who was back into a cross armed stance again.

“Do you think traveling as a whole group is wise, Dorian?” Leo was not trying to offend the assassin he was simply trying to be more strategical and keep detection to a minimum.

“Good point. Why don't the four of us go one way and the four at the door there go another?” Dorian looked back towards the door with a smirk on his face as his eyes focused on the quartet standing there.

“That sounds like a plan. If we find trouble we'll call you and vice versa.” Donnie smiled motioning to the remote speaker microphone on the right strap over his shoulder. A concerned look crossed over his features as he thought of something they had not quite discussed yet. “Think we should see if Casey and April mind giving us a hand? We don't know exactly how much we're bringing back so having the van may make things a little easier.”

“Casey and April?” Lyra titled her head back to look up at the techie that stood behind her a bit of curiosity on her features. “Friends I'm hoping?”

“Totally friends.” Mikey grinned at the rainbow haired assassin answering for his elder brother. When she turned her gaze to him he gave her a thumb up. “Practically family.”

“Go ahead and give them a call, Don. Let us know what they say when we all meet back up.” Leo looked to the three in the room with him and made a nod towards the door. “Let's get a move on.”


 Fusuma doors slid open with an angered force to a dojo styled office. The look of all the furniture more contemporary and modern compared to the Daibutsuyō style of the entire temple. The light of the setting sun cast a fiery glow that the cold blue light from the large monitor mounted on the wall could not combat. The man looking out at the forested scenery was not enjoying the beauty nature had to offer. His dark brown eyes hardened as if to scold nature for trying to ease the fiery rage with its beauty. His head snapped back toward the monitor as he heard the all too familiar sound of an incoming call. Grabbing up the remote he nearly broke the thing as he smashed the button to answer it. Seeing the hauntingly familiar face of his old time friend rather than the second-in-command was somewhat alarming but his rage stayed.

"Oroku Saki! I thought we had an understanding that the Foot Clan would not interfere with any missions of my assassins! Was that not the terms agreed upon when Karai contacted me about the contract?! Were they not the clearest of rules with the partnership of our two organizations?!" The elder man was livid as he glared daggers at the man on the screen not showing even an ounce of fear that Shredder usually instilled upon others that knew him.

"You have withheld information on which assassins would carry out the contract, Hisoka." Shredder's eyes narrowed at the fuming Black Lotus leader. He had only been back on his home planet for a few days. The urge to see those four turtles dead not only raging within him but the feeling had raged in his second-in-command as well. She had been the one acting on his behalf to enlist the help of the Black Lotus assassins. She had given them the necessary information and it was not until he had been brought back thanks to the brilliance of their captive scientist, Baxter Stockman, that he was informed of the plans being carried out. He himself was all too familiar with the organization, of who once ran it and who was now in charge. Friends, they had all at one point been his near and dear friends.

"It does not concern any of our clients who carries out the contract, Saki. Not even you are privileged to that information and you show much disloyalty by obtaining that information through thieving ways!" Hisoka had once called Shredder his friend long ago just as he had with the late Diego Quintus and the elegant deathly beauty that was Matsuda Shiori. He saw it only fitting to send four exceptionally talented assassin siblings to deal with four ninja turtles. The mission was going swimmingly until the informant that was keeping track told him of the Foot Clan's interference.

"You forget, Hisoka, one of those four you sent on that mission happens to be my daughter." The tone alone made Hisoka's rage dissipate. That was the reason, the hidden motive to the team up of both of their clans.

“You knew she was here all this time, Saki. Why try and obtain her now when you could have simply taken her to begin with?” Hisoka adjusted his haori making sure it was back into place as he narrowed his eyes.

“She would not have been ready. Now tell me where they are.” Shredder was becoming highly impatient with the leader of the assassins. Hisoka knew better than to try and sugar coat the truth or try to hide anything. So he settled for blunt and truthful.

"They've gone rogue. It was only a matter of time anyway before they figured out the partial truth of their parents' deaths. I am more than certain they've figured out now with their mission what has transpired between the Black Lotus and Foot Clan," He could see the anger rising within Shredder's eyes and he could tell that what he was going to say next was going to only prove to anger him more. "Especially with the interference of your men."

"Then they have most likely teamed up with those meddlesome turtles," Shredder clenched his fists tight as the deep growl gave away the anger he felt at the turn of events. He slowly calmed himself as he began to plan out what the next steps should be. "No matter. I have a way of getting their undivided attention. Has the other part of the plan been fulfilled, Hisoka?"

"Of course. Your two mutated associates have been retrieved from prison. No doubt the news will spread by early morning. Nezumi has also been put into place at the orphanage as well. If the Quintus children are indeed working alongside those ninjas then the plan will work to our advantage. She will provide us with the surveillance we need." Hisoka smirked as he placed his hands behind his back in high confidence that the next attempt at taking the life from the turtles will go unhindered.

“This had better work, Hisoka. If it does not then you can expect a visit from me. It has been a very long time since I have been to Tokyo.” Shredder grinned at the man who felt a chill go down his spine. That kind of visit was most definitely one he did not want.

“It will work, Saki.” Hisoka bowed and the screen went completely dark as their communication ended. Shredder glared at the monitor before looking to the woman standing at the side of the desk having listened to the whole conversation.

“You are to prepare Bebop and Rocksteady for their assignment once they've arrived. A little change to their mission, they are to capture the assassins at all costs not kill them. Do I make myself clear Karai?”

“Yes, Master Shredder.” Karai bowed to the man before leaving the room leaving her master to his thoughts.

“This time I will end them. All of them.”

Chapter Text

Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” - Buddha

 

"Man, this sucks you guys have to blow this place up. This house is amazing!" Michelangelo had halfway expected for their hideout to be some kind of underground bunker or rundown warehouse at first. Not the massive two-story mansion in one of the ritzier neighborhoods of New York. It had all of the works for sure. Olympic-sized swimming pool, a complete room dedicated to all the latest in state of the art entertainment; totally his favorite room in the place. It did not take long for the youngest terrapin to fall in love with the place once the tour had ended. The packing had taken less time than their exploring did since the four deadly siblings traveled pretty moderately with their belongings. Which led to the impromptu tour that had finished in the club room that housed a full bar, blue velvet billiard table, entertainment center and a pretty good computer set up. They were just passing the time while April and Casey made their way with the van.

"The house belongs to Hisoka so there is at least a win in it for the good guys once we blow this joint. Besides, if we kept it for ourselves we would be under constant attacks day and night. Not that I'd complain but even that would get boring quickly." Arietta had been moving about the billiard table trying to line up her next shot. With a smirk, she leaned down with the pool stick positioned against the top of her middle finger while cradled by her index over it giving it a few slides to test out the angle before giving it a hard shove. The crack sounded and she stood triumphantly as the last stripe colored ball sank into the left side pocket. She gave Leonardo a playful wink and all he could do was roll his eyes as she moved around to line up for her winning shot.

“Lucky. That's all you are in this game is lucky, Arietta.”

“We warned you not to let her bait you into playing the first game, Leo. After that, it's all on you for how many times she gets to beat you.” Dorian had made shop behind the bar fiddling with a couple of the bombs he was building. He had a small glass of scotch on the rocks next to him to keep his nerves in check while he worked. Leo did not even point his glare toward the assassin knowing it would have been ignored at the moment anyway. The guy was just too focused on tinkering and Raphael was sitting on one of the stools in front of said bar watching in complete fascination.

"Come on! Can we at least take this one little entertainment center? This guy has some of the biggest TVs I've ever seen!" For about the tenth time since they got in the room, the hopeful teen stood in front of the 92-inch DLP television. The group could practically hear his drool hitting the floor with the dream of utilizing the big screen in the lair.

"I don't think it will fit in the van, Mikey." Calliope was playing the look out, her head against the wall as she peeked out the side of the black velvet drapes. She was not taking any chances of anyone other than their getaway van coming up the driveway. Being in a house own by the leader of the clan you went rogue from was not in her mind not a time to let her guard down.

“Wasted opportunity of some awesome equipment. Just sayin',” Mikey finally admitted defeat as he flopped himself down on the massive leather couch, going back to channel flipping once more. His words had elicited a small chuckle from Callie who looked toward him having an idea come to mind of what would cheer him up.

“I think we can find a compromise here. Hisoka has quite a collection of video games and movies in the entertainment room. It won't be that big of a deal if we take them since this place is going boom anyway.” She made her way to stand back behind the couch and half bent to look at his face which was now lit up with a wide hopeful stare. She did not even attempt to hide the smile seeing just how hopeful he was having his head tilted back to look at her.

“Are you kidding?” He could not really tell if she was messing with him or being sincere, since well he had not really known her long enough to experience the differences just yet. Calliope stood up and feigned a hurt look as she put her hand over her heart in a rather dramatic fashion.

"Michelangelo, I never kid around when it comes to a good movie or game collection. Come on, we'll go plunder all the shelves of their treasures." Callie let out a small giggle as Mikey quickly launched himself over the back of the couch and took her by the hand. The big smile plastered on Mikey's face made Lyra laugh as she watched the orange-clad turtle run off with her eldest sister. With a small shake of her head, she turned her dark gray eyes back to the screen before her determined to get her task done that she had begun the moment she sat down at one of the computers.

“That little brother of yours is so easily pleased, Donatello.”

"You have no idea," Donnie mused before he let out a small chuckle of his own as he checked the progress of the file transfers they were doing. He had made a completely secured link that was feeding every bit of information they could get their hands on to his system back at the lair. Mission reports, lab results, and profiles on all Black Lotus personnel were just a drop in the ocean of data they were gathering. He was definitely going to be one busy turtle for sure with everything he would have to look over and he was more than pleased that Dorian proved to be forthcoming with all the knowledge they would get this little adventure. His eyes shifted for a moment from the screen he was watching over to Lyra's work just to see what it was she had been working on so feverishly. He was quite shocked to see the majority of one bank account was being dumped in equal parts to four other ones that he deducted she created in the little time they had begun working. "Wiring money transfers? Won't you get caught when they trace all the paperwork?"

"Not by the time we get all of the said funds out and into whole new bank accounts in the morning. All of the paperwork leads here and to the compound that's located downtown. They'll be chasing their own tales trying to find us. Calliope and I will deal with all of themoney first thing early in the morning and then poof! We'll be set for years to come." Lyra put the final keystrokes in having been typing away even while explaining her plot to him and a grin played upon her lips when she saw the transfers confirmed a success. She looked to Donnie and held up her fingers in a peace sign before giving him a playful wink. He felt his cheeks heat up with her cute gesture at him but he gave a nod to her none the less admitting within his mind that she was actually not half bad with her computer skills. The groan from Leo was heard throughout the room which only meant he had lost another round of pool to Ari. Again.

“You know if we were playing for cash you'd be screwed, Blue.” Arietta grinned playfully at the poor sap and he gave her a pointed glare in return before simply setting his pool stick on the table in a defeated surrender.

“Good thing we weren't playing for actual money then and what's with calling me Blue?” He did give her a small shove on her shoulder and a smile to let her know he wasn't mad about losing to her. She gave a small chuckle and a light shrug to go with it as she led the way toward the bar.

“It just fits,” she answered gently before motioning to one of the empty bar stools. She then made her was behind the bar with only the thought of pestering her brother. Leo took the stool that would sit him directly across from Dorian and his eyes scanned over the various materials the guy had out. He did not even attempt to try and mess with the already finished bombs that were sitting to his right. That was when it began to click in the leader's mind. Each one of the assassins had a skill set that only they excelled at which made Leo's mind wonder to more questions.

"Dorian, you're the explosives expert right?" Leo watched the grin spread on the man's lips and as those silver eyes met his own sapphire ones he felt his whole body tense. That was certainly not a reaction he had expected out of himself but luckily the chuckle that issued from Dorian kept Leo's mind from delving down that rabbit hole of self-torture.

"Yeah, I'm the explosives guy. Calliope is our resident doctor since she has a more extensive knowledge of medicines and poisons. She'd make a damn good surgeon if we hadn't been raised to be killers." His tone sobered towards the end as he looked back down to the bomb he was currently working on. Tightening down the last screw he put the device gingerly next to the others that were ready to go. "Lyra over there may not seem like it with how giddy she usually is but, she's pretty damn smart. I actually heard her mention something about becoming a legit scientist for NASA but there again we are what we are. Can't really change that."

“You do have the ability to change it if that is what you want. The only one really stopping you is you.” Arietta gave her brother a rather serious look to emphasize she meant what she said. She kept eye contact with him for only a few seconds before she turned her attention to the bowl of cherries sitting on the bar top. Grabbing a few from the bowl she popped on into her mouth stem and all.

“She's got a point ya know.” Raph could not help but to side with Arietta on that one and Leo seemed to give a silent nod as a sign that he was on board with both of them.

"We can't just walk away now. Not until we've taken down the Black Lotus once and for all," Dorian muttered softly and took a drink from his scotch. A glare came to his eyes as he heard the sound of a tiny plop when he had pulled the glass from his lips. He could see the cherry stem now floating at the top and as per the usual, the thing was tied in a knot courtesy of his now grinning sister next to him. He fished it out of his drink and flicked it at her smiling when she protested.

"That was uncalled for!" She pulled the stem from out of her bangs and tossed it in the trashcan before popping another cherry in her mouth in the same fashion she had before.Raphael realized that she had once again put an entire cherry in her mouth, even the bits that normally would not be eaten.

“Why ya eat the stem too?”

“She's not eating it, she's tying them in knots in her mouth. It's a stupid game really and it's a wonder she hasn't tied the damn thing around her jewelry yet.” Dorian took another pull of his scotch his demeanor seemed a bit annoyed with what she was doing and continued even as he got back to work on the last bomb he needed to create.

"Jewelry?" both Leonardo and Raphael asked in unison to which Arietta laughed in complete amusement. She took the knotted stem from out of her mouth and tossed it in the trashcan before sticking her tongue out a little farther than she usually would. There resting on the center of her tongue was a silver ball glinting in the light. She pulled her tongue back into her mouth and gave the boys a playful wink.

“I pierced it myself actually,” she spoke in a rather proud manner and could not contain the laughter after the looks of shock and amusement crossed over Leo's and Raph's faces respectively. Dorian gave out an exasperated groan to go along with the roll of his eyes.

“After I explicitly told you not to. That kind of thing should be left in the hands of professionals, sister mine.”

“Your concern is duly noted by highly ignored, brother mine. I learned how to do it properly and you can damn sure bet it won't be the last time I pierce myself.” Arietta rewarded herself with another cherry but this time she tossed the stem instead of playing her little game with it.

“You've learned to hide it really well,” Leo muttered having got over his shock at learning the assassin had taken a needle to her own tongue. He opted at that point to focus on Dorian's work rather than look at her.

“I've had some practice at it. Now, since Mikey and Callie get to take home gifts I've got a Harley in the garage with my name on it.” This time she picked up the whole bowl of cherries before making her way around to the front of the bar.

“He's gotta bike stashed here?” Raphael had perked up quite a bit with the mention of a motorcycle to which Arietta smiled at him before giving a nod in confirmation.

“Want to come with me and listen to her purr?” She turned that smile into a mischievous grin that was only mirrored by Raph's as he got up from the bar stool he was sitting on. He motioned for her to lead the way so he could follow.

“You'd better take out the GPS if you're serious about taking that thing.” Dorian pointed the tip of his screwdriver at her but did not look up to further emphasize that he was being serious on the matter.

“Of course, wonder boy! I know the standard procedure.” She gave a small wave with her hand that was not holding onto the bowl of cherries as both her and Raphael left the room to get working on claiming her very own treasure.

Leonardo raised a brow watching the two leave before it finally came to light that Dorian had explained not only his own specialization as well as Calliope's and Lyra's but, he had left out one. Curiosity nagging at his mind now to find out he turned his attention from the door where he had watched his brother leave with the assassin female and he looked to the blonde male working diligently. Leo leaned his arms against the bar now determined to know a little more about these new siblings that dropped into their lives.

“Dorian you told of all your talents and of two of your sisters' talents but what about Arietta's? What's her role in all of this?” Leo watched Dorian's tinkering pause abruptly and he almost regretted that decision to pry when Dorian put down his screwdriver. The assassin finished off what was left in his glass before pouring more into it. Once the glass was full again silver eyes met sapphire as he capped the bottle of scotch and set it to the side before lifting up the glass again.

“Her role isn't defined by just one talent. She's an assassin through and through, simple as that,” Dorian spoke in a tone that was both stern and tinged with a slight warning. It did not frighten Leo in the least how he spoke, it only got him more curious as to the meaning of what he said. Dorian took a slow pull from the glass not once taking his eyes from Leo's before he readied himself to continue in a more in depth explanation. “As she was growing up Arietta would constantly get herself in trouble because of how stubborn she is despite us trying to remind her to behave herself. That behavior was rewarded by rigorous training and punishment that would break damn near anybody, I know I would have cracked under that kind of pressure. It never broke her wild spirit though and only proved to hone her into a more precise and deadly weapon. She dabbles in a bit of everything we do and excels at them but, she does allow us the reigns in what we're specialized in. The question you should be asking here is what is her weakness?”

Dorian set his beverage down again and began the task of tucking in the wires carefully so he could get the casing on the last bomb. The way the eldest Quintus sibling spoke had a sort of hidden fear in his tone that was also laced with a bit of regret for how all of their lives played out. Almost as if that last particular question of what weakened his sister should never be asked nor the answer revealed. Leonardo swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat as the click of the panels sounded in the seconds of silence. Screws were being tightened down and only when Dorian had finished did the blue-clad leader finally steel himself for the answer he was going to hear.

“What is her weakness?” Dorian snapped his eyes up to Leo's in less than a second and kept their gazes locked. Just as the assassin had opened his mouth to give the ninja the answer he was asking for the sound of a call came from the direction Lyra and Donnie were in. The two leaders looked over toward the computers just as Donatello answered the call.

"Hey, April did you guys find the place okay?"


 

April was still not sure what to make of the whole ordeal once it had been explained to both herself and Casey. She did trust the four brothers and Master Splinter fully with this abrupt judgment call but that did not mean she would be able to fully trust in the four newest additions to the group just yet. They were assassins that, whether they were testing or not, attempted to kill the four turtles she called family. It was going to take a lot more convincing to fully say whether or not she would put any faith in them being on their side.

"I get why you guys are helping them Don but, do you think it's really a good idea to just jump into all of this so fast? You guys just met them. Just. Met them. Tonight." April was definitely not going to let her concerns go unheard and she was pretty prepared to ask any and all questions she could. The bags were already loaded as they waited for Dorian and Leo to finish rigging up the staged gas leak accident. Her eyes glance up to Donatello who at the moment stood next to her and Casey against the van.

“I know you're worried April. I was able to get a whole lot of data from the systems that I'll be sifting through for a while. Whatever we want to know about them that information will tell us, trust me. I think we'll be more prepared than we ever had been.” He gave his dear friend a smile that he hoped conveyed his confidence and she gave him a gentle smile right back that had a slight deviant intent to it.

“Oh really? If you're so prepared then tell me something. Where are they going to be sleeping?” She and Casey both let out a laugh seeing how wide-eyed the turtle became and his flustered manner did not sedate the laughter either.

“None of you thought about that did you?” Casey smirked from the glare he received from Donnie before he looked toward the front door as it opened. Calliope and Lyra both carried one large box each in their hands while Michelangelo followed behind them carrying out two of the same size. The guy looked to April with a raised brow since he thought they had grabbed everything already. When a shrug was all he would get out of her he opened the back of the van for them again.

“Don't you think this is a bit excessive, Mikey? You've got enough games and movies here to open a rental store.” Donnie had quickly moved over to the girls taking the boxes they carried from them before finding a spot in the van to set them.

“Move marathons for days, bro! Endless hours of pure entertainment!” Mikey grinned as he slid the boxes he held in the van making sure none of his new collection of treasures would shift around.

“Tell me ya didn't let Mikey pick out all of them.” Raphael walked toward the back of the van having lead Arietta out of the garage. He was holding a helmet as she was walking the motorcycle closer to the van letting the kick stand down.

“He got to pick out the majority but I did grab quite a few that everyone else may find entertaining. Same for the games.” Calliope moved over to Arietta and took a closer look at the bike before shaking her head giving her sister an amused smirk. “Why?”

"This is a practically new Harley-Davidson Street 750 Velocity. It would be a crime against my fellow motorcycle enthusiasts to let this baby get blown to pieces!" Arietta crossed her arms a little insulted that her sister seemed to have forgotten her love of motorcycles.

“You've always wanted one I suppose.”

“Damn straight but I've made a deal that I have to share custody.” Arietta gave a grin as she zipped up the leather jacket over her black spaghetti strap. Calliope raised a brow at that response since it was odd to her that her sister would share anything with anyone.

“Oh yeah? Who's lucky enough to get to ride it when you aren't?” Lyra decided at that moment to take the opportunity to sit herself down on the motorcycle for a moment. She let out a small squeak of surprise when the helmet was set on top of her head just seconds after she had grabbed a hold of the handle bars.

"That'd be me, shorty." Raph gave a chuckle as Lyra took the helmet from off of her head and sat it on the gas tank. She gave him a small glare in retort to his statement but never the less she let it slide as she looked to Arietta.

”Can I have the first ride? Please please please?” Lyra continued the string of begging as Arietta simply stuck her fingers in her ears to try and drown out her sister's voice. A swift smack to the back of her head made her yell out in protest before she gave her older brother a glare. His timing was always impeccable for her.

“Just do it or she won't shut up.” He gave Arietta a glare as Lyra was still repeatedly pleading even now. Arietta clenched her fists and gave a small growl knowing she did not want to deal with a pouting Lyra if she refused.

“Fine!”

“Yay!” Lyra threw her hands up in the air in triumph and got herself situated properly on the seat so Arietta would be able to drive. The small moment made both Casey and April laugh with the almost uncanny resemblance to the banter between some of the turtles.

"So are we good to go now?" Casey had directed his question to the two leaders as Leo had come out of the front door making sure to close it behind him. Dorian had looked at Leo who only gave a nod before he turned his attention back to the guy that had inquired.

“Yeah, Callie and I just have to load up in the van and we should be set to go. We've got about ten minutes to clear out of here.” Dorian helped his sister get in the back of the van before he hopped in himself right after her. April loaded herself in the passenger seat as Leo gave Casey a hand with the van doors.

“Alright Casey, you know the entrance to take. We'll follow along on the high ground just to make sure no one shows up or tries to follow.” Leo looked over seeing Arietta putting the only helmet on to Lyra making sure it was fitting right. Raphael and Michelangelo were making their way off the estate grounds in a hurried pace since the clock was ticking.

"Sounds like a plan. Make sure miss biker chick doesn't get let herself get left behind." Casey smacked Leo lightly on the shoulder before he went to the front of the van to put himself back in the driver's seat. The leader in blue went over toward the two on the Harley just as the two-wheeler was started up. He put his hand on Arietta's shoulder to get her attention but kept his expression very stern.

"Stay close to the van. No going off for a joy ride, Arietta." He was for sure going to adhere to Master Splinter's words of them getting back quickly.

"Don't go getting your mask in a knot, Blue. I'll stay with the group," she retorted in a small bit of annoyance as she made sure Lyra was ready to go. Leo took a step back hearing the van's engine starting up but to his surprise, Donnie was making his way over to them. He had taken off his communications device and was now carefully putting it on to Arietta. Leo wasn't sure whether to be shocked that she was actually co-operating or that Donnie had been quick to realize the two on the motorcycle were lacking a way to get a hold of any of them.

"I don't think anything is going to happen on the way back but just in case anything does, hold down this button right here. It will give any of my brothers a call within seconds. April and Casey already have cell phones but since you two aren't riding with them I figured you needed something that would be quicker and safer to use. You know, hands-free instead of either of you trying to use your own cell phones." He gave Arietta a small smile before double checking that Lyra's helmet was secure.

“Good lookin' out, Professor Plum.” Arietta lightly punched the top of Donnie's shoulder before she guided Lyra's arms around her waist. The van was moving and she was going to keep true to her word as she released the kickstand so she could take off. Donnie looked toward Leo as the bike followed behind the van a very confused expression on his features.

“Why is she coming up with color nicknames? I mean, Professor Plum? Really?”

“Sometimes it's just better to go with it, Donnie,” Leo mused having already questioned her about it earlier. The two eldest raced to catch up with Raph and Mikey who waited for them just outside of the walls to the estate. The brothers made sure to keep themselves scarce as they followed the vehicles closely. They had been able to make a huge dent in distance and felt only a slight rumble from the explosion that went off. Casey let out a small whistle seeing the mass of fire in the side view mirror.

“Definitely looks like someone forgot the gas stove was on.” He smirked hearing the man in the back of the van let out a chuckle.

“What can I say? When you're good, you're good.”

“I can hear your ego inflating from up here,” April mused as she smirked back to the male assassin before looking toward the front again. The worry and uneasiness that settled on to the young reporter's face did not go unnoticed by Calliope. That was usually the same look she had when her siblings had the potential of being in danger or losing their lives.

“April I swear on my life that we will not harm your family. We will not ever lay a hand on them with malice or ill-will in our hearts. This I vow to you.” Dark violet eyes were met with green and somehow April knew that this woman's words rang true. She gave the assassin a single nod to show her acceptance of the promise before she turned her gaze to the roads again.

As both vehicles turned heading more into the city the four brothers were able to finally scale up to the high rooftops. Their movement was swift and fluid as they made sure not to lose sight of neither the van or the motorcycle. They had not seen the figure following them, keeping himself hidden in shadows and several paces back from the group as not to alarm them of his presence. Moving to the ledge of the building the light illuminated the armor that had similar fashion to Dorian's own assassin armor. The coloring of black and indigo the only variation in the one that trailed them. His mask colored in white and indigo was shaped to look like a crow and served to hide his face well. The figure stopped his pursuit, ice blue eyes narrowing as he tilted his head to the side watching the group vanish into the distance.

"Master Hisoka, they have left the estate and are heading back to their lair. I regret to inform you as well that your manor may have been blown to bits." He winced hearing the string of curses being bellowed into the earpiece and he quickly reached up to end the call. His eyes closed as he began chuckling to himself in amusement before disappearing again into the darkness.

 

Chapter Text

Always be genuine. People can sense when someone isn't being themselves.” - Jeffree Star

 

Laughter rang throughout the lair in differentiating pitches and tones. Pure, honest, unfiltered laughter. The whole group was lounging about enjoying their dinner of several large pizzas with varying topping combos. The story swaps had them all in stitches except for Casey Jones, who had a soured embarrassed expression as the current tale was a recount of his first encounter with the turtles and their master.

"Tell me you didn't actually fall for it, Jones!" Dorian was gripping his side with his right hand while the left kept him upright by bracing against the floor. Casey gave the man a pointed glare as an answer which only served to make Dorian start up another fit of laughter.

"Oh, he totally fell for it!" Michelangelo grabbed out a slice of three-cheese before leaning back in his spot on the couch.

"Hauled balls straight at Master Splinter and got his ass handed to 'em!" Raphael leaned over and bumped fists with Mikey earning a slight groan from Casey that made both teens roar with laughter again. The two youngest had found it far more hilarious since they had been the ones who had baited him into the whole ordeal.

"Kiss my ass you two," Casey grumbled before taking a drink from his soda trying his best to not let them get under his skin any more than they already had. He had not been at all amused by the recount of his unfortunate meeting though, if he were honest he would not have changed it one bit.

“Oh, that is absolutely priceless! I would have loved to have seen the look on your face Casey.” Lyra wiped a laughter induced tear from her eyes before grabbing out another slice of pepperoni for herself.

“So the whole Elite Eight thing you've mentioned in one of your stories. Is that a fancy group or some sort of ranking system?” April was genuinely curious about the inner workings of their clan. She had never heard about them until tonight and the reporter in her could not help but want in on more for a story. Dorian had almost choked on the bite of pizza he had taken but was able to chase it down with some soda before answering.

"In a sense, both assumptions would be correct. The Elite Eight is the highest skilled assassins throughout the whole organization and the four of us fall under those ranks." He watched as April leaned closer as if hoping for more detailed information on the group which only made Dorian chuckle.

"What are the ranks and what determines those ranks?" April was full of questions she wanted to be answered which in that instant seemed to make Dorian a little nervous. He knew what she was up to and he was a bit leery of telling inner workings to someone who had no real way to defend themselves. A quick scan around the room told him everyone else was listening intently to the new topic of conversation now. There was no getting around it.

“Listen. I don't mind telling you but you have to swear you will not go public with any of this until we have taken down the corruption. It is for your own safety April that you play it like you never met us or know anything about the Black Lotus. Promise?” Dorian gave a quick thought and looked over to Casey not knowing much about the guy other than he was a former cop turned vigilante. He was not taken chances on anyone getting hurt over stories. “That goes for you as well Jones. Promise?”

“Promise,” the two spoke in unison as everyone settled in more comfortably to hear the explanation Dorian was about to give them.

“Our ranks are determined by the eight codes of Bushido. The one you show most of is the rank you are put under.”

“There are only seven codes of Bushido.” Leonardo raised a brow but the tone he spoke in sounded a bit unsure which got a small chuckle from Dorian.

“Seven spoken yes but, there is an eighth one that is a sort of unspoken one that everyone should always follow when they learn or enact the Bushido way. The eight codes are as follows and in order; justice, courage, respect, honesty, honor, loyalty, wisdom, and mercy. Mercy is the one that no matter what you must show to your opponent.” Dorian paused in his explaining long enough to finish off the soda he had been working on and popped open a new one. It was enough time to let the information he gave so far sink in.

"So each of you represented a code more so than the others and that's how you're ranked? Does age not effect it at all?" Donatello was quite curious about how their ranks worked since it would mean who they had thought was the leader of their assassin friends very well could not be the leader. Dorian shifted a little from where he sat and that elicited a stifled giggle from Lyra.

“Nope! Age has nothing to do with it. We're just really nice to our big brother and let him play leader when we're out on missions.” Lyra got up and went over to Arietta who had sat away from the group to doodle in her sketchpad while she had eaten. The youngest quickly attached herself in a fierce hug causing Arietta's earbuds to pop out and the ebony-haired assassin looked not at all pleased at the interruption.

“Do you mind?”

“In fact, Arietta here is the highest ranked out of the four of us!” Lyra grinned not really paying mind that she had interrupted her sister's sketching zen. Arietta rolled her eyes having understood fully what the topic of conversation was just by what her little sister had said.

“That ranking system is ridiculous,” she spoke in a not so amused tone as she closed up her sketchbook. Her cheeks were lightly tinged with a blush of embarrassment.

“So how come Arietta isn't the leader?” Mikey was a following everything about the ranking system but the fact that the higher ranked assassin was not the one leading the team was a little confusing. Why would they have a ranking system if they did not adhere to it?

“There are several reasons. This mission tonight has really been the only mission all four of us have been on together. They never send more than two of the elites out at the same time and it's rare that the missions really call for something so drastic. Arietta over there hardly gets sent out with anyone since she doesn't play well with others." Calliope grinned up from her book on medicinal properties of plants. The way the spine was worn down showed how many times she opened it and read the contents within.

“They call it her being courageous and we call it being rash and foolish.” Lyra let out a giggle as she let go of her hold on Arietta to make her way back to the spot she had claimed on the floor. She scooted herself near the table covered with pizza boxes and picked up her slice that she had neglected in her moment of teasing.

“So says the honest one.” Arietta stuck her tongue out at her little sister and shook her head gently when she received a grin right back. With a sigh of defeat she shut off her music but she opened her sketchbook up once again to the page she had been working on. A small wave of her hand in Dorian's direction was the only signal she was going to give that she was fine with the topic at hand and that he could continue.

"Well, that covers the virtue parts of the ranking. To better protect our identities we were each given a code name in Japanese that are animals. Those animals we somehow fit so that's how the figureheads came up with the concept. I will tell them to you in English so it doesn't get redundant. The order by rank are as follows; dragon, fox, raccoon, rabbit, crow, wolf, cat, and rat. We've never had the pleasure of working with Ryuu or Nezumi before and Neko we've only ever met in passing." Dorian pulled out his final slice of pizza and took a bite figuring that was a good explanation to give to April on the ranking system of their organization.

"What about Karasu?" Master Splinter had begun versing himself in Japanese over the years as a way to pass the time so figuring out the code name for the one that wasn't mentioned did not take much thought.

“Oh, we know him pretty well. Arietta knows him even more so than we do.” The tone Lyra had spoken in was enough to suggest something on the more romantic side which caused Arietta to snap her attention up quickly.

“Damn it Lyra I told you we're just really good friends! I turned his ass down flat. End of story!”

“Right. Is that why he would follow you around like a lost puppy or got super depressed when you were away on missions?” Lyra's words instantly turned Arietta's expression from one of embarrassment to one of agitation in mere seconds. The youngest let out a squeak of surprise as her sister came racing toward her. Lyra acted fast and shot up from the floor launching herself over the table towards the couch in a rapid jump. She used the spacing between Michelangelo and Donatello, whom both were innocently sitting on the couch, so she could get behind the furniture and further her escape plan.

“I'm going to box your ears Lyra!” Arietta was right behind her little sister following the exact same path the rainbow haired sibling was taking. The laughter ringing out from everyone was not phasing her irritation in the slightest instead, it was only fueling it more.

"Someone grab her! She's on a war path," Usagi laughed out as she ran from the back of the couch to the recliner Raphael was lounging in. She jumped the sides and prayed she would be saved but her next course would be to head back towards the couch in hopes that Mikey or Donnie would be her saviors. Raph was not about to miss out on evening the score so just as Arietta tried clearing his lap as a hurdle to get to Lyra he grabbed her around her waist mid-jump making sure to grip her tight against him.

"Let me go Red!" Arietta squirmed with all of her might to try and get out of his hold to no avail. He had a damn good grip and he was not making any move to let her go. Lyra gave a victory sign with her fingers and that triumphant grin made Arietta want to pummel her sister even more so than before.

"Not a chance Foxy." Raph grinned as he kept a tight hold on her but he was nice enough to make sure he did not hurt her in any way. "Now we're even. Two to two."

“Asshole.” Arietta stopped her struggling knowing now that her efforts were completely futile. She resigned to sitting across his lap with her arms folded over her chest. She gave a slight huff of defeat.

"You love me." He grinned at her making sure only she could hear what he said that time as the laughter started dying down. She only rolled her eyes at him and turned a hard glare toward her sister who at that point was claiming her spot on the floor again. In all actuality, Arietta was trying to hide the small blush that tinged her cheeks from Raphael. She was not quite sure how to react to sitting in his lap even spite the reason for her being in the situation in the first place.

“So what was it like for you guys growing up? Did you get to go watch movies or play sports?” Casey smirked as he grabbed out the last slice of jalapeno and bacon. He put the now empty box on top of the others stacked at the side of the table.

"We didn't really have what you would call a normal childhood. Most of our lives we spent training to become the lethal weapons we are. If we weren't training we studied academically at the compound. We had a very tight and strict schedule we had to follow by." Calliope put her book down on the arm of the chair she was in before she got up to retrieve more food. She put a slice of spinach artichoke on a plate and deciding to be merciful she grabbed up two slices of Hawaiian before taking the extra plate over to Arietta. She smiled seeing the excitement light up in those violet eyes when Arietta took the plate from her and she sat her own in her chair deciding to be even nicer to her younger sibling. Retrieving the sketchbook and pens Calliope brought them to the artist and set them in her lap before taking her seat again with her refill of pizza.

“We weren't completely in the dark though. We would sneak out when we could to go to the movies or go spend a few hours in the arcades. There were a handful of times Lyra and Calliope would go to the mall on their little shopping sprees.” Dorian chuckled lightly remembering the many times when he had to listen to them act like giddy school girls while they showed off their newest purchases.

"I always thought it was funny that Hisoka knew we got new stuff but never got on to us about where we got it from or how we got it." Lyra mused out that thought and Arietta stiffened in the middle of taking a bite of her pizza. Raph only raised a brow at her as she took the bite before giving him a shake of her head subtly. He filed that away as something to ask at a later time. Another question was more pertinent for him to ask anyway.

“So did you guys get to choose your weapons or were they chosen for you?” He knew that had been a good one to ask since it caused his brothers to perk up and pay closer attention. Their weapons had been chosen for them carefully by Master Splinter and they had all been equally curious if others had been dealt the same way. Dorian was looking at the ceiling for the moment as if he was plucking the strings of thought from the very air above them.

"As initiates, we all trained in various weapon styles. Some we excelled at more than others but I suppose it was neither us nor the Weapons Master that chose. It was the weapons themselves that chose us. They just kind of fit like gloves I guess." Dorian gave a small shrug since he never really put much thought to it. He just simply knew his naginata was his and his alone. "We have many weapons in our arsenal but our main ones are our deadliest when we use them."

"Way to get all mystical on them, Dee." Arietta teased her brother as she switched out her now empty plate for her sketchbook. Her statement caused laughter to rise from all of them and even Dorian got a chuckle out of it.

“Any favorite missions you guys want to tell?” Michelangelo scooted out on his cushion of the couch with a cheesy grin on his face. After a most of the night had been spent with the four brothers recounting their own adventures. He was excited to hear a few of the assassins' tales.

“Barcelona.” Both Arietta and Dorian spoke out in quick unison while Lyra and Calliope merely groaned out together. Calliope picked her book back up to continue reading while Lyra put her face in her palm in exasperation.

“You're going to scar everybody with that one.” The rainbow haired girl moved her hand from her face to give Dorian a lighthearted glare. He answered her back with a small grin.

“What happened in Barcelona?” Leonardo was actually genuinely curious to hear about one of Dorian's missions. The more they got to know the Quintus siblings the more he began to get more curious about how Dorian worked. He crossed his arms as if to shut those thoughts in completely and lock them up tight.

“I'll let my beautiful wife over there tell this one.” Dorian looked over to Arietta who in turn was glaring daggers at him.

“I will end you.” She growled out to her big brother.

"You two were married?" Raphael was about as shocked as everyone else at that one. He could hear Casey still trying to clear his airway from his drink going down the wrong pipe. "Hold up, you're brother and sister, right? How would that even work?"

"That is the absolute worse way to start a story, Dorian." Arietta pinched the bridge of her nose to keep a small headache at bay. "We weren't really married we just pretending to be for the sake of the mission. This was only the second mission Dorian and I have ever been on. The other mission isn't near as lighthearted but we'll save that one for another time."

“Promise?!” Mikey interjected with such a hopeful tone that Arietta could not help but to laugh with the rest of the group. She moved her hand from her face and looked to the youngest turtle to give him a small nod. She made a cross sign over her chest to seal in that she promised she would before she closed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest to begin the tale.

"This happened about four years ago and our mark was the Prime Minister of Spain. The guy was using his political position as a way to keep up the flow of drugs and human trafficking. He was pretty bold about it but very thorough in making sure nothing connected back to him. The guy was a total devil and the Black Lotus was hired to get rid of him once and for all. Since pretty much everyone else had missions of their own it fell to Dorian and me to get the job done. We posed as a drug kingpin and wife so we could attend the grand masquerade party the man was holding at his estate." She paused her story and took a drink from the soda Raphael offered her before she continued on.

“It didn't take much to become buddies with the guy. He was a completely disgusting pig. He talked a bit of business with Dorian while I did my best act of playing a very sexually needy wife. A few drinks in and the guy was practically begging for us to let him in on the action or even just watch.” Arietta shivered recalling the way the guy would subtly rub against her arm or place his hand against her back.

“This sounds like something out of a movie,” April spoke gently trying to stomach the thoughts of the two siblings having to deal with such a sleazy man.

“Sometimes the movies get it right. We found his proposition as an opportunity to get him alone and away from his bodyguards so we agreed.” She gave a small shrug as she calmly told the story but she felt Raph nudge her side and she looked at him. His eyes held a bit of shocked curiosity and she had a feeling about what she was going to ask her.

“Did you two actually do anything to each other?” He did not flat out ask it but it got his point across making Arietta scoff slightly before she punched his bicep lightly.

"Oh hell no! Dorian was able to slip the poison into the Prime Minister's drink while we were in the room and we had to stall for about ten minutes for it to take effect. The most we had to do was put on an intense make-out session and my dress came off. That was it. Once the guy hit the floor we were out of there to catch our scheduled extraction flight back to Japan. No one even knew he was dead until the late afternoon and by that time we were back to the compound getting set up with our next orders." She picked up the plate from her lap intending on leaning over far enough to put it on the table. Dorian just had to open his big mouth though.

“Isn't my wife a bad ass babe?” He laughed out at his joke but yelled out as the plate Arietta had smacked him right in the forehead all Frisbee style. He rubbed his head as the room erupted into more laughter.

"You had better sleep with one eye open big brother," Calliope smirked and got a glare from Dorian in return.

“Speaking of sleep. We'd better head home and catch up on our rest.” Casey stood up and stretched a bit before fishing out the keys to the van. April stood up and gave a small stretch of her own and a little yawn to go with it.

“We're both off of work so if you guys need anything just get a hold of us.” She paused a moment and held back a laugh before she pointed at the now passed out Lyra. The bubbly young woman was using her arms as pillows as she slept against the table. “Somebody has a head start.”

"Yeah, all that hyper happiness makes her crash out like she just came down from a sugar high." Dorian stood up and was about to scoop up his sister when he felt pressure on his shoulder. He looked to the source and was a little confused to see Donnie was the one who had stopped him.

“Let me take her. I've got to get a start on going through all the data she helped me collect anyway.” Dorian gave the turtle a small nod and watched as he carefully scooped up his youngest sister with such gentle care as if she was made of glass. He could not help but smile as Donatello headed toward the spare room that had been set up as a bedroom for the four of them. Master Splinter got up from his chair and cleared his throat to get the attention of those who remained in the room.

"I suggest you all get some rest. We will begin team training once Lyra and Calliope return from their errands." He gave a tilt of his head to bid them all a good night before he headed toward his room to retire. Arietta let out a soft groan and buried her face into her sketchbook for a moment.

“It won't be that bad.” Raphael poked her side and she pulled the sketchbook away just enough to give him a slight glare.

“Have you never really work as a team?” Mikey's voice held a little concern with the way Arietta was reacting to the prospect of teamwork. Arietta closed up her sketchbook and set it on the arm of the recliner before she patted Raph's arms to let her up. He did not argue with her and let her up watching her make her way towards the room. When she was out of sight the brothers looked to the two remaining Quintus siblings. Dorian gave a shake of his head as Calliope closed her book up for the final time.

"We do find strength in working as one unit, Arietta, however, believes it better for herself to work alone. Believe me when I say that patience will be the key with her. She'll learn to do it but it will just take a lot of time and more than likely a lot of arguing." Calliope got up and started to the room but she paused seeing Arietta walking back out wearing dark jeans, combat boots, and a black hoodie. Quietly Callie grabbed a hold of her sister's arm to stop her. They locked eyes but neither said anything to one another.

“Where do you think you're going?” Dorian spoke out killing the silence as she stood up and went over to the two. His tone had an almost fatherly quality to it.

“If you want me to even think about giving this whole team thing a shot you'll let me go get some me time first. I've got to get a clear head.” Arietta looked to Dorian but she showed no real anger or agitation at either one of her siblings. Calliope let go of the arm she had in her grip and she sighed gently. Leonardo had got up from the couch and approached the trio keeping his eyes locked on Arietta.

“You're not going out there by yourself. It's too dangerous.” He readied himself for an argument as the woman was about to open her mouth to speak. Another voice completely cut her off before she could take the breath to talk.

“I'll go with 'er.” They all turned to Raphael who had been the one to speak up and he only shrugged at them. Leo smirked and looked to Ari who at that second pulled her hood over head.

“I'll go too.” He gave Dorian a smirk as the guy looked up at him in surprise. “We'll make sure she doesn't get into any trouble.”

“Great. Just what I needed. Two babysitters,” Arietta spoke in a chuckled tone but her whole body instantly tensed as Callie pulled her into a fierce hug.

"You have got your tessen?" She smiled as her younger sister nodded and gave a pat on the back rather than return the hug. Callie let her go and gave both Raph and Leo a very stern no-nonsense look. "You all had better come back safe. Two hours tops or I swear Dorian and I will come find you."

"Yes, ma'am." Leonardo smiled and lead the way as Arietta followed behind them. Raphael took up position behind her and leaned closer to the ebony-haired assassin.

“Motherly much?”

“I heard that!” Calliope shouted out which made the three of them hurry out of there. Mikey let out a small laugh having enjoyed seeing his older brothers get a little spooked.

“Remind me never to make you angry, Callie.”

 

Chapter Text

To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” - Criss Jami

 

The trio lay in the grass under the cover of trees that were at their thickest in Central Park. The sounds of their heavy panting of trying to catch their breath mixed with the nocturnal noises of the various creatures that called the park their home. Arietta had baited her two turtle companions into racing her all the way there just to see who was the fastest. They had definitely given her a run for her money and she held her hand over her heart as it pounded hard in her chest.

“That makes the score Ninja three and Assassin two.” Raphael let out a chuckle as he sprawled himself out on the ground closing his eyes. He had won and Leonardo took second right after him which surprisingly Arietta had kept up enough to come in third. Though she was still dead last none the less meaning they had won fair and square.

"Technically both of you beat me so I'll give you the extra point as a cushion." Arietta sat herself up and removed her hoodie to help cool herself off and just for added measure she held her hair up off the back of her neck. Her breathing now slow deep and steady as she felt the cool night air starting to take effect.

“How generous of you.” Leo let out a soft laugh as he sat there cross legged while he kept his breathing even and calmer than the other two. His eyes were stuck on the poor girl who was fanning herself with one of her tessen to try and cool herself off faster. He grinned having realized just where in Central Park they were at and he smacked his brother on the arm to get his attention. Raphael sat up giving Leo a look of question making not that Arietta was not paying the brothers any attention at the moment. Which was about to prove not smart on her part with what Leo had planned.

Leo nodded toward Meer Lake as he started removing parts of his gear that he did not want to get wet, including his weapons. His younger brother caught the hint and began doing the same with a grin on his face liking the devious plan already. Arietta had a sense of something not going right as the breathing from the two males had subsided quite a bit. She froze for a moment before she slowly looked in their direction. Her eyes widened seeing what they were doing and she felt her face heat up thinking they were getting completely undressed rather than simply lightening their loads of gear and weaponry.

“W-What are you two doing?” She let her hair fall into place before she got to her feet just as both brothers stood to their full heights. She did not like the way they were looking at her with their matching mischievous grins.

“You look like you could use a way to cool off, foxy.” Raph gave Leo a quick fist bump as they both started advancing toward her. He was liking this idea more and more seeing the way she was already starting to react. Arietta looked behind her and her eyes widened before she snapped her attention back toward them again. As they kept advancing she began back pedaling away from them, the color in her face receding to leave it slightly paler.

“N-No no guys, seriously. Totally cooled off.”

“Now, now don't try to lie just to get out of a little dip in the lake.” Leonardo grinned and he even let out a laugh as Raph picked up the pace. The poor girl did not even get the chance to turn around to run before she was plucked up off her feet and slung over Raph's shoulder. She was trying to struggle with all of her might as she felt her heart pounding like a war drum in her chest.

"Oh God! W-Wait! Raph!" She pleaded as much as she could but in a matter of seconds, she felt herself get lifted in the air. She attempted to grab a hold of Raphael but as her momentum went forward. Her eyes stayed wide open in terror as she could only feel the whispered touch of the tails from his mask slip through her fingers. She only had seconds to quickly hold her breath as she felt her back impact the water causing her to shut her eyes tightly. The feel of the lake swallowing her made her lose the breath she was holding in panic while she wildly kicked her legs. Her arms thrashing around in her blind frantic attempt to surface when she was only propelling herself further down to the bottom of the lake. She felts the muddy floor touch against her shoulders as the burning need for air hit her. Her eyes barely opened just in time to see both Leo and Raph swimming toward her as she felt her body gulp for air only to take in the water around her.

Her world going dark as Leo grabbed a hold of her keeping a firm grip on her waist as Raph launched both of them upward with a full powered heave of his arms. It took only seconds to surface from the seven-foot depth and fearless swam both himself and the assassin over to the nearest bank. Raphael was closed behind them and he watched his older brother lay the woman down flat only to see her eyes were closed and her chest was not showing any movement.

“Shit,” He cursed flatly as he dared to get closer. He carefully moved her hair that had matted itself over her face. “Leo she ain't breathin'.”

"I know, I know. She's probably got water in her lungs." Leo recalled the training that Donatello insisted they all learn sometime back. Carefully he rolled Arietta on her side so he could start pushing upward on her back to force the water up and out. He used enough pressure to get some of the water up but made sure not to use too much to break anything. Knowing they would not be out of the woods until she breathed on her own he lay her flat on her back once more and leaned in hoping for some sound of breathing. Not hearing a thing he softly cursed to himself but kept calm as not to induce more panic than there already was in his younger brother. "Alright, I'll do the compression. You've got to give her breath when I tell you, Raph."

“Wait, what?!” That whole notion snapped Raph out of the dark thoughts he had running through his head at the moment.

"Just do it." Leo placed his hands properly on Arietta's chest and started to press down on her chest. He made sure he pressed hard enough to compress her lungs but not too hard to cause any more harm than he already had to. He counted each time he pushed down and as soon as he spouted out the correct number he looked up at his brother giving him a stern nod. Raphael stiffened a moment but quickly got his head in the game knowing that every second counted. He punched Arietta's nose with one hand while the other carefully opened her mouth so he could cover it with his own. Gently Raph breathed in to fill her lungs and lifted enough so the air to escape on its own. He covered her mouth a second time and breathed in for the second time before he backed up enough for Leo to have room to do keep with the compression.

"Come on, Foxy. Breathe damn it," Raph cursed softly while he kept his eyes trained on Arietta's face. His heart was thumping hard to the pace that Leo was going. At the pause in motion, he knew his turn was up again and he gave her the next set of breaths. When he pulled back he felt an instant wash of relief as the woman began coughing. Leonardo turned her on her side and compressed her back in an upward motion to help get the rest of the water out. Neither one of the brothers relaxed for a second until she took her first big gulp of air on her own. With each breath she took they were able to calm and Leo stopped compressing her back but continued to rub it so she would not go into shock.

“You're alright. Slow deep breaths Ari,” Leo spoke to her soothingly as he watched Raph get up from where they sat. The red-clad went over to where they had left all of their gear and her hoodie gathering it all up as to make it easier for all of them. The eldest smiled and looked back to Arietta who was staring at the ground keeping her breathing slow, steady. Raph set their gear and weapons down closer to all of them before he draped Arietta's hoodie over her back. That was when she finally moved to sit back on her legs as she put the hoodie on properly and made sure to zip it up to try and get her temperature stable.

“So, Dorian and Callie are goin' to kill us when we get back.” Raph sat down on the right side of the woman and Leo settled on her left. The three of them now staring out at the calmed surface of the lake.

“I'll just tell them that I fell in or we could wait until I'm completely dry.” Arietta sighed out softly as she adjusted to where she could sit with her knees against her chest. She hid her face as she hugged her legs tightly not uttering another sound for the moment.

“Are you alright?” Leo leaned forward a bit and placed his hand on her shoulder to try and comfort her knowing that she was more than likely pretty stressed out with what just happened.

“I'll be fine. My pride is wounded a little bit.” She lifted her head enough where she showed him her eyes before she lowered her head back down again not wanting to keep eye contact for too long.

"If it makes ya feel any better we feel like assholes right now." Raphael did not offer her a glance in her direction at all. He could not bring himself to look at her after what he had to do a few moments ago. He knew it was to save her life but it still felt like he had done something with out her consent. Both of the brothers were completely shocked to hear her let out a genuine heartfelt laugh. She placed her hands behind her to brace herself up as she let her legs lay flat out in front of her.

"Don't sweat it you two. You both acted quick and saved my ass." She shrugged and tilted her head back to look up at the sky taking into account that a few stars were more visible in the park than near the lights of the city. It helped calm her a bit seeing the gentle twinkle of those few stars.

"Why didn't you just say you couldn't swim?" Leo was a bit confused having figured something like that would have been the first bit of information given up. Arietta sighed softly before she got to her feet. She took out both of her tessen and with a sharp flick of her wrists, she popped both open at the same time.

“I froze up to be perfectly honest. I'm so used to my siblings knowing I fear water that it slipped my mind completely to say anything.” She carefully shook her tessen to try and get them to dry out. Raph got up and started the task of putting his weapons and gear back on with Leo following suit to do the same.

“So, a tough girl like you's afraid of water?” The smirk Raph offered her made her chuckled a little. She gave a shy nod and opted to look back at the lake again.

"I used to be really good at swimming when I was much younger. It wasn't until the first mission I had with Dorian that I developed the fear of water." She checked how dry her weapons were and satisfied enough she flipped them closed and replaced them in their holsters on each side of her hip.

“What happened?” Leo finished strapping both of his katana on the back of his shell as he looked at her with curiosity. She looked from one brother to the other and just by their expressions alone she could tell that they were not going to let her get away with not telling the story. She turned to face her back towards the lake and motioned to the ground in front of her before she sat down. As she crossed her legs she watched the two males sit to where she could see both of them before she began the tale.

“It happened not long after I was given my rank and code name. We had a simple recon mission to gather intelligence on the Foot Clan's operations that were going on in Venice. The higher ups wanted to know what they were doing there and why so they sent a team of us to find out. Dorian, I and about six lower ranks went in with no idea we had been completely set up." Arietta closed her eyes and took a moment as the long buried memories bubbled to the surface. Leo caught on to her distress and placed a hand on her shoulder but she did not open her eyes to look at him.

"You don't have to tell us if it's too painful. It's okay," he offered gently since he did not want her to strain herself any more than what she had already been through. Arietta shook her head and put her hand over his giving it a small squeeze to reassure him it was alright before she let her hand drop back down into her lap.

"The information they got was falsified by one of the lower ranks that went with us. He did not count on me going on the mission since Dorian had been his real target, to begin with. The second they all turned against us it became a battle for our lives. I was so angry with that asshole for betraying us that I stopped listening to Dorian's orders. I ended up tackling the guy right into the waters with just my rage fueling me. He had easily been able to overpower me, dragging me down straight toward the bottom. I fought with everything I had and I was able to stab him in the neck but, he had been able to get me tied to an old sunken bridge post before any more could be done. All I could do was watch the bodies of the other traitors sink in the water one by one. The one that orchestrated the whole thing bled out before he even broke for air." She snapped her eyes open feeling the soft brush against her cheek and she watched in confusion as Raph withdrew his hand. She was highly confused to see the tip of one of his fingers was wet and she quickly touched her face. A blush colored her cheeks and she wiped away the remaining tears in embarrassment. She had not noticed that she had even started crying at all.

“Don't ya dare say you're sorry.” Raph gave her a small glare but it was not out of anger or annoyance. It was more as a stern point to his simple demand. She chuckled softly and gave a nod of her head as a reply before she continued on with her story.

“I had blacked out long before Dorian could get to me. He said I had been down there at least ten minutes before he realized I was in deep trouble. I woke up in the hospital in Venice and ever since I have had this deep set fear of the water. All the emotions and the sensations flood back to me when I even look at a body of water. Pretty pathetic huh?” She lowered her head to look right at her lap grateful that her tears had at least stopped. The sensation of being pulled in to a tight hug caught her completely by surprise.

"Having a genuine fear like that isn't pathetic at all. Shouldn't ever feel like it's pathetic." Leo's voice was close to her ear speaking calmly yet stern and it was then she realized he was hugging her, comforting her. She smirked knowing a simple pat of her hand like she gave her siblings most of the time would not suffice so she instead wrapped her arms around his shoulders and she hugged him in return. Lucky for her he did not make it last longer to save her the awkward feeling of being close to someone. It did take her off guard again when she was released by the eldest brother only to be pulled into another hug by the red-clad one.

“If ya feel like workin' on getting over the fear of water we can help ya.” Raph kept his voice low in her ear and she felt another blush color her cheeks. The heat that shot through her body had been absolutely foreign to her. It took her a moment before she returned the embrace and she held him tighter before they both separated. She gave a small chuckle as she stood up giving a bit of a stretch to ease her tensed muscles.

“I may take you up on that offer. We'd better head back before Calliope keeps well on her promise.” Arietta tucked her hair back so she could put the hood back on but she paused in her motions and stared toward the treeline. Leonardo stood up slowly catching on that her eyes were locked on something that sent a warning signal through his body.

"What is it, Ari? What do you see?" He was starting to reach for one of his katana as Raph stood up just as slow as he had with one of his sai in hand but Arietta made a motion for them to pause for a moment. Her eyes narrowed and this time for certain she saw someone up in the trees watching them. With a swift motion, she grabbed one of Raph's shuriken he had on his belt and quickly launched it to the shadow. She was less than pleased to see the weapon get knocked right back only to land at her feet. The brothers readied themselves with their weapons of choice drawn as she picked up the throwing star from the ground. She replaced it back where it belonged before she pulled her tessen out letting a soft growl of annoyance escape from her as she popped both of them open.

“Have you come to kill us, Karasu?” The laugh that rang out from the trees made both Leo and Raph put themselves into a defensive stance in front of the female but Arietta did not move just yet. The shadow dropped from their perch in the tree yet did not walk in the light for them to see.

“I knew you would be able to sniff me out, Kitsune. I'm not here to kill you or your boyfriends there.” The male walked forward keeping his hands in a surrendering posture as he made his way into the light from the nearby streetlamp. He kept his mask on but made no move to draw any weapons just yet.

“You've been keeping tabs on us. No doubt reporting back to Hisoka.” Arietta narrowed her eyes at the male assassin not letting her guard down just yet.

“Yes but, I've turned off my communication link. I'm here to ask you to trust me, Ari. Mia amata.” He spoke the last sentence softly and stopped his advances towards the trio. No one moved at that point as they all stood there in a moment of silence.

 

Chapter Text

The only people I owe my loyalty to are those who never made me question theirs.” - Joe Mehl

 

"Mia amata," Karasu spoke in a calm voice making sure to keep out any trace of a threatening tone toward his fellow Assassin or her ninja companions. He kept his hands up to where they could see them clearly and did not make any move for his weapons even with them brandishing their own.

“Don't give me that my beloved shit, Cicero. Start talking or I might just let my two friends here have some fun giving you a few new holes.” Arietta sneered and as if to put emphasis on her words both Leo and Raph took a step toward the assassin. Cicero chuckled softly and put his hands up toward his hood with the intent on revealing himself. Pulling it back his shoulder length red hair fell into place and he removed the crow mask from his face letting it rest on top of his head. His ice blue eyes locked onto the violet ones that were glaring at him.

"You never were the patient one, were you? You can also be so rude at times, mia amata. Introductions first, no?" He gave an over exaggerated bow to the two turtles before him the almost laugh in his voice made the man seem a touch insane. Arietta gave a sigh and motioned to the two brothers with one of her tessen.

“The one in blue is Leonardo and the one in red is Raphael.”

“Cicero Venturi, code name Karasu, at your service.” Cicero straightened himself up from the bow and placed his hands behind his back keeping the grin plastered on his face.

"Better start talkin' or we start stabbin'." Raph's patience was definitely running thin and the longer the new Assassin stalled the more it felt like a trap had been laid out for them.

“How rude! I am here to offer my assistance you brute! You and the others are planning to take down the Black Lotus correct? You won't be able to know their every move unless you have an informant. I could be that informant for you and at no cost.” The smile Cicero was keeping on his face was a little unsettling but Arietta quickly gave a fierce shake of her head.

“You know that's suicide! If anyone were to find out you were double crossing they'd have your head.” There was no way in hell she was about to let him risk that. No way she would willingly let him throw his life away for their mission.

“It would be worth the risk. The fact you are going to try and take them down blind is suicide and you know it. Are you that eager to throw their lives away? How about the lives of their other two brothers? How about Casey Jones and April O'Neil's lives? Or even more so their dear father's?” The more he spoke the more uneasy it made the brothers since he had also known so much about them no doubt because of the information collected by the Quintus siblings. Arietta closed her eyes with her brows knitting up and Cicero knew his words sank in. Her eyes snapped open and she became deathly still for that moment.

“Are you being watched?” Her voice was whispered and she made sure she did not move her lips a whole lot in case someone could read them. Cicero gave pause a moment before he brought his hands from behind him and gave her a sign with those same hands. She groaned knowing that now they were not alone but the newest arrivals were not going to intervene it seemed.

“What's going on?” Leo glanced to Ari and watched as she put herself into a stance having been more relaxed before. His eyes immediately went back to the assassin who was pulling out two street scythes from inside of his robes.

“We're going to have to fight him. Play it up so the ones watching don't get suspicious. Don't kill him,” she was speaking scarily calm having been taking the situation in stride. Cicero put himself into a stance of his own ready to begin the almost scripted dance with the trio in front of him.

“Ya seriously trustin' the guy?” Raphael shifted himself closer to Arietta and kept his voice low. This was not going to end pretty and he just knew it.

“I trust him. Believe me, he'll take whatever we dish back just to make this go smoothly. I'm sorry ahead of time for how much trouble we're going to get in when we get back to the lair.” Arietta braced herself as Cicero made the first move. He charged at them with the speed she was used to but as he got closer she was surprised when he changed course and clashed blades with Leonardo.

"Shit," Leo cursed as he bit back the growl that almost came out with it as both of his katana pressed against the blades that had come at him. Cicero smiled at him giving a small wink that gave the turtle pause for a moment.

“Cross slash downward when I moved my blades, Leo.” The gentle command registered and Leo did just as he was told when he felt the pressed ease up just slightly. He watched his blades create a deep x-shaped cut on Cicero's left leg before he felt a searing pain go across both of his forearms. Cicero had raked his blades over the top of Leo's arms before he turned and caught Raphael's sais that were coming down to stab.

“Ya'd better not make us regret this,” Raph spoke to the assassin in a hissed whisper and got a small smirk in return. He followed the orders he was given in the same fashion as his brother letting the top of his right shoulder get cut deeply before he landed a hard side kick that sent the guy sliding on the ground toward Arietta. Both Raph and Leo watched as Cicero rolled himself into a kneeling position before he re-positioned his scythes. He quickly stood up and both ends of the blades stabbed through Arietta's shoulders. She did not let out a cry of pain as she stood in front of her fellow assassin. They were close up together close enough it looked as if they were sharing an intimate embrace rather than the battle lock. Arietta glared up seeing the sky's colors were beginning to change with the promise of sunrise. She kept the scowl and looked back to Cicero locking on to his eyes.

“Do what you must to get us information but you had better not get yourself killed. If it gets too dangerous you get your ass out of there and you find us. Got it?” She could not help but close her eyes when she felt him brush his lips against her cheek like he always did. She allowed him this simple act of affection just this once with out any repercussion which made Cicero smile slightly.

"Get out of here and tend to the wounds I've inflicted. You will hear from me soon, mia amata." He began to pull his scythes from where they were embedded in her flesh and they both turned to look at one another as the withdrawal continued with still no sound of pain from the female. Cicero's smile became a full on triumphant smirk as his eyes locked onto Raphael's just before he let his lips graze against Arietta's in a ghost of a kiss. The anger he saw flaring in the turtle's eyes made him inwardly chuckle. He knew he was going to pay for his bold transgression as Arietta's tessen sliced into his abdomen giving him twin parallel cuts that stretched from his hips to his shoulders. He made a leap back from her and knelt to the ground as the trio made their tactical retreat. As Cicero suspected the two no ranks from the Black Lotus that came to his side had been nothing more than observers. Babysitters were more like it.

“Master Karasu you need medical attention,” the male assassin spoke sternly as he came to his left while the female assassin came to his right and carefully helped him to his feet. Cicero let out a groan in discomfort from the wounds he had just received.

“Master Karasu how did they know you were following them?” The female was careful in asking the question. No doubt this was one of her first mission as a new recruit.

“I was careless and let them discover that I was tailing them. I will have to report back,” Cicero spoke gently as he looked to the female that had addressed him giving her his signature flirtatious wink and smile. She instantly went bright red with a blush and gave him a nod in understanding.


 

“In what scenario exactly is it okay to let yourselves get purposely injured to this extent?!” Donatello was none too happy to have not one but three injured in his medical room. He was at the current tending to the stab wounds that Arietta had sustained. He was actually highly grateful for the healing factor that was working on repairing the damage done but he still cleaned it up and was properly bandaging it so it could do the proper job with out possible infection.

“I'm sorry we took you from your work Donnie but, she needed steadier hands.” Leonardo was working on stitching up the gash on top of Raph's shoulder. Raph had already done the wrap job on the leader's arms so in return he was giving a hand to speed up the whole first aid process. The quicker Donatello got back to his project on the computer the less cranky he would be and the more relief they would all have.

"That doesn't exactly answer my question, Leo." Don finished with the bandage work on Ari's left shoulder and began repeating the process to the right.

“We're going to have an inside man to help with getting intelligence on the Black Lotus so the wounds we received were worth it since it kept him from getting caught.” Arietta had her eyes closed not wanting to see the agitated look Donnie had that was possibly matching the tone his voice stayed in the entire time.

“If you hadn't had the expedient healing mutation you would be losing mobility completely in both of your arms or even worse you would have died.” The turtle sighed out as he finished his work and he glanced over at his brothers who were not even looking his way. “I'm just glad you all made it back alive. I'm going to get some sleep and you all had best do the same.”

They all winced at the slam of the door as Donatello left the medical room. Leonardo let out a small sigh and finished up the sewing job on Raph's shoulder. He put the needle in the bin to be sanitized later before he headed for the door not really saying anything to the two that remained. He was on a set mission to go brew his brother some coffee as an apology and because he knew the techie was not going to be going to sleep at all with all the files he had to sift through. The door closed softer this time and Arietta grabbed up her spaghetti strap. She let out a small noise of discomfort but she was able to get it back on none the less.

“Why did ya let him kiss ya if ya don't see him like that?” Raph had not really been able to stop the question from coming out once the two of them were alone. The way Cicero had looked at him while he did it had set something off in him.

“I didn't know he was going to do it. I can bet you he's paying for it now though. Probably regretting that decision too.” She was about to try to put her hoodie back on but when she felt the slightest elevation in pain she quickly decided against it. “Why do you ask? Are you jealous or something, Red?”

“Why the hell would I be jealous?!” Raphael glared at the woman not liking the teasing tone in her voice. The whole topic was making him bristle and he could not understand why which served to piss him off more.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you wanted to kiss me?" She knew she was pushing his buttons. She knew she was playing with fire but she just could not help herself. The reaction she got was not one she was expecting as she was slammed back down on the examination table. She hissed out feeling the sharp protest in her shoulders and her eyes were shut to clear the stars from her vision. Raphael had her pinned down with his hand pressed against her clavicle while he gave a low growl at her.

“Don't go runnin' your mouth!” He barked out at her which made her snap her eyes open.

“Then don't be an idiot!” She shot right back which proved to be the straw that broke it all. He pressed down harder on her as another growl came out of him. This time it was more of a final warning for her to stop while she was ahead.

“I'm the idiot?! Ya know if you would have just gone to sleep we wouldn't have been in that mess in the first place!” He was a bit surprised she was able to shove him off of her and far enough away to where she could stand up. He was even more surprised that she was trying to stand toe to toe with him. This five foot six human female was actually trying to intimidate him.

'How cute,' he sarcastically mused to himself in his mind. He could not help but have a little respect that she was not backing down or cowering.

"I didn't ask you or Leo to go with me. You two just had to play boy scouts!" She was seething now that he was putting the blame for what happened completely on her.

"If we hadn't ya'd probably be caught up in a lip lock right now with that asshole! Hell, probably even more than that by now!" He clenched his fists as the feeling began to seep in that he should just shut up and walk away. Quit while he was ahead was the only thing that rang through his head as her eyes went from agitated to completely enraged in a matter of seconds.

"The hell you say! What is your damn problem, Raphael?!"

"You're my problem! Everythin' would be just peachy if you assassins hadn't shown up! We wouldn't be dealin' with all of this and tryin' to get involved in some corrupt Clan that until tonight we didn't know existed! We'd been just fine thinkin' your type of assassins were just made up for a damn video game! You're my problem, Arietta! You're doin' nothin' but pissin' me the hell off miss scared to get wet!" He knew he should have just walked away and in that moment he regretted the words he just spoke as he saw her emotions change drastically. She had gone from just as ticked off as he was to absolutely void of any response. The tears that were rimming her eyes were the only thing that let him know just how deep his words had cut her. The fact that this tough girl was about to cry because of a few of his hurtful words made him feel like a heel. The silence that was growing between them made the feeling grow even more. Arietta was the first to make any real movement and she simply grabbed up her hoodie from the exam table. She made no expression of pain as she attempted to put it on. At the halfway point she paused to psych herself up for the real spike in pain that was about to hit her. Raphael let out a small sigh and reached out to give her a hand but she side stepped away from him and made it a point to give him her back.

“Just don't.”

“Ari I'm-”

“No, Raphael, you meant what you said. Every single word of it so, save me the awkward apologies.” She cut him off and snapped her hoodie up over her shoulders and down with a sharp intake of breath following right after. The second the scent of her blood hit him it hit like a ton of bricks. She had made her wounds start to freshly bleed again just from that simple stubborn motion of getting a piece of clothing back on.

“Ya tore up what healed. I can smell it bleedin'. Let me go get Don so he can clean it up and re-bandage it.” He knew he had messed up big time but he had hoped she would see reason and let his brother help her. Raph turned to head for the door and just as he grabbed the handle he felt the hand on his wrist stopping him. He looked down at the woman he had her head tilted down to where he could not see her face.

“It was just a small tear so it'll be fine. Not that big of a deal. Let Donnie work since we've already interrupted him once.” She let go of his wrist and took a step back from him. “We should probably get some sleep. Have that team training thing to do once Callie and Lyra are done with what they've got to do.”

“Don't try and brush off what just happened. I know I hurt the hell outta ya by what I said.” He stiffened when she looked right up at him. Her eyes were stern and any trace of hurt was gone along with the tears. She looked absolutely exhausted now. Fed up it looked more like.

"I'm a weapon, Raphael. Weapons don't get hurt. They do the hurting," she recited with no meaningful emotion behind it which was not what Raph had expected to hear.

"Bullshit. Ya ain't foolin' no one with that crap, Foxy. Definitely, ain't foolin' me." He leaned down enough to get closer to her face with his own. It was more so he could be on a little bit of an even eye level but the damn near foot in height difference put a damper on that. It got his point across, however, and he kept back a smirk seeing the spark reignite in her eyes.

“Drop it and go to bed. I'm tired and I'm done arguing with you tonight, Red.” That made the smirk surface on his face. She was back to her normal spitfire self.

“What if I wanna lect-” She cut him off by acting instinctively on impulse. She had closed the remaining distance and had silenced him by pressing her lips against his own. Just as quick as she had done it she pulled back from him leaving the turtle dumbfounded. It took a bit for his brain to kick back on and try to process what had happened.

“Shit Raph, I am so so sorry! I just acted with out even thinking!” She was flipping out now with what she had just done. She knew she was tired but she had not thought she was that tired to actually kiss him to get him to be quiet. She was holding his shoulders trying to bring his attention back to the moment by giving a small attempt as a shake. Her cheeks had been engulfed by a blush and if she did not have the worry in her eyes he would have just relished in the moment. He brought her hands off of his shoulders and he held them for a moment before placing them at her sides. He smirked as he stood straight up only to cross his arms giving her a full fledged grin which only told her he was just about to tease her.

“Don't worry about it. I won't tell the boyfriend.” He let out a small laugh seeing her puff out her cheeks and clench her fists. He resigned to fully accepting what she was about to dish out.

“Just remember one thing Raphael,” she spoke in a calm tone as she lifted her hand only to poke him on his snout. She opened the door and pause halfway out before she gave him a wicked grin. “I know where you sleep.”

“Aw hell.”

 

Chapter Text

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life.” - Richard Bach

 

Dorian had been a nervous wreck the moment he had seen the progress Donatello made with all of the data. All their secrets becoming knowledge at a click of a mouse was making a dread set in. He knew there was one particular bit of information he could not let the brilliant turtle discover before he could fully explain and he knew he would have to swear the turtles and their master into secrecy with that information. Before Callie and Lyra had left for their morning errands he only had to tell the second eldest that it was time and she understood the meaning. She would take care of informing their youngest sister while he had the lovely task of letting the others in on one of his family's darkest kept secrets. He was pleased to see that Arietta was at the moment caught up in her usual morning routine with her tessen which would keep her occupied for at least two hours. She had found solace in using the platform that Master Splinter used for his meditation and the music she had blaring from her earbuds kept her completely in the zone.

He knew he could use the two hours to speak with the family that graciously opened their home and he was going to try to make it clear in at least one. He took in a deep breath as he stood in front of the door way that would lead to the training room. He kept his eyes glued to the ground as he let that breath out slowly. Making his way in he finally registered the sounds of weapons clashing and Master Splinter giving instruction to the boys as they sparred. He stood outside of the ring and brought his eyes up from the ground to see the four brothers focused on one another in a free for all sparring match. If he had not known any better he could have sworn he was watching an old martial arts movie with the way they moved damn near flawlessly. He had almost forgotten why he had even decided to walk in the dojo in the first place. His eyes were glued to the leader in blue. Watching him dodge each attack that would come his way. Following the paths, his katana took with the guided precision of the mastered wielder. The grip to Dorian's shoulder was what finally pulled him from the unintentional spell Leonardo had him under and he damn near jumped out of his skin. He looked to see that it was Splinter who had got his attention.

"I called your name several times. Is something wrong, Dorian?" The rat lets go of the shoulder he had grabbed and both of his hands went to rest behind his back. Dorian found a lump forming in his throat but he quickly cleared it finding his reason of interrupting again. He gave a bow at the hip toward the master before giving his reply.

"I am afraid so, Master Splinter. There is something I must speak to you and your sons about. I'm on a bit of a time limit to speak about it as well." Dorian did not lift himself from the bow even as the din of the sparring died down at his words. Even as the four ninjas stood there staring at him in a mixture of confusion and curiosity.

"Alright. Let us all sit for a moment. You talk and we will listen." Dorian could feel his heart working double time as he sat there on his knees in front of all five of them. He had hoped he would never have to speak of what he was about to reveal to anyone outside of the Black Lotus. Though he felt he knew the ones before him for much longer than one day they were still just strangers to his sisters and him. He took in a slow deep breath and let it out slowly before he looked up at them with his hands clenching tightly on top of his legs.

“What I am about to tell all of you stays in this room. We do not speak of it ever. Especially not to Arietta. This is not negotiable and not up for any debate I'm afraid. Am I clear?” Dorian's voice was stern and it was pretty evident he got his point across to them all as they nodded to him.

"We won't say a word now tell us what has you so worried." Leonardo had a hunch he was not going to like what Dorian was about to say especially now since they had all just given their word not to repeat any of it. Dorian closed his light gray eyes and bowed his head down knowing now he could not turn back.

"I had promised all the information you could ever have asked for on the Black Lotus. With that also comes a lot of our most guarded secrets as a fair trade for your help and because we already knew everything about all of you. Donatello, you work really fast," Dorian spoke gently as he opened his eyes and looked to the turtle he had called out. He smiled a little seeing the confused reaction from the one in purple before he down cast his eyes again but this time he did not close them. "A little too fast. There is one secret that if not properly addressed could compromise everything and we would be down one very skilled Assassin."

“You're talkin' about Arietta ain't ya?” Raph narrowed his eyes at the man and it was not just the hothead of the crew that had quickly put two and two together. Dorian's nod of confirmation made him even more willing to pay attention and even more upset about the topic of the discussion.

"Despite Callie and Lyra's dye jobs, we all get our blonde hair from our father, Diego Quintus. Lyra and I both inherited our gray eyes from him while the violet eyes both Callie and Ari have were inherited from our mother, Shiori. I didn't lose any of you so far right" For once they were all kept on the same page. Even Mikey was paying close attention to the information finding it fascinating to learn more about his favorite assassin. Er, assassins, plural.

“What was the color of your mother's hair?” Donatello had a pretty good understanding of just how human genetics worked and knew both the eyes and hair attributes were passed down through the father as a dominant trait. He was very aware that Arietta not only had black hair but she also had more Asian features than her siblings did.

“She had light brown hair,” the answer from Dorian was so not what Donatello wanted to hear. It only further confirmed his already growing suspicions.

"Arietta is only your half sister then," Leo added calmly and his eyes narrowed as Dorian gave a single nod in confirmation. He knew he was going to regret the next part. "Same mother but a different father. I'm going to take a wild guess here and say that isn't the part you're worried about her finding out, is it?"

"If it was, we wouldn't be having this little pow-wow," Dorian spoke with a smirk on his lips and his brow raised a little but it took only second for him to look serious once more. "The reason it has been kept a secret from her is that of who her father actually is. You all have had encounters with him twice already. His name is Oroku Saki."

There were the reactions that Dorian had been expecting. The complete and udder confusion was there on their faces only to be slowly taken over by shock. Dorian closed his eyes and bowed his head knowing the next was going to be anger and possibly even rage. He could hear how hard his heart was beating, the sound was something he could easily focus on now that silence had filled the dojo.

"Rico Suave is Arietta's dad?" Mikey had followed all the way up until the true name of their nemesis was spoken and of course, it went right over his head. The youngest saw the eyes of his master and brothers on him and he stiffened a bit confused. "What?"

“Oroku Saki is Shredder's real name, Mikey.” Donnie smiled at his brother with the patience that he always had for the youngest. He could always leave it to Mikey to break the ice though no matter how dire the situation.

“Oh... oh damn!” Mikey's eyes were wide as he snapped his attention back to Dorian. The sound of a growl was the only warning given before the assassin was slammed on his back. Raphael had the guy pinned down on the ground and a fist was poised in a strike to bash his face but Master Splinter had acted quickly to stay the attack with a hard grip on his son's wrist.

“Why the hell haven't ya told 'er yet? Somethin' like that ain't meant to be kept as a secret!” He sneered at Dorian already having about enough of these surprises from the assassins. He was tired of all the secrets and this one was the worst of all in his book.

“You shout any louder, Raphael, and the whole city will know!” The female voice that sounded near the entrance made everyone a little tense but as eyes moved to see who spoke up the relief washed over the whole room as they all saw Lyra and Callie standing there. Callie looked highly upset to see Dorian almost getting a beat down from Raphael. She was glad they showed up when they did since things were about to get out of hand otherwise. Dorian tilted his head a bit to stare at his sisters but it was Lyra who met his gaze and fully understood what he was asking with just his eyes.

"Arietta is still doing her tessen thing. We asked her to put up the groceries for us when she was done." They usually cheery girl had a voice full of her and her eyes were a bit puffy from having been recently crying. Donatello could completely understand her pain. Not on a personal level but more as an observational one. She had just been given the exact same news as the rest of them had and by the looks of it, she had not taken it well. Lyra did not speak another word as she walked over towards all of them. Raphael had slowly peeled himself off of Dorian but he was a little confused when she went right passed them. No one said anything as she sat down right next to Donatello and grabbed a hold of his arm. Her face became quickly hidden against that same arm to which she did not seem to acknowledge how tense the turtle she had latched on to had become. Wide hazel eyes went right to Lyra's siblings as if silently asking them what he should do.

“Just let her hold on to you for a little bit. She doesn't want anything to do with us right now but she still wants to listen.” Calliope gave the second eldest ninja an apologetic smile before she moved over to Dorian. Helping him to sit upright she took to sitting on his left side taking up the same style of sitting he was in. Splinter let go of Raphael's wrist and gave his hothead of a son a look that spoke volumes. The turtle getting the silent third degree let out a groan before taking his spot again. The master then turned his attention to the two humans with a gentle expression.

“Continue the discussion with out me. I have heard enough to know what must be done. There will be no training today so everyone can have time to soak in this news. I will give Arietta a hand with groceries and if you are still not finished I will keep her occupied.” He placed a hand on the top of their heads for a second as a comfort motion before he made his way toward the door of the dojo. Both Callie and Dorian gave him a small bow of their heads as they both spoke out to him in unison.

"Thank you, Master Splinter." They straightened back up once they heard the door close as a sign that Splinter had left. Dorian kept his eyes glued to the floor as Callie moved hers over each of the turtles. She could feel her heart break all over again seeing that Donnie was now holding onto her little sister allowing her to silently cry against his chest. His focus at that moment was on the very distraught young woman that was taking refuge in his arms. Leonardo took a deep breath in and let it out very slowly while he crossed his arms.

“Why is it you don't want her to know?”

“Honestly, it's because we fear she will try to find her father. Either she'll want to kill him or join forces with him. Do you really want to play that game, Leonardo?” Dorian raised his head up and Leo could see the pain and shame in those silver eyes of his.

“There hasn't been a sign of Shredder since we closed that inter-dimensional portal Krang came through a year ago,” Donnie interjected as he looked at the two keeping his hold on Lyra. At least she was not crying at the moment. It was hard to have her struggle to keep her sobs silent and it only made all of this worse.

“In our line of work you never count anyone out unless you have a body. I highly doubt that the Foot Clan have been idle about getting their Master back from where ever he is hiding.” Calliope looked at her brother before turning her gaze back to the brothers. “We also don't want Arietta knowing just exactly how she was conceived. She would blame herself for our parents' deaths.”

"She wasn't planned to be perfectly honest. Saki had taken advantage of our father being away on his final mission," Dorian spoke slowly with clenched fists and gritted teeth having a harder time explaining. When he felt Callie's hand take his, he sighed out and squeezed a little finding some strength in her comfort. "When Callie and I found Mom, the Shredder was already gone. When Dad made it home a few weeks later he found out what happened. Mom convinced him to not confront Shredder and we all moved to Paris after Arietta was born. Almost a year later and Lyra was born. Our parents love each one of us but I could always see it in their eyes no matter how much they loved her they still had anger and sorrow due to Arietta's conception. I guess you could say she was treated like the black sheep. Even we treated her a little crueler than we should have as kids."

“Explains why you were always an asshole, Dorian. Why you still act like one,” Arietta's voice came from the doorway and she stepped through with her arms crossed and her eyes set in a slight glare. Her sudden appearance made everyone instantly get to their feet as the shocked looks crossed their faces. Splinter came in and stood next to the woman placing his hand against her back as he looked at the group.

“She was listening in ever since Lyra and Calliope came into the dojo.” He took his hand from her back and gave Arietta a nod of his head for her to speak. She gave Calliope and Dorian and even harder glare and the anger was building more being those vibrant violet eyes.

“I'm not an idiot. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the differences when you compare us. Especially when I've seen that picture of mom and dad you're always carrying around in your wallet, Dorian.”

“Air listen we-” Calliope stopped talking the second her sister brought her hand up as a motion for her to be silent.

"I get it. I know all about why you didn't want to tell me but those have got to be the shittiest reasons I have ever heard in my life! What it all boils down to is neither of you has an ounce of trust in me! That's the part that hurts the worst and cuts the deepest. The plain and simple fact you don't trust me," she was speaking through a sneer and her fists were clenched tight as she spoke to her eldest siblings. "I have always had your backs no matter what. So what if my sperm donor is the Shredder? I am nothing like him and I would rather cut out my own tongue than betray any of you!"

Arietta was seething now and completely filled with a deep set hurt. Betrayal. That was the best word that could be used to describe what she was feeling and seeing the looks of guilt on both Dorian and Calliope only proved to be the proper term. She looked at the four brothers and then to Lyra. She was a little taken back with the looks of uncertainty on their faces. Her eyes locked onto Raph's for a moment and she felt the sting of rejection when he looked away from her. Growling softly she turned her back on all of them intending to walk away. She knew if she spoke anymore about how she came to be she would lose her composure.

“Where are you going Arietta?” Splinter's voice was gentle yet stern at the same time with the inquiry. It made her pause in her tracks and she let out a small sigh. He was the only one seeing her for who she was. Who she truly was.

“I'm going out for a ride. If I'm needed you can just give me a call. If not I'll be back. Maybe,” she spoke gently as she looked back over her shoulder at the whole group. “When all of you are ready to trust me and see me as more than what you think I am then let me know. Until then just stay the hell away from me.”

“Arietta!” Raphael yelled out to stop her but he knew she had every right to be angry as she left the dojo. He growled as he looked to Dorian and Calliope. “That's just perfect!”

“Let it go Raph, just let it go.” Leo was not at all happy with how this played out. None of them had any idea what they should do now and all of a sudden the dojo felt extremely crowded. Splinter sighed out not having any words the would ease any of them at that moment. He turned to tend to his bonsai trees leaving them to heal what could be healed.

“Take time for yourselves. Reflect on what has transpired. We can ease the pain inflicted when she returns.” He walked out of the dojo and the sound of the Harley being revved before the tires squealing set in stone that they may have very well lost on of their numbers.

"I'm goin' after 'er," Raph spoke out as he started for the door. Leo looked to Donnie for some kind of help as he had every intention of going with Raph.

“Think you could give us a way to track her?” He was relieved when his brother gave him a small nod.

“While everyone was asleep I took the liberty of doing a little modding on the motorcycle. I've got something you can use on the go to keep up with her.”

“Don, what would we do with out you?” Leo smirked heading toward the entrance of the dojo but paused a moment next to Dorian and Calliope. “I can't promise we will bring her back but I can promise we'll make sure she doesn't get herself into any trouble.”

"Just make sure she doesn't catch you following her. She'll try to kick your butts if she does." Dorian gave a small smile but it was evident on his face that he was beating himself up over it all now. Leo gave him a smirk and just as he was about to get going Dorian grabbed his wrist to stop him for a moment longer. Donnie had already head out to his computer room with Lyra keeping close to his side since she was not quite ready to talk with anyone else. Callie could see the way Dorian was acting so she took that as her cue. She walked over to Michelangelo and gently grabbed a hold of his hand. That simple gesture snapped the youngest out of his daze and he looked right at her in both shock and confusion.

“Come on cutey. You and I are going to get some popcorn and we're going to put on a movie. You get to pick first.” She gave him a wink and started dragging him out of the dojo so both of their brothers could have a moment alone.

“You are so speaking my language, baby doll!” It did not take much to perk Mikey right up that was for sure. As the two left Leo turned back to Dorian a little confused as to why he had stopped him.

"We don't hate her, Leo." Dorian still refused to look up at him which was worrying the fearless leader a little. With a sigh, he places his hands on Dorian's shoulders giving a slight squeeze to reassure him.

“She knows that, Dorian. I'm pretty sure she feels a little betrayed. None of us really spoke up to let her know otherwise so it's a lesson we've all learned. Sometimes staying silent isn't really a good communication technique.” He gave a small smile as Dorian finally looked up at him. “Don't worry, Raph and I might just be able to talk some sense into her.”

“I hope so. Definitely going to keep owing you guys with how much you're helping us.” Dorian chuckled feeling more at ease knowing Arietta was not going to be able to just disappear for weeks on end like she usually did. Leo laughed and let go of Dorian's shoulders.

"We'll let this one be a freebie. After all, we did almost drown your sister last night." He saw the color drain from Dorian's face and he waved his hands a little. "We had no idea about the fear she has of water. We were trying to play a prank on her and the second she didn't surface we went in after her."

“That would explain why her clothes were damp. I'm actually surprised she told you about her fear. Just goes to show you how quick she is to-” Dorian paused realizing that Arietta had always been on to trust with her entire being if someone gained that trust. She always followed her gut and kept her courage to defend what she knew to be honorable and true. He quickly smacked his face with his palm and groaned out.

“How quickly she trusts someone when they've earned that trust?” Leo smiled and gave Dorian's shoulder a light punch before he went to the door of the dojo. “Sounds like you could probably take her advice more often then. I've got to head out or it will be harder to catch up to her. We'll be back soon.”

“Thanks, Leo. Thank Raph for me too will you?”

 

Chapter Text

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” - Pablo Neruda

 

“Great! We found the bike but not the girl. She could be anywhere!” Raphael was none too happy looking over the side of the roof they were occupying seeing the motorcycle parked on the street below but no sign of the rider anywhere.

“Relax, she couldn't have got very far. The signal hasn't been still for very long so she's either inside one of the buildings...”

“Or she's right behind you.” The two turtles winced and slowly turned around only to see Arietta standing there holding three cups with spoons sticking out of them. She smirked seeing the looks of shocked confusion on their faces before she nodded for them to follow her. “Come on. I've got a good hiding spot and Gelato with our names on them.”

“Hold up, Ari. Ya ain't mad we followed ya?” Raph was pretty sure she would have been livid with them for tailing her after she told everyone to leave her alone.

“Mm, no. I kind of figured out of my available options that the two of you would try and find me. Now move your butts. If the Gelato melts I will be mad." She turned and took off to the abandoned building's roof toward the right of the one they were on before she opened the rooftop access door. The brothers looked at each other and quickly followed after the clever assassin. Surprisingly the hiding place of her choice happened to be an old office building. She had led them through the halls to an old office suite for what must have been a CEO of the company that once occupied the place. She sat down on the desk looking toward the large windows that offered one hell of a view of the city. She was grinning as she motioned for them to come join her to which they obliged. Leo leaned against the desk on the left side of her looking out at the view while Raph pulled over the old office chair that was sitting in the corner. She held out a cup of Gelato for each of them to take.

"What is it?" Raph took his cup and was not sure what she was trying to feed him. Leo took a hold of the cup she was offering him and had a skeptical look that mirrored his brother's as he stared at the contents of the cup.

“It's kind of like ice cream but way better in my opinion. I didn't know if sweet was really a thing for you guys so I went with salted caramel.” She picked up her own cup and happily took a spoonful of the treat into her mouth. Deciding not to be rude Leonardo took the first bite and Raphael watched him for his reaction. The leader's eyes widened as the flavors hit his tongue and he looked to his brother.

“It's good. Really good.” He took another bite which as all Raph needed before he dug right into his own serving. He did not say a word about how it tasted, he just continued to eat it which spoke volumes.

“Told you. Way better than ice cream.” Arietta smirked as she stared out of the window enjoying her frozen treat immensely. For a moment it was almost like she had not stormed out of the lair on a threat of not returning.

“Arietta are you serious about not going back?” Leo gave her a side glance and saw her pause a moment with the spoon in her mouth. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly while she put the spoon back in the cup and sat it down beside her.

“What's he like?” The question she had asked made both brothers snap their attention right at her.

“Don't,” Raph spoke sternly before he looked back outside again not wanting to even attempt going down that rabbit hole. “You ain't like 'im so don't even try to compare.”

“I'm not trying to do a comparison, Raph. I've never met him in person and I just wanted to know what he's like.” She shrugged and hopped off of the desk to step closer to the window.

"You're a terrible liar, Arietta," Leo mused with a smirk as he finished off his Gelato and set the cup down on the desk. "He's evil. Pure and simple. He has shown no restraints at all when it comes to the lives of innocent people. He's tried killing us several times because we have stopped him at every turn. He's a psychotic lunatic that wants nothing else but to take over this city and enslave all he can."

“Huh. You know you're right, Raph. I'm nothing like my old man at all. I'm not evil. I don't go messing with the lives of the innocent, kind of goes against the code and all. Don't want to kill any of you guys and last I checked I have all my marbles. Not really interested in ruling over any city either,” She kept her voice from shaking as she took in a slow deep breath before turning to face toward them with a hurt filled look in her eyes. “So if I'm nothing like him why do I get the feeling now that it's all out in the open that is all anyone will see?”

“Idiot,” Raphael gave the simple answer before he glared at Arietta who in turn glared right back at him. Her eyes widened seeing the cup of Gelato she had sat down was gone and the red masked ninja was taking a lot longer to eat just one cup. She narrowed her eyes at him as he took a spoonful into his mouth.

“Is that my Gelato?”

"Ya snooze ya lose, princess." He grinned wickedly as she shows her the now empty cup before he put it down on the desk. Leo could not contain the laughter seeing the look of shocked disappointment on Arietta's face.

“I think you just signed a death wish, Raph.”

“Ha! Yeah right!” Raph crossed his arms as he turned his grin at his older brother. “She's not gonna do anythin' about it.”

Leo covered his mouth seeing Arietta approaching his cocky unsuspecting brother. With out even a warning, the Assassin pounced and the force alone sent both her and Raph to the floor. That was when Leo lost it and let the newest round of laughter go freely seeing the hot head turtle being pinned to the floor. Deciding to give his little brother a helping hand he walked over to the two of them and knelt down beside them. He then pulled her cup of Gelato from behind his back where he had been hiding it the entire time. The surprised look made both brothers erupt in laughter that time.

“You make it way too easy to tease you, Ari.” Leo gave her a smirk as she took the cup from him. She even made sure to take a bite with authority behind it.

"You guys are jerks plain and simple," she spoke around the spoon in her mouth not moving from the position on Raph.

"We may be jerks but ya know ya like us. Now, let me up." He watched as she took another bite and she turned her head away to silently say she was ignoring his demand. He gave her a hard glare not wanting to stay on the floor. "I can throw ya off ya know?"

Arietta looked at Raphael again giving him a challenging smirk around the spoon that was still in her mouth. She suddenly let out a small squeak of surprise as she was lifted up off of Raph and moved back enough so the poor turtle could get up from the floor. Tilting her head back she gave a small glare to Leo for his interference in her fun and he in return gave her a smile right back. He sat her on her feet but turned her around so she could face him making it a point to lean in so they would lock eyes and his hands rested on her shoulders.

“Arietta I can tell you right now that my brothers and I don't see you as another Shredder. We see you as a valuable warrior and as a friend. Same goes for Master Splinter I'm sure.” He saw her starting to tilt her head down and he cupped her chin between a thumb and finger to keep her looking at him. "Trust me, if it wasn't true you would definitely know."

“If you're afraid of what your siblin's think then ya gotta prove to them you ain't somethin' to be scared of. Ya show them who ya are and do what ya have to so they never have any doubt.” Raph put his hand on the small of her back and gave her a smirk. Arietta gave a small chuckle and reached up to grab Leo's wrist gently so he would let go of her chin.

“You two make for some pretty good motivational speakers. The only problem is I wouldn't even know where to start.” She let go of Leo's wrist and finished off the last of her sweet treat before giving the cup and spoon a toss to the old waste basket that was against one of the walls.

“Start by going back to the lair. I know you don't want to be around anyone but it does make for a good start.” Leo let go of Ari's shoulder and crossed his arms with a smirk. Arietta looked from Leo to Raph before giving a small shrug of her shoulders.

“Okay.”

“What? Not gonna put up more of a fight than that?” Raph was a little surprised that she was not going to be giving them any kind of lip. The smirk she was giving the two of them had him moving his hand from the small of her back.

"What's there to fight about? Besides that, if we don't stop hanging out like this the rest may start getting ideas about the three of us." She pulled out the keys to the motorcycle with a playful wink. The look of shock on Leo's face and confusion on Raph's made her completely lose her composure to laughter. "Oh come on you guys! You made that too damn easy! Makes the score four to three now."

“Ya think so huh?!” Raph quickly picked her up off the ground holding her against him and grinning as she tried struggling to get free from his grip. “Give me a hand 'ere Leo. We gotta teach 'er a lesson.”

Leo could not let this moment go to waste so he reached forward giving her ribs a few torturous pokes of his fingers making sure to tickle her rather than hurt her. She was in a fit of laughter trying to kick her way out of her predicament but was getting nowhere at all. They had her in one hell of a bind and they were not going to let the poor girl go with out some form of surrender.

“Say uncle and we'll let you go,” Leo spoke in a teasing tone as he kept up his attack on her ribs not giving her even a second to recuperate. Arietta shook her head to answer even though she knew if she did not give in soon she would pass out from lack of proper oxygen intake.

“Don't be stubborn, Foxy. Just say it so ya don't pass out.” Raph grinned relishing in the fact he could hear her laughter instead of the hurt tone she was speaking in earlier.

“O-okay.... u-uncle! Uncle!” Arietta managed to at least get out what they wanted to hear and she took in the gulps of air greedily once Leo stopped attacking her ribs. She looked at the eldest brother and gave him a small glare that quickly turned to a wide-eyed stare as he grabbed the back of her head. Her cheeks turned red with a blush as he pressed their foreheads together and his gaze locked hers.

"You don't have to bottle it up. You don't have to hide behind the mask. At least you don't have to with us." He let go of her head and took a step back from her so she could have some space. Raphael let go of his hold on her and went to stand beside his brother crossing his arms with a smirk on his face. Arietta stared at them a second as her heart twinged at the feelings Leo's words stirred up. She shook her head a little to get herself focused again.

“I swear if you two let it slip that I'm a softy I will smother you in your sleep.”

“Wouldn't even dream of it, Foxy.” Raph gave a small chuckle but was taken by surprise when the woman launched herself at both himself and Leo. They both caught her as she wrapped her arms around the back of their heads. She had them both off guard as she hugged them tightly. She was actually grateful to the two of them for coming after her and talking a bit of sense to her.

“How about anytime any of us needs to talk we just ask to get some Gelato and no matter what we go talk?” She grinned a little and was relieved when she felt them return her embrace. They let her feet touch the ground but none of them let go just yet. With out much warning she felt tears fall down her cheeks and she knew she was losing it. She pulled back her arms and carefully covered her mouth to silence the sob that threatened to escape.

"Hey now, what's with the tears?" Raphael wiped at her cheeks but with more of her tears falling he looked to his brother in a silent plea to give him a hand with their now sobbing friend. Leo gave a small nod and went over to the office chair that had fallen to the floor when Arietta toppled Raph earlier. He set it upright before bringing it closer to the other two. He gave a small nod to which Raph guided Arietta to sit down in the chair. She did manage to calm herself a bit by slowly breathing even despite the still falling tears. Bringing her knees to her chest she rests her chin on it and opened her eyes to stare at the floor. She watched both boys sit down in front of her and she gave a soft sigh out knowing they were only wanting to help her.

"Usually when the cork pops like this I'm either hiding out in my room back at headquarters or taking it all out on some poor initiate that smarted off at the wrong time." Her brows scrunched together but she dared not look at them as she felt the urge to share with them what she was upset about. "You guys will probably catch on to this pretty quick. Out of all my siblings, I'm the only one who actually enjoys what we do. I have no problem at all being an Assassin so long as the targets are truly wicked and corrupt. Dorian pretends to play leader but I've always known he isn't confident enough in himself to truly lead. He would much rather focus on the one thing he's really passionate about and I can tell you it isn't explosives. Calliope hates taking lives period. If she got the choice to let them live she did with out any hesitation. She would much rather be saving lives in the medical field, performing life-saving surgery or creating some miracle cure from plants. As for Lyra, she's too much of a kind spirited girl. To be perfectly honest I would rather see her live more of a carefree life and stare at all the damn stars she wanted to."

“Ya'd do anythin' to protect 'em. Take all the missions for yourself. Go on your own.” Raphael knew the feeling all too well since it was how he felt about his own family. He would be stronger for them and protect them no matter what. He looked at Ari as she wiped at her eyes and he smiled seeing no more tears were falling now.

“When it comes down to it I don't think I will ever just stop doing what I'm doing. I won't be able to stop fighting or ridding the world of corruption.” She sighed out running her hand through her hair.

“You know, calling yourself an assassin at that point may not be the correct term for it.” Leo gave thought on her outfit and it made him chuckle a bit. “Once the Black Lotus is taken care of you could always call yourself a ninja.”

"Aw, if I do that we couldn't have the little contest we've got going on." She stuck her tongue out at Leo giving a small flash of her tongue ring. She flashed a grin at the both of them getting a smile from Leo and a laugh from Raph. "We're long ways from taking down the entire Black Lotus clan so there will be plenty of time to figure out what I'll do after."

Arietta got up from the chair they had set her in and she stretched herself out. They stood up with her and watched her place her hands behind her head keeping her elbows up toward the ceiling. The smile that formed on her lips assured them that she was feeling a bit better having just got what she needed to off her chest which made both of them smirk in return.

“Can't keep makin' 'em sweat it out, Foxy.” Raphael was right on the one and she knew it. She scrunched her nosed before sticking her tongue out at him giving the tongue ring another debut.

“I know, Red, I know. I want to check on Lyra anyway. I'm pretty sure she's really hurting after everything she found out this morning. Probably giving Callie and Dee the silent treatment.” That was the one sibling that no matter what she could never be mad at no matter how annoying Lyra got.

“She's attached herself to Donnie as soon as she and Calliope went into the dojo. From how she was acting I'm sure she hasn't left his side for a second.” Leo scratched at his cheek while his other hand was resting on his hip. Arietta slapped her face with the palm of her hand gently and let out a groan. Letting out a sigh she pulled out the keys again from her pocket and spun them around her finger once before she palmed them.

“Come on, we've got to save Professor Plum before Lyra drives him insane.”

“What's with the color nicknames, Foxy?” Raph had a brow raised at her while he and Leo followed her. Arietta let out a small chuckle at the question.

"Probably for the same reason you insist on calling me Foxy. It just fits," Arietta shrugged with her answer as she leads them out of the office they were hiding out in and went for the stairs that would lead outside. She double checked to make sure no one was in the alleyway before she made her way over to the manhole cover. Pausing for a moment she kept an eye out on the street to make sure no one was heading their direction before giving them the signal. "Alright, you two go on ahead. I'll go get the bike and meet you back at the lair."

The two brothers made quick work of getting the manhole cover up and Leo was the first to drop down. Raph was halfway down the hole when he stopped a moment to look at Arietta who was at the moment keeping an eye out down the alleyway. He smirked finding it amusing that he and his brothers had just met them last night when they were trying to kill them and now all of them were acting like they have known each other for years. Like they were all really close friends. His thoughts were reeled in when he felt the poke to his snout and he glared up looking at the woman who withdrew her finger.

“Hey!”

"Hey yourself, Red. You zoned out for a minute there I thought you were having a stroke or something." She let out a small chuckle of amusement as she rests her hand on the pavement next to her right knee.

"Whatever. Just get your butt back to the lair quick. Don't go joy ridin' or nothin' ya got it?" He gave her a half-hearted glare to which she repaid with a sly smirk.

“Sure thing, Dad,” she retorted out but made sure to dodge the punch that was aimed at her. She let out a laugh knowing that quick comeback had got him good. She blocked out another punch before leaning and giving him a small fast kiss on the cheek without much thought to it which made him tense up for a second. “Now get down there so I can close this up.”

Raph only managed to give her a nod before he dropped down finding that Leo had been waiting for him the entire time. He gave him a glare as a warning not to say anything but turned his attention back up toward the hole they dropped from hearing the manhole being slid across the pavement. Leo had a thought cross his mind and he moved closer to his brother before looking up towards the hole.

“Hey Arietta,” he shouted up and smirked seeing the female looked down at them with a quizzical look. “Go grab some more of that Gelato you got us. Trust me it will make your life easier with Mikey.”

“Probably with that little sister of yours too if she's anythin' like our little brother.” Raph grinned and could see the realization click into place for the girl above. She chuckled and gave a thumbs up to them.

“Good call. See you guys in a bit.” Arietta put the cover back over the entrance to the sewers before making her way back to the Gelato shop and the bike. The boys made their way back to the lair making a race out of it and coming up with a rather devious prank for the others when they got back.

 

Chapter Text

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us” - Joseph Campbell

 

“She's not coming back?!” Dorian had been highly upset to see both Raph and Leo return but there was no sign of his sister.

“That's what we said. She ain't comin' back and there ain't nothin' anyone can say to change 'er mind.” Raph crossed his arms and did not even bat an eye seeing Dorian becoming more stressed out with the terrible news.

“I'm sorry Dorian. I promised we would talk to her not bring her back.” Leo could not even keep eye contact with the eldest assassin. How Raph had been able to talk him into playing such a cruel trick will always baffle him now.

“So she's for real not coming back?” Michelangelo and Calliope joined in with the trio having just finished watching the movie that Callie got to pick out for their double feature.

“For real, Mikey.” Raph gave his brother a small glare hoping that would get the point across that the questions needed to stop. Calliope ran a hand through her hair as she kept her eyes downcast to the floor. Her other hand sought out Mikey's and relieved somewhat when he grabbed it with a slight squeeze to comfort her.

“Maybe she just needs some more time to figure things out.” Callie chewed on her bottom lip, a nervous habit she had when things were way too intense for her nerves.

"What on earth could she possibly need to figure out?!" Dorian was pinching the bridge of his nose trying to stay a headache that was trying to creep in. Leo and Raph caught the movement and bit back the grins that were trying to free themselves. Arietta had been able to get back with out so much as a sound from the motorcycle, no doubt wanting to surprise her siblings as much as the two brothers had. She had got herself in a pretty good spot holding the bag that contained the frozen treats for everyone. She had a sly grin play on her lips as she held the bag with one hand and the other hand rest on her hip.

“Well for one, I had to figure out if you deserved some Gelato or not,” Arietta spoke up but could not contain her laughter with how quick Callie and Dorian had spun around in shock. Even Mikey was surprised to see her standing there. Arietta raised her hand up to the side of her head and gave a mock salute to all of them. “Yo.”

“Yo yourself Ari!” Mikey was the first of the shocked trio to go up to her and did not even hesitate to pick her up into a hug spinning around for a moment. “Glad you're back and you're in one piece!”

“Oie, glad to see you too OJ. Now put me down before you crush my ribs!” Ari laughed out and was relieved when Mikey let her back down on her feet. When she stepped back she saw the look on Calliope and Dorian's faces. It was pure relief and joy riddled on their faces. Leo patted Dorian on the back and stood at his unoccupied side with a smile.

"I'm sorry about tricking you, Dorian. Thought it would be a pretty good surprise." He looked over to Arietta giving her a wink. Arietta could tell her siblings were still in a bit of shock so she sighed out rolling her eyes before setting the bags down on the floor at her feet. She stood straight up and looked to her eldest siblings again crossing her arms.

"Make it quick before it all starts melting. You know how much I hate wasting food." Calliope had the fire of a vexed mother that made her bound and determined to give her sister a piece of her mind.

“Arietta Rose Quintus! Don't you ever and I mean ever think we don't care any less about you or that we hate you! You're our sister damn it! You're family and... and... and...” Callie lost her train of thought as she tried keeping back her tears. Arietta let out a small groan before she went right up to her elder siblings and pulled both of them against the crooks of her neck.

"Family sticks together no matter what," she finished the sentence for her sister and smiled feeling Callie wrap her arm around her waist while Dorian grabbed a hold of the back of her jacket. "I'm not going to leave. Besides, you'd be so screwed without me."

“Smart ass.” The laughter that rang out from everyone eased the tension somewhat as Dorian rubbed the top of Ari's head giving her hair a little tussle.

“You love me.” She grinned as she batted her brother's hand from off the top of her head. As Calliope pulled back from her and gave her a certain look she rolled her eyes before going back to the bag full of Gelato. “I know, I know. I'll go talk to her.”

“You'd better. Poor Donnie's had her attached at his hip this entire time.” Dorian raised a brow as a cup was thrown at him to which he caught but feeling a plastic wrapped spook hit his head elicited a glare from him in his sister's direction.

“I got it, Dee.” Arietta finished passing out all the cups for the ones that were standing around. She grabbed out an extra cup and held it out to Leo who looked a bit confused since he already got his now second helping. “For Shishou, I got him cherry cheesecake.”

“Shishou? Another one of your fitting nicknames?” Leo smirked as he took the cup and spoon from her. She tilted her head in confusion but it had quickly clicked in her mind what he meant which got a small laugh from her.

“Oh no no, it's another term for master or teacher. Like how you all call him Sensei. Same thing but a much older term.” She gave a small wave as she made her way towards Donatello's lab. She gently knocked on the door and waited a moment for an answer or for the door to be opened.

“If it's Calliope or Dorian it's still not a good time to be around Lyra.” Arietta had to bite back her laugh knowing her little sister probably put Donatello up to saying that little spiel. She opened the door and quietly walked in before closing the door. She let out a chuckle seeing Lyra holding on to the turtle's arm while he was going through files on a tablet.

"Well, I guess it's a good thing I'm not Callie or Dee then huh?" Arietta let her laughter out freely seeing both Lyra and Donnie whip their heads toward her in surprise. "Oh, that will never get old no matter who I get the reaction out of!"

“Arietta!” Lyra quickly rushed to her sister and almost tackled her to the ground in a fierce hug. The moment she buried her face into her sister's chest a fresh new wave of tears started up making her shake as she tried to keep from making a sound. Arietta's eyes widened and she looked over to Donatello mouthing a 'help me' before pointing at her sister. He let out a chuckle and held up his hands with a shake of his head.

“Don't think so it's your turn now. I'll be right here if she starts hurting you too badly.” He grinned and caught the cup that was technically aimed for his head. He caught the spoon shortly after and raised a brow before looking over at the Assassin that tried to get back at him for his statement.

“It's like ice cream but better. I got some for everybody,” Arietta spoke in a gentle tone as she sat the bag down that held the last two cups. She placed her hands on Lyra's shoulder to try and get her to back up for a moment and look at her. The rainbow haired sibling was not budging an inch which only made Arietta groan out. “Lyra look at me for a minute.”

“No. If I do you'll just run away again.” Lyra gripped Arietta tighter and kept her face hidden. She felt arms wrap around her and knew her older sister was hugging her in return. It eased her a bit but she still did not want to risk it.

"Alright, you don't have to look at me just listen. I'm going to ask you some questions and I just want you to nod your head or shake it. Sound okay to you?" Lyra gave a nod of her head and Arietta smiled gently. Her attention was taken as Donatello picked up the bag she had set down. "Hey wait a minute those are-"

"Going to be melted by the time you're done talking. You two need to talk this out so I'm going to get these in the freezer." He smirked as he opened the door with every intention of giving the two sisters some privacy.

“Donatello?” Arietta looked over her shoulder and gave the purple masked turtle a small smile. “Thanks for comforting Lyra through all this. I owe you one.”

“You don't owe me a thing. I have a feeling you'd do the same if the tables were turned.” Donnie gave her head a light pat before walking out and closing the door behind him. He was surprised to find Mikey, Raph, and Dorian all close to the door having been caught trying to listen in. As they all grinned at him he gave them a glare right back as a hint to get away from said door and to stop eavesdropping. To which all three of them did and rather quickly at that.

“Alright, Lyra here is my first question. Are you angry with Callie and Dee?” Arietta smiled softly and waited patiently for an answer. Lyra shook her head no and tightened her grip a bit more. Her tears were gone for now but she still did not want to look up just yet.

“Are you upset about the secret they kept from us?” There was no use sugar coating anything now and the questions were only going to get harder. Lyra gave a nod of her head once very firmly to confirm that she was upset. “Yeah, I was pretty upset too as you saw and heard. That's a pretty important thing to know and a little messed up that they didn't tell us sooner.”

“It wasn't fair to you,” Lyra mumbled softly and her grip loosened before she pulled back to wipe at her eyes. She still did not look up at her sister just yet. “They should have said something when you were old enough to understand.”

"I don't disagree but at the same time, I can kind of see the good intentions they had. Now for the hardest question. Do you hate me now that you know Shre-" Arietta could not even finish asking as Lyra covered her mouth with her hand.

"No! I could never hate you not ever! I'm not afraid of you either so don't even think about asking that. What I do hate are all these damn secrets. I hate that you always go off on your own Arietta!" With each sentence, Lyra stood and her voice became angrier, louder. Arietta stood up along with her and knew she was in big trouble just by the octave of her sister's voice. She carefully opened the lab door but kept her movements subtle as not to alarm the enraged teen. "I hate that you can't just work with the rest of us! I hate that you would rather die alone and that you can be such a hypocrite! The thing I hate most is that you don't trust your own flesh and blood!"

Lyra lost it completely and snap kicked Arietta in her midsection sending her flying through the doorway of the lab. That caught everyone's attention as the ebony haired assassin slid to a stop with her head bowed down. Dorian and Calliope looked to each other before they quickly got themselves into gear. Dorian ran and got behind Arietta grabbing a hold of her while Calliope stopped the charging Lyra by pinning her flat on her stomach to the floor.

“I never once said I don't trust you! When the hell did you get it in your mind that I don't trust in you?” Arietta glared at her little sister while holding on to her aching abdomen.

"Each and every time you went out of your way to not take missions with any of us said it all!" Lyra growled from her position on the floor. She felt Callie's grip loosen up and Lyra took the opportunity to shove her off her back. The second she got up she made an enraged rush toward Arietta only to have Dorian being thrown right at her after Arietta had tossed him over her shoulder. The second the two collided they were sent back and became a pile of entangled limbs with Calliope who had been trying to get back up again. Arietta panted heavily from her spot and could see from her peripheral that Raph, Donnie, and Mikey had seen the whole thing go down with complete shock on their faces. Leo and Splinter had just come out of the bonsai room having heard the commotion only to find the three on the floor. With absolute calm, Arietta walked toward her siblings and helped each of them up off the floor.

“I have never done this before but now seems as good of a time as any.” She took a step back and grabbed out her tessen not hesitating on popping them open which was apparently the go signal for the turtles to try and stop the whole thing before it got out of hand.

“Stop!” Master Splinter's shout made all four of his sons react in jerking halts to cease their momentum and when their eyes were on him he nodded toward the Quintus siblings. “Watch and you will understand.”

“But Sensei,” Leo was unsure as to why he did not want them to put an end to the fight but seeing the look his father gave him he sighed out and stood straight. His brothers followed suit and turned their attention toward the assassins. Arietta had been the only one to draw her weapon while the other three stood there not moving even an inch. Dorian was glaring the hardest out of the siblings since he knew what was about to happen. They all braced as Arietta stood tall and stood her ground before speaking out with authority.

"I, Kitsune, the second rank of the Elite Eight, hereby stake the claim as mission leader until such time that I relinquish my claim or I fall in battle. Understood?" Her voice held a stern tone to it as she stood there with her tessen at her side staring right at each of her siblings. It was as if she were waiting for one of them to oppose her. Instead, they all bowed at their hips and spoke out in unison.

“Hai, Kitsune-taichou.”

“Good. Now, I want to make this perfectly clear to everyone. I have no intentions of joining my father nor do I have even a thought of betraying any of you here. That is not to say that if it proves to benefit the mission to pretend to switch sides that I won't hesitate to do so. For if I must become a monster to protect what is mine, then a monster I shall become.” Arietta snapped her tessen closed and watched her siblings rise from their bowing positions. Her eyes softened as she let out a small sigh of exhaustion. She put her weapons back in the pocket of her jeans as she closed her eyes.

“Arietta?” Lyra's voice was gently and sounded so tiny in that moment even to herself. As her sister's eyes opened and locked on to her she tapped her fingers together nervously. “I'm sorry I snapped at you like that. I know how much you don't like being the leader. I really am sorry.”

Calliope and Dorian both let out small chuckles which eased quite a bit of the tension out of the youngest. When she felt the gentle hand on top of her head she was a little surprised to see Arietta standing before her and smiling warmly at her. The tension in the entirety of the room seemed to dissipate with that and was a little more soothing now.

“Everything happens for a reason Lyra. Now you got some Gelato waiting for you in the freezer. I got you your favorite.”

“Oh yeah! Sweet!” Lyra beamed happily and quickly raced off toward the kitchen seeming to be right back to her usual bubbly self again.

“I'm a little lost here. Can any of you tell me what the hell just happened?!” Michelangelo was just a bit confused with the event that had just transpired around him. They went from having a highly volatile and scary Lyra to a chill happy one in a matter of minutes. Even he knew he was not that scary when he was serious.

“Lyra's cork finally popped on the bottle of emotions. That was actually pretty mild in comparison to some of her other episodes. Such are the ways of an introvert I suppose.” Calliope smirked and moved to stand next to Arietta looking toward their little audience. Dorian got on Ari's other side and they both knocked her arms with their own in playful nudges.

“This one decided to grow a pair and pull rank.” Dorian chuckled and made his way toward the kitchen to bug his youngest sister now that she was back to talking to everyone again. Arietta realized her second cup of Gelato was now vulnerable but as she was about to follow Calliope stopped her by grabbed a hold of her wrist.

"No, ma'am. I'll go make sure they don't touch it while you get to learn how to play leader." Callie grinned a little too wickedly for Arietta's taste as she headed off toward the kitchen after her two other siblings.

"What on earth is she going on about?" Arietta scratched the top of her head but let out a sound of discomfort when her back got smacked. She looked to see all four of the brothers and their sensei was closer to her now and were looking at her with smirks on their faces. Raphael crossed his arms having been the one who smacked her on the back.

"Grats on the self-promotion, Foxy." That statement just made her even more nervous and kind of made her stomach bottom out a bit. She crossed her arms and gave a small shrug as not to let them see she was uneasy.

“I can promise you it won't last long. Besides, we've already got on real leader anyway so we don't need two.” Arietta turned her gaze to Leonardo who only gave a small chuckle in response.

"Leonardo is the leader of his team of Ninja. You must lead your team of Assassins," Splinter spoke sternly yet gently as he placed his hand on Arietta's shoulder giving her a smile as she sighed out. "You have chosen to carry many of your family's burdens on your own. Some of those burdens much heavier than others. If you want to succeed on the path you have set down then you must learn to work as a team. Fight as one."

“Shishou, I understand what you're trying to tell me but,” she paused to grab a hold of Splinter's hand and held it gently with both of hers. “I have no idea what to do. It took hours for me to convince them to ask you all for help. The whole plane ride here was a total nightmare. The whole team thing isn't going to be a walk in the park for us.”

"Just with all things new, it will take time to adjust. You must have patience with them just as they will need to have as much patience with you." Splinter pat the top of her hands with the other that she did not have a hold of.

"You'll have two of the best to teach you, girl. You'll be rockin' out the Chai tea thang quicker than you know!" Mikey pats her back and Arietta could not help but burst into a fit of laughter.

"Taichou, OJ. The word you were looking for is taichou not Chai tea," she winked at him and he rubbed the back of his head in a slight embarrassment to his little mix-up. Arietta opened her mouth to say something more but jumped a little hearing her phone going off. She quickly grabbed it out of her back pocket and her eyes widened seeing the name of their new inside man on the screen. "It's our little mole."

"What do you mean little mole?" Dorian made his way over to the group along with Calliope and Lyra. Arietta winced lightly and looked at her brother having completely forgotten that not everyone was caught up on the events of last night.

“Did I forget to mention that Cicero offered to be our inside informant last night?”

“He what?!” Calliope and Dorian shouted at the same time making Arietta wince again while Lyra kept happily eating her Gelato.

“Can you answer on speaker phone Ari?” Donatello inadvertently saved her hide by asking and smirked seeing her look up at him before giving a nod.

“Go ahead and answer it then. Let's hear what he's got for us.” Leo crossed his arms and closed his eyes to focus on the words they were about to hear. Arietta took a deep breath before she answered the call making sure to put it on speaker when the option popped up.

“What is it Karasu?” She kept her voice firm and business-like now not wanting to give him any room for his shenanigans.

“So good to hear your voice, mia amata. Did you and your boyfriends heal up nicely from our little dance in the park last night?” Arietta's face went entirely red with embarrassment and she looked to see both Raph and the now wide-eyed Leo just as embarrassed as her. Calliope clenched her fists with annoyance at the fact the trio got into a fight last night and because of the way Cicero was talking to her sister. She got closer to the phone ready to get his head in the game.

“Karasu you will show some respect for Kitsune-taichou or so help me I will split you from head to groin when I see you next!” Her words got sounds of discomfort from all the males in the room but she was more pleased to hear the one on the phone groaning out through the speaker.

“My apologies Kitsune-taichou. I did not know you took over command.”

“It's fine Karasu now, why the hell did you call me?” Arietta pinched the bridge of her nose feeling a bad headache coming on.

“If you have a television I suggest turning it on to the news.” That got everyone's attention and they made their way over toward the mass setup of monitors. Donnie turned it over to the television feed and many sets of eyes widened at the live news feed.

“Bebop and Rocksteady? How did they get out of prison?” Mikey leaned in closer seeing the two mutants coming out of an old orphanage and loading on to a big bus. In broad daylight no less. The banner tag for the coverage was informing that the children of the local orphanage were being kidnapped by mutants; which was going to be oh so good for dealing with the public panic.

“Hisoka had a group break them out last night about the time you lot blew up his mansion. There aren't just orphans on that bus though. You've got both Foot Clan ninja and Black Lotus assassins giving those two a hand. You've got one more big threat to worry about too.” Arietta's eyes were looking at the screen but she rolled them hearing Cicero's dramatic pause.

“Who do we possibly have to worry about?” She sat the phone down on the desk and crossed her arms wishing she could just punch her little informant. The more he stalled the worse the situation was getting right on live television.

“Nezumi is on that bus too.” That name was not what the Quintus siblings wanted to hear at that moment. With a bus full of kidnapped children, ninjas, assassins, and two mutant thugs driving off to who knew where with the added bonus of another one of the Elite Eight was just adding to the sundae of suck.

"Well if that doesn't spell out trap I don't know what does." Leonardo uncrossed his arms and placed his hands on the desk as he kept his eyes trained on the bus the news crew was keeping up with via helicopter. He knew it would only be a matter of time before April would give them a call.

“Even if it is we can't just let them have those kids. I'll be damned if they turn them into weapons like they did to us!” Lyra was definitely not going to just sit by idly when she could do something to stop it. This fight she was all for participating in as she tossed her trash from her treat into the waste basket.

“Well lucky for all of you I took the liberty of putting one of my trackers on that bus before I called. If you're going to stop them I suggest getting a move on.” Cicero hung up on his end and as soon as Arietta picked her phone back up she forwarded the tracker information to Donatello. She looked to her siblings with a highly serious gaze and they did not need to hear her words to know they needed to gear up and fast. They all scrambled but Leo caught a hold of Arietta's arm to stop her in that moment.

"We can't be seen in broad daylight, Ari. We can give you some support in the garbage truck but as far as helping to fight that may be more of an issue." He was not enjoying this little turn of events and Arietta could see just how much it was bothering him. She looked from him to his brothers and could tell in volume by their eyes just how much it bothered each of them.

“We've got plenty of black smoke bombs we can use and I'm pretty sure Dorian can whip up some more on the way. Try to see if April can get the camera crew out of there too. None of us can really afford to be seen by civilians so we'll have to play this smart. There are way too many to fight for just four of us.” She smirked seeing a bit more hope light in all of them by her words. As Leo let go of her arm she gave him a wink before she took off to get her own gear on. Splinter looked to his sons and they to him. He only gave them a solid nod of approval.

“Be careful and do what you must to save the young ones. Put those two criminals back in police custody.” He smiled as they all nodded at him before they got themselves ready. He watched in silence as both teams loaded up in the battle ready garbage truck and took off rather hastily. Letting out a small sigh he decided to wait out their return by taking on a meditation session. “Come back safely. All of you please come home safely.”

 

Chapter Text

It's your fear of failure that stops you from doing things.” - Anupam Kher

 

“Alright, the camera crew are backing off and Chief Vincent has put up blockades in place so no civilians are on the roads.” April's voice rang through the speakers in the truck as they were getting closer to catching up with the school bus.

“With the blockades up the only way for the bust to go is over the Brooklyn bridge. We'll be able to catch up with you guys and give you some-”

"No," Arietta's stern voice ran from the back of the truck as she cut Casey off. She saw the shocked look on the turtles' faces with her sudden outburst but she could tell her siblings were going to back her up on her next decision. "You two have never had to fight against any of our Clan and one of the Elite Eight is on that bus. Until you've been properly trained to deal with the assassins I'd much prefer that you not try any heroics."

“If we need any help we'll let you guys know the second it happens.” Leonardo actually did see the point Arietta was making and he agreed that it was too dangerous for April and Casey to join in the battle ahead.

“Alright, all of you be careful.” As the line went silent Leo looked over his shoulder at the back and he could see Arietta taking in a couple of deep breaths.

“Arietta are you going to be alright?” Violet eyes snapped up to lock on to his and he could see her pupils dilating giving her an almost scarily feral appearance.

“I've got this. Promise.” Her eyes shifted to the windshield as they turned down the street that would lead to the bridge. She reached up and slid her fox mask down over her face. The other assassins did the same as they were catching up to the bus with pretty good timing.

“I fixed the communication devices in your masks so we can all keep in contact.” Donatello gave them a quick glance before he turned his attention back on to the road. The four assassins stood at the back door of the truck ready to do what they needed to do.

“Aw damn. Bebop and Rocksteady are on top of the bus!” Mikey glared out of the windshield seeing the two mutants using the bus's rooftop fire escape to get on top of the moving vehicle. They were openly baiting at the turtles to get them to get the fight started.

“They're expecting you guys so it will be an even bigger advantage when we go say hello.” Lyra gave a small laugh all but ready to get this mission done and over with.

“Just remember not to use our real names,” Dorian warned as he handed Lyra a couple of smoke bombs before he hit the button to open the rear door of the truck. Lyra and Calliope were the first to make their way to the top of the truck with Dorian right behind them. Just as Arietta got ready to go out next she felt her arm grabbed and she snapped her head back to find Leonardo had left his seat to stop her for the moment.

“Don't underestimate those two. They may seem like big idiots but they hit like a ton of bricks. Take them out as quickly as you all can.” Arietta gave a small chuckle before she gave the turtle leader a fierce nod of confirmation.

“We've got this Blue, you guys just be ready when that bust stops to give us a hand.” She grabbed the edge of the roof with her free hand but paused a moment letting her eyes stay on them still. “I'll try not to go for a swim. The key word being try.”

“Just be careful,” Leo spoke in a stern tone before letting go of Arietta's arm. She gave him another determined nod before she hoisted herself on the roof of the truck making sure to brace against the rushing wind as not to be blown off. She saw her siblings had waited for her which brought a smirk to her lips beneath her mask. Stepping up next to them she was finding the dumbfounded looks that Bebop and Rocksteady had to be quite amusing.

"Alright Kitsune, this is your show now. What're your orders?" Dorian kept his focus on the two on top of the school bus while keeping a tight grip of his naginata in one hand. Arietta quickly assessed the situation just as they began the journey over the Brooklyn bridge.

“Donnie, I need you to just barely tap the rear bumper of the bus. The second he hits it the four of us make the leap over and you guys will have to back off for a bit. Tanuki, I need you and Usagi to get inside and get the bus stopped however you can. Ookami, you take the warthog and I'll take on the rhino. The quicker we get the bus stopped the quicker the boys can play.” Arietta pulled out her tessen but did not pop them open just yet. The four of them hunched down as Donatello gave the accelerator a little more pressure. Once the sound of metal clashing against metal rang out they made their jump across to the roof of the bus. The second they landed none of them wasted any time with their objectives. Lyra quickly threw two smoke bombs with enough force ahead that the dark clouds provided her and Dorian with just enough cover to get to the fire escape hatch. They made the jump down to get inside the bus and deployed more smoke bombs within before the two mutants on the roof could even clear the smoke from their throats.

"Hey Beebs, weren't there four of them?" Rocksteady turned his attention to the two in front and he let out a laugh. "How cute! They're just little girls!"

"Aw, now that's just adorable. The turtles sent a couple of girls to fight for them!" Bebop let out a laugh as both himself and Rocksteady gave each other a fist bump.

“Too bad we have to deal with these two slobs. Think Usagi and Tanuki are working up more of a sweat, Kitsune?” Calliope gave Arietta a small nudge on the shoulder with her elbow letting out a small laugh to go with her taunting.

“Are you crazy?! Don't make them angry!” Leo's voice was pretty loud in their ears and it sounded like he was fuming that they decided to ignore his warnings.

“Oh, they totally got the sweeter end of the job. Can't be helped Ookami we'll just have to suffer.” The girls got into their stances as both mutants in front of them let out their unique roars of anger.

"Oh, that tears it! You two are gonna become goop on the streets when we're done with you! Let's get 'em Rock!" The purple mow-hawked warthog flipped his sunglasses down over his eyes and began his charge toward Calliope while Rocksteady rushed in a blind rage toward Arietta. The chain of Callie's kusarigama made a few quick whips around Bebop pinning his arms to his sides as she made a quick dive between his legs. Jerking the chain upward when she stood she let out a laugh watching as Bebop fell flat on his face before rolling over to his back with screams of pain. Acting fast Callie went right over to the warthog and straddled his chest making sure to press the blade of her weapon flush against his neck.

"If you know what's good for you then you'll stay down, Bebop," Calliope emphasized her threat by pressing her blade even more on the warthog's neck almost tearing the skin.

“I'll stay down, I'll stay down!” If he could, Bebop would have put his hands up in surrender. Callie kept her eyes trained on her captive but wanting to make sure the rest of the plan was working so far she spoke over the communication line.

“Kitsune how are you holding up?” She glared down at Bebop who at that moment was laughing hard while looking to the side. Callie turned her head slightly to see Arietta holding on by Rocksteady's horn and her knees were planted in the middle of his shoulders behind him. “Are you kidding me?!”

“You've got her, Rock!” Bebop just kept up the laughter finding the whole scene to be highly amusing while Calliope thought otherwise.

“Get off my back!” Rocksteady was trying to reach for the woman on his back but she kept shifting just enough that he was not able to grab a hold of her.

"Nah, I think I rather like it back here." Arietta let out a small chuckle but her eyes widened hearing the breaks being applied quickly and the way she had Rocksteady facing was not going to end well for either of them. As he made his descent to fall backward from the sudden shift in motion she flipped herself to his front and rode his chest down to help slam his back against the roof of the bus with heavier force.

“Alright boys, we've got the bus stopped but we could really use your help in here!” Lyra's voice came over the communication link in a strained tone which gave Callie and Ari their cue. Reaching into their belt bags they grabbed out several smoke bombs and tossed them around the bus as the garbage truck came to a stop. Arietta let out a small gasp feeling herself being grabbed and inwardly cursed herself for not making sure the rhino was tied up or knocked out when she had the chance.

“Lights out girly,” Rocksteady mused with a laugh as he grabbed a hold of her masked face and slammed her head down on to the roof of the bus with great force. He let out more of a laugh as she went completely limp in the dent he put in the metal. “I got one Beebs!”

“Kitsune!” Calliope could just barely see through the gaps in the black smoke as Rocksteady picked up her very knocked out sister and walked over towards the side of the bus. She growled out and looked down to Bebop who was laughing but he abruptly stopped seeing the glare in her eyes that she was giving him. Callie did not hesitate to punch him hard enough between his eyes to knock him out cold. Unbinding him from her chair she was about to stand when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She tensed and swung around to attack with the blade of her weapon but was instantly relieved when Donatello grabbed her wrist to stop her.

"Where are Kitsune and Rocksteady?" He had come to the roof to give the girls some backup while his brothers helped clean up the mess inside of the bus.

“He knocked her out and went off the side of the bus. I think he's going to throw her off the side of the bridge!” The shaky tone in Calliope's voice sent warning signals in his mind as he quickly stood from his kneeling position next to her.

"You stay here and help the others." He quickly ran over and jumped off the side of the bus before getting himself out of the cover of the smoke. He could see Rocksteady had walked down ways from the action and was holding Arietta over the side of the bridge just as Calliope had feared. With a glare, he rushed toward them intending to stop him but his eyes widened seeing the rhino release his hold allowing Arietta to make the drop to the river below. "Kitsune!"

“What's going on Donnie?!” Leo's voice sounded in his headset as Donatello squared off with Rocksteady who let out a small snort of victory.

“He just threw Kitsune off the bridge and I think she was still unconscious!” Donnie quickly dodged out of Rocksteady's way as he tried to close line him. Shifting his stance he waited for the rhino to make his next attempt at trying to attack him.

"Ya gotta go in after 'er Donnie! She's gotta fear of water that makes it where she can't swim!" Donatello could hear the slightly panicked tone in Raphael's voice and that was pretty much all the information he needed. He watched as Leo and Dorian came out of the smoke with the intent to take on Rocksteady. Without any more hesitation, he quickly jumped off the side that Arietta had been thrown from. The moment he surfaced he was relieved to see her floating upright but she was still not moving. Swimming over he quickly grabbed a hold of her and made his way toward the pillar support of the bridge. Enough of the platform on the pillar was up out of the water that he could lay her down to get her out of the river. He was even more relieved to hear her let out a groan before opening her eyes.

"What happened?" The pained wince she gave and the way she snapped her eyes shut behind her mask put him into action. Carefully he removed her mask from her face and lift up her head enough he could pull her hood back. The scent of blood and the sight of it made a whole new wave of worry wash over him.

“You're fine now, Kitsune. Rocksteady banged your head pretty hard on that bus,” Donnie informed her before thinking of a quick fix to stay the bleeding from her head. He unwrapped the sash on his upper right arm and quickly made it into a makeshift bandage around her head. Hearing her hiss out in slight discomfort made him wince a little. “Sorry, this is just a temporary fix until we can get you back to the lair. You've got some major bleeding and you may have a concussion.”

“Lovely,” Ari groaned out figuring that was why her head was pounding and her vision was blurry as all hell. She felt her eyes starting to close for a second but they snapped open when she got a small smack to her cheek.

“Stay awake. You can't just fall asleep after I just finished saying you may have a concussion,” Don chided her and did not even let the glare she was giving him phase his tone. He carefully helped her to sit up and lean against the pillar. Soon as he got out of the water and sat next to her he could see her freeze up looking out at the river. Turning his communications back on he was definitely relieved he had made his gear completely waterproof as he heard yelling on the other end. Sighing out he pulled the petrified woman close to his side in a way to calm her fears before he decided to give an answer. “I've got her guys. We're sitting on the pillar's platform just a few feet from where I jumped off.”

“Thank god. Is Kitsune alright?” Dorian's voice had both relief and worry laced in its tone which made Donatello smile as he looked down at the female next to him. He smiled gently seeing that at the moment she was focused on him rather than looking out at the water.

"She's alright Tanuki. She's got the heavy bleeding to the back of her head and most definitely a major concussion," he informed them of the situation at hand having been able to see now even in the sunlight that her pupils were not dilating like they should have been. "Did everything get taken care of up there?"

“Yeah, we're tying them all up now for the police. We got a whole bunch of scared kids but they were all blindfolded this entire time.” Mikey had been pretty serious on this one as he checked to make sure none of the children were injured. His eyes were caught as he saw movement under one of the seats.

"There is still no sign of Nezumi. Maybe Karasu was wrong about that information," Calliope had turned off the engine for the bus and her eyes caught Mikey kneeling down in one of the aisles from the rear view mirror. She turned to face his direction and raised an eyebrow skeptically at him. "Mikey, what are you doing?"

"One of the kids got free." Michelangelo smiled as gently as he could to the little girl that was pressed to the side of the bus. Her white hair and red eyes were a bit of an oddity to him and even her pale skin seemed to be off from any normal human. Either way, he made a slow motion to extend a helping and comforting hand to the little girl. "It's alright, I won't hurt you. I'm here to save you and your friends."

"Save us?" The little girl tilted her head before looking at the green three fingered hand that was being held out to her. She put her tiny hand on his palm and carefully crawled out making sure her backpack did not get her stuck. The second she was out from under the seat she latched her arms around his neck with a whimper and made no attempt to release him from her hold.

“It's okay, I've got you.” Mikey stood up holding on to the little girl and he looked over to Callie who seemed in a state of shock to see the toddler. “Ookami are you okay?”

“Fine,” Calliope spoke out with a shake of her head having gone into a memory seeing Michelangelo holding onto the little girl like he was. She looked out and by the looks of the clearing smoke, she knew they were running out of time for their cover. "We've got to get you guys back in the truck. The police can handle it from here."

"Ladies first," the tone was playful as he smiles to her motioning for her to take the back door first and it eased him a bit when she chuckled. As Callie jumped out of the bus she could see Raph and Leo at the side of the bridge lowering down the rope to the two that needed help getting back up. She saw Dorian easing a slightly shocked Lyra which got her nerves back on end again. She went over to double check on their captives and let out a small growl seeing only the bindings remained.

“Great! They all got away!” She gave out a sigh as she pulled down her hood and lifted her wolf mask to rest on top of her head. She tensed feeling the hand on her back but she felt her features soften seeing Mikey smiling at her as he held to the child to him in one arm. The little girl had her face buried in his neck to no doubt hide her face from all the smoke.

“Don't worry about it, angel cakes. I'm sure we'll get them the next time they try to pull something.” He smiled even bigger hearing that got a laugh from her.

"Goofball," she turned to face him properly before she gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. The look of giddy shock nearly made her laugh again as she gave him a wink. "You and the kid go get in the truck while I keep the other children calm."

Mikey gave Callie a nod as he watched her load herself back on the bus again. He looked over to see the progress of getting both Donnie and Ari back on the bridge and smiled seeing they were pulling up the rope now. Dorian and Lyra were making their way back to the truck with their masks up and hoods down. He took note Lyra still had a worried expression but she seemed to be getting back her senses. The fact she was favoring her left leg and using Dorian as a crutch was a little troubling. The two were a little worse for wear sporting a few cuts and bruises. Mikey got both himself and the little girl into the truck before he got out the first aid kit figuring they would need to do a few patch ups.

Arietta held tightly to Donatello as they were being hoisted up carefully by both Raphael and Leonardo. Her eyes found a spot to focus on his shoulder so she would not panic about the water below them. The throbbing from her head made her grown out a little as she figured the healing was kicking in. Donnie tilted his head down to make sure she was still awake and smirked seeing her eyes look up at him.

“You holding up alright?”

"Yeah, just getting annoyed with this headache. I think the healing is kicking in though," She focused back on his shoulder and her eyebrows knitted a little. "Sorry, you had to jump in after me. I hope none of your techs got fried because of it."

“You don't have to apologize. I learned real quick to make everything water resistant when I was a kid so no need to worry there. Even the new Bluetooth I installed in your mask can take a plunge and still function.” He gave a small chuckle and gave her a smirk to go with it. “Next time you want to try and play cowgirl you'll make sure to rope the bull, right?”

"That was a terrible joke, Donnie." Arietta let out a small laugh but a second after she let out a tiny squeak of surprise feeling the rope slip a little making them drop slightly. Both she and Donnie looked up toward the two pulling up the rope and got their answer for the sudden tug as Leo leaned over the side offering out his hand. Arietta hesitated for a moment not really up for a plunge back into the river below but Leo's chuckle got her attention.

“Come on cowgirl, we won't let you fall back in again.” He grinned at the glare she gave to him and then to his now laughing brother that was holding onto her.

"See what you started Donatello?!" Ari gave his cheek a pinch before she reached her hand up to grab a hold of Leo's. With Donnie's help, Leo was able to get Arietta back on to the bridge where she collapsed to her knees. "Oh thank god for pavement."

“You're lucky you didn't almost drown this time.” Leo gave his brother a hand back over the bridge before he looked down at the makeshift bandage wrapped around her head. He snapped his attention to Donnie who at that moment was giving Arietta a hand back up to stand. “Just how bad is her injury?”

“I won't know until I can get a proper look at it.” Donnie looked back hearing the wailing moan of sirens coming from the direction that had taken to get on the bridge. He looked to Leo who had the same look of 'time to go' as he helped Raph with the rest of the rope. Donnie had not been expecting for Arietta to pitch forward all of a sudden and he barely caught a hold of her. He turned her enough to see she was out cold again and the clamminess of her skin was not making his nerves any better. “Oh no, Ari you've got to wake up.”

“Don we've got to get out of here.” Leo hoisted the rope over his shoulder as Raphael went up to Donatello scooping Arietta up in his arms.

“I got 'er Don, let's get outta 'ere.”

“Try to get her to wake up in any way you can Raph.” The trio booked it quickly to the garbage truck and got themselves in where they needed to be. Calliope had been the last on in after having untied and removed the blindfolds from the children. As the back door of the truck closed Donnie made quick work of getting them on the way back to the lair just as the police force swarm around the bus. The sound of a call coming in rang through the truck and Donnie knew exactly who it was with out having to look at the name. “Hey April, we're heading back to the lair. You and Casey head that way and we'll fill you in when we get there.”

“Sure thing Donnie. What does the damage look like? Did everyone make it out okay?” Donnie knew what April meant when she asked about everyone being okay. He glanced at the rear view mirror he had installed after Mikey's first test run of the giant nunchaku. She wanted to know if there were any casualties. He could see Calliope making use of the first aid kit by patching up the small cuts and scrapes. He had to commend her on using Michelangelo's weapons as part of a makeshift splint for Lyra's broken leg. The scene that made his heart stop was seeing Raph frantically trying to get Arietta to wake up with out making too much noise to alert the others.

"We've got several minor injuries, one major and on critical." He managed to give April that much and his eyes shifted back to the road as he accelerated, even more, knowing that time was not on their side. He did catch Leo looking at him with shock as he had made the shift in speed. Thanks to the route they were forced to take it was going to be longer to get back than what Donnie liked.

“Donnie, if its one of the new guys you need to take them to the hospital.” That was not a suggesting tone Casey was using which only irked the two brothers in the front seats more.

"We can't do that Casey even if we wanted to. They can't be found out so a hospital is out of the question." Leo looked to the back and saw Calliope now kneeling down in front of Raphael. "Just meet us at the lair. We'll be there soon. Callie, how is she looking?"

“Not good. Her head is still bleeding pretty bad and smelling salts aren't waking her up. Her heart rate is good and she is at least breathing shallow so that's something of a positive.” Callie finished wrapping a layer of white gauze from the first aid kit. Once she tied it off she looked up at Raphael with a stern gaze. “Keep her head as still as you can and keep talking to her. I don't care what you tell her but don't stop until we get her in the medical room.”

Sighing out softly she found herself a seat and leaned her head back to close her eyes for the moment. Dorian clenched his fists as he kept his eyes on the tops of his boots. He had seen the second Lyra slipped up by the way she had frozen in the middle of combat. The announcement from Calliope over the communication links about what happened to Arietta had made Lyra lose her concentration completely. It had taken him longer than he would have liked to snap her back to attention enough to get the mission done. He lifted his eyes over to the youngest sister and from the way she was keeping her head low she was more than likely already beating herself up. He heard a small whimper and looked over to Mikey seeing him adjusting the little girl in his arms.

"Mikey who's the kid?" Dorian had not noticed their little stow away until now and by the looks from the others, he wasn't the only one. Mikey gave a small nervous smile as Calliope opened her eyes and looked at her brother.

“She attached herself to him when he found her hiding under the seats on the bus. I told him to bring her for now so if you're going to be upset with anyone it should be me.” She was not about to let Michelangelo take the blame for her call in judgment nor was she could to let Dorian lecture him on it either.

“Which leads to a very important question that I have to ask.” Mikey stifled the laugh as he heard his brothers groan out. He looked over to Dorian and Callie giving them the best puppy eyes he could muster. “Can we keep her?”

"MIKEY!" The three brothers shouted out in unison and Calliope burst into laughter. Lyra had even gone into a giggle fit much to Dorian's relief but he had to look away from Mikey. He was always a sucker for the puppy dog look something his sisters knew all too well.

"Not going to go there kiddo." Dorian turned in his seat to completely block out his view of the youngest terrapin. There was no way in hell he was going to be suckered into answering a loaded question like that. "You just have to beg your brothers, not me."

"Aw c'mon Dee, that's not fair! They always say no!" Mikey let out a playful whine and grinned know what was about to come out of his brothers' mouths next once again in unison.

“Shut up, Mikey!”

 

Chapter Text

If there is no struggle there is no problem.” - Fredrick Douglass

 

April and Casey had given Splinter the same news about the injuries that were headed their way. The tension of the waiting had been just like a balloon expanded to its maximum capacity. That balloon popping when the sound of the brakes sounded loudly from the bay area the truck was parked in. The trio rushed over to watch the two teams and assess how bad the injuries were. There was not even a second after the truck was shot off that the all of the doors opened. Donatello was the first out and his face held a grim look that sent worry to their audience. It was not until Raphael got out from the back that they pieced together the reason Donnie had run like he was on fire to the medical room. Raphael was on the brink of panic as he carried Arietta carefully in his arms. She had still not woke up and the bandages Calliope had placed had a large blood stain on the back of her head. April covered her mouth to hush the gasp seeing just how pale the unconscious woman was and Casey placed a hand on her shoulder to let her know she was not alone in her thoughts.

“Leonardo, what happened?” Splinter's voice brought the two back to the group still coming out of the truck. Calliope and Dorian were helping Lyra out of the truck and by the bandage jobs they could tell the assassins had taken the most of the beating.

"We were able to get the orphans rescued but the ones responsible for it," Leo sighed seeing the trio of assassins heading for the medical room. "They all got away. The Black Lotus is a lot craftier than the Foot that's for sure."

"I help! I help!" The enthusiastic cry from the little girl that ran out of the truck made Splinter's ears stand straight up. Michelangelo was right behind the little girl trying to get her in his arms again so she would not cause any trouble or worse, get herself hurt. When she came up the steps Leo was able to act quickly and scoop up the child holding on to her even as she struggled vigorously against his grip.

“Aw, who's the little cutey?” April gently reached up and tucked back the little girl's hair from her face. She was a bit surprised the little girl shied away from her only to hide her face in the crook of Leo's neck with a small whimper. It was almost as if she was afraid of adults in the human variety.

"She attached herself to Mikey after he rescued her on the bus. Still, don't know how she got out of the bindings."

"We don't know what her name is either. Kind of hadn't had the chance to really ask." Mikey tickled the little girl's side and smiled when she let out a giggle no longer hiding.

“Nanni is Nanni,” the child grabbed a hold of Mikey's finger that was making her laugh. She turned her gaze toward the medical room and the smile on her face quickly disappeared. “Help with owies.”

Splinter stroked his beard a moment sensing in the girl what the others had not yet felt. He hummed in contemplative thought as the group looked the master wondering what he was thinking. He locked eyes with Nanni and from that alone could see she meant no ill will toward him nor his family. He turned his gaze to Leo and gave a small nod.

“Let's see how this child tends to help.” He motioned toward the room everyone else was in and allowed Leo to lead the way with Nanni in tow. The scene they walked into was less than hopeful as Donatello had his screens up of Arietta's head injury. Nanni squirmed in Leo's arms reaching toward the unconscious woman and she gave a whimper in protest of not being able to get to her. Raphael looked up from the side next to Arietta's right having not once let go of her hand. He was less than pleased to see the kid in a room she should not really be in.

“Leo, not a good time to let 'er go roamin' around.”

"It's alright Raph, she's pretty adamant about helping." Leo came over to the side Raph was standing at near the bed and carefully sat Nanni down next to Arietta before standing straight up with his arms crossed to watch. The little girl sat on her knees holding her hands out toward the woman's head with her eyes closed. The room was silent enough you could have heard a pin drop as they all watched in curiosity how this child was going to be able to help. Nanni snapped her eyes open revealing the bright red glow now illuminating from them. The illuminating color sent a shock through the ones that could see what was going on up close. Arietta's body began to glow in the same red color spreading the shock around the room equally now as Donnie looked to the screens in front of him.

“How is this even possible?!” He could see the wound that Arietta had sustained from Rocksteady was healing in a rapid fashion right on the screen. He turned the holograms off as Nanni changed her gaze from Arietta over toward Lyra and Dorian who were sitting off to the side of the room. They both began to glow in the same light Arietta had and Lyra let out a small gasp looking down to her once broken leg. The glowing stopped as abruptly as it started when Nanni passed out from exhaustion, landing on Arietta's chest. Donnie checked her for a moment to make sure she was alright and let out a small chuckle. “Fast asleep. She must have used up quite a bit of her energy doing what she did. Whatever it was she did.”

“Who is this kid?!” Casey could not believe what he had just witnessed. It had been a scene from science fiction or fantasy with what had happened. Calliope pulled out several vials and a needle before making her way over to Donatello's side.

"The best way to figure out is to take some blood for analysis."

"You read my mind, Callie." Donnie chuckled and gave her a helping hand when she asked him for it. She was gentle and was able to hit the vein once in the child's arm. Her movements were fluid and definitely well practiced as she filled three small vials. It was evident she must have helped with anything medical just with her focus and talent alone. As she carefully removed the needle and got ready to place the bandage on the arm she realized the small wound was already healed over with no blood in sight.

That perplexed her greatly but her focus was taken hearing a familiar soft groan. Her eyes snapped to Arietta as those violet eyes opened up. Arietta could see her sister first before she saw Donatello. With a slight wince, she made a move to sit up but could feel a slight weight on her chest. Looking for the culprit that weighed her down she saw the little girl fast asleep. Out of her peripheral, she could see Raph and Leo on her other side. Arietta carefully brought her right hand to rest on the kid's back and her left tightened slightly around something she was holding on. Her eyes snapped back to Callie who had leaned more into her view just as she was about to see what it was she was gripping so tightly to.

“How are you feeling there sis?” Her voice cracked slightly and Ari could see the tears rimming her older sister's eyes.

"Like I've been run over by a two-ton truck," she carefully shifted herself to sit up a little making sure not to disturb the child sleeping on her. She gave a small gasp when Callie latched herself on to her in a fierce hug. The hand that came to rest on her head made her look up to see Dorian had been the one to put it there but he kept his eyes from her. Lyra squeezed herself in and hugged her just as tight as Callie was. "H-Hey come on you guys I can't breathe! You're acting like I died or something."

"You nearly did," Leo's tone made Arietta look at him with a raised brow and he looked away not wanting to waiver under her gaze. "You shouldn't have been so reckless, Arietta."

“I'm sorry,” she spoke with such sincerity that it made both of her sisters pull back in surprised shock. Their reaction quickly made her bristle in an insulted fashion. "Well, I am, now back off."

"Yep, back to normal." Lyra backed off and gave a sly grin seeing that Arietta was still holding on to Raphael's hand. From the looks of it, he had not realized he was still holding on to hers just as well. With a small chuckle, she knelt down and began untying the makeshift splint from her leg so she could return the nunchaku to their rightful owner. "So, what do we do now?"

“I would very much like to know what exactly happened on the mission.”

“I'm with Master Splinter on that one since we got benched.” Casey gave Arietta a look as he crossed his arms and she let out a small chuckle looking down to the child who was settling herself more comfortably in her sleep.

“I promise we'll start training you in what we do in our clan so you can get some action in, Jones.” She tilted her head catching something beneath the little girl's starkly white hair. Gently Ari brushed her hair away from the back of her neck and her eyes widened at what was revealed. Raphael shifted forward to get a better look at what she was looking at before he looked up to Arietta questioningly.

“Nanni's got the same tatt?”

“Yep, which means this is Nezumi,” she spoke in a rather calm manner as she ran her finger over the tattoo. She was carefully trying to feel for the same lump the tracker would make but her lips pressed into a hard line not feeling it at all. “No tracker at her neck. That's a red flag right there.”

“Then we'll be keeping a closer eye on her when she wakes up. Ari, I want you to rest up a little more while we go fill them in. I'm going to try and analyze her blood while we're at it and see what it can tell us about her.” Calliope pitched the needle and tubing before gently taking the vials from Donatello.

“I'll help get you started on that before I go searching through the files we have. There might be something on Nanni that could be of some help.” Donnie followed after Callie intent on leading her to his laboratory. Dorian clapped Leo on the shoulder and the two eldest headed for the doorway making sure to take Splinter, Casey, and April with them.

“I'd say give yourself about thirty minutes before you get up and about Ari. When little Nanni there wakes up she'll probably be hungry.” Lyra grinned holding Mikey's nunchaku now free from her leg as she stood back up again. “I'm going to take a wild guess and say she's psychic or something.”

“Either way I'm not letting her out of my sight until we know more about her.” Arietta glared but eased a bit as Lyra carefully removed the backpack from off of the child.

"I'll go through her little bag here and see what she's got after I make us all some lunch." The rainbow haired teen winked at her sister before going to the door where Mikey was still standing at with his arms crossed. By the look on his face, she could tell he felt a bit uneasy about the child now. She nudged him lightly with her arm and held his weapons out for him. "You want to give me a hand with cooking up some lunch Michelangelo?"

“Uh,” Mikey took his weapons back from Lyra but he looked over to Raph not sure if he should stay to help with the new tiny assassin or go with Lyra. Raph gave a small chuckled and nodded at him once over his shoulder.

"Go on chucklehead. If we get our asses kicked by a three-year-old little girl I promise ya can make fun of us until the day we die." Raph was actually glad to see his little brother cheer up on that one. The serious look he had earlier was starting to get a little disturbing considering that expression could usually be seen on Leo's mug.

"Deal on that one, bro." Mikey gave a thumbs up before he took off with Lyra to see about some much-needed food for everybody. The second the door was closed Arietta let out a small groan while she pinched the bridge of her nose in annoyance.

“Need some aspirin for tha' headache?”

"No, it's more of a figurative one rather than an actual headache. This was not my greatest show on the first mission as a leader, that's for sure." Arietta pulled her hand back and opened her eyes again but she did not look at Raph just yet. She could still feel her hand holding on to his and knew if she looked at him she would not be able to keep from blushing like a fool.

“Should ask Leo about his first run as leader. Might make ya feel better,” Raph offered the little insight with a chuckle and released his hold on her hand before reaching up toward her head. Seeing her flinch away made him smirk at her. “Easy there, Foxy. Just takin' off the wraps for ya.”

Arietta gave him a skeptical look but knew he had seen it since he focused on the wrapping around her noggin. She kept her eyes on him up until she saw the ribbon of purple causing her brain to bring up the memory of seeing Don with out his usual sash around his upper arm. She gave a small laugh to which Raphael paused in his motions for a second to give her a look of confusion.

“Quick thinking from that brainy brother of yours. I need to make sure I get the blood washed out before it dries up and ruins his sash,” she gently took hold of the purple fabric and helped pull it from her head. Her hand that was not holding the band touched where she had been wounded and she stuck her tongue out in disgust feeling how matted her hair was from the blood. “Looks like I need a shower on top of it. How does the hood of my cloak look?”

"There ain't any stains on it. No doubt because of the river and Donnie bein' quick with playin' nurse." Raph settled back down on the stool he had claimed earlier and he could tell that she was avoiding eye contact with him. Any other time that would have bothered him and got under his shell but he figured she was beating herself up over how the mission went down. "Listen, ya don-"

“I could hear you,” she interrupted his train of thought and she could see him straighten himself up a bit in her peripheral.

“Say again?” The second her violet eyes lock on to his golden greens he could feel his chest tighten. The feelings she was slowly beginning to stir in him made him a bit uneasy and uncertain.

"When I was out cold I could hear everything you said to me. I could hear the strain in your voice as you pleaded for me to wake up. I heard the panic in your whispers of telling me not to leave," she scrunched her eyebrows and tilted her head slightly as if the whole idea had puzzled her. "I have never in my life wanted to fight against death. Never had the drive to keep the darkness away until I heard your voice. That was all I could hear. The only thing I could focus on was your voice, Raphael."

Silence fell between the both of them for a small time even though it seemed like it lasted for ages. Arietta broke the eye contact and looked down to the child sleeping in her lap. She could not figure out what it all meant. Why she had the sudden urge to comply with his pleas. The feelings that stirred with in her when she was around him absolutely foreign to her. She felt her cheeks heat up when he took a hold of her chin to make her look at him again. She saw in his eyes that he was just as confused and internally battling as she was.

“What are ya tryin' to tell me, Arietta?” Her eyes widened slightly hearing him say her full name once again. It was becoming a rare thing for her to hear it from him and it made her feel ecstatic when he said it. She liked it when he did. Her heart panged in her chest as her cheeks darkened a little more with the blush.

“I... I don't know. This is something completely new to me. Something I've never really felt before.” She felt him let go of her chin but he was not breaking the contact. Instead, he simply slid his hand to rest against her cheek and with out any thought she closed her eyes and pressed more into his palm as if silently approving of the contact. She could feel him shifting closer but did not question the change in their proximity until she felt his lips press against hers. Sure, she had accidentally kissed him last night as a way to silence him and kissed his cheek earlier as a way to tease him but she had not expected him to initiate a kiss. Nor was she expecting the heat that coursed through her as he placed his other hand against her other cheek. It made her heart pound even harder in her chest and ushered a small gasp from her. She reached up and held his wrists tightly in against her hands as he slowly pulled back a little from her lips.

“Did that help ya figure it out?” He smirked as she opened her eyes to look at him. The blush was not about to leave her cheeks it seemed. He could tell the pieces were clicking into place in her mind as her eyes once again widened in shock.

“I don't have the words for this.” She gripped his wrists a little tighter feeling panic starting to settle with in her chest. Arietta could end life in less than two seconds. She had hundreds of missions under her belt and the skills of any master assassin. Yet, the concept of having feelings for someone that was not one of her siblings was foreign to her. That type of affection was different from the kind she had for her family and highly frowned upon by the higher ups in her clan. Another sign of weakness is showing any feelings, especially that of love. That's when it finally clicked in her mind of just what she was may have been experiencing. From the feel of the kiss she quickly deduced that Raph was experiencing the same as she was.

Arietta let go of his wrists before she placed her hands on his cheeks. Gently she pulled him closer and her lips captured him in another kiss that this time was no accident or teasing gesture on her part. The sound of a small whimper broke the kiss this time and the two separated from each other as Nanni sat up while rubbing her eyes. She looked to the two that were staring at her in surprise and her features turned from groggy to excited with in seconds.

“All better!” Nanni quickly threw her arms around Arietta's neck, hugging her tightly and pressing both of their cheeks together. Arietta could not help but laugh and hug the child gently in return.

“Yes, sweet pea, I'm all better thanks to you.” Arietta carefully pulled Nanni back from her and sat her down on her lap again.

“How ya feelin' kiddo?” Raph put his arms on the side of the bed, leaning a bit on them as he smiled slightly to the child.

"Hung'y," Nanni responded quickly and as if to solidify the word a small grumble sounded from her stomach making Ari laugh out. The little girl let out a squeal of delight as she was picked up into another hug by the woman who rubbed their cheeks together.

“You are way too adorable!” Arietta looked to Raph who just stared at the two of them with a small smile.

“I get the feelin' ya ain't lettin' her go.”

“Never! She's mine now,” She chuckled and let Nanni sit back on her lap again before she lightly poked the tip of the child's nose eliciting a giggle from her. “The two of us are going to take a bath before we see what Lyra and Mikey whipped up for lunch.”

“Not with out somebody in there with ya,” Raph sat up straight on the stool crossing his arms. He gave a smirk seeing the look she was giving him that was riddled with confusion. “Not takin' any chances of ya passin' out and we still don't know much about the kid.”

“Sounds like you're volunteering for it, Red.” Arietta bit back the laugh seeing how wide his eyes got with her teasing. She instead turned her attention to Nanni and smiled warmly to the child. “Ready to go take a bath with me, Nanni? By the by, scour is back to even Raphie boy. Four to four.”

"Bath! Bath!" Nanni chanted happily as she clapped her hands together in enthusiasm, not at all phased by the scowl Raphael had on his face from the game score update.

"I hope you aren't planning to do it by yourself, Ari," Calliope's voice caught the attention of all three in the medical room as she stood in the doorway with her arms crossed. They had not even heard her open the door nor felt her presence in the slightest. This told the eldest female assassin that her and her siblings were becoming comfortable being in the lair with the turtles and their family. Too comfortable which meant it was only going to become dangerous and harder to leave if ever the need were to arise.

"Saved by the sister," Raph gave Arietta a smirk when she stuck her tongue out at him in response. As Calliope came over to do a once over on both females he got up deciding that was his cue to find something else to occupy his time. "I'll be around if ya need anythin'."

Arietta watched Raphael leave and gently bit her bottom lip as she let Callie check her pulse. She could feel her sister's eyes burning holes on her head and she looked up to see Callie looking at her with a smirk on her face. Ari gave a small glare not liking that all knowing stare from her older sister.

“What?” she bristled hearing Calliope chuckle as she picked Nanni up from Arietta's lap.

“So edgy, Ari.”

"I'm edgy because of that look you keep giving me." Arietta got up from the exam bed and followed her sister to the showers all but ready to get cleaned up. She glared seeing her get the bath started up for Nanni so she sighed out in defeat and began the process of removing her armor. She got down to her black bodysuit and went to the sink to wash out the blood in Donatello's arm sash.

Calliope had just got Nanni into the tub when she stiffened for a moment. Turning her head slightly she looked over her should at her sister who had begun humming as she worked on cleaning the purple fabric. With a small chuckle, she turned her attention back to the task of cleaning the child all the while enjoying that all familiar tune. As Callie started washing Nanni she focused on a small scar the rested on the left side of Nanni's chest. With her extensive medical knowledge, she knew that scar was only produced by surgery which only raised more questions for her.

Hearing the shower start up Calliope smiled as the soft humming continued echoing and she knew she would always be able to recognize the song from her childhood. It was a lullaby their mother used to sing to her and Dorian when they had trouble sleeping. It saddened her to know that Arietta and Lyra only knew the song because Dorian had sung it to them after the death of their parents so, the motherly connection to the song just was not there for the two youngest. Hearing Ari humming made her feel as if their mother was still there.

Figuring that her sister needed a little time to herself she finished bathing the child and wrapped her up in a towel before letting the bath tub drain. She gathered Nanni up in arms making sure not to leave behind the child's clothing. The two made their way out of the room but Callie had to pause seeing Dorian standing by the entrance to the showers with his eyes closed and his arms crossed.

“Been a long time since she's so much as hummed that song. Wonder what's got into her all of a sudden.” He opened his silvery eyes and raised a brow seeing Calliope smiling knowingly up at him.

“I'd wager the same thing that's come over all of us. We're falling in love Dorian. Simple as that,” she gave a shrug of her arms and laughed seeing the shock come over her brother's face. “You and I have more knowledge of our feelings and I bet Lyra with her big heart will know what it is but our little Arietta may have more difficulty understanding it. Who better to talk to her than her big brother?”

“You've got to be kidding me. That's dangerous Callie and you know it. Not just because of who I'll be talking to but because of who we are.”

“You and I both know that. I still stand by my oath. If and only if things get too dangerous we leave. No questions and no arguments.” She shifted Nanni in her arms and gave a soft sigh as she looked at the little girl right in her red eyes. “We can't exactly stop what's happening Dee and I can tell you I don't really want to stop it.”

“Got a soft spot for the turtle in orange huh?” Dorian poked his sister in her side and grinned when she glared up at him playfully.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Just like I am certain you have a rather soft spot for the leader in blue, right?" She grinned deviously as she watched her brother's face turn bright red and his eyes widened tremendously. "Thought so."

“S-Shut up Callie,” The two of them both looked toward the showers in that moment hearing Arietta now fully singing the words to the lullaby. Dorian swallowed thickly feeling the tears beginning to sting his eyes as embarrassment was soon replaced by a faint longing for his parents. “She sounds so much like mom when she sings.”

“I miss her too, Dee,” Callie smiled softly and squeezed Dorian's shoulder to comfort him while she held Nanni against her hip. “Keep an ear out for her in case something happens in there. I'm going to get little Nanni here dressed and fed.”

"You got it." He watched his sister starting to walk away before he grinned playfully. "Oh, Callie?"

“Yeah, Dee?” Callie looked back and blinked a bit seeing the almost devilish grin on lips now.

“If any of them break your hearts I'll be breaking some skulls. That's a promise,” the grin turned into a full on playful smile and Calliope simply shook her head offering a rather saddened smile back.

“If you say so big brother. I get the feeling though that we may just be the ones breaking hearts.” She did not stay long enough to continue that conversation as she walked toward their room to dress the child and feed her as she said she would. That left Dorian there to play look-out with the statement she last said ringing in his head. The smile faded and he leaned his head back against the wall looking to the vast network of piping above.

“I've got that feeling too Callie. I've got that feeling too.”

 

Chapter Text

A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” - Elbert Hubbard

 

Donatello had gone through every keyword he could think of to find anything on the child. He was coming up with absolutely nothing which not only fueled his frustration more but was also giving him a small headache to boot. Reaching for the bottle of aspirin he kept nearby he made a mental note to re-up his supply as the last two were deposited into his palm. Taking them with a swig of coffee he barely felt the small tug on his pant leg. Setting his mug back down he turned his gaze downward to see Nanni standing there staring up at him with a big smile on her face and a plate complete with potato chips and a couple of sandwiches. He glanced at the time and chuckled figuring he had been so caught up in working that he missed out on eating lunch with everyone else.

“I'm going to guess you ran away with my lunch when no one was looking,” carefully he took the plate from the little girl and set it on the desk before he sat down in his chair. He was a bit surprised when she climbed into his lap and made herself comfortable before grabbing up the half sandwich that was sitting beside his two sandwiches on the plate. “You're even sneakier than I thought, little one.”

"Eat with Nanni?" The little girl beamed in triumph as he picked up one of his sandwiches taking a bite out of it to silently answer her request. Letting out a small giggle she bit into the second half of her own sandwich happily. Her eyes wandered to the monitor that had the search going and she tilted her head quizzically. Swallowing what she had properly chewed up she pointed toward the monitor as she looked up at him. "Wha's that?"

“I'm trying to find out if we have any files on you. See if we can find out who your parents are and where you came from.” Donnie watched as his previous keyword he had entered came up empty like all of the others had before. Setting down the sandwich a moment he cleared the search and decided a small break may help for a bit. He looked down to see Nanni staring at her lunch with what looked to be pure concentration. Deciding to take a shot in the dark he gave the child his full attention. “Nanni, do you know who your mom and dad are?”

Nanni broke her concentration at Donatello's question and she looked up at him with slight confusion riddling her tiny features. She sat her sandwich back down on the plate before putting her hands in her lap. Her little eyebrows scrunched together and she bit her bottom lip while she searched for the answer in her memory. He titled his head catching a small similarity to how she concentrated as both a mix of Dorian and Arietta. He had always been quick to pick up on the habits and mannerisms to which those were definitely theirs. That got his brain kicking back into high gear as he typed in the word 'clone' just as a hunch. Nanni's red eyes drifted back up to meet with Donnie's hazel ones as she found the answer she was looking to give him.

“No mommy. No daddy. Nanni not born.”

"Not born?" Well, that was not something he had been expecting to hear the three-year-old say. As if to help better explain her meaning she lifted up her shirt enough to point where there should have been a belly button. She had absolutely no belly button!

“Guys! Come here! Computer room! Quick!” Donatello was not really eloquent in his words like he usually was at that moment with the way his brain had just clicked into what Nanni was and where she could have possibly come from. Nanni had put her shirt down and grabbed up her sandwich she was eating on moments ago.

"What's up, Don?" April and Casey had been the first to come in the room with Splinter right behind them. All three of his brothers came in as the search function on his computer finished with just one folder popping up under the word he had used. He opened the folder and watched as a few documents labeled as day logs with videos that corresponded showed up on his screen. The Quintus siblings all filed in and Lyra let out a small groan when she saw Nanni happily occupying Donnie's lap.

“So this is where you disappeared to you little Houdini,” Nanni let out a little laugh as she popped the bite of her lunch in her mouth as if to speechlessly say she was proud of her little disappearing act. Donnie pulled the plate off of the desk and held it so she could help herself to some potato chips, willing to share part of his lunch to keep her occupied. “Make me wonder if your parents weren't ninjas or something.”

"That's the thing, Lyra, she wasn't born like a normal human," Donatello looked at the group finally ready to reveal why he had called them all in there and he could see the look of shock on all of their faces. "It took me awhile but I did manage to find some information on Nanni. All the files came up under clone which came to me when she told me she had no parents. She even showed me she has no belly button."

“No belly button?” Callie scrunched her eyebrows having not recalled really paying that close of attention when she was bathing the child. She had been so worried about the surgical scar that she had not noticed the child's lack of a belly button.

“Can that even be possible?” Raph looked at the girl who was happily eating potato chips on his brother's lap totally not phased by the topic of the conversation.

"There are at least two types of cloning methods available and I'm betting she was created using the somatic cell nuclear transfer method. More than likely she had been grown artificially which would explain why she lacks a belly button. No umbilical cord needed so she would not have one." Donnie blinked as Nanni pushed the plate closer to him by the way of pressing both of her hands to the back of his that held the dish. The stern look she gave was almost a perfect motherly look from Calliope.

“Eat. Eat.” Her stern words earned a few chuckles from the room even one from the turtle she was addressing and he picked up the sandwich he had started eating on before setting the plate back on the desk. Nannie turned her head and when her eyes caught on to Arietta she beamed happily and hopped down from Donnie's lap to run over to the assassin. She giggled as she latched herself onto Arietta's right leg with a tight hug. “Mommy!”

“What?!” Arietta looked down at the child stunned as the very child grinned up at her not worried at all by the emotions she induced in the young woman with that simple title. Arietta could not deny the little girl when those hands reached upward toward her. She picked her up and looked pleadingly as Nanni rubbed their cheeks together. Donatello pulled up one of the documents and let out a small chuckle with what it all entailed. Detailed records of everything that Nanni possessed from her creation to just a few days ago.

"Well, technically she's right by calling you, Mom. She was created using some of your genetic codings. She also has some from Dorian, Calliope, and Lyra." Donnie looked toward the Quintus siblings whom all seemed a little paler than normal. He could not blame them, this was a lot to take in after all.

“Congrats?” Mikey let out a laugh at his joke and Dorian shook his head vigorously.

“Nope. No way. She will not be calling me Daddy.”

“Like anyone would want to call you Daddy, Dee.” Arietta stuck her tongue out at her brother and he gave her a slight growl in return as a warning for her to watch what she said.

“It's settled then, Nanni will be staying here as well since it is now obvious she did not come from that orphanage.” Splinter looked at Nanni putting his hands behind his back. Leo could see the worry lining his father's face and knew that once again he was sharing the same thoughts as his sensei.

“She was planted there by the Black Lotus for reason we don't know and we don't even know how much training she's had. She could very well be brain washed somehow into attacking us with out question.” Leo crossed his arms looking toward the monitors.

“Not to mention there was the freaky glow thing she did in the sick bay.” Mikey put his arms behind his head as he looked upward.

“Freaky glow thing?” Arietta raised a brow as she shifted the topic of conversation on her hip. The smile that played on Mikey's face made her glare slightly toward the rest of the crew. “Alright, what happened while I was out cold?”

“Nanni made ouch go 'way.” The child happily offered the answer to the best of her ability but still did not give Arietta the answer she needed. Raphael shifted over and rubbed the top of Nanni's head making the little one giggle a little.

"We still ain't sure but she made ya glow bright red and healed the wound to your head. She healed up Lyra's leg and all the other injuries." Raph moved his hand from Nanni's head and looked toward Donatello who shifted in his seat after his little catch-up.

“They genetically altered her quite a bit. She's got an accelerated healing rather that is much faster than any of us but that isn't the only thing. She has superhuman or psychic abilities.”

"I called it!" Lyra spoke out with no remorse of having interrupted. She grinned as big as she could, getting quite a few laughs from everyone as she posed with her hands on her hips. Donnie shook his head after recomposing himself, the sudden outburst had caught him off guard. He leaned back in his chair a bit his features becoming serious again and he cleared his throat to continue talking.

"There are hundreds of videos that, no doubt, go through the process of not only creating her but testing all of her abilities. I don't want to cause some kind of trigger in her by watching them while she is in here."

"That's fair but I have to ask something since you already have those files up," Calliope closed her eyes letting out a small sigh as she crossed her arms. "Has she ever had any type of heart surgery? Given the look her scar that I've seen, it had to have been pretty recent. Say about a week or maybe two taking into account her healing ability."

“Christ! Does your clan just try everything that's messed up and horror movie worthy?!” Casey was not able to let any of their conversation sit well and the look that crossed Arietta's face was not helping at all either. They all waited as Donnie began searching through the files and Arietta closed her eyes giving out a sigh of determination.

“Arietta are you okay?” April tilted a little forward to look at the assassin who looked highly perturbed about something. Dorian moved to his sister and put his hand on her free shoulder that was not being held on to by Nanni.

"Callie can stay and see about her answer with Donatello. Ari here has something on her mind she wants to share with everyone so we should probably convene in the main room." Dorian was pleased that seemed to work for everyone as they filed out of the computer room. He looked to see that Lyra was moving closer toward the monitors and he gave a soft smile knowing she did not want to hear this particular story. He followed out after Mikey and claimed a spot standing next to Arietta to give her some support if she needed it. Nanni decided, as everyone settled into listening to what Arietta had to say, that she wanted down from her arms. She obliged and stifled a laugh when Nanni went right over to Raph and climbed into his lap to make herself comfortable. His shocked look made her almost laugh but she shook her head to focus on her tale not wanting to lose her train of thought.

“I'm sorry if what I said upset you, Arietta,” Casey leaned forward placing his arms against his thighs as he looked at her both attentively and apologetically.

“It's okay, Casey. It just brought up something that I usually dealt with on a daily basis.” She brought her left hand up to hold her right arm with her eyes downcast to the floor. Dorian could see her having a moment of uncertainty so he gave a slight sigh as he ran his hand through his hair which was currently out of the usual low ponytail.

“You don't really know how close to messed up and horror picture worth you were, Casey. It was pretty normal for us to see new children show up at the compound. Some were really young teens and sometimes they were just toddlers like Nanni. We know now most of them were orphans taken either from orphanages all around the world or from their murdered families.” Dorian put his hands into the pockets of his jeans and could see the faces of their audience become uncertain and uneasy.

“Dude, you're already maxing the creepy factor by saying the word 'were' a lot." Mikey shifted in his seat feeling a little unnerved by the story thus far. Dorian gave a small shrug of his shoulders not really wanting to sugar coat anything and finding no reason to either.

“Most of them stayed at the compound for a few days and some for a few months. None of us got to see a lot of them again and we've got a few theories on what happened to them.” Dorian looked to his sister who by now had her eyes shut tight and her brows furrowed into a pained expression. He knew it was bothering her again just as it always had before. She opened her eyes and thought she kept her expression the same he knew she was ready to take over the talking.

“They were all kids and they were always scared from not knowing what was going on. There is no room for fear in the eyes of the masters. To show fear is to show weakness. If you are weak you are useless to the clan.”

“That's harsh, man.”

“Very harsh Mikey but, that is how you breed assassins. You break them to a certain point and then you mold them. I hated it every damn time when I could hear them crying at night.” Arietta closed her eyes again fighting back the emotions that were bubbling up as she could faintly hear the haunting sounds from her memory. April moved her hand from her mouth with her own eyes laced with tears hearing all of this so far.

“You comforted them.”

"In a way, we all tried to but Arietta went beyond the words of encouragement any of us gave. She gave them a mother figure to cling to. She would even over see their training when she could to help ease them into the routines. Make the process of becoming assassin less scary than it actually was." Dorian watched as Arietta opened her eyes again with a sniffle and stuffed her hands into the pockets of her black jeans. She had fought back any sign of how much it pained her to talk about it and no tears were lacing his sister's eyes. He was quite proud of how brave she was trying to be.

"There was nothing I could do when they got with the program or when they were taken away."

"Taken away?" Leo had been listening intently like all of them had and the fact the children would be taken somewhere had caught his attention. Ari gave him a nod but she did not bring her eyes up from the spot on the floor she focused so intently on. He was going to press for her to explain more but his attention was averted as the trio they all left in the computer room emerged to join them. Their expressions giving Leo a very gut wrenching feeling. "What did you find?"

The sudden question from Leo alerted Arietta to who had just shown up and she looked at them. Seeing how both of her sisters refused to look her in the eye and Donatello's look of disbelief brought dread into every inch of her being. She looked over to Nanni who was playing with the tattered tails of Raphael's mask before she looked back to Donatello pleadingly.

“Tell me they didn't do what I think they did. Not to a baby,” the strain in her voice did not fall on deaf ears and the turtle she pleaded to simply walked up to her and pulled her against him in a hug. She pulled her hands out of her pockets quickly and gripped his arms tight in her fingers as if to brace for what he would say.

"They didn't put a tracking device in the back of her neck like the ones we dealt with already. They attached it to her heart rigged up with enough explosive power to level out an entire city."

“What the hell?!” Casey stood up and could tell he had heard right since Mikey, April, and Leo all stood up with him at the same time. “You've got to be kidding me!”

“That is way beyond messed up! It's psychotic!” Michelangelo threw his hands up in anger at the news they were just given. Calliope went over to him rather quickly and gently placed her hands on his shoulders to calm him to the best of her ability. He held her arms but it was obvious in his eyes that this disturbed him greatly. “I don't care if she is a clone she's just a little kid!”

“Did you find the schematics for the bomb?” Dorian was all serious as he looked at Donnie. The turtle nodded his head and Raph sneered at the implications. His hand going up to rest against Nanni's back as if to shield her.

“You're not openin' this kid up,” his voice held more of a growl in it than he had meant to have but damn it he was not about to just sit back and let them do what he knew they were going to do.

“Raphael,” Splinter spoke out in a warned tone and Raph snapped his head toward his father all but ready to stand his ground on this one.

“It ain't right, Sensei. Ya know none of it is right!”

"I do not disagree with you, my son, but much like it had to be done with them the device in Nanni must be removed. It is not only for her safety but for all of our safety as well." Splinter hung his head and closed his eyes not liking what was about to happen but he stood by his words. It had to be done and there was no arguing about it.

“Callie offered to perform the surgery with my help and Lyra has agreed to provide her blood for the transfusion. We just need one of the two of you to dismantle the bomb. Possibly even both of you if need be.” Donnie looked to Dorian but gave Arietta a squeeze to signal to her that he was speaking to her as well. Arietta pulled her head away enough to where she could look to Dorian for a moment before they both looked to Donnie and gave their nods simultaneously. Arietta moved back from Donnie crossing her arms over her chest and he was surprised to see she had no trace of tears in her eyes.

“We'll need to look a the schematics of the device and see how we're going to disable it.”

“Ice cream,” those two words from April's mouth had all eyes on her and she offered a small smile. “Casey and I are going topside to get ice cream for afterward. Nanni will deserve it. I think we all will actually.”

“Do you mind too terribly on getting her some clothes? She really only has the clothes she's got on right now,” Lyra pulled out her bank card that she and Calliope had got earlier that morning and handed it to April with a gentle smile. April took the card giving a small nod before both her and Casey headed out. Lyra, seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, watched as Nanni cradled herself closer to Raph as if searching for comfort. She went over to Arietta and gently took her sister's hand to stop her from following Dorian and Donatello. “I think Nanni is picking up on our emotions. Do you think you and Raphael could take her to the med room and see about calming her down while I help Calliope get everything prepped? After all, you've got the soothing motherly vibe when it comes to little kids.”

“Yeah, I can do that. Hey, what was in her backpack you took off with earlier?” Arietta tilted her head slightly as Lyra let go of her hand allowing her to put her hands back in the pocket of her jeans.

"Two wakizashi, the rat mask for Nezumi, and her armor that's similar to our armor. Leonardo may just have a new student to teach," Lyra let out a small chuckle seeing Leo looking at her now that she had brought his name up. "What do you say?"

“I'll just have to see what her skills are like. Once everything is a little less chaotic that is.” He gave a lopsided smile before giving a small nod. “You guys go get it done. The faster this is all over the faster she can be a normal kid.”

“Well, about as normal as a trained killer can be.” Calliope smiled gently as she was still offering Michelangelo some comforting support through the whole ordeal. Her dark violet eyes locked on to his baby blues as she reached up and cupped his face in her hands. “Come on, cutey. You can play nurse for me for a bit.”

Calliope gave the end of Mikey's snout a gentle kiss which elicited a small chuckle from the youngest turtle. She took a hold of his hand and led him to the medical room with Lyra following right after them. Splinter let out a small chuckle as he got up from his chair which caught the attention of Leo, Raph, and Arietta. Seeing the questioning looks on their faces he gave Arietta a gentle smile.

“It is amusing to me how comfortable the four of you have become with my sons and myself. It has only been a day though it feels as if you've been here much longer.” He could see his two sons looking to Ari who was looking slightly confused. It had been something all of the turtles thought about but never really got a moment to question it.

"Were you expecting us to act negatively towards all of you?"

“Most humans would to be honest,” Leo gave her a smirk when she looked at him with a raised brow.

“You aren't our first rodeo with mutants. We've seen our fair share around the world. Even got one that works closely with the scientific department of the Black Lotus. To which, if there ever ends up being an uprising because of everything I can promise you that old Leatherhead will be on our side.” Arietta gave a grin that drove in that promise further.

"Leatherhead?" Raph gave a small chuckle that quickly turned into a full laugh when she walked over to him and smack him on his arm.

“He picked the name himself so don't go making fun of my alligator buddy!” Arietta puffed out her cheeks with a small glare but her eyes soften seeing Nanni smiling.

"Leadder nice to Nanni. Leadder hate meany 'Soka!" Nannie pulled back from Raphael and gave him a small glaring pout as if to warn him in her own cute little way not to make any more fun of this new mutant.

“Outnumbered! Alright, alright I won't make fun of the gator.” Raphael smirked rubbing the top of the little girl's head to get her to stop pouting at him. He then scooped her up in one arm before he stood up from his seat heading for the needle room. Arietta followed behind him and she looked to her right seeing Leo following beside her with an expression that only meant he had something mulling over in his mind.

“What's on your mind, Blue?” She gave him a playful nudge to his arm with her elbow and a grin to go with it. He gave her a stoic look before letting her go in the room first, following right behind her.

“With all the experiments they did to all of you I'm surprised they haven't tried to mutate any of you.” Leo moved to a spot in the room where he would be out of the way for everyone that would be working but still close enough he could watch what went on.

“You mean like Bebop and Rocksteady?” Calliope looked up from where she had just wiped down Lyra's arm for the needle. The nod from Leo made her chuckle as she picked up the needle and focused on the spot she was about to insert it into. “How do you think we got our code names?”

"We did get mutated for about three days and then the effects simply wore off. Whatever chemical they created wasn't nearly as potent as the kind that was used for Bebop and Rocksteady. Either that or we're immune to its effects somehow. It never really was explained to us." Lyra watched as her sister inserted the needle which the punch made her scrunch her nose a bit in discomfort. Hearing the small laugh coming from Mikey at the face she made she quickly look to him and stuck her tongue out at him. Her attention then went to watching Callie hook up a few tubes that were closed off so no blood would drain out. She tilted her head to the side looking at her medically inclined sister who gave a small smile.

“We don't have bags to hold the blood so we'll have to make do with a direct transfusion.”

"That makes sense," Lyra looked over seeing Raphael putting Nanni down on the bed and Arietta was removing the little one's shirt before helping her settle more comfortably in the bed. Dorian and Donatello chose at that point to walk in and Lyra felt her anxiety spike knowing things were about to get a bit tenser. "Show time, Calliope."

“You and your necessity to use full names. I want you to sit at the head of the bed so I can get Nanni ready.” Calliope instructed to her sister and smiled as she went to do what she was told grabbing one of the stools. Callie turned her attention to Mikey keeping the same smile. “Thanks for playing nurse for me for a little bit. You're more than welcome to stay if you like but you might want to stand over there with Leo.”

“You got it, sweet cheeks.” Mikey gave her a thumbs up before he went over to where Leo was observing from. He hopped up on to the counter making himself comfortable before he turned his attention toward the group.

Calliope was making quick work with getting Nanni hooked up to the tubing to establish a direct line of blood flow. The soft beeping began as background noise after Donnie got her hooked up to a heart monitor so everyone had an audible cue on how the child's heart rate was going. It was not until Callie was getting an IV drip started and the need was in the top of Nanni's hand that the child began to whimper in protest to what was going on. Nanni looked over to Raph who was still standing at her bed side and she held her free hand out to him as tears sprang to her eyes. Arietta brought over a stool placing it close to the bed and gave him a small smile knowing exactly what Nanni was needing in that moment.

"She wants you to hold on to her hand, Red. It might help calm her down a bit." She gave a small shrug when he looked at her and she moved over a little bit before taking the tablet containing the bomb's schematics that Dorian held out to her. Raph could tell there was no way he was getting out of comforting Nanni and looking at her expression of desperation he did not want to just leave her to her growing fears. He took a seat on the stool Arietta had provided for him and let the little girl rest her hand in his. He marveled at just how tiny her hand is compared to his own.

“Alright Donnie, I think we are pretty much good to go. All we have to do now is put her under and we can get started,” Calliope spoke in an almost too quiet tone as she smiled softly to Donatello.

 

Chapter Text

The world's most famous and popular language is music.” - Psy

 

“All we have to do now is put her under and we can get started,” those simple words from Calliope changed the feel of the room entirely and Nanni was quick to pick up on that change. Her red eyes got as wide as she could make them allowing the tears she had been fighting back slip as Donnie grabbed the mask up for the anesthesia. She began shaking her head violently and she gripped one of Raphael's fingers as tightly as she could.

"Hey, hey, it's okay kiddo," Raph spoke as gently as he could muster and was quick to soothe the top of her head feeling relief hit him when he was able to get her to at least stop shaking her head so much. Her crying however escalated to deep set sobs that he was not sure how to console. He could feel the frustration building up inside of him the more Nanni's tears fell down her tiny cheeks and every time she sucked in hard to catch her breath his heart hurt for her. He heard Arietta give a small sound of sympathy before she set the tablet down on the bed. He watched the ebony haired woman move to get on the bed with the small child. He pulled his hand back that rested on Nanni's head and let go of her tiny hand long enough for Arietta to get comfortable before his hand sought out the child's again.

“Mommy,” Nanni cuddled up to the woman she had claimed as her surrogate mother and she even grabbed back on to Raphael's finger again for the added comfort. Arietta gently shushed the child to get her sobbing to calm a bit and she looked to Donatello giving him a hand gesture to wait a moment. When he gave her a nod in compliance she took in a slow deep breath and closed her eyes to shut out her audience. She could not keep the blush from tinging her cheeks with what she was about to do in front of everyone to calm the toddler.

“Be brave little one, make a wish for each sad little tear. Hold your head up though no one is near. Someone's waiting for you,” She felt Nanni tense a moment in surprise before her head tilted up to look up at her. She opened her eyes keeping her expression gentle as she looked to Nanni. The look on the child's face almost broke her out into laughter but she kept singing the lullaby that she did earlier while taking a shower.

"Don't cry little one, there will be a smile where a frown used to be. You'll be part of the love that you see. Someone's waiting for you," as Nanni eased more into a calmer state Arietta gave Donnie a small nod not stopping the song at all since it seemed to be working wonders for Nanni's nerves. Her blush deepened a bit seeing the surprised shock on everyone's faces that she could immediately see.

“Always keep a little prayer in your pocket and you're sure to see the light,” She tilted her head back down toward Nanni after she allowed Donnie to put the mask on her. She gave a small smile seeing the anesthesia beginning to work even with Nanni fighting to keep awake.

“Soon, there will be joy and happiness and your little world will be bright,” Arietta carefully shifted the child a little and scooted herself closer toward Raphael so she could easily get out of the bed once Nanni would succumb to the medically induced coma.

“Have faith little one, 'til your hopes and your wishes come true. You must try to be brave, little one. Someone's waiting to love you.” Once she had finished the song she let out a sigh relief seeing that Nanni was now pass out and her tears long gone. She slid herself off the bed using Raph's shoulder as a brace so she would not fall over. She did catch the look he had of slight surprise and she cleared her throat picking up the tablet. She just could not shake the blush from her face at the moment.

“That was really pretty Ari. Did your parents sing that to you when you guys were little?” Mikey smiled having been eased greatly by the lullaby, it seemed like the entire room had been eased after the initial surprised shock of hearing her angel voice.

"No," Callie was the one who quickly answered and winced hearing the harshness in her tone. She looked over to him giving a gentle smile to ease how harsh she was. "Ari and Rara were too young to remember our Mother singing that song."

“I actually sang it to them when they were little,” Dorian spoke softly as he kept himself by the table full of tools that would be used to dismantle the bomb. His eyes were closed and his arms were crossed but he had a smile stuck on his face. “I can inform you that our little Ari here sounds just like our Mother did when she sings.”

"We should have a karaoke night sometime!" Michelangelo let out a small laugh seeing Arietta snap her head up with wide eyes. When she turned the look of shocked disbelief toward him he burst into more laughter. Leonardo had even joined in on the laughter seeing her expression while Donnie covered his mouth in an attempt to keep his own snickered laugh in.

“Get some alcohol in her and she'll do just about anything.”

"LYRA!" Arietta spun her head toward her little sister who grinned playfully back while holding up her hand that was not being used as a blood bank in a sort of mocked surrender. The room erupted in unrestrained laughter at the banter except for both Callie, who was now getting herself ready to make the first incision and Raphael who was watching her with full focus.

“What? You know that its true, Arietta.” Lyra turned her attention back to the operation and focused herself now the laughter stopping at the procedure that was underway.

"Doesn't give you the green light to go spewing out something like that Miss Honesty." Arietta moved toward Dorian and handed him the tablet back before taking her spot next to Raphael once more. She saw the grim look on his face as he watched the little child being opened up while he held on to her hand. It broke her heart to see how much this was bothering him but she knew just how skilled Calliope was with a surgical knife. She knew that Nanni was in highly capable hands so she gently placed her right hand on top of his left shoulder giving a gentle squeeze to comfort and ease him. When he put his right hand on top of hers, she looked at him again to see him giving her a small thankful glance before turning those eyes back to the task at hand.

What seemed to take hours in all actuality took half of one before Calliope gave Donatello a sideways glance. He got closer to her and as she made the final cut to release the device she placed it into the palm of his hand. He made his way over to Dorian quickly and with much care, he set the device down on the table just as the small time began the two-minute countdown. Arietta had every intention of giving her brother a helping hand but the way Callie's hands began to shake gave her pause a moment. With a look of determination, she glanced back at Donnie as Dorian worked feverishly on opening the device.

“Don, you give Dee there a hand with that thing,” she then let go of Raphael's shoulder at the same time as he had removed his hand. She made her way to sink and scrubbed up her hands and arms before she snapped on a pair of gloves. She then got up beside her eldest sister making sure to carefully take the need from her before she picked up where Callie was at with the sutures. “Callie, why don't you get Lyra taken care of. I'll finish up here.”

“Thanks and I'm sorry. That was more nerve wracking than I thought it would be.”

"No worries, you were amazing Callie." Arietta gave her sister a smile sparring her a quick glance before she focused herself again. Calliope was quite grateful for the change of roles and was quite proud that her sister had switched up everything with calculated authority. Callie began the quick process of removing the need from Lyra's arm making sure to press a cotton ball against the spot the needle was in the stay what bleeding there would be.

“We're just lucky this was put in recently. Otherwise, the removal would have been a bit more difficult.” Callie moved the cotton ball and smiled seeing her sister's needle wound was already healed up. She tossed everything where it needed to go and took a moment to finish calming her nerves as best she could.

“Lucky point number two; her healing factor. She'll only have a tiny scar if that,” Arietta kept her focus and switched out the thread she needed from the dis-solvable to the easily removable. She wagered in her mind that they would be taking the stitching out of the skin before bedtime.

“Son of a bitch!” Dorian's very abrupt curse had all of them looking in his direction and the worried look Donatello had on his facial features was not a good sign for anyone.

“What's the matter?” Lyra, with the help of Callie, hopped on to the counter close to the sink to give herself time to recuperate after her generous donation. Her brows furrowed in worry seeing the not so pleased look on Dorian's face as he looked up a moment.

“The bastards pulled a fast one. None of these wires are colored like they should be in the schematics.” He gave a small growl in frustration as the clock still ticked on.

"What are you saying, Dorian? Is there no way to disarm it?" Leonardo was quick to move from his spot at the corner of the room and over to the table with the bomb. He looked to the older man hoping for something good to be said. It was his own brother, the wonderful genius, that was to ease the entire situation. With a few pressed to the tablet on his thigh, he pulled down his goggles and eased closer to peer at the wires through the lenses.

"I've got it! Just had to overlay the blueprints but I can do it," he spoke out with confidence as he got in between Leo and Dorian before holding out his hand for the eldest Quintus to give him the tool he needed. Dorian hesitated for half a second before placing the small wire cutters into the waiting hand. He watched with lips pursed in a thin line and arms crossed as Donatello began snipping away at the wires one by one. The room had fallen completely silent as the turtle worked quickly to defuse the bomb. Seconds ticked with each snip and Arietta now stood at Leo's unoccupied side to watch after having finished with closing up Nanni's wound. Callie had just finished removing the mask and needles from the child when Donnie cut the final wire. Taking a step back he let out a deep sigh of relief. The tension eased up and Dorian let out a low whistle as he looked at the timer on the bomb.

“With five seconds to spare. Not bad at all Donnie boy,” Dorian grinned up at Donatello as the turtle lifted up his goggles offering a grin right back. “I may need a pair of those fancy goggles.”

"Well, it's a bit more than just my goggles that helped with that," he scratched his cheek lightly out of pure modesty. Donnie looked back to the bomb again knowing things were going to get that much more hectic the closer they got to take down the Black Lotus. The ring that suddenly sounded in the room made a lot of them jump out in surprise as Arietta quickly fished her phone from her pocket. She let out a small displeased groan as she answered it and made sure to put it on speaker.

“For the love of god Cicero, this had better be a check in and not some damn mission,” the male on the other end let out a small chuckle at the annoyed exasperation in her voice.

“Things have gone a little chaotic at headquarters. Word is you guys not only obtained Nezumi but you've just deactivated her track before they could pinpoint your location. Good job,” Cicero's voice was filled to the brim with excitement at being able to pass along the information of how their near deaths angered the higher ups. He was equally excited when the call went from voice only to video in seconds.

“Please tell me that you had no idea she was genetically closed,” the glare Arietta and Dorian both were giving him gave Cicero a small shiver down his spine. He scratched his cheek as he gave a nervous chuckle which made Ari narrow her eyes more. “So help me, Cicero, if you did and failed to tell us I will end you."

"I swear I did not know about it until this morning. I had every intention of digging up more information for you guys but I've had Hisoka breathing down my neck after the first call." Cicero batted at the hand that was trying to take the phone which made Arietta raise a brow.

“Where are you and who is with you?” She gave pause a moment feeling Lyra, Callie, and Mikey now getting closer to see the screen on her phone. She let out a groan of annoyance not liking that she was having her personal bubble invaded on all fronts. “Hang on before you answer that. Donnie is there-”

“I can connect the call on the computers so we can see, speak, and hear. It will take Nanni a while to wake up so that gives time for her to rest while we take this call.” Donnie took the phone as Arietta held it out to him and he motioned for everyone to follow him. As they all filed out of the room Leonardo paused at the door seeing his red-clad brother was not making a move to get up from the stool he had been sitting on the entire time.

“You coming with us Raph?” It took a moment but Raphael looked toward his eldest brother and gave a small shake of his head.

“Nah, go 'head without me. I'm gonna stay right here in case she wakes up.”

"Alright, but if she does wake up make sure you get Callie or Donnie in here to check her over," Leo smirked as Raph gave a firm nod before he turned his attention back to the little girl. It was interesting to see Raph being so diligent about keeping to Nanni's side and not once letting go of her hand. The blue-clad leader let out a small chuckle to himself as he walked out to join the others near one of the computer set-ups Donnie had to make it easier to show everyone camera feeds or what information he needed to show them all at once. He stood next to Dorian in the back of the group just as the screen switched over to the video feed of the call. Cicero's eyes were wide seeing all of them now and he gave a small wave. A glint of mischief spread across his face as his eyes landed where Leonardo was standing.

“How are the arms feeling Leo?” He let out a chuckle seeing the glare he was now getting from the turtle.

“Would you be serious for once?” Leo crossed his arms not at all taking the bait on that one to Cicero's dismay.

"Fine, fine. You lot are absolutely no fun at all. I happen to be back in Japan at headquarters hanging out in one of the science labs. I'm here because Leatherhead requested my presence and he's actually the one who is in here with me." Cicero moved the camera to where another figure was in view of the lens. The massive alligator looked up from the clipboard he was holding and he gave a small wave.

“Leatherhead!” Lyra called out happily and the other Quintus siblings each had looks of joy to see the lab coat wearing reptile on the screen. He set the clipboard down and got closer to where both himself and Cicero could be seen as well as make it easier for him to see the screen.

“It is very good to see you Quintus siblings. I am pleased all of you are alive and well my dear friends. Are the new faces I'm looking at the marks you were telling me about Arietta?” He had a soft smile on his features addressing the ebony haired woman and she in return gave a small chuckle.

"Yes, they are. This is Leonardo, Donatello, and Michelangelo. Raphael is in the medical room watching over Nanni." Arietta had gestured to each of the brothers for the introduction before she smiled to the trio and gestured toward the screen. "This is Leatherhead. A dear friend, a brilliant scientist, and thanks now to Cicero another inside man."

“Hey now, amata, he threatened to bite body parts off if I didn't let him in on what was going on!” Cicero's indignant look made Arietta laugh out a bit. “There is a reason I called you though. May give you some more insight as to why the Foot Clan showed up during your little meet and greet.”

Arietta calmed her laughter as Calliope elbowed her in the side gently. Clearing her throat she crossed her arms and her face became serious matching the same as everyone else that was paying attention to the call. She gave a simple nod of for the two on the screen to continue the explanation and Leatherhead had been the one to clear his throat that moment to speak.

"I was able to finish the hack job you started to record and monitor all of Hisoka's conference calls. The day the four of you went rogue he got a call that I'm pretty sure you want to see for yourselves." Leatherhead gave a small nod before going over to his computer. After a few keystrokes, he looked back to the phone and gave another nod. "I've sent the video to you. Both the file and the connection are encrypted so we won't be detected."

"Alright, give me a moment and I'll play the video." Donatello went to his own keyboard and using another screen he began going through the process of taking down the encryption with Leatherhead's instructions. With in seconds, the video began playing where they could hear Hisoka's voice but the man in the video had the three turtles instantly on edge.

"Shredder... he's back?!" Michelangelo could not believe what he was seeing and by the looks on his two eldest brothers' faces, they were in the same state of bewilderment and disbelief as he was.

“You forget, Hisoka. One of those four you sent on that mission happens to be my daughter.”

That part of the video caused blood to run cold and breaths to be held. The answer to why so evident now with the words Shredder spoke on the recorded video conference. Arietta felt her world spin as her eyes became completely unfocused. Her heart pounding so hard in her chest it was all she could hear as she stepped back. Leonardo could see the color drain from Arietta's face and knew she had lost herself to the natural instinct of fight or flight. With out a second of hesitation, he grabbed a hold of her hand and lead her to the dojo. Dorian had watched what Leo had done and was a bit perplexed.

"Leo, what's wrong?" Dorian called after him taking note his sister's lack of responding to being dragged off.

“She's in a bit of shock. Just give us a moment. Catch us up when we get back.” As the two disappeared into the dojo Dorian looked to the screen as the recording ended. A few seconds of silence on both their end and on the video chat seemed like time had frozen at that point.

“It gets worse I'm afraid.” Leatherhead cut through the silence causing the group to look at the video feed of the call.

“How can it get any worse than Shredder trying to take them hostage?!” The angered tone in Michelangelo's voice made Calliope look at him in both empathy and anguish. She said nothing as she subtly grabbed his hand in hers only for him to grip fiercely and step closer to her. Her heart thumped hard realizing he was not trying to get into the role of her guardian. He was acting as if he was going to shield her and protect her from what was going on. The two on the video feed instantly whipped their heads toward the direction of the door where they were and the feed was cut off a second later. There was shocked confusion at the sudden ending of the call but Mikey still a little miffed was able to recover as he looked to his purple-clad brother. “Get them back on the line Donnie!”

"Hang on a minute, Mikey. If we call them back now it could get them both killed if someone was going to the lab." Callie placed both of her hands on his shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze to bring his attention to her. When his eyes were on hers, she gave a gentle smile in return. She could see out of her peripheral that Raphael was now standing in the doorway of the medical room, no doubt because Nanni was awake now. "I'm on my way to check on her, Raphael. Now, you're coming with me to play nurse again for me.”

She was not giving any room for argument on that one as she took a hold of his hand again and headed towards the medical room. Donnie, Dorian, and Lyra all exchanged looks with one another before Dorian let out a small chuckle.

"Well, I suppose you two can man the computers in case they give a callback." Dorian gave a small wave to the two as he decided to go see just how Nanni was doing and to possibly have a small chat with a certain red-masked turtle about his leader. Donatello looked at Lyra who gave him a gentle smile and a shrug in return.

"I could give you a hand going through all the files we have. May help us, in the long run, to see what all goodies we got from Hisoka's computer," she gave him a wink as she put her hands behind her back. Donnie gave her a smile this time to go with the gentle nod before he pulled up a second chair for her to sit at.

“I would very much appreciate it.” He chuckled as she happily took a seat and scooted herself closer to him as he sat down ready to get to work.

 

Chapter Text

The only things that can make you bleed mentally, emotionally, and spiritually are the things you give an edge to.” - Wretch

 

Leonardo brought Arietta to the center of the dojo after having closed the door. He was not wanting to give her an easy escape nor was he looking for an audience or interruption. His complete focus poured into snapping her out of the sudden shock from what they had just heard. He could understand why she reacted the way she did but if she was intent on being the leader of the assassin group, then she could not afford to lose her head now. As he let go of her hand he saw her wrap her arms around her chest a sign of her retreat into the recesses of her mind. With a stern glare, he moved to stand in front of her crossing his arms to steel himself for the task at hand.

“Do you have your tessen on you?” He waited for a moment and when it was obvious she had not heard him, he grabbed her shoulders leaning down to get on eye level with her. “Arietta.”

“W-What?” Arietta was able to focus enough on Leo's eyes that it broke the spiral of anxiety that had taken hold. The look he was giving her made her realize that she had checked out of reality not only long enough to not hear his question but she had also missed being brought into the dojo. She let out a sigh as she dropped her arms to her sides and gave a small shake of her head as she scrunched her eyebrows together. “I'm sorry Leo, I didn't quite catch what you said.”

"Do you have your tessen?" He let go of her shoulders and stood up tall again. Seeing the confusion crossing her features he gave a small chuckle which softened his own look a bit. To help give the reason for asking about her weapons, he pulled his two katana from their sheaths on the back of his shell. He heard her give a small sigh as she reached behind her back pulling the two tessen from the back loop of her pants. She had yet to pop them open, obviously not quite into the idea of training at the moment.

"I'm not really in the mood for this, Blue," regardless of her lack of enthusiasm she was still able to block out the quick side slash that was aimed at her hip. She flashed him a quick sharp glare, not at all amused at his actions.

“What made you decide to take leadership from your brother even though he's the oldest?” Leo was not going to let her off easy on this. This lesson alone was something he knew she greatly needed in order for her to properly ascend as a leader. He watched her glare turn to a look of exasperation and annoyance. Moving his hands quickly he brought both katana down on her only to have both swords stopped by her cross block with her tessen.

“What does that have to do with anything?” Her once need to flee was now being consumed with fight thanks to Leo's actions. He could see the fire igniting in her eyes which meant the impromptu training was getting the results he wanted.

"Just answer my question, Arietta." He pulled his swords away and moved back getting into another offensive stance. Seeing her slide into a defensive stance made a smirk appear on his lips and the metallic riveting sound that was emitted as she popped open her weapons was music to his ears.

"There would always be friction and doubt if I didn't take the reigns. It was like I said to you and Raph; Dorian doesn't want to be the leader. He does a hell of a job as an older brother but when it comes to leading he isn't assertive enough," she explained the best could as the flurry of attacks from Leo had her on her toes as she blocked out each strike from his blades but she held back the counter attacks. She was letting him attack so she could get a feel for his fighting to gain the upper hand. “To simply put it, he works better under the influence of someone who knows he's meant to be the explosive muscle rather than the logical leader.”

"Why not have Calliope or Lyra take the role as the leader then? Don't they have just as much potential as you do to take the reigns?" Leo could tell she was trying to memorize his fighting so he made it a point to switch up his tactics to keep her on the defensive. The laugh she let out gave him pause and he moved back to give her a moment to compose herself. He raised a brow ridge not sure why she was laughing, to begin with.

“I'm sorry, that struck me as a little funny,” she spoke with her laughter and closed the fan in her right hand so she could wipe the tear from her eye that her hard laughter had produced. “The way we all have just settled and eased into being around each other; I forget just how much you and your brothers don't know about me and my siblings.”

"Kind of a reason to why I'm asking so many questions. You all have a lot of information on us and we have very little on you. I mean on a more personal level not documents from a crime syndicate," Leo smirked as Arietta opened the fan and put herself back into a defensive stance before giving him a nod to continue. He was happy to oblige at the silent request admiring she was getting more into the training.

"That's pretty fair. To answer your question I'll start with Calliope. She can be highly logical and tactical which has proven on her missions to be effective enough when the no ranks followed her command. I actually asked her once why she doesn't lead more often and she told me that she would much rather play the role of the adviser than the conductor."

"Makes sense that she chooses not to when other can fit that role much more efficient," he continued the weapon sparring not letting her switch to offense just yet. It was still not the right moment. "She's a lot like Donnie since all of us keep comparing. Now, why not let Lyra take the lead?"

"The fact you and Raphael pegged Lyra to be much like Michelangelo is more of a fact than you know. When she focused and uses her training to its full potential, she is a lot more lethal than me and my other siblings combined. She, however, has a tendency to take the lives she ends to heart no matter how corrupt the person was. She sees the good in others to their very end and can't give the orders easily for someone to end a life no matter what the justifications are. I'm not saying she is weak in any sense but she functions more as our tie to humanity. If not for her we would be simple mindless killing machines." Arietta had to make a quick dodge by back bending to avoid a swipe of the katana before flipping back to get some space. She recovered and made her stance waiting for his next attack.

“Sounds like you know their differences are important as your team mates.” He waited a moment to evaluate what his next move would be giving the both of them a little reprieve.

“It's their differences that make us as strong as we are. I've always kept that in mind when we've teamed up. I've always been the one to fully understand it and I accept it. If I didn't I like they accept mine then what kind of sister would I be?” That answer had given Leo pause and if he was honest it had taken him back to what his father had told him in an eerily similar fashion. He let out a small chuckle seeing her tilt her head at him inquisitively, no doubt because of how he reacted. “Is there a point to all of this or can I go occupy my time with something else?”

"Why in a moment you needed to stand strong, did you choose to cowardly runaway?" The second her eyes widened he charged at her with another flurry of swipes from his twin katana. He kept his patience even when she had just tried to break his resolve with mocked rudeness. The real reason to stopping her from running was to show her now in privacy her error. The fleeting moment when she failed as a leader he wanted to bring to her attention. He saw the moment she realized his motive as he made the stab toward her left hip. He watched her turn herself to the side and place the tessen she held with her left hand into her back pocket. She had somehow read from his movements that he would try to follow up with a stab toward the right.

It was almost as if time slowed down as his blade tore through the fabric of her fan between the center most blades. She had moved to avoid most of the damage but was not fast enough to avoid the small cut to her cheek. Leo was in complete awe as she closed the fan around the blade only to torque it in a way that it caused his weapon to flip out of his hand. Arietta caught the tsuka in a tight grip with her right hand giving it a hard flick to the side to dislodge her tessen. As her discarded weapon slid across the floor intended to be forgotten, she changed her stance into one he was familiar with. It was one of his own defensive stances.

“Your assumption insults me, Leonardo. Especially, when you know so little about me,” she spoke a bone chilling tone with a smirk to match as she nodded at him to come at her in a challenging manner. “It was overwhelming to find out that Shredder knows that I'm his daughter but that was not why I checked out.”

He was not about to underestimate her a second time since the first had cost him his katana. He had yet to see her wield any other weapon besides her tessen but he knew she had trained with different weapons from their stories last night. A smirk graced his lips as he accepted her challenge yet again wanting to see just how good she would be with a katana. The curiosity winning out more than anything as she charged at her.

“I didn't mean to offend you but now you've got me wondering what was going on in your mind. You were pretty pale and you were definitely about to book it somewhere by the way you backed up so fast.”

“If you easily thought I was running in fear don't you think my siblings would not think the same thing? I had every intention of recollecting my composure and meditate on what the next move should be.” The sound of the blades clanking together ran in the dojo adding a battling medley to their conversation. Leo was seeing now that she had just as much capability as he did to lead a team.

"What is the next move then?" For some reason, he had a feeling she was ready to take the fight to the next level. That she was tired of waiting for the enemy to set the scene for them. He could not tell if it was a hunch or if it was because he would have felt the same way being in her position. His eyes widened as she blocked one of his strikes in a way that brought the tips of both blades to point toward the ground. The two of them stood side by side with their arms pressing together as they focused on keeping each other from taking advantage of the lock in combat.

“We gain the upper hand and strike first for once. We take down the New York City branch of the Black Lotus.”

"You know that could very well be a trap. Don't you think by now they'll be expecting you to hit there next?" Leo changed his look from one of a shock to very stern only to have her answer with a playful smile.

"Can't trap someone if they already know that they'll be walking into one," Arietta let out a small gasp after her response when he managed to sweep her legs out from under her sending the off guard assassin on to the ground. She did manage to fall properly so she would not see stars from knocking her head against the floor. Feeling the tip of his blade at her throat made her lose any thought on trying to get back on her feet for the moment. Amethyst eyes locked on to Sapphire as she knew there was no way she would be able to reverse their position. Especially not with him straddling over her midsection like he was. Playing dirty with Raphael was one thing but she was not sure it would work so well against Leonardo. "Chikusho!"

"Are you yielding?" The smug look on Leonardo's face made the competitive flame light a new with in her. To hell with being nice now since he had made the lapse in judgment of not pinning her arms in any fashion. Rather than using her weapon wielding hand, she moved her free one to a position where she could trail her fingers up his right knee. She used enough pressure to signal to him as she went further up the inside of his thigh. His smug look turned to a look of absolute shock the higher her fingers trailed up. She could not help but let the grin play on her lips as the tip of the blade moved slightly from her throat giving her enough opportunity to move freely.

"Checkmate, Blue," she spoke in a tone just as smug as he had been as she stopped her hand right at the juncture where Leo's leg met his hop. His eyes could not have grown any wider as realization struck him a little too late. Arietta jabbed her thumb right into the cluster of nerves and was delightfully rewarded with shouts of pain from the turtle. It took a slight shift of her body to roll him onto his shell as she kept pressure with her thumb, reveling in the sounds of his discomfort. She was swift to move so she was standing over him releasing his leg from her torture and as the pain eased Leo felt the tip of his blade rest against his clavicle. He looked up at her as she stared down at him in the complete triumph of having been able to turn the tables on him.

“That was a dirty trick and you know it, Arietta.” Leo glared up at the woman knowing very well there was not much he could do to retaliate. If he tried any type of movement she would still have his head in a real battle scenario. He was not about to try and trick her either since he was taking too long to figure one out to use that would work.

“I'm fully aware that it was a dirty trick. You still fell for it none the less, Leo. We of the Black Lotus are trained to use whatever means necessary to get the job done.”

“Where is the honor in that?” That one simple question gave Arietta pause and the smile faded from her lip. She moved to his side and offered him a hand to help get him back on his feet. Once Leonardo was vertical, she offered out the handle of his katana for him to reclaim possession.

“Don't try to romanticize what I am. When it comes down to it I have no honor. I rely on my ability to get the mission done and have excelled because I have an endless supply of courage to do so. You want an honor bound opponent then you'll want to fight Neko. He provides the honorable battles in our corps,” she spoke in an almost hurt manner as he took the katana from her. She made no signs of speaking on it further as she went over to the discarded tessen on the floor of the dojo. Leo watched in silence for the moment as she opened it to examine the damage she would have to repair to make the bladed fan properly function again.

Leonardo could very well argue with Arietta that she was honorable but he knew when to yield the field. He knew at some point he could prove to each of the Quintus that they had honor but that would be saved for a more advantageous time. Leo picked up his other katana he had dropped and sheathed both into the holders on the back of his shell. The sound of the fan being suddenly snapped shut brought his attention back to the Assassin again only to find her looking toward the door of the dojo with an expression that was hard for him to read. He looked over his shoulder to see his father standing there with an amused smile on his face.

“Sensei.”

“Shishou,” the two leaders faced toward Splinter and gave a bow as they spoke out their respective titles to him. He walked over to take a spot in front of them with his hands placed behind his back.

"I'm a little surprised to see the both of you in here training when there were to be no training sessions today," he mused gently and let out a small chuckle when the two winced slightly at being caught.

“How long were you watching, Master Splinter?” Leonardo was pretty sure that he was not going to like the answer that he got. He fought back every sign of embarrassment that he could, not wanting to give away his discomfort in the trick that was pulled on him.

“Just long enough to hear that Arietta wants to strike at the enemy and to witness everything that happened afterward,” Splinter chuckled in a bit of amusement seeing his eldest son shift uncomfortably while he caught Arietta trying to stifle a laugh. He found it interesting that what had happened between them being witnessed did not phase her like it had Leo. So many similarities yet, there were still the differences as well.

“Shishou, the Shredder knows that I'm his daughter. That's why the Foot showed up the same night we did. He was looking to capture all of us.”

“Be that as it may, it is foolish to try and make a rash attack. My son is correct that it could very well be a trap,” he spoke sternly but with her looking right at him he could see the agitation churning like an enraged flame with in her eyes, much like Raphael. The burning passion to protect even when that very passion could cause more harm than good.

“They'll keep attacking relentlessly until we take out the branch here in New York. Countless of innocent lives will be taken and countless children will be robbed of their chances at normalcy. I can't-”

“You must do nothing, Arietta! You can't go in with a blind rage. It will only get you and your team killed." He could see the rage building up more with in her at his interrupting words but he was not going to let her do something she would later regret. "You will only get yourself and your siblings killed on a fool's mission."

"We're prepared to do whatever it takes to deal with that Black Lotus. If that means that one of us dies then we are more than prepared for that," she was quick to retort back at Splinter not holding back the aggressive tone she spoke in. "It is what we were trained for."

"Your lives mean so much more than that. Take the time to make a solid plan instead of trying to hurry to an early grave," Splinter kept his voice calm as he watched the assassin run her hand through her hair and closed her eyes before sighing out in frustration.

“I'm so used to having the missions handed out point blank. The orders clearly spelled out from higher ups.” Arietta opened her eyes when she felt the gentle pressure on her shoulder only to find Leonardo's hand resting there. She moved her hand from her hair and looked to see the turtle in the blue mask smiling gently at her.

“All the more reason you should try to at least listen to what Master Splinter and I are trying to tell you.” Leo let his smile broaden more as she looked to the ground chewing on her bottom lip for a moment.

“You and your siblings are reliant on working alone when you must learn to function as a team. If you want to succeed in shutting down the Black Lotus you will need steady heads and well thought out plans to do so,” Splinter moved to stand in front of the young woman and lifted her chin by cupping it with his thumb and side of his forefinger. Once he saw her violet eyes look at him he smiled. “You also need to repair your tessen, young lady.”

The anger left and her laughter filled the dojo as she took a hold of Splinter's hand with her right hand while her left grabbed Leo's hand that still rest on her shoulder. Her laughter died down and she squeezed gently as she closed her eyes against on a soft sigh of resignation.

“Alright, you win,” she spoke in a much softer tone compared to her earlier one as she looked to both of them. “Your words are as good as any orders so we'll do this your way. I'm just going to advise the both of you that we shouldn't take forever in planning anything. They'll strike again and they'll strike a hell of a lot harder than a bus full of orphans.”

“When they do we'll be ready,” Casey spoke from the doorway of the dojo. The trio turned to him and his smile spoke volumes only adding to his statement. “We're always ready. Now, we've got ice cream, new clothes for the kiddo, and the makings for some midnight drinks. We all deserve some after these past events.”

“I agree,” Splinter bowed his head which caught Leo's attention now. His eyes widened when his father looked right at him and the smile broadened a little more.

“Well, this will be an interesting night,” Leo mused as he let out a small chuckle. Arietta looked from Casey to Splinter and then to Leo before she tilted her head in confusion.

“How so?”

“You'll just have to wait and see later on tonight,” Leo gave her a pat on her shoulder before heading out of the dojo letting Casey take the lead toward the kitchen area. Splinter offered her a small smile before following after the two males leaving Arietta there alone in her now worsened confusion.

Rather than try to wrack her brain figuring out what was being planned she shook her head with a small chuckle and made her way out of the dojo. She had the focused intent to repair the torn fabric of her tessen as she made her way to the room that she and her siblings shared but she had to bite back a groan of frustration. Dorian was making his way towards her with a look that said they were going to talk as he walked out of the medical room.

Rolling her eyes subtly she nodded her head at the shared bedroom knowing that there was no point in trying to avoid her brother now.

 

Chapter Text

The face is the mirror of the mind, and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.” - St. Jerome

 

Arietta flopped down on her bed facing up so she could stare at the ceiling with her tessen laying beside her. A sigh escaped her but she smiled none the less hearing the knock on the wall. Sitting up on the edge of the bed she looked to see her brother standing at the doorway leaning against his side with his arms crossed.

"You got a minute to talk?" Dorian had a gentle smile but seemed a bit nervous making Arietta, in turn, feel a little uneasy about the topic he had in mind.

“Yeah, as long as you hand me the sewing kit so I can patch up my tessen,” she held up the ruined fan just to show him the damage Leonardo's katana had done during their sparring. Dorian raised a brow but let out a small chuckle as he went to where they kept the tackle box full of sewing supplies. Grabbing the box he walked over to his sister's bed and sat down next to her before passing the supplies to her. “I would have loved to see Leo's face while you two were sparring.”

“It was so priceless,” she teased gently as she grabbed out the needle and thread to begin repair work with a grin on her face. “I don't know which one I liked better. His face when I disarmed him or his face when I used the pressure point on the inside of his thigh to get him to the ground.”

“Used your feminine wiles again?” Dorian let out a laugh when she answered with a smack to his upper arm.

"Splinter-shisho saw me take down Leo and oh the face on the poor guy. Yep, that's my favorite one for sure," she looked at her brother with a devilish grin before she began sewing up the tear in the fabric.

“You're so bad, little sister. So, so bad.”

“And you're stalling, wonder boy. What did you want to talk about?” Arietta felt Dorian shift on the bed and could tell that whatever it was he wanted to say was making him uncomfortable. She paused in her stitch work to look to her brother who was now staring at his lap. “Dee, you're scaring me here.”

"I want you to be completely on the level with me here. How do you feel about the guys? About being here?" His silver eyes finally looked up and he saw the confused shock in her amethyst eyes that his questions had caused. Her look slowly softened and she focused her eyes back on the task of stitching up her weapon again.

"Feels like a dream, to be honest. Like I will wake up and we'll be back in Japan still breaking the tenets we hold as the law." Arietta finished up her sewing and placed the tackle box on the floor next to her bed. She closed and opened the tessen with a smile at her handy work before she placed both of the fans closed up on her pillow. She turned slightly beside her brother and smiled to him as one leg rest on top of the bed bent while she let the other dangle off the side. "I really do enjoy being here and I know I'm going to be sad if and when we have to leave."

“I don't ever want to leave,” the two looked at the door to find their youngest sister standing there with two bowls of ice cream. Their red-headed sister, standing next to the youngest, also had two more bowls of ice cream. The two girls walked over to the bed and handed their siblings a bowl each before they sat themselves down comfortably on Arietta's bed.

“How is Nanni doing?” Ari looked at Callie as she took a bite of ice cream not wanting to address Lyra's statement just yet.

“She's up and full of energy. I took out the stitches and right now April is spoiling her to death with a banana split.” Calliope smiled softly having been happy to see the little girl bounce back so quickly and all but ready to just be a happy normal child.

“Yep, sounds like she's got us all wrapped around her little finger,” Dorian mused as he took a bite of his ice cream feeling a bit at ease with his sisters there to help with the conversation and the treat helped with that too. “Not off the hook here, Ari. You still have a few questions to answer.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Uh oh. Is she in trouble again? Did we interrupt the stern talk?” Lyra teased in between eating on her bowl and giggled around the spoon in her mouth when Arietta nudged her hip with her foot.

“No, I'm not in trouble, Rara. Why do you always instantly think I'm in trouble?” Arietta readjusted herself giving Lyra a playful glare.

"Maybe because you usually are in some kind of trouble," Calliope blocked out the spoon that came toward her shoulder with her own and grinned cheekily at Arietta. "So what did you ask her, Dee?"

“How she likes it here. What she thinks about the guys,” Dorian answered and smiled at his other sisters. “Feel free to chime in too. Open discussion really.”

“Well, we already heard how Lyra feels about being here. Be that as it may and regardless how we feel we can't allow ourselves to get too comfortable.” Callie looked to each of her siblings with a very serious expression. “If things become too dangerous then we will leave. No flex on this one.”

"Agreed," Arietta knew the tenets well and the family they were involving in their world were the very epitome of innocence. "I'm pretty sure we all feel the same about being here though. I'm more curious as to what you're wanting by asking what I think about the others. If you want me to be upfront with you then you've got to be upfront with me."

"Can't put anything past you," Dorian chuckled and set his now empty bowl down on the floor before he shifted on the bed so he could sit cross legged. "You make a fair point so I'll come right out and ask point blank. Have you fallen in love with one of them?"

Arietta almost choked on her ice cream and went into a coughing fit. Calliope gently patted her back to help ease the fit while giving her brother a look of annoyance. Dorian held his hands up in defense and Lyra was just staring at Arietta for the moment. It took seconds for Arietta to regain her composure and Lyra became extremely excited to see that her sister was blushing.

"Holy crap! You are in love with one of them! Is it Leonardo? Is it Raphael? Michelangelo? It had better not be Donatello or we're going to have some issues," the volume Lyra had excitedly spoken in nearly caused panic but hearing the way her voice switched to a lower tone at the mention of the tallest terrapin made her siblings all look at her in shock. "What?! He's hot, okay?! He's adorable and silly and yes I've got a really huge crush on him!"

“Well, we have Lyra's answers at least,” Dorian pinched the bridge of his nose giving a small chuckle. “Why am I not surprised that it's Donnie?”

“If we're opening up the proverbial can of worms then I may as well come clean.” Calliope set her bowl down on the floor and smiled as she sat up only to look at her lap. “I know without a doubt that I have grown very fond of Mikey.”

“Christ, this is insane you guys.” Arietta was already nervous about the conversation but to hear both of her sisters confess feelings only spiked the nerves more. She felt a mixture of emotions bubbling up inside of her and fueled her desire to escape from the conversation in any way she could.

“Why do you say that it's insane?” Dorian could see it in her eyes that she was getting very uncomfortable but he was not going to let her just walk away.

“We're assassins, Dee. We do not fall in love. We can't, it's too dangerous,” Arietta's voice was slightly strained as she ran her fingers through her hair.

“Cicero fell in love with you,” Lyra spoke in a gentle tone trying to help with the current topic of conversation.

“That isn't a very good argument, Lyra. Cicero is a fool for it,” Arietta spoke flatly as she fired back and gave her little sister a glare.

“A fool in love,” Lyra grinned after her retort.

“We are assassins and the lives we have can be very dangerous but we are human too, Ari. We can't help but feel the way we do, it's in our nature.” Callie placed her hand on top of her sister's giving a gentle squeeze to comfort her. “I have a feeling that even though you are trying to argue and dismiss the subject; you are in fact falling in love too.”

The only sign Calliope got that her words had hit home was the faint grip from Arietta's fingers. A few minutes of silence grew between the four siblings as Arietta mulled everything over in her mind. She still was not sure how to approach the subject at all, the concept was both escaping her and frustrating her.

“Let's take them one at a time and hell, we won't just talk about our terrapin buddies,” Calliope gave the gentle offer and Arietta nodded in return figuring that now her siblings were simply offering her help with what she did not understand. “We already know you've pretty much adopted Nanni so, what do you think of April?”

"I like her. She's got a protective warm nature and from what I remember of their stories she's pretty reliable," Arietta smirk knowing her and her siblings pretty much considered April O'Neil as a friend. "Casey is a goofball and I can tell he can hold his own too. The fact he hasn't tried to convince us to turn ourselves into the police despite what we are, says a lot about him."

“Those two are so adorable together,” Lyra giggled softly having liked the two adults right from the start. She grabbed Arietta's now empty bowl from her and made the rounds to pick up the other dishes before making a stack at the end of the bed that she planned to take to the kitchen later. She plopped down on the bed again but lay on her back putting her head on Arietta's lap. She grinned when she felt her sister busying her hands by playing with her rainbow locks, knowing it helped to soothe her like when they were children. “What do you think of Master Splinter?”

"Mm, in a way he reminds me of the nicer teachers we've had. Kind of get a fatherly vibe from him even though we haven't known him long and he hasn't known us that long either." Arietta spoke calmer now and her eyes seemed to be unfocused as if she was delving into the recesses of her mind. "I can honestly say that I both trust and respect him."

“As do we all,” Dorian smiled and looked to both Lyra and Callie getting nods from both of them as a sort of approval that the conversation could keep going safely. “Here is an easy one. What do you think of the youngest brother?”

“Mikey?” Arietta let out a small chuckle and the smile stayed as she continued to play with Lyra's hair, working on making tiny braids. “I can see him as a little brother. He reminds me so much of you, Lyra. Happy go-lucky yet, I know he can be really focused and get the job done when he needs to.”

"He wears his heart open and he does have a sense of passion when it comes to protecting those he cares about. He's really fun to hang around and he's so sweet. He has been nothing but sweet towards me. I almost forget I'm an assassin when I'm around him.” Calliope had a dreamy look and a blush on her cheeks as she stared at the ceiling of the bedroom.

“That's how I feel when I'm around Donatello. I feel like I'm just a normal teenager, a normal girl, not a trained killer. He makes me feel safe and genuinely just happy when he's near. Yeah, he's a bit shy and a little nervous when I'm around him but I think it's adorable. Really adorable when he's passionate about analyzing something or sharing his knowledge.” Lyra closed her eyes and folding her arms over her stomach she let the wide smile spread on her lips. Her three siblings all laughed no doubt knowing she was visualizing the one she had a crush on in her mind's eye. She stuck her tongue out which elicited more laughter that she joined in on for a moment.

As their laughter died down Arietta leaned back on her hands having braided some of Lyra's hair into a half up half down hair style. She let out a small sigh feeling at ease now more than she was much earlier in the conversation. Hearing how they felt and how she felt began to sink in. It made what she could not say to Raphael in the medical room when they were alone so much easier to say now. She finally understood and finally had the term for her emotions thanks to her siblings.

“I suppose I am a fool too then,” she mused almost so quietly that they nearly missed what she had said. When the three tensed on the bed she chuckled a little. Opening her eyes halfway she did not really look at her brother or sisters but rather focused on a spot on the wall.

“Is it Leo?” Dorian took a jab at trying to guess which one she fancied and nearly cursed hearing the uncertainty in his voice when he had asked. He felt a wave of relief hit him when Arietta chuckled again and looked at him with fully open eyes now.

“No Dee, it isn't Leo. I joked with him and Raph that if we kept hanging out alone everyone might suspect something,” she shook her head with a smile. “Leo reminds me of you, Dorian. Like how you are when we don't have missions or when we'd all sneak out to go into the city. The big brother, the protector. He's more of a best friend if I were to classify how I feel about him. So you don't have to worry about me trying to steal him away.”

“Whoa, whoa! I never said anything about liking Leonardo!” Dorian panicked at his sister's words and he could feel not only his heart pounding but he also felt that his cheeks burned with no doubt a blush. The looks he received from all three females made him realize that he was not fooling them. He was totally busted.

“Dee, you're a terrible liar and you're even worse at hiding anything from us.” Calliope smiled having been the first of her sister to figure her brother out.

"You've got a big heart and we know that you don't just like females." Lyra sat up and put her head on her brother's shoulder. "We love you all the same."

"Always have and we always will." Arietta gave her brother's unoccupied shoulder a soft squeeze and Dorian could not help but chuckle as he closed his eyes. He was reigning in the tears of both relief and happiness at their words.

"Thanks, girls. Seriously, thank you." He grabbed his sisters into a group hug, holding them against him tightly. A moment later and he let them all go clearing his throat and scratching his cheek. "Well, now that the cat's out of the bag yes, I do have a huge crush on the leader in blue. I know that it's a deep set feeling and there are so many things I could say to justify how I feel but I think you've got the point. I won't act on my feelings out right though, I may try to get a feel and see if there is something on his end. I respect the hell out of him and I won't make him uncomfortable in any way if I can help it."

"That is just too adorable," Lyra giggled as she lifts her head off of Dorian's shoulder. The siblings all turned their attention to Arietta and Lyra grinned devilishly playful. "So, you're in love with Raphael, huh?"

Arietta let out a small squeak and her face turned just as red as the mention turtle's mask, causing the three to crack up with laughter. She smiles and ends up laughing with them feeling at ease knowing fully well how she truly felt now. Having the correct words that failed to come to her made her heart swell and her stomach to do a few flips.

“Yeah, I'm in love with Raph and if what happened after I woke up is any kind of proof then I think the feeling is mutual.”

“Oh it's mutual alright,” Dorian spoke up and gave a grin that was matched with one from Calliope. “I had a little talk with him while you were in the dojo.”

"Dorian!" Arietta was not sure how to feel about that revelation. She settled for embarrassment and lightly smacked his arm getting a chuckle out of him. "I hope you didn't mentally scar him or anything."

“No, no scarring. Dorian asked him how he felt about you straight out. We may have threatened bodily harm if he ever hurt you but we kind of gave our blessing in a way.” Calliope pat Arietta's back as her sister hid her face and groaned out in pure humiliation now.

“I loathe both of you right now,” she removed her hands but the smile gave away that she was not being serious about what she had just said. Arietta took a deep breath and her smile faded as she exhaled slowly. “All of this is going to make things so damn complicated. What if we end up having to leave? What if we die on a mission? What then?”

A silence grew again as the four assassins let the questions sink in. The many scenarios playing as possibilities of the future. Some good and some bad but Lyra let out a soft chuckle shaking her head knowing perfectly how to answer the questions at hand. She always knew that she could bring to light the silliest and simplest answers that her siblings usually over analyzed or ignored.

“We enjoy it all to the fullest no matter what happens. Regret nothing and take everything one day at a time,” her gentle words rang through them and they all sat there a moment in another bit of silence as the smiles appeared on all of them.

“Yep, we're a bunch of fools,” Arietta spoke in a teasing tone as she got up off of her bed first. Putting her tessen back in her rear pockets she looked at the three that were climbing off of her bed. As Lyra grabbed up the bowls she had sat down Arietta let out a small chuckle. “Think we better get out there before they send the search party.”

“Mommy!” Nanni's voice sounded from the door and she came in running straight over to Arietta who scooped her up into her arms.

“Too late!” She chuckled as she showered Nanni with several kisses to her cheek feeling ecstatic that the child was not only back to being bouncy but seemed just as excited to see her. As the quintet of assassins filed out of the room Arietta stopped to see Raphael standing to the side as she left out last. She raised a brow at him with a small smirk and he grinned back as he pointed at the little girl.

“She's faster than she looks.”

 

Chapter Text

Even though you're growing up, you should never stop having fun.” - Nina Dobrev

 

Lyra carefully tip toed backward from the shared room of her and her siblings. She smiled as she silently closed the door seeing Nanni still sleeping peacefully on Arietta's bed. Once the click sounded she still kept herself quiet as she made her way back to the dining room and kitchen area where the others were waiting. Launching herself over the railing she let out a giggle as she leaned back to let her lower back rest against the metal guard for the platform.

“Down for the count!” She held up two victory signs she made with her fingers keeping the playful grin to go along with it.

“Alright! So what's this idea you two have got cookin', April?” Mikey grinned excitedly to the News Reporter as he leaned against the counter top of the island that was normally reserved for meal prepping.

“Well, we had already planned a drinking night at a later date but with everything that has happened it made it come a little sooner.” April and Casey both started pulling out several bottles from the brown paper bags that had been stashed in the cabinet parts of the island.

"Now I can see why you said this was going to be an interesting night," Arietta smirked at Leonardo who stood at the left of her while she sat on the counter next to the sink.

“Is this the part where you tell us that all of you are going to drink us under the table?” Leo nudged her arm with his elbow keeping his usual cross armed posture as he did so. Arietta let out a laugh making sure to keep herself from losing her balance from his little nudge.

"Dorian and Calliope might give you a run for your money but this will be the first time Lyra and I have ever had any alcohol for fun."

“So, this ain't the first time ya had booze?” Raphael grabbed a box of cookies and cream Pocky from one of the bags before he tossed the box to Lyra after April pointed to who it was for. She caught the box with a big mischievous grin on her face.

“No, it isn't our very first time. We've usually had drinks when we lost assassins or a member of the clan passed away,” Lyra explained easily as she opened the box she held in her hands. She happily pulled out one of the sticks and put the treat in her mouth munching away on it now content.

“In other words, if it wasn't for ceremonial purposes then they didn't drink. It was usually only one shot worth of sake anyway.” Calliope smiled seeing Arietta was glaring at her as hard as she could but the second eldest was not falling for the trap. She caught the box that Casey had tossed at her and she looked a bit confused to see her favorite flavor of Pocky now in her possession.

“Dorian sent us a list of a little extra to buy,” Casey smirked with his explanation as he pulled out the box of chocolate banana and tossed it to the aforementioned assassin. “I don't even know how that one is even a flavor, Callie.”

“Don't you dare knock my matcha Pocky, Jones,” Callie warned in a flat one and a gave a glare as she started munching on one of the green coated sticks.

“Either way, we got plenty extras just in case. Except for that one. Ouch!” Casey winced as he got promptly smacked on the back of his head by April's hand after she sat the last bottle of liquor on the counter.

“Don't pick on her Casey or I'll just have to kick your butt,” she sighed out but looked to Calliope with a smile as she picked up a bottle of sake. “We got just as much of the matcha flavor as we did the others. I'll go take this to Splinter while Casey here makes some drinks. Go easy the first go round, okay?”

“You've got it, babe,” Casey gave a salute to April waiting until she was out of sight before he started to look through the collection of bottles on the island.

“You're gonna make your strong shots aren't you, Casey?” Mikey grinned having the intent on his features that he was going to watch the guy work his mixing magic.

"Nope, I'm completely keeping to my word," sarcasm laced Casey's response as he gave the turtle a wink to further confirm the fact he was indeed making his strongest. He moved the bottles he needed to the side which consisted of Jagermeister, Goldschläger, and Bacardi 151 before going to the cabinet. Arietta had to lean back since apparently, the shot glasses were in the cabinet above her head. She had never been very comfortable with being in close proximity with anyone unless she was the one to initiate it. Then again, she did find it interesting that the turtles had become an exception.

“Just don't over do the drinking girls,” Dorian spoke up in his brotherly tone while giving both Lyra and Arietta stern looks as Casey pulled out the glasses. Once the shot glasses were on the island's counter top he started the mixing process.

“Lighten up a little, Dorian. We don't know if we'll even live through to see our twenty-first birthdays so we may as well enjoy what the world has to offer. A night of getting wasted won't be that bad in comparison.” Arietta leaned herself back to her comfortable sitting position now that her personal bubble was no longer being invaded. She beamed happily as Raphael handed her a box of strawberry flavored Pocky and took to leaning against the counter on her side that was not being occupied.

"None of ya are goin' to die. We'll be there to back ya up." Raph gave her a smirk but his eyes held a deadly serious tone that made the assassin pause in her motions to open the box. She opened her mouth to respond but she was completely cut off when Lyra tapped on one of her knees. Arietta looked to her sister who was standing in front of her with one of her Pocky sticks in her mouth and a pleading look in her eyes.

“Aw, come on Lyra, we aren't little kids anymore. We're a little too old to play that game,” Arietta groaned a bit as she set her box down next to her side and could not help but to roll her eyes seeing Lyra's eyes go from pleading to pouting now.

“What game?” Donatello had seen Lyra get really excited before she had gone over to her sister. He was genuinely curious as he moved up to Lyra's right just to see what they were talking about. Mikey and Calliope now crowded around making Arietta sigh out with her bubble getting invaded more, not that she minded too much at the moment.

“It's called the Pocky game,” Calliope answered with a sly grin on her lips knowing now a demonstration would be in order. “The game is pretty simple and really fun to play if you want to make Arietta squirm.”

“Shut up, Callie,” Arietta snapped at her sister with a small blush on her cheeks but Lyra reached up and cupped her face making her look toward her again. There was no way she was going to be able to back out now. Lyra was locked on target and adamant about playing the game.

“So, how does it work?” Leo had his suspicions of how the game went by seeing the way the girls were positioned but he asked just to get more clarification in case he was wrong. That and he wanted to see just what would make Arietta squirm to easily.

"Two people face off just like my sisters are at the moment. Each takes an end of the Pocky in their mouths and they start eating toward the middle. Neither wants to break it before they get to the middle or the one with the least left loses. If one pulls away first they lose. If both get to the middle and kiss then both win," Calliope went over the rules and smirked seeing just how annoyed her black haired sister was getting.

“This is the dumbest game ever!” Arietta growled out and in return got a glare from Lyra. Leo chuckled at her reaction understanding now why it bothered her so much to play the game. Dorian rolled his eyes and gave out a small sigh of exasperation.

“Just play it with her. She's in one of her really giddy moods so you might as well give up fighting about it.” Dorian joined the group and grinned as he instantly found an incentive for Arietta to play along. “If you play just this once with her then I won't nag you about how much you have to drink tonight.”

"Deal," the response to the ultimatum was spoken quickly and the girl gently pushed her sister back so she could hop off of the counter. She stood in front of Lyra and took the unfrosted cookie part into her mouth making sure not to bite down too hard just yet.

“This could make for an interesting drinking game.” Casey had finished making the shots and joined the rest of the group to see how the game would play out.

"Yes and no. If you are looking to enjoy a decent buzz then no. If you are aiming to get hammered pretty quick then yes." Calliope crossed her arms giving Casey a sly grin which caused him to chuckle.

“Touche.”

“Alright girls, begin in three, two, and one,” Dorian gave the countdown and the two girls started taking the ends of the Pocky in their mouths. Bite after bite was carefully slow as to ensure the cookie would not get snapped prematurely. Their faces inched closer to one another and Arietta kept her glare trained on Lyra who seemed to be smiling with just her dark gray eyes alone. A few more nibbles on the Pocky and their lips came to meet at the center. Arietta did not allow it to last long and she pulled back just as fast as the kiss was initiated.

“There, now we can get the drinking started!” Arietta grabbed her box of strawberry Pocky and took out one of the sticks to reward herself.

“That was cheap Arietta and you know it,” Lyra complained as she gave a teasing glare to her older sister who answered with her tongue out and she was slightly pulling down the bottom eyelid of her right eye with her middle finger. Arietta let out a laugh as the youngest smacked her on the arm as a retort to her double insulting gestures. Releasing her eyelid she hopped back on to the counter with the Pocky in her mouth.

“I didn't hear a set time limit so you're just going to have to deal with it, Rara.”

“Cheapskate,” Lyra gave Arietta another playful smack to her left knee but she was not completely malicious about it. She blinked as a shot glass was held out for her and was a little surprised to see the top of the glass was on fire. “Whoa.”

“You blow out the flame gently before you chug it.” Donnie had a smile stuck on his face as she took the glass from him carefully. He shyly looked away after she had smiled back at him but he tensed the second he saw April was now standing off to the side glaring at an unsuspecting Casey. “Oh boy.”

“What's wrong?” Lyra looked at Donatello a bit confused having barely been able to hear what he said. She followed where his eyes were glued and she became just as tense seeing the look April had. The only sound that came from Lyra was a small yet audible squeak that was loud enough to pause the others in their preparation of celebration. Casey, having his back facing towards April, swallowed hard knowing exactly who was now behind him. Seeing the looks on everyone's faces he also knew he was about to get into trouble.

“I tell you to go easy and you make your strongest shots! I swear, Casey!” April lightly smacked the poor guy upside the head with her large bottle of strawberry kiwi water.

“Ow! I was only making them once, I promise!” Casey rubbed the back of his head as April moved to stand to his right side. He grabbed the last shot that was still flaming on the island and he smiled at her only to get an eye roll in response. Laughter filled the room from the banter and Calliope decided that was the good opportunity to start the party. She cleared her throat and when she had the attention of everyone in the room she lifted the shot glass slightly up in front of her.

“I just wanted to thank all of you for being so kind to me and my siblings. For helping us and welcoming us.”

“For putting up with the hectic chaos that surrounds us,” Dorian raised his shot glass in the same fashion as Calliope adding on to her toast.

“For showing us that there is something to live for and not to surrender our lives prematurely,” Arietta added in with a smirk joining her siblings in the toast.

“For giving us the kicks in the butts we definitely deserved and for the future butt kicking I know we'll need,” Lyra finished out and the four assassins looked to the group they were praising. They all looked to one another before raising their shot glasses with the Quintus siblings. April nonchalantly raised her water bottle up to join in with them. They were all caught a little off guard to see a porcelain guinomi join in with them. Splinter had made an unexpected appearance having decided to join the rest of them for a short while during the night of drinking.

“To a friendship ever lasting and a family that keeps growing,” Master Splinter added his own little bit and they all gave happy resounding 'cheers' to agree with what all had been said. The flames were blown out from the tops of the shots and everyone downed their drinks with April taking a drink of her water.

“So, what do you girls think of your first real drink?” Casey grinned looking over at both Lyra and Arietta curious to hear their take on the mix. Arietta licked her lips and gave a thumbs up.

"It's got a nice kick to it," she grinned giving her honest answer before looking at her little sister who was staring at her shot glass with a look of perplexity.

“Not bad Casey but I think I'm more of a sweet drink kind of girl. No offense,” Lyra always blunt looked at Casey and stuck her tongue out at him to further solidify that she was not trying to be mean about her criticism.

“None taken. I'll get some more drinks whipped up and we can really get this party going!” Casey grinned as the shot glasses were gathered on to the island for another round of shots later.

“On that note, I will take my leave,” Splinter chuckled softly and gave a bow of his head but April quickly put her hand on his shoulder to both pause his exit and his speech.

“Before you go, Casey and I have something to tell everybody,” April spoke softly and she put her water on the counter as she removed her hand from the old rat's shoulder. She took a hold of Casey's hand as he got close to her side in that moment.

“I bet it has something to do with April not drinking,” the sing song voice that came from Arietta made the couple chuckle with the others having been caught off guard that it came from her rather than from Lyra.

“In fact it does, since alcohol is never a good thing to have while you're pregnant,” the bomb she had just dropped got shocked looks from the turtles and their master. As the initial shock wore off their faces, excitement filled them and the room erupted into shouts of happiness.

Everyone had taken turns with giving congratulations and careful hugs. Casey got a bit roughed up from being teased by the guys and the girls gushed happily with April. Another toast was made in honor of the exciting news before Splinter made himself scarce to allow them to relax with out having a parental figure in the room. As the group moved the party to the living room, Mikey got a real devious idea hit him once everyone was settled down.

“Hey, why don't we all play the Pocky game?” The suggestion got the attention of them all and Lyra let out an excited gasp.

“Yes! We can even make the rules work where we won't get too drunk too fast,” Lyra grinned with an equally devious one that matched Mikey's grin. Seemed the two were going to collaborate to make things more interesting no matter what the others thought.

"And here we go. You two do realize the males outnumber the females right?" Arietta took a sip of the cinnamon mixed drink as she sat on the floor in front of the couch. She tilted her head back hearing Raph snicking behind her. He grinned at the woman who sat between his knees. He had given her space so she could use the bottom of the couch as a support for her back if she wanted.

"I think the only ones it would matter to is Casey and Dorian," the grin never left as he took a pull from the Jack and cherry coke drink that had been made for him. The former detective had nodded once but the chuckle from the male assassin gave everyone else pauses.

“You have no idea how wrong you are, Raph.” Dorian took a drink from his scotch on the rocks, keeping a grin on his face. When he pulled the glass from his lips he looked at it not really thinking about what he was about to let out. “I happen to be attracted to both males and females actually.”

The silence was almost deafening for Dorian as he took another drink of his scotch while he kept the rest of his body absolutely still on the couch. He could feel his heart pounding hard in his chest and dread was starting to set in his gut. Just as he began to regret coming out to all of them and right as he was going to joke it off, he felt himself pitch forward. Arietta grabbed his glass from him so it would not spill as a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind.

"Dude, you are the bravest person I've ever met!" Mikey's statement made all the worry and regret instantly vanished from Dorian as he gently pats the turtle's arms with his hands. Mikey released the Assassin before standing up behind the couch with a grin on his face. Dorian let out a mused laugh as he took his drink back from his sister.

“Thanks, Mikey.” He took one more drink and sat his glass down on the table in front of the couch.

“How did you know you liked both?” Leo was genuinely curious at this new piece of information on the eldest assassin. He slightly tensed seeing the teasing glance Dorian gave him as the male sat back to settle in his spot. “You don't have to answer if it makes you uncomfortable.”

“I don't mind. It started really with a few crushes here and there. When I would secretly start dating it became more obvious to me that I didn't see their gender or anything but rather I was attracted to their soul. Guess that is the easiest way I can explain it.” Dorian scratched his cheek feeling a bit modest now about it all. He smirked when the reasoning the two youngest were excited about playing finally clicked in his mind. They were both trying to play cupid it seemed. “So, how do you two propose we all play the game?”

“We can draw straws and the two with the shortest have to stand in front of everyone and play the game. Loser takes a shot.” Mikey grinned as he went to the kitchen to round up the straws for the game.

"We'll up the fun and if the two end up kissing then has to be held for ten seconds!" Lyra excitedly added to the rules and Arietta threw a piece of ice from her drinks at her.

“Now you're just trying to get back at me,” Ari glared but was not malicious at all by it. She laughed when Lyra feigned innocence by trying to make a face at her.

"Well, the rules you two have come up with make it easy for those that get uncomfortable to take a loss," Donatello smirked a little nervous about the game the two youngest were concocting but it seemed interesting none the less.

“I'll bet Arietta gets more trashed than any of us do,” Calliope piped up from the chair she sat in with a playful smile. She dodged the ice that was thrown at her and the room erupted into laughter as Michelangelo returned with ten straws in hand and the bags of Pocky that he put on to the table.

“So, are we gonna play the game or what?” Mikey grinned holding up the straws in hand all but excited to play. Everyone looked at one another in silence for a few seconds before a glass being sat down broke the moment. Arietta got up from her spot on the floor and went right up to Michelangelo before plucking out a straw with a grin.

"It'll be harmless fun any way you look at it," she teased a bit and watched as everyone got up to get a straw one by one. As everyone paused in excited anticipation, Arietta grinned devilishly. "Alright, reveal your straws."

They all held their straws out in the center and made the comparisons to see which two were the first set to play the Pocky game. As luck would have it all the girls were ruled out for the first round leaving just the guys. Dorian's face turned bright red as he realized he had a shorter stick and his eyes looked to see who had the other. He knew his face could not get any redder than it already was when he realized that it was Leonardo who held the other short straw.

“Now that's pretty amusin'. Didn't know a face could get that red,” Raph teased nudging the eldest Quintus who in turn gave him a playful glare.

“Bite me,” Dorian retorted before looking at Leo with intent to apologize but he was surprised to see the turtle was actually smiling at him. “You pick the flavor. I don't mind any of them.”

Leo gave a nod and just as he picked up the strawberry flavor box the sound of Ari's phone going off interrupted the whole thing.

"For the love of... I'm going to kill him!" Arietta growled out none too happy with the sudden interruption of their fun.

 

Chapter Text

Don't threaten me with love, baby. Let's just go walking in the rain.” - Billie Holiday

 

As the group all gathered around the computer monitors, Arietta felt what buzz she had going leave her in an instant. They were once again getting a call from Cicero as she suspected but this time it was different. He was trying to make a video call right off which, to all of the trained assassins, was a red flag. A sense of dread filled the assassin leader as she answered her phone just before it was about to go to voicemail. When the image came on the screen she felt her blood boil instantly and could feel a mix of emotions from everyone around her.

Cicero and Leatherhead were bound together by rope and did not seem to be responsive at all. The amount of blood and the muzzle on the alligator told the assassins that the two had not only been found out but had been put through the ringer for their deceit. She clenched her jaw seeing not only Neko standing next to their informants but Ryuu was there as well as the camera slowly moved to show who was on the other end of the call.

“Do I have your attention now, you traitorous whelps,” the elderly leader of the Black Lotus spoke in a cold and calculated tone. He let out an amused chuckle seeing all of the glares he was receiving. “It would seem that I do. It looks like I have the attention of some other pests as well.”

“I'll show you pests, you old pruned bastard!” Casey got closer as if he would be able to reach through the monitors and grab at the old man that was irking him.

“That won't help, Casey.” Leonardo could tell that the insults had caused a little agitation in the old man and the turtle put his hand on Casey's shoulder to reign him in. Seeing the shape the two captives were in spoke loud and clear that the caller was not one to be messed with.

“What do you want, Hisoka?” Arietta kept her glare trained on the screen knowing that her former boss was up to a scheme. She growled low as the man let out a laugh that bordered on the insane.

“That's what I've always like about you, Arietta. You're always so eager to please me,” Hisoka did not acknowledge the growl that was coming from the red masked turtle. He looked at the camera giving his burgundy neck tie a quick adjustment before clearing his throat. It was as if he was preparing to conduct simple business rather than dish out malicious threats. “As you have clearly seen, we don't take kindly to traitors with in the Black Lotus. The four of you, I'm sure, are well aware of the consequences of treason with in our organization. However, I'm willing to stay my hand at an impromptu live execution for a price.”

“Always the opportunist. Let's hear it then. What price did you have in mind?” Dorian did not like the feelings he was getting with all of this. Seeing the states both Cicero and Leatherhead were in was enough to send him on a manhunt already. He could see that Donatello had gone to the keyboard undetected, no doubt working to get the exact location of the call. Hisoka at that moment seemed to be none the wiser about it.

“I'm pleased that you asked, Dorian. I propose a trade of equal value. Your half-sister there is a highly wanted young woman at the moment. I have a dear close friend that would very much like to be reunited with his daughter. I'm willing to give both Cicero and Leatherhead their lives and freedom for Arietta,” he was completely smug as he spoke the terms. He made it sound as if there was no way of finding any sort of loop hole to what he demanded of them.

“Fuck that,” Raphael stepped closer to put himself right behind Ari and to emphasize his retort he wrapped his arm around to rest on her collar bone and pulled her against him gently. Arietta made sure to keep the blush from her cheeks as she grabbed a hold of his arm to ease his anger.

"Hisoka you have some nerve making demands and trying to pass it off like you're taking a huge loss," Calliope knew they had to stall for more time so the call could be traced successfully. She could see from her peripheral that Donnie was working as quickly as he could and gave no pause.

"Oh, but I have taken some significant losses thanks to the four of you. I knew from the second I took all of you under my care that eventually you would turn on me. The moment you were given the contracts to take care of those four turtles, I knew there was finally a way to get rid of you once and for all. I would never have imagined that none of you would kill one another and that instead, you would help each other. I find it a little poetic that you all are becoming closer. It disgusts me," Hisoka sneered and the rage behind his eyes told all of them that he was losing his composure.

“You're the disgusting one,” Lyra chimed in having more than a few choice words for the man. “Pretending that you were a saint by taking us in!”

“If I had the choice all of those years ago I would have made sure to give you children the same deaths that I gave to your parents. Maybe then Shiori's vow of revenge would not be coming true like it seems to be now.”

The four assassins tensed at Hisoka's confession. They had thought after digging up the hidden truth of their parents' deaths that is had been a group of assassins or even previous members of the Elite Eight that were around at the time that killed their parents. Never did it cross their minds to even bat an eye at the possibility of the man who saved them was the murderer. Arietta grabbed on to Raphael's arm more as she took a slow shaky breath in.

“You will have the deal if a few of my conditions are met, Hisoka.” Arietta felt the arm around her tense but she did not back down. She kept her eyes on him and she smirked seeing his eyes flick to someone that was off camera in front of him. This being the third time since the call started he had slipped up made her grin slightly. The view of Cicero and Leatherhead bound with Neko and Ryuu guarding their captives in the background behind Hisoka tipped her off that someone else was there he did not want them to see. “We'll start off by ending the games. I know you're trying to trace the call to find out where we're staying.”

“As I'm more than certain you are doing the same since I know there are four turtles while I only see three.” Hisoka made a motion to the person behind the camera to stop just as Lyra pulled Donatello closer to her and kept pressed against his side to try and ease her building anxiety. Hisoka looked back to the screen as someone in a lab coat walked on camera behind him and then off with the sound of a door closing shortly after. “What are your terms, Arietta?”

“My first condition is that I will have two of the ninjas with me to make the exchange. No more and no less.”

“I am alright with that condition. Next?”

“I want for Cicero and Leatherhead to be relieved of their tracking devices safely and deactivated on site to ensure their lives are no longer under your control.” Arietta was being pretty calm and collected with her demands as she spoke them out. She could only keep herself from losing herself in what they learned by holding on to Raphael as a sort of anchor.

“I can have that arranged,” Hisoka's quick cooperation was making all of them highly suspicious of the old man. Arietta narrowed her eyes finding the man was beginning to anger her more.

“I want no harm to come to anyone of my friends or family before or even after the exchange. Once I'm in your custody you are not to carry out or issue any type of pursuit on any of them. They are to have complete immunity from the Black Lotus which also extends to the sharing of any intelligence to any outside organizations, syndicates, clans of any sort.” Arietta did not need to look to know that her siblings were staring at her in light of what she just demanded in great detail. She was determined to make sure they were all safe no matter what. She had to bite back another smirk seeing that Hisoka was more agitated now.

“Very well, you have my word, Arietta. Now, if there are-”

“I have no more conditions to be met but I would like to speak to Ryuu and Neko for a brief moment before we wrap this up.” Arietta openly smirked now as Hisoka let out a muffled growl. He said nothing as he took the phone over to the guards and handed it off. The on that wore the forest green and white dragon mask held the phone up.

The armor made Ryuu look just as deadly as the Quintus siblings with the blacks and forest greens yet, the armor still had enough elegance to suggest that Ryuu was female. Neko in skin tight armor of blacks and grays that left no doubt of masculinity moved closer to be on camera with Ryuu. The white and gray cat mask was a little unsettling to see with the painted on Cheshire grin.

“What do you want, Kitsune?” Ryuu's voice got both Calliope and Dorian on alert as if the sound of it jarred something in them. The three assassins moved closer to Arietta's side as Raphael gently removed his arm. The four ninjas now stood behind the assassins as if to show the bond of protection all of them had.

“I want to have extra assurance that Hisoka will keep to his words. I would like for the two of you to swear to me on your senses of honor and of justice that my conditions will be met and no more harm will come to Cicero and Leatherhead.” The group watched as the two assassins on the screen looked at one another for a moment. It was as if they were having an entire conversation with their eyes alone before they looked to the camera again.

“We swear,” Ryuu replied and they both bowed their heads slightly only to straighten up and see that all ten of the group on the call had bowed in return. This had surprised them both but the phone was hastily taken from Ryuu and a very angry Hisoka showed on the screen.

“You think you're so clever, don't you?” Hisoka sneered and Arietta could not stop the smug grin from appearing on her features.

“Like a fox.”

“Two days time and we will make the exchange at the old City Hall subway station. Midnight on the dot or their lives are forfeit.” The call was ended but the tension was still lingering in the air. A soft beeping went off that caught everyone's attention and Donatello moved over to the keyboard he was on earlier to silence the alarm.

“They're already in New York. The call was coming from a building downtown.” He looked to the group having a feeling that they had been located as well.

"Don't worry. Hisoka may be the evilest man on the face of this planet but he will keep to his word." Lyra smiled but it was not filled with the usual cheeriness that Donnie was used to seeing. He could tell she was on the verge of tears.

“Please forward the coordinates to my phone,” Ari grabbed her cell and unhooked it from the computer before she put it in her pocket. “Dorian, we're going to go scope it out and make sure he doesn't try to double cross us.”

"You've got it," Dorian responded rather quickly and sternly before heading toward the room to get his Assassin garb on. Calliope quickly grabbed Arietta's shoulder to keep her from following their brother.

“Don't try a rescue attempt. Lyra and I will be here to defend if we have to but don't you dare go in the building.” Calliope kept her eyes on her sister and once she got the nod she watched her sister disappear into the room to change. Her dark purple eyes locked on to Casey and April right after knowing the two of them had been there for the entire conversation. “You two need to go home. If they try anything I don't want you to be in danger right off the bat.”

“Yeah, that's a pretty good idea,” Casey looked to April and they exchanged glances before she went to gather her jacket and bag. Casey was about to follow but a thought crossed his mind that gave him pause. “Do you want us to take Nanni and Splinter with us? We can keep them both at our place until you give us the word that it's safe to bring them back.”

“Please? If that isn't too much?” Calliope's voice was a mixture of relief and sorrow as she pleaded gently. Casey smiled before putting his hand on her shoulder giving a comforting squeeze.

“I wouldn't have offered if it was.” He gave her a wink before heading to the same room Dorian and Arietta had gone to with the set task to grab the child and some clothing. Mikey smiled and pulled Callie against him in a gentle hug. He chuckled a little and pressed a light kiss on the top of her head.

“Already looking out for my dad, huh?” He teased and let out a laugh when she playfully smacked his shell as she was hugging him.

“I know he taught you all how to fight but, it's more so they'll have added protection if someone happens to be watching and follows. I don't think that will happen.” She murmured softly and closed her eyes taking in the moment of comfort.

“Hey, it's better to be over prepared than caught with your pants down right?” Mikey grinned as Callie pulled back enough to look at him with a raised brow. She let out a laugh and pressed her forehead against his.

“You're such a goofball. I love it.” She gave his forehead a quick kiss and pulled back from him but she paused when she felt a hand on her shoulder getting her attention. She looked up at Leo who seemed to be in a planning mode as well.

"Raph and I are going to go with Ari and Dorian as support. Mikey and Donnie will stay here to help you and Lyra on the home front." Leo spoke in a gentle tone but the commanding tone of a leader was still there as well. Callie gave a nod before looking at her little sister who was staring at the monitors. Callie grabbed a hold of Lyra's hand and lead her to the bedroom so they too could get geared up so they could be prepared just in case they would need to defend their new home.

~~~~~~~~
The rain was a downpour in the city that never sleeps. Dorian and Leo kept to the shadows of the building rooftop that over looked the three story that the signal had come from. The New York City branch of the Black Lotus looked like every other business establishment in the city, serving as one hell of a cover for what really went on inside. The two males had not really exchanged words from the moment they arrived on the building. Dorian kept his hood down but his mask was sitting on top just underneath, ready to be pulled down over his face at a moment's notice. The lights of the city made his eyes glow with a silver that looked like they were doing the illuminating on their own as he kept them locked on the building.

Leo could just barely tell where Raphael and Arietta were hiding on a building across the way. When he was not stealing a glance at the assassin next to him he was making sure the two hotheads were not trying to make a move to bust in the building they were watching. He tensed a moment when his eyes were locked with Dorian's causing him to swallow thickly since he had been caught trying to sneak another glance. Dorian let out an amused chuckled before he turned his attention to the building once more.

"If you take a picture it would last longer, fearless," Dorian teased as he shifted in his spot to make himself a little more comfortable. The only reason he had been able to catch the leader in blue looking was that he had been sneaking looks himself. He let out a chuckle when the turtle pulled down the raccoon mask over his face. He lifted it back up and looked to Leo with a playful grin. "I'm only teasing you."

“Am I that easy to tease?” Leo gave Dorian a sideways glance trying to keep the smile off of his face. The surprized look on the assassin's face broke his concentration and he let the smile appear on the back end of a laugh. “See? I can do the teasing all the same.”

Dorian gave Leo a playful shove to the side as the two of them shared in the laughter. He could feel his cheeks were burning with a blush and at that moment was grateful for the cover of the shadows. He shook his head as they settled back down again and he could feel a rising guilt of having dragged Leo and his family into the mess with the Black Lotus. Taking a deep breath he moved from the side of the building and pressed his back against a rooftop shed. Closing his eyes and tilting his head back he let the rain drop on to his face.

“Leo, I really am sorry we got all of you mixed up in this.”

"I'm not," Leo was quick to respond which caused Dorian to look at him in shock. Leo was staring down at the target location so he only caught the reaction from his peripheral but it was enough to make him look to the assassin. "I don't regret it and no matter what happens I won't regret it. I'm glad you and your sisters came to us grateful even that the four of you showed up."

"Why?" Dorian tilted his head and for some reason, his heart was racing from the tone Leo was speaking in. He was both scared and excited at the same time with how their conversation was going and where it was possibly going to lead.

"We've been called freaks and monsters. We had the chance to look human and as tempting as it was we pass it up. We accepted what we were and we protect this city and its people even if they would never know us or accept us." Leo moved from the side of their look out point and he slowly advanced toward Dorian. "Then out of nowhere you four show up and have no signs of hate or disgust. You treat us like we aren't different. You accepted us and even if they won't say it out loud I can tell your sisters have some pretty big crushes on my brothers."

Dorian felt like his heart was trying to jump out of his chest. He kept his eyes locked with Leo's as the turtle now stood in front of him just a few inches apart. At that moment Dorian had no idea what to do and words were fighting to both stay in and blurt out.

"T-There is an explanation for that," he cleared his throat so he could get his voice under control before he could continue. "We know what it's like to be feared and treated like we don't have feelings. To hide from humanity out of necessity and to always feel like we're alone. We know how you and your brothers feel, in a kind of kindred spirit sort of way. I can see the feelings growing too but there is nothing I can do to stop it, nor do I want to."

"Amuse me for a minute?" Leo smiled after his question and as Dorian gave a hesitant nod of confusion due to the sudden inquiry he gave a small chuckle. He reached into the pocket of his pants to pull out the open box of strawberry Pocky he had grabbed earlier for their game. He pulled out one stick before putting the box back into the pocket he had retrieved it from. He held the stick up before looking at a now very shocked Dorian. "We still have to play the Pocky game."

Dorian did not even hesitate as he quickly put his hands on each of Leo's cheeks and pulled the turtle to him. The second he felt Leo's lips against his the inferno of emotion engulfed him and he knew with out any shadow of a doubt he had more than a huge crush on Leonardo. His brain took over as a clap of thunder sounded and he slowly let go of Leo's face while pulling from the kiss. Another clap of thunder boomed around them and the assassin was given yet another shock from the ninja.

Leo grabbed Dorian in the same fashion he had been grabbed and he claimed the man's lips with his own. The kiss lasted a lot longer than the first and thanks to the gasp that left Dorian's lips parted slightly, this kiss was fueled with much more emotion and passion. The need for air was the only thing that broke the kiss and as the two panted they stared into each other's eyes. Dorian let out a laugh and lowered his head to where his forehead rested against the nape of Leo's neck. Leo smiled at the man laughing at him as his hands now rested on Dorian's shoulder.

“They really were playing cupid.”

“Who?” The statement had confused the turtle since it was not what he had expected to hear. Dorian lifted his head up and raised a brow at Leonardo with a teasing smirk.

“Rara and Mikey. I'm officially calling them the Prank Team from now on.” He chuckled a bit as he grabbed Leo's hands from off of his shoulders and gently held them. “Look, I know it's sudden but-”

“I've got a crush on you too, Dee.” Leo interrupted and bit back the laugh seeing Dorian's eyes become a bit wider from shock. He pressed his forehead against the assassin's and closed his eyes as he gave Dorian's hands a slight squeeze. “No rush. We'll take it one day at a time. This is new to me and probably just as new to you.”

"Yeah, but at the same time it all feels so right." Dorian chuckled giving Leo's hands a squeeze back. "I agree, no rush and no time limit."

"I think I'm gonna puke. How 'bout you, Ari?" Raphael's voice snapped the two males back to their surroundings and they quickly parted from each other. They had not even heard or noticed that Raph and Ari had been behind them and the grins on their faces told Leo and Dorian just how much they heard and saw.

"I think I might have diabetes now with how sweet that was." Arietta chuckled seeing how red her brother's face turned and could see Leo's face change hue in no doubt a blush as well. She tapped her mask that sat in the same fashion her brother's mask was in with a devious grin. "You turned your comm on when you put your mask back up, goofball."

“Damn it!” Dorian pulled his mask down and crossed his arms trying to hide his embarrassment behind it. “W-What are you two doing over here anyway?”

“There ain't anythin' goin' on. Ari suggested we head back home.” Raph gave a shrug figuring that was as good of an answer as any.

"If Hisoka makes a move I think Neko and Ryuu will either put a stop to it or send us the word." Arietta pulled down her mask and turned to head back the way they had originally traveled to get to the location. "When I get back I plan to get a few shots down. Calm my damn nerves."

She did not give any of them a second to say anything as she took off across the rooftops. Dorian quickly grabbed his naginata from the roof and took off after his sister. Just as Raph got ready to take off after the assassins he felt his brother grab his shoulder. He looked back at his brother and eased a little seeing the look in Leo's eyes. He knew there were so many questions running through his brother's mind so Raph reached up giving Leo's hand a couple of pats.

“Don't over think it, fearless. If the two of ya are happy then awesome. That's all that matters ya know? As for Ari,” Raph moved his hand from on top of Leo's as he looked in the direction the two were headed in. “She's torn up seein' her friends like that. She doesn't know how to react and she's kind of locked it up. Probably why she wants to drown it out. I'm not gonna let her get bad though.”

“You're worried about her.” Leo moved and stood next to Raph glancing at him. He could see it in those bright golden green eyes of his no matter how hard the hothead was trying to hide it.

“Yeah, I'm worried. Ya worry about someone ya really like right?” Raph offered Leo a small smirk and the second he saw his brother's eyes widened in the slightest he took off running to catch up with Dorian and Arietta. Leo stood there dumbfounded at what Raph had just admitted. As lightning flashed he shook his head letting out a small chuckle.

“I'll be damned.” He muttered to himself and once thunder rolled out he took off after them to head back home knowing the weather was getting ready to pick up more.

 

Chapter Text

The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” - Kurt Cobain

 

Down in the basement level of the building that housed the New York branch of the Black Lotus was eerily quiet for the night. The echo of high heels clicking on the linoleum tile had cut through the silence as Ryuu made her way to the room that she was assigned any time she was in this region. She was careful not to let the door slam in front of her when she closed it and she exhaled in anger right after the door carefully latched.

“Did you know, Yukina?” The dragon masked woman spun around with a small gasp and seeing an unmasked Neko sitting on the edge of her bed instantly relaxed her.

"Damn it, Kazuto. How many times must I ask you not to sneak up on me like that?" Yukina removed her hood to shake out her straight waist length dark brown hair before she took off her dragon mask. Flipping on the light switch she walked to the small table and set the mask down on it before she claimed a seat in the rolling desk chair. Her violet eyes looked over to her bed to see Kazuto's golden eyes staring right at her.

“Did you know about what Hisoka told the kids tonight?” The older silver haired male pressed again for the answers he was desperately seeking. The way Hisoka spoke to the Quintus children and their friends left a sour taste in his mouth. Yukina closed her eyes and turned her head slightly to hide the sorrow on her face from him.

“No, I'm just as shocked as you with what we learned tonight. If I would have known that Hisoka was the one to end my sister's life,” she clenched her fists in her lap not sure how to hand what all had been revealed in so little time. Kazuto got himself off the bed and went over to her, placing his hand on her shoulder in some comfort.

“We may not be able to change the past but, we can help safeguard the future.” He offered a rare smile when looked up at him.

“If Hisoka finds out.”

“To hell with Hamada Hisoka and his corruption of power! I guarantee you that if we had let ourselves be closer to those children we would be right out there with them.” Kazuto let go of her shoulder and he took a step back from her. “Hell, we would probably be in the same boat at Karasu and Leatherhead right now.”

Yukina stood up keeping her eyes away from his as she picked up her mask from the table. She held it in her hands a moment before a scowl crossed her features. She had made her resolve as the two of them put their masks back on. Yukina pulled out her phone dialing up a phone number before giving Kazuto a nod. As she patched the call to their communication devices in their masks the two quickly took off out of the room and made their way to the medical bay.


 

"I still can't believe he admitted it right then and there!" Lyra had herself draped on the arm of the couch in her armor. Her head resting against the cushions from the sheer boredom of having to wait around. "I mean, does he seriously think we won't try and get revenge?"

“I have a feeling he only told the truth to get us to make the first move.” Calliope was sitting in front of the coffee table mixing up several different powders from her collection of extracts and plants. Mikey was sitting next to her watching the assassin work with full interest.

“Which proved more on just how much of an idiot he truly is,” Dorian's voice caught all of their attention making Lyra jump up from the couch. As the four that had gone on surveillance made their way into the living room, Donatello came in with several glass vials that he set on the table for Calliope. He straightened himself and looked to the group that had returned not really liking the solemn looks they all had in that moment.

“Uneventful, I take it?” His mouth set into a hard line when he got nods of confirmation. Donatello had a gut feeling that the night was far from over, that something was brewing with the storm outside. His gut proved right as a phone rang out cutting the silence but, this time it was not Arietta's phone that was ringing. With a look of confusion, Dorian pulled out his phone from one of his pouches and with out hesitating he answered the call making sure to put it on speaker so they could all hear.

“Tanuki where are you and the others right now?” Ryuu's voice did not sound as calculating or mistrusting as it had been during the video call earlier. Dorian looked to everyone as they gathered around but he did not answer her until Arietta gave the go ahead by way of a nod.

"We're all here at the place where we are hiding at. Ryuu what's going on?" The sounds of low groans in the background of the call were not easing any of their nerves at that particular moment.

“I can't fully explain it at the moment. Neko and I need you to meet us in Central Park and make sure you bring that armored truck with you.”

"Wait a minute Ryuu are you guys going against Hisoka's orders? Are you going rogue?!" Arietta's eyes were full of worry hearing the request of the Assassin was wanting to be fulfilled. The lack of reply was just about all the confirmation they needed to head for the garbage truck. "We'll be there shortly. Please just be careful."

“You all do the same. The storm has picked up so the roads may be pretty nasty,” Neko mused in an almost teasing and compassionate tone, which was rather odd for the Quintus siblings to hear. The second they were all in the truck they could hear the ringing of alarms from the phone's speaker which caught all of their attention once more.

“What the hell's goin' on?!” Raph braced himself as the truck started moving and all that could be heard on the phone call was more alarms and shouting. Arietta took Dorian's phone and patched the call through to all of their comm links with just a few presses of some buttons.

"Neko? Ryuu? What's happening?" Arietta handed the phone back to Dorian after pulling her mask down and motioning for her siblings to do the same. As gunshots started ringing out the group got a little tenser. Then shortly after gunshots came the deep guttural roar of a very angry animal that was followed by the sounds of screams and yells.

“See?! That's why you don't piss off the alligator!” A very familiar voice came over the speakers and Arietta got to her feet excitedly bracing her hand against the inside wall of the truck she was closest to.

“Cicero!”

"Yeah, it's me, amata. Leatherhead is buying enough time so I'm getting my gear on." The tire squealed as Donatello turned shard down a road, the rain had not let up at all just as Neko had mentioned. Arietta cursed softly but not from having been nearly knocked off of her feet but rather because the call had become nothing but a hiss of static before cutting off completely.

“Sorry, I remembered a short cut. We're nearly there,” Donnie had looked over his shoulder to make the quick apologetic update before he turned his attention back to the road.

“We'd better be prepared for anything. They might have a few following them.” Leo kept his eyes locked on the road feeling the adrenaline pumping after the call had been dropped.

“Why are they going rogue like this? Why now?” Lyra looked to Arietta who found herself a better position to keep herself standing as the truck kept going.

“I don't know why for sure but I'm pretty positive that it has something to do with what Hisoka confessed with them right there.” Arietta leaned her head back letting out a sigh of annoyance.

“Did they know your parents or something?” Michelangelo leaned forward resting his arms on his thighs hoping to get a little bit more information on all of the assassins.

"Yeah, they must have known them. Considering that our mother's code name was Hebi and our father was Tora," Calliope explained and was pretty sure that was the only connection. Her eyes widened behind her mask and she snapped her attention to the front to look at the driver. "Hey, Don? When you went through the files you and Lyra recovered did you happen to find anything on the Elite Eight?"

“There was a whole dossier on the group that had lists of old and new code names.” Donnie kept one hand on the wheel as he unhooked the tablet from his thigh before passing it back. Lyra took it knowing exactly which file he was referring to. “There were a few that I never found any records of what had happened to them. They just vanished with out a trace.”

“That doesn't really surprise any of us,” Dorian spoke up leaning closer to Lyra to watch her go through the files. “When you aren't known to the world it's so much easier to erase all traces that you ever really existed at all.”

“Even if Hisoka is one of the ones still around?” Lyra looked up and could tell just seeing Dorian's eyes that he was shocked. She pointed to a name on the list showing him what she meant. “The only ones from the original founding members of the Elite Eight are Ryuu, Neko, and Sasori. I remember from glancing over Hisoka's file that his code name used to be Sasori before he took over as head of the Black Lotus.”

"How fitting. I'll bet he had a hand in all of them suddenly vanishing," Dorian's voice was full of disdain as he shook his head to look away from the tablet.

“How is it fitting?” Mikey tilted his head in a bit of confusion by what Dorian was saying. He felt a gentle pressure on his shoulder and when he looked at Calliope he could tell even with the mask on she was smiling at him.

“His code name means scorpion in Japanese,” she moved her hand away and looked at her feet after giving him the translation.

"More fitting that Kaeru was the first to go on the list. Kaeru meaning frog of course," Lyra went to the front and carefully put Donnie's tablet back into the holder for it on his thigh making sure to clip it back in place so it would not fall off.

“I think we might need a little more of an explanation than just a few names,” Leo had been just as confused as his little brother and he raised a brow when Lyra chuckled at what he had said.

"Care to tell the story, Dorian?" Lyra stayed standing beside the driver's seat as she looked back at her brother who gave a small chuckle himself. "The shortened version would probably do it."

“Right. A scorpion and a frog met on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks the scorpion, 'How do I know you won't sting me?' The scorpion replied, 'because if I do, I too will die.' The frog was satisfied with the scorpion's words and they set out.” Dorian settled himself back as the truck came to a stop. Once the engine was shut off he cleared his throat knowing they were all listening intently to the story now.

“Midstream the frog felt a sharp pain and saw the scorpion had stung him. The frog could feel the onset of paralysis and they started to sink. The frog has just enough time to ask the scorpion why he stung him knowing that they would both die. 'It's my nature,' was the scorpion's reply.” Dorian stood up stretching out and waiting for their next move.

“That's a horrible story,” Mikey crossed his arms and his brows furrowed trying to think of why the story fit the situation and the code names they had explained about earlier.

"I really hate that story," Arietta chimed in from where she stood at. She tensed seeing all eyes on her and she shook her head. "Neither one of the morals are pleasant to use in any given situation. You're aware of your habits and will admit to having the habits you falsely promise to go against even if it is your very nature to go right back to what you're comfortable with. Thus making you a scorpion. The frog is a warning not to naively trust someone who promises to go against their natural instinct either."

“It does have a lasting impact though,” Leo chuckled and gave a shake of his head as he leaned back in the front passenger seat that he was sitting in. “I don't like the story either but I can see where it could be used to make someone think before they act. That being said just by seeing Hisoka and hearing him talk I can tell you he's a scorpion through and through.”

“Agreed. There is no changing him or diverting him from the path he's chosen.” Arietta looked to Lyra who at that moment had her hands clenched tightly at her sides. She was dangerously close to activating her hidden blades on both of her wrists. “Lyra are you alright?”

"You know how I feel about taking someone's life," the youngest Assassin's voice was shaky as she spoke out. Donatello grabbed a hold of one of her hands in his and held it tight to help ease her even just a little. She gripped it back and reached up with her free hand to raise her mask up to reveal her face. Her siblings had been expecting to see tears but instead, they were met with pure rage. "What he confessed to earlier and knowing he's going to stop at nothing to keep the Black Lotus the way he has it now proves that he's nothing but a monster. I will plunge the dagger in his heart myself if I have to and I won't shed a single tear or feel any regret when he dies."

The realization hit the Assassins in more ways that one. To hear that their anchor to humanity was all but ready to end a life at a second's notice was their resolve. Arietta took a slow deep breath as Lyra pulled her rabbit mask back over her face again. To hear a thundering book echo from the city was nothing short of panic worthy. Dorian knew that the storm was not the source of the sound that rattled the truck. Everyone hastily exited the truck and the demolitions expert saw what he had hoped was an illusion of some sort.

Smoke was billowing from the direction that the New York Assassin's branch was located. The wailing of sirens that echoed all around them solidified the fact that the building had indeed just exploded as the emergency crews raced to the call. The sounds were almost chaotic enough to drown out the ringing of the call if it had not been for the earpieces and volumes.

“Tell me you guys made it out of the building before the explosion,” Arietta tried keeping the worry out of her tone as she waited for an answer from the caller.

“Think of that as our letters of resignation to Hisoka. Turn around, mia amata,” Cicero chuckled out a bit from his joke and even let the laughter out freely seeing the group turn around in their direction. As they all made their way over Leatherhead was carefully helped to sit on the ground by both Neko and Ryuu. The alligator blinked his eyes opened and smiled seeing the Quintus siblings once more.

“My friends,” his voice was nearly quiet as he managed to say those two words before his world went black. His body slumping over in the rain soaked grass of Central Park.

 

Chapter Text

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift... that's why they call it the present.” - Master Oogway

 

“Leatherhead!” Calliope quickly rushed over to the alligator that abruptly passed out before them. She pressed her fingers to the side of his neck and let out a sigh of relief when she could feel his pulse thumping as normal.

“He took quite a few tranquilizer darts on the way out. He told us to use him as a shield so we'd all make it out of there in one piece.” Neko sat himself down on the grass trying to catch his breath from their daring escape.

“Ow!” Cicero's sudden shout got all eyes on the Italian raven masked assassin that at the current was rubbing the back of his head. Arietta was standing slightly beside him looking more than agitated even with her mask on.

“That was for getting caught, you idiot!” She crossed her arms and looked to the side staring out into the scenery of the park. “I'm glad you all made it out alive though.”

"That's a hell of a way to show it." Cicero lifts his mask to rest on top of his head showing that his face was completely unmarred, unlike the way it was in the video call. Donatello raised a brow and looked to the resting alligator seeing that all of his injuries were completely gone as well.

“Regeneration serum,” Ryuu answered having been staring at the turtle after his reaction to the lack of injuries. “It was manufactured to speed up the healing process quickly. The less time spent in the medical war means more contracts can be filled.”

"That explains just one of the many questions we have for you." Donnie looked back toward the road hearing, even more, sirens and the booming of thunder as the storm continued. It did not seem like they were really in the safest place to get any of their answers. "We should have enough in the truck to load everyone in."

“I hate to be the one to inform you that it won't be safe where you all live for very long. Hisoka left on a private flight back to Tokyo shortly after the phone call.” Neko was looking at the ground not too thrilled about giving them such bad news. “He knows the location of your hideout and has every intention to return with some secret guard of his to wipe all of you out in just two weeks.”

"Secret guard? He's had a secret guard all this time?" The skeptical tone of Dorian's voice made Neko look up to him.

“He's had it since the day he took over as leader of the clan.” Neko let out a soft sigh and got up from sitting on the grass.

“It will be safe for now. We need to get out of this storm and out of plain sight.” Leo gave Raph's arm a nudge before nodding his head toward the unconscious Leatherhead. The two got the large mutant to his feet and carefully carried him to the garbage truck with everyone following after them. They were all ready to get the hell away from the chaos that was brewing so dangerously close by.


 

Leatherhead was safely laid out on Dorian's bed so he could sleep off the effects of the tranquilizers peacefully. Raphael and Leonardo went to the living room to join the rest of the group as the Quintus siblings and Cicero all removed their masks and hoods. Leo could see that Neko and Ryuu both were a little hesitant in doing the same.

“We have a lot of questions for the two of you and it would make us feel a bit at ease to see your faces while we talk." Leo crossed his arms not wanting to back down on his suggestion. Neko chuckled lightly and removed his hood first to reveal his short shaggy silver hair. Removing the cat mask from his face showed a middle-aged Japanese man with slightly bronze skin and eerily golden eyes. He gave a bow towards all of them before straightening himself up again.

"My name is Ueda Kazuto, code name Neko and one of the founding members of the Elite Eight in the Black Lotus clan." He gave a warm and gentle smile to the group before looking to Ryuu giving her a nod of encouragement. The woman gave a gentle sigh that caused both Calliope and Dorian to move closer. They were both transfixed on her as she first removed her hood to let down her long dark brown hair. The two youngest females got closer to their siblings in curiosity since the eldest seemed to be acting strangely. Ryuu hesitated a few seconds more before she slowly removed her dragon mask to reveal her porcelain skin and tear-filled violet eyes.

"M-Mom?" Dorian had taken a small step toward her and his sisters stared in equal shock as the woman smiled sadly to them. Kazuto looked at the woman in confusion at her reaction before his eyes widened realizing that who he thought to be Yukina for all these years had in fact been Shiori, her twin.

"I am exactly who you think I am." She felt her tears fall before she was quickly pulled by her arm into Dorian's embrace. He held her tightly and buried his face to hide his own tears as Shiori wept against his chest. Calliope and Lyra both claimed one side of their brother and added to the tearful reunion. Arietta opted to keep her distance to allow her family their moment which did not go unnoticed by the four ninjas. As the four embracing assassins went to their knees on the floor she turned away and silently headed for the kitchen. Raphael gave Leonardo a glance before he followed after her, hoping they would stall any conversations of importance until their return.

He kept silent as he watched Arietta grab down several cups for the hot tea. She had even busied herself with going through all the different flavors, no doubt grabbing out ones for each individual. As she got the kettles started on the stove he could see her strong front was starting to waiver at the sounds of her sniffling. Furrowing his brows, Raph quietly made his way over to her and without much thinking, he spun her around and pulled her against him in a comforting hug.

"Not somethin' ya were ready for huh?" He rests his chin on top of her head as she shook it gently in a negative manner. He gave a small chuckle while he rubbed her back, he could feel her fighting to keep her crying silent. "Yeah, I don't think it'd be easy findin' out your mom's been alive this whole time."

"She probably still hates me," that quieted statement damn near made his heartbreak for her since he understood fully why she would come to that conclusion. He gently pulled her away from his plastron and held her shoulder in one hand while lifting her chin up with the other to get her to look at him.

“I have a hard time believin' she'd have any hate toward ya, Arietta.” He gave her a soft smile and wanted nothing more than to wipe her tears away. “No parent could hate their kid completely and if any of your stories are true about her then I don't think she has any hate for ya at all.”

“Raphael is right,” Shiori's gentle voice snapped the two around to look at her as she stood there with a smile on her face. Another batch of tears rimmed her eyes as she looked right at her daughter. “I could never ever hate you, my little Ari.”

“Mamma.” Arietta let her tears fall without a fight and Raphael gently nudged her forward which caused the girl to quickly go into her mother's open arms. Shiori gently rocked her now sobbing daughter in her embrace while her lips pressed to her temple several times in consoling kisses. As the kettles began whistling that the water was ready, Raph turned off the burners while Arietta wiped away her tears. Shiori chuckled softly as she held her daughter's face in her hands.

"I am so sorry that I couldn't come out sooner. All of you have grown up so much and I'm so very proud of you." She placed a kiss on her daughter's forehead before she pulled back with a smile. Arietta had a small blush on her cheeks before she got out of her mother's embrace and went over to Raphael, pulling him by his arm gently so he would be standing beside her in front of her mother.

"Mom, this is Raphael. Raph this is my mom, Shiori." Arietta gave a small smile with the blush still on her cheeks as she gave the introduction. She knew it was not completely necessary but still it felt like to her something she needed and very much wanted to do.

"Um... it's an honor to meet ya, ma'am." Raph offered out his hand to shake hers but he got quite the shock when the woman pulled him into a hug instead.

“Likewise Raphael and thank you.” Shiori pulled away from the hug and let out a small laugh seeing the look of shock on the turtle. She gave her daughter a wink before she went over to pour the water for all of the tea.

"Sorry, I guess my mom is the hugging type." Ari gave Raph a wink as he recovers from his initial shock only to get a smirk from him in return.

"Well, now I know for in the future." He placed one of his hands against her cheek and stroke the reddening flesh softly as he stared into her eyes. Shiori made her way out of the kitchen with the tray full of teas and Arietta had every intention to follow after her mother to give her a hand. Raph had something else in mind as he grabbed her face carefully and pulled her into a kiss. Her hands came up to hold onto his wrists as she let herself indulge in the kiss for a moment.

“Get a room you two,” Cicero's voice broke the couple's moment and they parted rather quickly which made Cicero go into a fit of laughter, especially after seeing the blushes on their face after being caught. “That was just too easy!”

"Cicero!" Arietta growled out and quickly pounced the red-haired assassin, grinding her knuckles against the top of his head. He was not crying out in any pain but rather laughing even more instead, willingly taking his punishment. He grabbed her arms holding her on him in piggyback fashion when he felt he had enough.

"I was told to come get the two of you so we can get on with the questions and answers." He looked at Raph giving a playful grin to the turtle. That grin slowly turned into a smile and he helped Arietta off of his back before looking at her. "You go on ahead, mia amata, we'll be right behind you."

Arietta looked at him a little skeptical before turning her attention to Raphael. He gave her a grin as he crossed his arms before nodding his head once at her as a sign of confirmation to what Cicero had said. She smiled and only gave a nod back before heading out of the kitchen leaving the two alone. Cicero waited for a little bit just to make sure he and Raph were truly alone before turning his attention to the massive terrapin. Raph raised a brow and the grin he had disappeared even though Cicero kept his smirk.

"I see you've stake claim to Arietta," the tone the young man spoke in was slightly teasing and yet held a bit of jealousy in it. Raph scowled a little but not because of the way the guy had spoken, it was more because of what the words he chose.

“She's a person ya know not some object,” Raph growled out not really appreciating how Cicero was speaking about Arietta nor was he enjoying how their private conversation was going so far.

“Easy there big guy, I was only testing to see how you viewed women. Safe to say we agree that they are no objects to be bought, sold, bartered, owned, et cetera.” Cicero held his hands up to show he was not posing any threat toward the turtle. Raph kept his glare not liking Cicero anymore or less than he did when he first met him. The assassin was gaining no real points fast with the ninja.

"Enough with the testin' and messin' around. Do ya go a point to all this or can we get back out there?" He was already catching on pretty quickly with a few of the ways the assassins gained a feel for someone. He did not really enjoy the games or having to jump through hoops, to begin with so it was more than agitating when anyone tried to force him.

“Straight to the point then,” Cicero got serious in that moment and looked at Raphael with an almost hard to read expression. “I want to say congratulations on your sudden relationship with Arietta, whatever it may be. I will admit that I am highly jealous but I promise you that I won't try to do anything to get between the two of you.”

“Not sure what to say to that.”

"You don't have to say anything. I'm grateful, to be honest. You've changed her just in the small amount of time you've been around her. She's actually genuinely happy for once. They all are." Cicero smiled and bowed his head slightly for a moment before nodding in the direction of the living room. "I think time has been stalled enough though."

Raphael did not really say much of anything else to the assassin as they both went back to the living room to join everyone else. Shiori and Kazuto had both claimed the head of the coffee table, sitting on their knees while all the furniture was pretty much occupied. Raph sat on the empty spot on the couch much like he had been earlier for their night of booze. Cicero joined Kazuto and Shiori on the floor sitting on one of the sides of the coffee table and smiled as he was passed a cup of tea.

“So, what did we miss?” Cicero smiled warmly and Shiori gave a small laugh at his question.

“You haven't missed anything, Cicero. We promised to wait until all were present,” a groan sounded from the bedroom for the assassins getting everyone's attention. Leatherhead slightly stumbled holding his head as he made his way out of the doorway of the bedroom. Dorian and Arietta were quick to run over to the alligator just to help steady him.

“Easy, Gater-man,” Dorian got on one side of him as his sister got on the other and he smiled as Leatherhead put his arms around their shoulders to accept their aide.

“My head feels like it's about to split wide open and you know my disdain for that nickname of yours, Dorian Jean Quintus.”

"Yow, the full name. You wound me, sir."

"Cut it out, Dee. Just take it easy here in this chair, Leatherhead. We'll get you something to drink and something for that headache." Arietta smiled gently at the alligator as they helped him down in the chair that Mike and Calliope offered up for him.

"Lyra and Donnie are already on it. Do you mind looking at me a moment, LH?" Calliope got in front of Leatherhead and did a few quick looks of his eyes before giving a firm nod. "Well, other than a headache you seem to be recovering from the tranquilizer fairly well."

"Here, these are altered painkillers. They do the job pretty efficiently for my brothers and I but if you are still in any pain in three hours I can provide you with another dose," Donnie had spoken in his doctor tone as he handed the alligator a couple of tablets. Leatherhead gave a nod as both understanding and as thanks before his eyes widened to see a cup now being held out for him. He looked up to see Lyra holding the warm tea with that gentle bubbly smile he was used to seeing. He took the cup from her and took the pills with a sip of the tea while everyone got themselves comfortably sitting again. Leatherhead looked to the two adults that were now mask-less and his eyes widened seeing the woman that was looking right at him.

“Shiori? I thought you were dead.”

"I knew I wouldn't be able to fool you, my old friend." Shiori bowed her head with a smile and straightened back but let the smile fade from her lips slowly.

“All this time it was Yukina who was actually gone? These emotions are just too difficult to explain.” Leatherhead took a moment and looked to Shiori's children seeing that they were feeling much more emotional turmoil than anyone else had any right to feel. “Why after all this time would you reveal that you're alive? Did their love for you not matter? Did their futures at the hand of that monster not matter?”

"When faced with what is best for you children, a parent must make the hardest decision," all eyes instantly looked over to see Master Splinter standing there with Casey, April who held Nanni in her arms, and a completely new face to everyone but the ninjas.

“Now there's a giant talking alligator?” The new guy looked to Casey and April that both gave him 'we told you so' looks.

“Who's the nerd?” Arietta looked from the stranger to Raph sitting behind her and that question got quite a few laughs from the brothers and Casey as well.

“Calls himself the Falcon,” Raph managed to at least give that answer between his laughs.

“Hardy har har. Very funny guys. Did you tell her to ask that when I showed up?”

“Like we'd know when you'd be coming around, dude.” Mikey grinned teasingly as he helped Casey grab some chairs from the kitchen so there would be some more seating for everyone.

April gently put Nanni down and smiled as the little girl went right over to Arietta and Raphael. As the sleepy child climbed into Raph's lap for comfort, everyone once again found their seats and introductions were made all around. More beverages were made and none were alcohol infused just yet given that the stories they would hear and the emotions that would be tested, the influence of booze would not be needed. The tension was already building with the silence that fell in the room.

So many questions and heavy hearts not quite ready to ask nor answer just yet.

 

Chapter Text

The fabric of fate weaves an endless interconnected pattern in which we are all just threads.” - Master Splinter

 

The silence was almost uncomfortable as everyone sat around in the living room. It seemed at the moment all thoughts were being collected before words could or would be spoken. Arietta was furrowing her brows in deep thought as she analyzed all that had been and now was going on in her life. She took a deep breath in and slowly released it as she placed her teacup on the table in front of her, breaking the silence. Her eyes locked onto her mother as she figured enough waiting had been done and it was about time for answers to be given.

“We were way too young and truthfully too traumatized to remember what happened that night, Mom. I think we've waited long enough to hear all of it from start to end.” Arietta kept her gaze on her mother and all eyes were now focused on her target as well. Nannie was quite content in trying to fall back asleep in Raphael's arms but she seemed to be listening intently to the conversation as well.

“I can't tell you in detail what happened and neither can Kazuto because we were not there to witness it ourselves.”

“Nanni can help,” the small child piped up with such enthusiasm that it got all of their attention.

“How can you help, sweet pea?” Calliope was highly intrigued by this and considering the results of Nanni's help the last time it made her brain come up with all kinds of possibilities. The child had proven to have some kind of metaphysical power after all and they had yet to fully understand what all the toddler was capable of.

"I'm certain she intends to create a sort of psychic link between all of our minds. More than likely to use the memories that we all have to play it to us like a movie. It would be a sufficient way to get all the answers we're looking for at once," Leatherhead carefully explained for the child in a way they would all understand. His expression, however, was not a very good sell to anyone that it was a good idea to even try. Raphael and Arietta both were a bit more reluctant to just give the go-ahead to proceed right off the bat.

“What's the catch, though?”

"The catch, Raphael, is that she'll be completely drained for a day or two. Maybe even more given how many of us there are to connect." Leatherhead took a sip of his drink, not really liking the idea any more than the turtle did to put the child in such a strenuous position.

"Nanni can do it. Nanni wants to help." The little girl looked at everyone around her before she focused on her adopted parents. She gave her best puppy dog eyes that she could to both of them. "P'ease?"

“Oh, can those eyes get any bigger?” Arietta let out a small chuckle and looked to Raphael. “I'm alright with it if you are. She sounds pretty adamant and confident about it.”

"Sounds pretty dangerous," Raph looked from Ari to Nanni who had the pleading look completely trained on him now. He looked up finding the vast ceiling might him more just so he could think a moment. He let out a small chuckle feeling her tapping at his arm to try and get him to look at her. "Alright, alright. Mikey, I swear if you taught 'er this beggin' trick."

"I had nothing to do with that, bro." Mikey was quick to defend himself on that one getting quite a few chuckles from it. Arietta got up from the floor and once she was standing she turned to look at the little girl. With a gentle smile, she half bent and winked at the toddler.

“Alright Nanni, the floor is yours now. Do you need us to do anything special?” The assassin leader waited for an answer and bit back a compulsive urge to respond with an 'aw' when Nanni seemed to think hard while looking around the room. When the child's eyes landed on the meditation platform that Master Splinter usually utilized she beamed happily and pointed towards it.

“Circle!” Ari and just about everyone else looked to where she was pointing at to try and figure out what it was she wanted exactly.

“Want us to sit around it?” She turned back and chuckled when she got a very enthusiastic nod in return. She gave the top of Nanni's head a playful rub to mess up her hair before standing straight up so Raphael would be able to get off of the couch easier.

“Alright ya heard the kiddo,” Raph grabbed up the little girl while he stood up and he put her on one of his shoulders as everyone made their way over to the circular platform. Vern followed April and Casey a little skeptical about the whole thing and was more than happy to let his concerns be heard.

“Alright, when do you guys start poking fun at me that I fell for a pretty good joke?” After he asked his sarcastic questions he damn near instantly regretted it. Seeing how they all had abruptly stopped to look at him made his stomach drop and his face pale slightly. “This is all a joke right?”

"What would make you think it's a joke, Vern?" April was a bit confused having explained just about everything to her longtime friend before they even got to the lair.

“April they look like they're just dressed up like characters from that video game. The alligator isn't really hard to believe considering who our friends are but these guys?” He motioned to all of the other humans in the room. “They look like a bunch of costumed actors and you added in a psychic child?”

"You really are a nerd," Arietta spoke out and Vern looked to her with a challenging glare that instantly put everyone on edge. It was not because Vern was about to do or say anything stupid but more so how either one of the two hotheads of the group would react.

“How much are you getting paid for the acting?”

“EXCUSE ME?!” Arietta questioningly snapped instantly becoming angry with the new guy.

"Vern just sit down and be quiet before we have to drag you out in a body bag." Casey had quickly interjected and was not gentle in getting the former cameraman to sit down with his back to the platform. The vigilante took to Vern's left and April sat on Vern's right just so he would be well out of danger. Raphael helped Nanni onto the top of the platform before taking the last open spot next to Arietta who made sure to sit on the opposite side of the guy who had agitated her to no end.

“Alright, munchkin. We're ready when you are.” Dorian gave Nanni a smile of encouragement and she gave him a fierce nod of determination.

"Eyes clo'ed. Hol' han's," she spoke out in her cute little voice as she instructed them all on what they needed to do. Each of them grabbed the hand of the one next to them and once the circle was complete they closed their eyes one by one. Nanni sat down cross-legged and she too closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened her eyes a moment later they were no longer focused on anything in the physical world around her as she slowly made the mental links between each being in the room. Much like when she used her powers in the medical room to heal, she had a red glow from her eyes and each of them was slightly glowing in the same red as well.


 

Everything was dark for all of them before one by one they appeared in front of each other. They all seemed pretty confused for a moment and Vern looked like he was on the brink of a panic attack. Arietta could see it and could only make a guess that he would back out before they even started which was not an option in her mind. She went right up to him and grabbed his face abruptly to make him look at her eyes.

“Now you know none of this is bullshit. You need to calm down though. Deep breath in, Falcon,” she kept her voice surprisingly calm and a little soothing as the man took in a slow deep breath. “Let it out slowly.”

As Vern let out the breath he kept his eyes on her as a focal point and even repeated the breathing a couple more times at her instruction. He felt himself calm down quite a bit and he cleared his throat in embarrassment.

“I really need to stop doubting what my friends tell me,” he muttered a bit sheepishly and Arietta laughed giving his cheeks a light pat before she backed away from him.

“Nah, it's a good thing to have doubt. Could save your life to doubt what you feel to be untrue or really crazy.” She looked around trying to figure out why it was still dark around them. She furrowed her brows as their surroundings began to change to a vaguely familiar environment.

“Where are we?” Mikey looked around finding the crazy little room to be pretty homey feeling. He went to the window and his eyes widened seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up in the distance of the nocturnal Paris cityscape. He turned around to see each of the Quintus Siblings and their mother in a state of shock. He carefully walked over to Calliope and placed his hand on her shoulder gently seeing her on the brink of tears. “You okay, babe?”

“It's our old home in Paris,” she answered softly and her hand reached up to grip Mikey's hand. It all felt like they were really there when they actually were not. It was only memories after all yet it felt so very real.

"Arietta Rose you get your butt back here! It's bedtime!" The stern voice of a little boy echoed from a room upstairs and they all looked to see a rather young ebony haired girl barreling down the stairs. She ran right at all of them and even passed through some of them as she looked around the living room frantically. Her violet eyes locked onto the secret door of a crawl space in the corner of the room and she quickly hid away.

“That was your hiding spot!” Dorian turned his attention to Arietta who had slightly red cheeks with embarrassment and grinning proudly at the same time.

“Yep, that was my little cubbyhole thank you very much! The one place I could hide and no one knew about it.” She crossed her arms as the blush slowly vanished.

"Not even I or Diego knew about that crawl space." Shiori looked to her daughter not even hiding her tears seeing one of her children so young. Her eyes flicked to the stairs as a young boy came running down. This time it was Dorian who blushed seeing his younger self-looking all over the living room for his sister.

“What are you doing, Dee?” A much younger Calliope stood at the entrance of the living room with her dirty blonde hair in a braid that rests on her shoulder. She was holding a sleeping one-year-old that had the same dirty blonde hair but in tiny pigtails.

"You guys look so cute!" Mikey grinned knowing that would get all of the siblings. Arietta, Dorian, and Lyra looked at him in unison and he laughed seeing they all had blushed. Glancing at Calliope he could see she was blushing too but she was paying attention at the scene trying to figure out when all of this happened and just who's memory they were seeing.

“I'm trying to find Arietta so I can get her back in bed before Mom and Dad get home.” The little boy huffed and gave up his search entirely.

“Don't worry about it, Dee. You know how stubborn she is when she isn't sleepy. I need to put Lyra to be and we need to get in bed too.”

"You hear that, Ari? We're going to bed without you. If you don't want to get in trouble you'd better get upstairs to bed before our parents get home," little Dorian called out in a teasing voice before the three blonde children went upstairs. The door to the crawl space opened just enough that they could see little Arietta peeking through the crack for a moment.

“This is my memory,” Arietta spoke softly as she stared at her younger self. “I stayed in that crawl space for quite a while.”

“Why couldn't you remember this before?” Lyra looked to her sister a little baffled. She understood why she could not remember since she was only a baby.

“I blocked it out maybe?” Arietta crossed her arms finding her blood was starting to boil for no real reason. They all waited for quite a while to see if they would jump to another memory but they seem to be stuck in this particular one. Minutes passed and the leader of the assassins turned her attention toward the living room entrance way as the memory vaguely came back to her. “Mom and Dad are about to walk through the door but it's actually Aunt Yukina.”

As if right on cue to Arietta's prediction, the front door opening sounded and everyone watched the two adults come through to the living room. The man was half an inch taller than Leo and walked through the turtle to the couch where he sat down. He sighed out running a hand through his short messy dirty blonde hair and his tired looking gray eyes stared at the floor. He had a darker blonde goatee that got Leo wondering what Dorian would look like if he had one. The assassin caught the turtle's gaze and chuckled gently as he stood next to him.

"Trust me when I say my Dad wore it a lot better than I ever could, Leo." He winked playfully getting a darkening of Leo's cheeks from a blush as a response. Diego let out another small sigh as the woman that was with him stood in the entryway.

“How long will her mission take, Yukina?”

“Shouldn't be more than three days. I really am sorry that I keep giving her my missions.” Yukina walked over toward Shiori and passed right through her twin to look out the window.

“Don't worry about it, Yuki. If we really had an issue with it you would know. Besides, Shiori knows just how much you hate poison work.” Diego chuckled out when he got a smack to the back of his head by his sister-in-law. The Quintus assassins had looks of bittersweet happiness seeing the memory of their two family members playing out. Shiori being able to see both her sister and the lover of her life look so much more than a memory made her tears fall from her eyes. Master Splinter was watching from the best viewing advantage he could find and his ears perked hearing the latch on the front door open.

“Someone is here,” he was able to get all of their attention as a male dressed in blacks and coppers came walking into the living room causing Diego to quickly stand from the couch and Yukina turned around. The man in a white and copper mask that had a scorpion tail on the right side stood there silently staring at the two.

“Come to tie up loose ends, Sasori?” Diego glared and as Yukina got closer to him he took a step forward and put himself in front of her to protect her. “Shiori doesn't know, let her go.”

"Only to allow her to get revenge? I think not, Tora. You are the last link that knows what I have done. You are the only one that Master Hamato has named the heir to the Black Lotus." The assassin took a few steps forward as a spike on a chain slowly dropped from his sleeves. "With you and Hebi gone, I will gain leadership. You should have listened to me on not having any children."

"You will not lay a hand on them, Hisoka!" Yukina took a step to the right of Diego giving a hateful glare to the assassin intruder.

“Oh, I will, Shiori. The Quintus line in its entirety will end tonight.” Hisoka brandished his weapon, ready to carry out the finale of his plan. “Do you have any last words?”

“Spare them, Hisoka. It will keep you alive a lot longer and keep you out of the wrath of the Foot Clan if you spare the children their lives.” Diego kept his tone leveled even knowing he was going to die soon. “Arietta is not mine. She is Saki's daughter.”

Hisoka stiffened at this new found knowledge and he hesitated a moment as if he was contemplating. Seconds ticked by and the assassin let out a small dark chuckle.

“Fascinating. As I don't wish to have a dear friend out to kill me I will spare the children then.” The whip of the chain was quick as it struck out. April let out a scream as the spike lodged itself in Diego's chest. The assassins all could not look away as the weapon was yanked away making Diego's body spin toward the door of the crawl space. Hisoka rushed at Yukina and grabbed a hold of her before plunging the hidden wrist blade into her chest. She gripped him tightly with a glare of pure hatred.

“They will be your undoing, Hisoka. They will find out the truth and hunt you down,” she spoke slowly but let out a gasp as he shoved the blade in more watching the light leave her ears. When he knew she was dead he let go of her body to let her fall to the floor at his feet.

“I think not.” He made his way around the house setting up the fires that would engulf everything and get rid of any evidence as to what transpired. As the flames started to spread he heard the children running around upstairs and quickly ran out the front door so they would not catch him.

"Callie there's a fire downstairs! I saw a guy in black running away!" Little Dorian was on the top step looking frantic.

“Daddy?” Little Arietta's quiet cry brought attention back to the living room as she got out of the crawl space to kneel by her father's head. Diego reached up and stroked her cheek to wipe away the tears.

“Protect them, Arietta. Protect them with your life and you be sure to make yourself strong.” He pulled out a silver chain from around his neck and put it on Arietta, the emblem on the circular trinket looked at a quick glance like the symbol for the Black Lotus. “Promise me, Arietta. Promise to get revenge for your family.”

“P'omise,” little Ari put the emblem in her shirt and she looked at her father as the light left his eyes. Then and only then did she cry out loud enough for her siblings to hear.

“Ari!” Calliope came running in the living room and stopped in her tracks seeing both of her parents dead on the floor. “Dee! Dee get in here!”

“What? We've got to get out of-” Dorian came up to Callie holding a wailing Lyra as he saw the scene and he went pale. “No!”

The children went over to their mother and Dorian carefully handed Lyra to Calliope before he went over to Arietta who had her face buried in Diego's chest as she cried. He quickly pulled the little girl up and turned her to face him while gripping her shoulders tightly.

“What did you do?!” He screamed at her causing the little girl to shake her head frantically. He glared and let go of her shoulders only to slap her across her face in his blind anger.

“Dorian!” Callie screamed out at her brother and quickly stayed his hand from another hit. “There is no way she did this now cut it out!”

“Diego! Shiori! Are you in here?! Kids?” The voice of Hisoka called out from the door as he made his way back into the house but rather than wearing the outfit he was in before he was in a business suit.

”Living room! Help!” Callie called out and let out a scream as the curtains behind them erupted in flames. Hisoka ran in and feigned shock to see the two adults dead but he quickly ran over and grabbed up Lyra when Calliope held her out to him. He protected the baby in his jacket before looking to the children.

“Stay close to me. We'll get you out of here.”

“What about Mom and Dad?” Dorian was not wanting to just leave his parents there as Calliope helped Arietta to her feet. The three of them got closer to Hisoka as two men that looked like bodyguards came in only to wait for orders from the businessman.

“Grab the bodies. This place is catching like a matchbox.” Hisoka watched his men grab up the two bodies and he looked down to the three children as the two men ran out first. He ushered them in front of him as they got out of the burning house. The scenery began to fade with the distant wails of sirens as they all were pulled from the memory.

"Holy crap!" Mikey was the first to open his eyes and he quickly stood up grabbing his head in shock. As they all came to he looked over at Calliope who had tears running down her cheeks in a silent cry. He quickly pulled her to her feet and held her tightly, letting her bury her face in the nape of his neck to cry as much as she needed to. He looked to see Lyra finding comfort in Donatello and Dorian was hiding his face in his knees while getting his back rubbed by Leonardo. April was holding her hand over her mouth as she cried gently while Casey did his best to comfort her and Vern looked like he was about to lose his lunch. Everyone else seemed pretty much level-headed so far from the looks of it.

“We all need to take a moment to recover from what we just witnessed.” Leatherhead carefully picked up Nanni from where she had collapsed on the platform. “I will stay and watch over Nanni in the medical facility.”

The alligator made his way to the medical room after getting pointed in the right direction not adding much more to the conversation. Splinter could feel the distraught emotions and faintly heard a few of the quiet sobs. He looked to Shiori who stared blankly at the floor while Kazuto stayed by her side to console her. He went over to them and offered a gentle smile to the both of them.

“We have more tea available to help ease all of the resurfaced pains.”

"Would you have anything a little stronger?" Shiori asked gently as she brought her eyes up to look at the old rat. When he gave a nod she offered a slight smile in return. "That sounds wonderful right now."

 

Chapter Text

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.” - Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

The lair was eerily quiet as they all waited for their drinks. Casey had offered to make the strongest he could with what he bought so they could cut the edge of emotions, it also kept him pretty busy with mixing so he would not dwell on what he saw. Vern and April both had offered to give him a helping hand in carrying the beverages after they were made, leaving Ninjas and Assassins alone in the living room. Dorian had been able to calm most of his nerves thanks to Leo's comfort but he could see that Calliope and Lyra would take a bit longer to soothe. The one thing that bothered the eldest Quintus was seeing how Arietta was reacting, or lack of reaction as it were. She had not cried or said one word since the psychic link was broken. Not even Raphael could get a peep out of her which made Dorian worry even more for his sister. Without saying a word he got up from his seat between Raph and Leo on the couch causing both brothers to look at him in confusion.

Arietta's eyes widened when she was abruptly lifted off of the floor from between Raph's legs and was now standing toe to toe with her brother. She looked up at him still wide-eyed and very much confused at the way he had just got her to her feet. Dorian let his silver eyes lock onto Arietta's amethyst ones and he could see all of the pent-up emotions in those violet orbs.

“Hit me.”

“What?!” Arietta coiled back from the sudden request from her brother. The fact that now everyone in the living room was staring at them did not help her emotions in the least.

“If it will help just even a little bit you can hit me back.” That statement finally made it click in Ari's brain what he was going on about and she sighed gently. She reached up and grabbed her brother's hands in hers, holding them as she broke the eye contact to look at their feet.

“No Dee, I'm not going to hit you back. I don't really remember any of what we saw even after having this little trip down memory lane. I just remember our lives starting at the compound and nothing more.” She gripped his hands tightly in hers as her brows scrunched together in contemplation. “I know it was mainly my memory but it only plays in my head like the way we just experienced it.”

“Seeing that memory did answer a lot of questions. Especially answered ones we weren't even thinking of asking.” Leonardo smiled as the two siblings turned to look back at him and Raphael let out a chuckle knowing what his brother had meant.

“He's right on that,” Donatello spoke in a gentle amused tone and that caused Lyra to lift her head from his shoulder. She was content in not moving an inch out of his lap as she raised a brow at him a little confused what they were trying to say.

“What questions were that?” Calliope wiped at the remnants of her tears but kept her head under Michelangelo's chin. She smiled hearing him chuckle a little and the smile stayed as he tilted her head up to look at him by cupping her chin in between his thumb and finger.

“One of them was if you guys were just as adorable as little kids just like you are now.” Mikey winked and laughter erupted as the four Quintus siblings turned bright red from embarrassment.

"That's so not funny!" Arietta quickly jumped onto Raph just to get in a few playful smacks but he had been able to grab a hold of her wrists while giving her the biggest grin he could.

“Your blushes are hilarious! Seein' ya as little kids was pure gold, Foxy!”

“I'd have to agree with the turtles. You were all just so precious,” Shiori added in with a loving mother tone and with a bit of laughter.

“Not helping, Mom!”

“It wasn't meant to be helpful, Ari.” She laughed out a little more seeing her daughter's face become completely covered in a blush, knowing it was embarrassing her to no end. Shiori was taken by surprise as a glass came into view and she looked up seeing Vern holding it out for her. She gave him a gentle smile and the drink with a slight bow of her head as thanks. The drinks were passed out to everyone and they all got themselves comfortable again. Silence fell once more as they drank to ease some of the horrors they had witnessed, minds still mulling over the truth that had surfaced. Lyra looked up from her glass and looked over to the young reporter with a smile on her lips.

"Are you doing okay, April?" The green-eyed brunette looked a bit shocked by the question and she sat her bottle of water on the table next to the chair she sat in.

“I should be the one asking you that question. Reliving such a horrible nightmare all over again.” April shook her head a little bit still not really sure if what she saw would ever leave her mind.

“The fire probably hit a little too close to home for you guys, I'm sure.” Arietta's words confused April slightly and the assassin closed her eyes trying to think how best to explain what she meant. “With a psychic link like that there are many memories that are shared all at once. We may have been watching my memory mainly but there are so many others you can see if you close your eyes and allow the visions to play themselves.”

"Like the memory of a fire in a lab and little girl running around to save her friends." Dorian leaned forward to place his elbows on his knees before giving Leo a slight smirk as he looked at him. The turtle stiffed in his seat with slightly wide eyes knowing where the guy was going with his statement. "You guys were pretty cute too."

“Damn it,” Raphael cursed leaning his head back against the couch knowing they had just been paid back for teasing a few minutes ago.

“All the memories at once? How come we aren't brain mushed right now?” Casey was a bit surprised they did not have any headaches or any other effect from the whole scenario. He took a drink from his glass hoping someone could explain a bit more.

"Nannie played as a sort of filter for everything. Don't be too alarmed if there are some kind of dreams or nightmares that stem from all this tonight." Donatello figured that was the only kind of logical explanation and giving the warning in advance would help ease the effects that would come about when they all slept. "Though seeing what we have explains why Arietta is so headstrong about being a well-trained Assassin."

“Yeah, the promise form a little girl to her dying father is a pretty powerful motivation,” Ari spoke out in a leveled tone as she brought her glass up to her lips so she could get more numbing going on.

“Riri, do you still have the necklace Diego gave you?” The nickname Shiori used almost made Arietta spit out her drink but she was able to swallow it down and gave a nod of her head. She put the glass on the table before getting to her feet again, disappearing into the shared bedroom. A few seconds later she came out holding the silver necklace in her hand and she took it over to her mother. She held the jewelry out to her a bit baffled by the emblem on the medallion that hung off of the chain.

"I thought that was a Black Lotus when we saw it in the memory. That looks like a bird, not a flower." Arietta looked at Shiori with absolute confusion.

“That is because the symbol is a bird. A nightingale to be exact,” Shiori explained as she carefully held the pendant with a small smile on her face. She traced her thumb over the symbol with an endeared expression. “Diego was not always part of the Black Lotus. Before I met him he used to be part of a completely different world than that of an Assassin.”

"Oh, here we go. The infamous tale of how you two met and instantly fell in love," Kazuto teased playfully and let out a chuckle when he received a light jab to his ribs from Shiori's elbow. Arietta went back over to claim her glass and a spot on Raphael's lap so she could listen to the story comfortably. She could tell that her siblings were equally interested in hearing how their parents met as they all focused on Shiori.

"I had just been sent on a mission as my first using the name Hebi. Kazuto had accompanied me as we went to deal with someone who had crossed several of the higher-ups in the clan. It was a mission to protect the Black Lotus and prevent leaking of any information but it also felt like it was a mission of revenge too. Luck would have it that the target happened to be part of a guild of thieves."

“Guild of thieves? Like Arabian nights?” Vern raised a brow and smirked when Shiori let out a small chuckle of amusement. He was ready to believe just about anything they had wanted to tell after what he had just experienced.

"Something like that. Within that guild, there is a sect much like the Elite Eight but with that group, there are only three members. They are known as Nightingales and are considered the best of the best. Their guild is not exactly privy to assassinations while on a job since it would run a risk of not getting paid but the Nightingales were special." Shiori gave pause to take a drink and let the information settle in while she wet her throat.

“So, Dad was one of these Nightingales?” Dorian was all kinds of excited hearing about his father's life before the Black Lotus. He let a smile form on his lips when he got a nod from his mother, the twinkle of pride showing more in his eyes. “That's pretty epic.”

"Kazuto and I tracked down our target but we had no idea that the target was a Nightingale. He had betrayed them and their guild by bleeding their coffers dry. He even crossed quite a few in the Black Lotus since they had made quite a few deals with the guy. We did get the job done by working together with Diego for three long weeks."

“Crafty bastard had us chasing him all over Europe!” Kazuto added in with a grin and winked at Shiori who let out a small laugh.

"Thus, three long weeks. During that time Diego and I grew close and beyond our better judgment, we shared stories and information on our professions. After it was done Kazuto and I returned to Tokyo." Shiori smiled knowing that was not the end of the story but she knew her dear friend wanted to tell his favorite part.

“I called it! It wasn't two days after we returned that Diego showed up to the join the clan. Said he was more fit to be an assassin than a pick-pocket,” Kazuto grinned as she looked up at the vast ceiling of pipes, letting the memory replay in his mind a moment.

“Did he quit being a Nightingale to become part of the Black Lotus?” Calliope had a small smile on her features, no longer sad but rather enjoying the fondness in her mother's and Kazuto's voices as they told the story.

“No, he didn't have to quit. Once you are made a Nightingale you are a Nightingale until the day you die. His former Nightingales and Thieves Guild did attend the wake and the funeral but I suppose when they saw Arietta with this medallion they did not collect it to pass it on.” Shiori got up and went over to her daughter placing the necklace around her neck and turning the medallion over to show her the words on the back.

“Eyes open and walk with the shadows,” Arietta read the inscription before looking up to her mother who was smiling with pride.

"It was Diego's way of claiming you as his daughter in the very end. He named you a Nightingale so that one day you would have no doubt that you are family regardless of the past." She smiled as Arietta carefully tucked the necklace into her shirt for safekeeping with tear-laced eyes.

“First Assassin's Creed and now we've got the Elder Scrolls coming to life! What's the next game?!” Mikey's mind was blown having his gaming obsessions becoming all too real. Cicero let out a laugh and looked at the youngest turtle from his spot on the floor next to the coffee table.

“You'd better pray that Italian plumbers don't come down here to jump on your shell, Michelangelo.” That instantly got groans from the other turtles which made the Assassin a little worried he may have offended them.

“Good goin' ya clown!” Raph winked at Cicero to let him know they were not offended in the slightest.

“Now Mikey will have nightmares for weeks!” Donnie instantly hid his mouth against Lyra's temple so his smile would not show. Leonardo was taking a drink to hide his own smile as well.

“That's not true, Donnie! I haven't had those nightmares since we were little!”

“That does explain the lack of any Mario games,” Callie mused gently and pretending to be in thought all but enjoying being able to poke a little fun at her favorite Ninja.

"Not you too, sweet cheeks!" That got a roar of laughter from all around the room and Mikey could not help but grin as he got a kiss on his cheek from his favorite Assassin as an apology for teasing. He then gasped out and pointed right at Cicero who tensed in surprise. "Dude! Is that where you got your name?!"

"Hardly! My parents were not the gaming type. I understand why you would think that though. The name and the fact I have the red hair." Cicero smirked taking a drink and giving Mikey a wink to go with it.

"Oh, for crying out loud! Do it before you blow a vein trying to restrain yourself. I know you've spent countless unhealthy hours playing Skyrim so you might as well." Arietta smirked at her friend who stuck his tongue out at her before clearing his throat.

“Madness is merry and merriment's might. When the Jester comes calling with his knight in the night,” Cicero spoke in his best impersonation of the character he shared his name with and he grinned widely at Mikey who's mouth was wide open.

“That was scarily awesome! Alright, Cicero's a keeper!” Mikey grinned and he even burst into laughter with the Assassin at the irony of the joke he made which was lost on quite a few that did not play the game.

“Kids,” Splinter chuckled as he got up from his seat. He gently cleared his throat to get everyone's attention and he still had a smile as they all looked at him. “We should all get some rest. There is much we need to plan and discuss once we've had sleep.”

“We'll come back when we get some rest too,” Casey smiled and clapped Vern on his shoulder to get his attention before they headed out with April. Master Splinter managed in that moment to coax the alligator out of the medical room and back to the bed he had borrowed earlier in the night. He then made his way to his own room after bidding all of them a good night.

“Mom, you can take Lyra's bed and Kazuto can have mine. I'm sure Cicero will be more than delighted to use Ari's since Leatherhead is back in Dorian's bed.” Calliope grinned seeing Cicero become highly excited.

"Real comfortable sleep for once!" Cicero stood up and helped place all of the empty glasses together on the table.

“Enjoy it while you can, Cicero. Can't slack off even for a second with training.” Arietta grinned triumphantly hearing a groan coming from the guy.

“You're so ruthless, Kitsune-taichou!” Cicero spoke in a soft whine but chuckled out when Dorian ruffled his hair.

“You have no idea. Now come on, I'll loan you some of my clothes to sleep in.” Dorian ushered Cicero toward the room. “I think I might have something that will fit you too, Kazuto.”

"Thank you, Dorian." Kazuto smiled and followed the two males wanting to get some much-needed sleep.

"We should go shopping tomorrow. Get those two some clothes and some for me." Shiori smiled with the offer and Lyra instantly got excited by the thought of going shopping.

“I am so game!”

“Me too,” Calliope spoke up with a smile before all three women turned their attention to Arietta who quickly shook her head while holding her hands up at them.

"Nope, count me out on that. No offense but shopping bores the hell out of me," she had a soft blush on her cheeks with that admittance but she looked toward the medical room instantly coming up with an escape to the conversation. She turned to her sisters and her mother letting her expression become serious a moment. "Just be absolutely careful when you do up there, it's not exactly safe to just be wandering around in the day. I'm going to go check on Nanni but you're more than welcome to sleep in something of mine, Mom."

Arietta smiled after getting a nod from her mother before she quickly went to go check on the toddler. She felt the smile stay on her lips as she walked in seeing Nanni still sleeping while the monitor beeped as a signal that her vitals were fine. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed she carefully brushed the girl's bangs from her forehead so she could place a gentle kiss on it knowing the little girl would not be waking up tonight.

“How long do ya think she'll be out?” Raphael made his way over to his girls and stood close to Arietta with his arms crossed, his eyes looking to the sleeping child. Arietta shook her head gently as she made sure that Nanni was tucked in comfortably before looking up at him.

“I couldn't say. I don't have much experience with the psychic stuff so all we can really do is keep an eye on her until she wakes up.” She carefully stood up from the bed and stretched her arms upward with a yawn. She could feel the exhaustion of everything trying to lull her into sleep already.

“Come on, ya need to get some rest too,” Raph put his arm around her shoulder to usher her out of the needle room but he paused realizing who her siblings had allowed usage of her bed. He looked at her with a small smirk on his lips now intent on keeping her out of that room. “Where ya plannin' on sleepin' at, Foxy?”

"Mm, in the living room with the rest of my siblings? I'll probably claim one of the recliners or something." She did not give into his baiting as they went to the living room only to find that her siblings were nowhere to be seen. "Well then, guess I'm taking the couch?"

"No ya ain't," Raph answered before he quickly picked her up bridal style causing her to let out a surprised squeak. He had an idea where her siblings might have disappeared to and who they were most likely with as he headed for his room with her in his arms. He only set her back down on her feet when the door closed from his foot lightly kicking it. He made sure to put the lock in place and was a bit taken off guard hearing her let out a small giggle. "What?"

"If I didn't know any better I'd say you were trying to keep a certain crow from getting in here," she teased him as she walked over to put her mask down on the shelving rack he had in his room. She let out a small gasp when she turned around only to be trapped in between said shelving wrack and the very large turtle that had willingly kidnapped her for the night. Her cheeks heated up with a blush that was induced by the heated look he had on his face.

“Maybe I am. Or I might just be trappin' me a fox.”

 

Chapter Text

"He was now in that state of fire that she loved. She wanted to be burnt." - Anais Nin

 

Arietta's face was bright red as she stared into Raph's golden green pools. Having her back pressed to the metal shelving unit with his arms on either side of her head got her heart pumping hard in her chest. She swallowed thickly knowing he was only teasing her or, at least, that was what she was hoping he was trying to do at the moment. She raised a brow hearing him let out a chuckle while he moved back to give her space.

“I'm just messin' with ya, Foxy. Tha look on yer face and that blush, priceless. Ninja five, Assassin four,” Raphael went over to his bed and sat on the edge of it with a grin as he continued their friendly competition.

“I should totally kick your ass for nearly giving me a heart attack, Red.” Arietta glared at him but there was no real malice behind it as he smirked back at her. No, it was not a smirk at all but a full blow smile. Clearing her throat she looked to the wall finding it was not going to make her blush like mad. “Are you sure you want me to sleep in here? I can seriously sleep on the couch. It's not big deal.”

“If I wasn't sure I wouldn't have brought ya in 'ere.” Raph got up from the bed and went over to her gently cupping her chin to make her look at him. “Ya need yer sleep but if it'll make ya feel better I'll sleep on the floor.”

"No no, I couldn't take the bed while you're on the floor. That would be rude." She reached up and took a hold of his hand with a smile of her own. "I don't think I can sleep by myself anyway, Raph. Not with the nightmares, I'm sure are going resurface from the psychic link."

“Alrigh' then. I uh... don't really have anythin' ya could sleep in.” He cleared his throat feeling his nerves starting to spike now that she was for sure staying with him for the night. He stiffened when she put her hands on his biceps and he did not offer much arguing when she turned him around to where he stared at the door.

“Just keep yourself facing that way until I tell you otherwise and no peeking.”

"No peekin'? What d' ya mean no peekin'?" Raph looked over his shoulders to ask more clearly but was surprised to see her working on removing her armor. He abruptly snapped his head back forward feeling his face heat up and for good measure, he shut his eyes as tightly as he could. It felt like an agonizing eternity that he stood like that only hearing his blood pumping hard in his veins and the shifting of her clothing behind him. The gentle hand that pressed against the back of his shell nearly made him jump in the air from his already heightened nerves. "I didn't peek!"

“Easy there, Red. It's safe to turn around now,” Arietta spoke gently to him trying to keep her laugh at bay that nearly escaped due to his reaction. She moved her hand back as he turned to face her and she smiled holding both of her arms out slightly from her body to show off her sleepwear. “I know how to improvise in a pinch.”

“I'll say,” Raph spoke out impressed as he looked down at her to see her change in attire. She had stripped down to just her maroon under kimono that he noticed was pretty damn short only stopping at the middle of her thighs. One good breeze and she'd be doing a recreation of that iconic Marilyn Monroe pose. He cleared his throat as he looked back at her eyes just so he would not get teased for staring. “Hot damn.”

“Well played, Romeo.” Arietta let out a small chuckle while playfully smacking his arm with the backside of her hand before she went over to his bed to take a seat on the edge.

"Ya don't strike me as the girly type wearing somethin' that looks like a dress," Raphael smirked as he started his usual ritual of removing the armor and gear he had on.

"I'm not really the girly type but sometimes the mood can strike me. Can't wait to see the look on your face when I have to wear something more formal," Arietta teased as she lay back on his bed, getting comfortable. Her heart skipped a beat when the lights went off but seeing the glow from the black lights around the room made her smile.

"I bet you'll look good in anythin', Foxy," Raph smirked as he neared the bed but was stopped when she sat up abruptly at his approach. "What?"

“Come on now, Red. You can't tell me you sleep like that.” She raised a brow at him with a playful smirk on her lips as she motioned to his pants. “You're not going to scare me off or make me uncomfortable. This is your room so you get as comfortable as you want.”

"Ya don't know what yer askin' for." He had a small smirk on his lips as he sat down next to her. She, in turn, raised a brow at him and tilted her head slightly to which he noted was pretty damn cute whenever she did that.

“Don't you sleep in boxers just like about every other male does?” She straightened up as he let out a laugh and she was thankful the black lights hid her blush. She did not really find her question to be humorous at all since that was her usual assumption of any male when they slept.

"Just like ya ain't girly, I ain't like most guys. I usually don't have anythin' on when I sleep. A lot comfier that way." He looked at her with a sly smirk and bit back a laugh seeing her eyes widened in reaction. "Six to four now, Foxy."

“That's hardly even fair, Red!” Arietta glared at him being taken out of her stupor by another score update. She shook her head and let out a small laugh knowing just how she was going to get him back. “Either way, this is your room and your rules so, you sleep however you want.”

Arietta could only let out a soft gasp as she was flipped on to her back to lay across the bed with her arms above her head and her legs hanging off the side. Her amethyst eyes looked up a the red-masked turtle that had changed their positions where he loomed over her, straddling her so she could not get up. She kept her eyes locked on his seeing he had every intention of teasing her more and she cursed that her heart was beating so hard in her chest. She could feel so many different sensations going through her body and not so innocent thoughts were teasing the back of her mind.

“My rules huh? That could get ya in a lot of trouble givin' me that much control.” He gave her a searing smirk but was taken by surprise when she brought her arms up to wrap around the back of his neck loosely.

“Maybe not being the one in control for once is something I'd like.” Arietta watched as his eyes widened and she let out the laugh she had held in since she found an easy way to get him back. “Got ya, Red! That makes it six to five.”

Raphael let out a low growl in response that was not vicious by any means. They had both proven countless times that they could tease one another but there had been no real follow through on either side. Now seemed as good a time as any to test both of their ability to put their money where their mouths were. He was all but ready to put it all on the line as he quickly dipped his head down to claim her lips with his own. The laughter was silenced but left her completely open to him which he took full advantage of.

Arietta wrapped her arms around the base of his neck a little more as she felt his tongue adventure into her mouth. The kiss sent little flicks of flame throughout her body and proved to make her want more. More of what she was uncertain of as she shyly allowed her own tongue to dance with his. The groan that came from the back of his throat encourage her more as timid actions melted away from both of them, giving way to building passion. Their tongues danced for dominance, the feel of her tongue ring bringing all kinds of not so innocent thoughts into Raph's mind.

The need for air caused the two to separate for a moment but Raphael was far from down with her. He moved his head lower to where he could get to the side of her neck, his lips pressed gently against the soft flesh. The second she made a soft whimper he latched on, eliciting a welcomed moan from the assassin, one of her sensitive spots now known to the both of them. Her back lifted from the bed as he gently bit and licked the sweet spot on her neck. He brought his right hand to grip her hip to keep her from too much since her arching had pressed her more against him. The friction alone was damn near enough to make him snap. Carefully he pulled up from her neck and was very pleased to see his handiwork. He knew she would have a hickey for a little while, which was about the one thing he could curse her healing ability for yet, seeing the mark he had left was highly satisfying to him.

"Don't tell me you just left a mark," Arietta glared at the turtle above her as she brought her hand to the spot he had latched on to and seeing his smirk become smugger she smacked the inside of his arm. "Damn it, Raph, you're lucky it won't last long to be seen."

“I'll just have ta make it a point to keep markin' ya every chance I get then,” he spoke in such a low gruff tone that Arietta felt heat course through her body even more. He let out a chuckle as he removed himself from on top of her and sat at the head of the bed, letting his shell rest against the wall. “Before this gets any further than it has, let me ask ya somethin'.”

Arietta was a little saddened to have him not so close but it did give her a moment to calm her body at least so she could think clearer. She sat up and adjust herself to where she was sitting in front of him on her knees. She saw him swallow hard and it made her smirk knowing that he was trying to calm himself down as well.

“What did you want to ask?” She placed her hands on her lap, letting her palms rest against the top of her thighs as she readied herself for his question.

“Have ya... um...”

“Had sex?” She chuckled seeing his widened that she had been able to understand what it was he wanted to ask. She shook her head lightly before looking into his eyes. “No, I haven't. I know I can tease like I have but I've never had sex before. Have you?”

“No. Hell, you're the first I've ever really kissed like that. First I've ever left a mark on too.” He smirked trying his damnedest to keep the nervousness out of his voice. He let out a chuckle when she glared at him for mentioning the hickey.

“It's all been on instinct for both of us. I mean I've had to make out before because of missions but that's the thing. It feels so much more passionate with you. Raw, hot, and oh so damn right,” she kept her eyes on his as she spoke and took note when his eyes seemed to darken slightly by her words. Carefully she raked her teeth over her bottom lip in a teasing manner and smirked when he took in a slow deep breath that made his nostrils flare slightly.

Deciding to act more on the impulses that were causing her body to catch fire, Arietta crawled over to him so the distance would be closed between them. She kept the chuckle in seeing his eyes dip to the opening of her kimono, no doubt stealing a peek at what he could. Slowly and teasingly she straddled his lap, making herself comfortable. Her hands carefully coaxed his arms to uncross so she could grab a hold of his wrists. She felt him holding his breath as she placed his hands against the outside of her thighs before she put her own hands on top of his shoulder. Just by looking into his eyes and feeling the shakiness of his breathing she could tell he was scared, excited, and hesitant just as she was.

"What I feel for you is far more than a crush, Raphael. When you asked me what I felt in the med room I didn't have words for it until now. I was scared and confused by my siblings talked me through it all earlier. They helped me to figure out what I was feeling." Carefully, Ari slid her hands from the top of his shoulders, over his collarbone. She let her nails lightly rake over his flesh and even brought the sensation over the harder textured chest plate of his plaster. She could feel beneath her palm how hard his heart was pounding, she could see the pulsating beat in the vein of his neck. Raphael swallowed hard as she looked him right in the eyes and he gripped her thighs a little waiting for what she was wanting to say. He wanted to hear the words, craved them was more like it. “I'm a fool that has fallen completely head over heels. I love you, Raphael.”

That was his breaking point. Hearing those three simple little words followed by his name from her lips pitched him over the edge he was teetering on the moment he had locked the door. He pushed himself forward to catch her in another heated kiss, his fingers gripping her thighs tighter to keep her in place. The pressure caused her to break their kiss so she could moan out, her back arching just enough that she gently rubbed against him. He let out a groan just loud enough that she caught on to what had happened and it caused a wicked little grin to play on her lips. She moved her hands away from him and let out a soft chuckle from the look of protest that crossed his face.

The grin was back on her lips as she brought her hands to the sash that kept her kimono closed. Raph's lips parted and his eyes widened slightly as she slowly untied the simple bow. He licked his suddenly dry feeling lips as the sash dropped onto the floor at the side of the bed. His eyes locked onto her body as she barely parted the kimono to give him just a peek of what treasure was hidden. He felt like his heart was about to explode seeing that she had removed her bra when she had changed and as his eyes trailed lower he groaned out seeing the black lace that covered the most desiring place between her legs, proving to only starve his already hungry self.

“Damn it, woman, ya know how to tease,” Raph could not keep the growl of desire out of his voice as his eyes moved up to meet her eyes, slowly drinking in the gift she was giving him. He could see it in those gorgeous violet eyes of her that she was on board fully with him on what they were getting close to doing. He sucked in air through gritted teeth making a slight hissing sound as he felt her gyrate her hips. The nice tight infinity loop she was making caused them to continuously grind against each other which was so not helping him with the self-restraint. At the rate she was pushing the limits he was sure to be the first to snap and give in completely. “If ya keep that goin' I'll lose it, Ari.”

“Want me to stop?” She halted the movement of her hips at the end of her question just to see what his reaction was going to be. The deep growl that immediately followed sent a shiver down her spine and she could only let out a surprised gasp as she was quickly laid out on her back. Her hands were pinned above her head by Raph's left hand keeping her from being able to touch or grab. His right gripped the outside of her left thigh which kept the two of them pressed against each other. He leaned in close to her face with a grin plastered on his face due to the seductive position they were in now.

“No more teasin', Arietta. Ya've got me close ta snappin' so this is the last time I'll ask ya. Are ya sure ya want ta do this? Ya say no at any time and I'll stop.” He locked eyes one hers praying as hard as he could inwardly that there would not be any rejection from her.

“Raph if you don't fuck me right now then you'll be the one pinned to the bed.” Arietta's wicked little grin and cute threatening tone only made him chuckle out. He titled his head and leaned in closer to her neck, the movement adding more delicious pressed between both of their legs. He silently thanks the powers at work that her little kimono had fallen even more open making his next plan so much easier to execute.

“I ain't gonna fuck ya,” he spoke huskily and kissed just beneath her earlobe, eliciting a small gasp from her. He trailed his lips down the column of her neck, making sure to follow the vein that pulsated beneath her porcelain skin. “I'm gonna make love to ya.”

 

Chapter Text

"Love is an ice cream sundae, with all the marvelous coverings. Sex is the cherry on top." - Jimmy Dean

 

"I'm gonna make love to ya," Raph admitted with the husky tone in his voice as he placed another kiss against Arietta's skin, this time to the nape of her neck but he gave a small nip with his teeth. Her small gasp and the way she slightly arched her back caused a little more friction to the parts of their bodies that were craving the most attention. He continued his descent, giving her collarbone a playful single nip before his journey was resumed. The second his mouth hovered over her left nipple, his eyes looked up to see her watching him. Her cheeks were covered in a deep blush that even in the black light he could see and her lips were parted slightly as she lightly panted from the breathes his nips and kisses had stolen.

“I'm gonna make ya mine, Ari,” he confessed out to her and no more words were needed to convey what he felt for her and what he was going to do. His mouth enveloped the mound of flesh and the second his tongue swept over the peak, Arietta arched more while rewarding him with a sweet gentle moan. He wasted no time in giving the twin peak equal an equal amount of attention with his mouth, his tongue flicking and his teeth teasingly pinching in light little bites. He was rewarded with more moans and more movement from her that just got his blood pumping even more. He could feel her wrists straining against the palm of his left hand that was keeping them above her head and he knew she wanted to be free to touch as much as she pleased.

“Please, don't tease... no more teasing, Raph,” the sound of her pleading was music to him as he slowly removed his mouth from the plump mound he had lavished. He was pleased to see just how taught the apexes had become with what little teasing he had done. As it would seem, his pretty little hothead of an assassin was secretly highly sensitive in the pleasure sense which was oh so staying in his memory bank to use as an advantage when it pleased him to. He looked into her eyes and could tell she was at that edge which he craved so badly to see her tip over into the abyss of sweet release. He let go of her hands so he could be able to touch her more freely but he had not expected for her to raise up off the bed.

Arietta caught him in a very rough and passionate kiss that damn near made both their hearts explode as Raph had to sit back on his legs to keep both of them from falling over. The hand that once bound hers was now resting on the back of her head to keep their kiss going while his other held the small of her back which allowed her to stay in his lap. Her hands were quick to discard the kimono to the floor, leaving her damn near bare save for the black lace tanga panties. Raph's hand slid down from the back of her head down her spine causing her muscles to shiver beneath his touch. The hand met its twin on her rear and he gave both cheeks a squeeze with a grin as she pulled from the kiss to moan out, her thighs lifting her slightly and letting her back down slowly on the release from his hands. He repeated the squeezes several times just to watch her slowly rise and fall, finding the little show was making him painfully hard. He swallowed thickly as she kept moving even without his encouragement and he let it finally sink in that he could very well hurt her if he was not careful.

“Raph?” Her gentle voice caught him a bit off guard and he looked up at her, locked eyes with her. The gentle look of love and worry mixed in her eyes yet, there was a storm of passion brewing in those amethyst pools at the same time. He could see the worry win out but it was not for herself, it was for him. “Are you alright? You're shaking.”

He finally noticed it now that she had brought it to the forefront that he was shaking just enough that it got her attention. He let out a soft sigh of frustration holding onto her as he maneuvered the both of them to where he could lean back on the pillows, his legs bending upward to give her back support as he rests his hands on her hips. He gave her a small smile as he looked up at her and she scrunched her eyebrows in even more concern. The sudden change in what they were doing perplexing to her and the fact he was hesitant in answering was not helping the level of worry in the least.

“I'm afraid ta hurt ya. Afraid ta scare ya.” He gripped her hips gently, feeling the fear building like an ice cube in his chest. “I'm a freak, Ari. I'm a mon-”

"I've seen plenty of monsters in my lifetime, Red. I have enough experience to know what they look and act like and you are no monster. You're not a freak either, so I don't ever want to hear you call yourself either one again." Arietta removed her fingers from his lips since she had quickly cut off his train of self-depreciation. "Just like you told me, nothing you can say or do is going to make me afraid of you and it won't make me doubt or distrust you. You're different. I won't deny that but, at your core, there is a beating heart. A soul searching for its rightful place. You live and feel with emotions that are just as raw and powerful as any being in the universe, human or not. Looks aren't what I'm solely basing my feelings on, Raphael. It's the attitude, the spirit, the fact we're so damn similar that attracted me but the wrapper everything comes in is one hell of a hot bonus."

Raph could not help but let out a laugh at her little pep talk. His heart soared as he pulled her down against him to hold her a moment. His face burrowed in the nape of her neck to hide the tears of relief that were stinging his eyes. That cold lump of fear melted by her words and he felt the heat of her as she wrapped one of her arms around the back of his neck, cradling him while her other hand rested against the back of his head.

“You're a hell of a treasure, Arietta Rose,” he spoke softly and could not hold back the chuckle as she tensed, no doubt having forgotten that he got to hear her full name twice now since they met. When she sat up he kept the grin plastered on his lips as he cupped her face in his hands. “I'm pretty damn lucky getting' a rose like ya.”

“Just remember, Raphie, this rose has thorns just like any other. I swear if you start in on flower nicknames I will show you a whole new level of pain.” She grinned wickedly at him which caused him to let go of her face to hold his hands back in a show of surrender.

“On my honor, I won't get that cheesy but, I'm curious how ya could hurt a fly in just yer lacy panties, miss Assassin,” his demeanor was kept playful and he let out a chuckle when she lightly smacked his arm. She put her hands on her hips giving him a playful glare.

“Do I need to remind you about Barcelona?”

"Mm, I think a demonstration would just about do it," Raph slid his hands up her thighs feeling that spark igniting again. He could see it in her eyes that the storm from earlier was now at the forefront. She moved forward in a motion that let him move his hands from her thighs right to her rear again which he gave another generous squeeze. Her moan was held back as she bit her lower lip but she had a focus, a goal in her mind that made her bring her hands behind his head. Her fingers work at the knot of the do-rag styled mask and his eyes widened when he felt the material loosening. "H-Hey!"

"I'm not wearing my mask so it's only fair," Ari lifted the material from his head and she tossed it on the building pile of clothes on the floor that was intended to be forgotten. She pulled back enough to look at him without the mask and she felt her face heat up as her breath caught in her throat. Realizing quickly that silence would not help, she gave him a smile looking right into those hauntingly golden green eyes of his. "Hot damn, I know you look good in red but this... this I like more. No masks. No walls. Just you and me."

"Yeah?" He grinned and revered their position once more to where she was on her back again, her hair fanning over his pillows and her hands resting beside her head. He placed a kiss on her forehead before he pressed his own to hers. "I like it too. Even better if we add no clothes ta the list. What d' ya say, Foxy?"

“I say that I've got a good head start here, Red,” she teased with a soft chuckled and brought her hands down between them. She skillfully wiggled herself free of her panties and brought them up to the side just out of his peripheral. He tilted his head and his eyes widened seeing the black lace drop from her fingers to the floor adding to the collection of clothes. He looked back to see her smiling quite smugly as she brought her hands back up to the sides of her head again. “I do believe our little game is tied again.”

“Damn you're good,” he did not keep the growl from his voice as he leaned back to admire her fully now. His eyes took in every inch of her greedily, making damn sure he was not going to let the image disappear from his mind. Arietta lightly wiggled her hips against the bed to get more of a rile out of him, teasing him once more.

“You know if you take a picture it would last longer.” She grinned seeing his eyes widened as if he should have had the idea. She sat up a little using her elbows to brace herself as she looked at him in a very sultry way. “Go for it if you want to, I'm not shy.”

"Fuck..." he could not take the teasing anymore and was definitely filing so many things away to do later. He was able to make quick work of the black pants and was oh so grateful for the pressure release when he stripped himself bare. He thought more about the position they were in and quickly went through his mind what would hurt her the least.

"Lay down," her gentle command cut through the lustful fog in his mind and he complied, laying himself down next to her. He could see her taking in the sight of him just as greedily as he had her but, she did not let the pause in the moment last any longer than he had. She straddled his lap but was careful not to allow any contact of her heat to his aching member to happen just yet. Gently she took a hold of his hands and placed them on her hips as her eyes locked on his. "Ready?"

"I should be the one askin' that," he smiled at her and was glad to hear the small chuckle come from her. His heart was hammering in his chest as he watched her and was feeling like he was going to pass out with the anticipation alone.

Arietta carefully moved into place and she used one of her hands to grab hold of him so she could align herself to the tip. Feeling him throbbing in her palm made her smile a little, glad that even her slightest of touch could get to him. Feeling his tip pressing against her entrance she bit her bottom lip before she slowly lowered herself down. Inch by delicious inch was taken into her and they both moaned out at the sensation. There was a stinging pain from flesh stretching to accommodate his size but she knew it would be replaced by pleasure in time. Carefully she sat fully on him and kept still to wait out the stings, her hands resting on his plastron to keep herself upright. She could feel his hands gripping tightly on her hips and she looked to him seeing his mouth was open and eyes were shut tight. He was panting a little which to her was the most erotic sight she had ever seen.

Slowly the assassin lifted herself causing her inner walls to put Raph's cock in a vice grip. Their moans mingled as she made the slow descent to the hilt and it took every bit of his strength not to take control. He let out a soft growl as she continued to slowly ride him, his hips pumping upward to meet her every time she went back down on him. His actions only seemed to give her more confidence as she picked up the pace for both of their sake. The pleasure rose to greater heights when she leaned back slightly causing a shift in the angle he penetrated her, her head lolled back exposing her neck as she continued riding him. The knot forming within her signaling that she was close to that sweet release she knew only in the loneliest of nights. She desired for more now that was she finally experiencing pleasure for the first time with another, all but wanting to bring Raphael just as much pleasure.

"Raph, I'm..." her words cut off as she felt that knot trying to slip and she bit it back wanting to prolong it all. Raph watched her, his name had never sounded so good to him and he wanted to hear it again. He wanted to watch her surrender to her orgasm, needed to was more like it.

“Let go, Ari.” He kept hold of her hips but he moved his right thumb over to the little bud of nerves. He groaned feeling her walls clenching him even tighter as he rubbed in time with their rhythm.

“Raphael!” Her hands gripped his wrists as she felt the wave of her orgasm rush through her. Her body ceased its move to allow her to fully concentrate on the intense pleasure that coursed throughout her body. The haze clearing from her mind enough to allow her to tilt her head forward again and through half-lidded eyes she could see him staring at her with such love and awe that it sent a jolt through her. She knew they were far from done and this time she wanted him right there with her, giving into the euphoric abyss of their mating. A grin played on her lips as she wiggled her hips just enough to get a moan out of him. The look that crossed his face let her know that she was about to get paid back with interest for the teasing.

She found herself laying on her back once more and all was for being at Raph's mercy. His hands held her hips and guided her into each slow deep thrust, he was wasting no time in keeping the both of them in the throes of passion. Their moans mingled together as he kept the pace at a medium tempo for the moment so he could watch her writhe beneath him. She had him enthralled with the way she arched her back, her sweetly curved mounds bouncing in time when their hips met. The sight of the woman he was making love to was enough to make him lose his load but he was not ready for the end just yet. He needed more of her, the deep primal urge to stake claim to her was threatening to make snap, to make him go harder and faster. With another deep growl, Raphael leaned himself down pressing their bodies closer, the added friction bringing more pleasurable sensations to the mix. He moved his left hand to the mattress to keep his weight off of her while his right grabbed the back of her head, his fingers gripping her hair as his hips picked up the tempo a bit.

Arietta had let out another moan at the grip of her tresses that sent sparks of pleasure down her body, her hands reaching up to take hold of Raphael's face bringing him to her for another passionately heated kiss. The kiss encouraging him to pick up the pace a bit more and she moved her hips along with him finding the knot was there again. She knew at any moment she would be at the mercy of another orgasm and wanted him to be right there with her. Breaking from the kiss she panted just as heavily as he was between their moans, the frantic movements between both of them telling her they were both right there on the edge. A wicked idea came to her mind and she quickly moved her head to latch her mouth on to the nape of his neck. The thought of marking him just as he had marked her was enough to send her right over that cliff and into the pleasurable abyss of another climax.

"Arietta!" Raph moaned out her name, his hand gripping her hair a little tighter as he kept his hips still against her. The sensations of her marking him and the clenching of her walls had thrown him into his own orgasm, a deep growl rumbling from deep in his throat as she milked him for everything he was oh so willing to give. She gave his neck a small little nip as she pulled back a little, a smile on her lips as she realized the sound he was making was a churr not a growl. She let out a soft gasp when he tilted her head back to capture her lips with his in another kiss. The kiss this time was a lot slower and gentle than any of their others causing a swell of emotion to stir within her as she lightly held his cheeks with her hands. Once they had parted for breath she let out a small chuckle before she looked into his eyes.

"Think we could sneak to the showers without getting caught?" She grinned when he had let out a chuckle to the nature of her question.

"If we get caught then I make a crappy ninja and ya suck as an assassin." He nuzzled the nape of her neck not really wanting to part from her just yet. He let out a soft groan as he pulled out of her already missing the feeling of being buried inside of her welcoming heat. He grinned seeing her biting her lower lip on a moan of her own at the empty feeling the disconnect gave her. He lightly smacked her rear and chuckled when she let out a small squeak of surprise.

The two had managed to get in and out of the shower without much of an issue and even more important to them, they did not get caught. Arietta had needed a bit of assistance with the walking due to the soreness she felt but she was not even going to complain about the cause of her being in that state. The welcoming feeling of being able to lay down made her realize just how tired she had become. The sensation of laying not only next to someone she adored in all aspects but to be able to be held in comforting arms made her heart swell. She felt loved, safe, and for the first time in her life, she felt truly happy thanks to Raphael. She let out a soft sound of content as she curled herself more against her hothead of a turtle and let the exhaustion take over her.

 

Chapter Text

 "Of all the things you choose in life, you don't get to choose what your nightmares are. You don't pick them; they pick you." - John Irving

 

Blood. So much blood. The thick pungent smell invaded her lungs. The deep crimson assaulted every inch of her sight. The dripping a constant high pitched beat that seemed to amplify the whispered maniacal background of laughter. That insane cackling raping every one of her senses until she saw only the blood-soaked visage of her enemy.

...Arietta...

The pounding in her heart a panicked feeling to go right along with her hysterical breathing. She needed it all to stop before he mind became lost to the madness of her hallucination. The voice that was so far away calling for out for her an anchor to salvation that she knew she was going to be kept from by the man before her.

...Arietta...

The enemy standing before her had to die. In her moment of solitude she knew at that moment she must end him. She had to if she were to find her sanity again. With a roar, she lunged at the man, that scorpion-tailed monster that had done nothing but laugh at her since he let his presence be known. Her cry was mighty and fierce as she plunged the hidden wrist blade into Hisoka's throat. Blood sprayed from the stab painting her in the crimson dye and it was only then that the distant voice that had been calling out her name finally came to a deafening roar.


 

“ARIETTA!” Raphael bellowed out the woman's name only after the twenty different ways of trying to wake her did not get him anywhere. He had been abruptly awoken by her pinning him to the bed an trying to stab him with his own sai in her sleeping state. Had he not been as quick as he had been then whatever was going on in her little nightmare would have become all too real for both of them. He watched as the light returned to glassy eyes and to his relief she started panting heavily in the realization of what was going on. “Calm down, Ari. Breathe.”

“Oh god...” Arietta looked at Raphael as the fog in her mind cleared out and she abruptly relinquished possession of the weapon she had in hand to him. She shakily got off of him and tried getting her bearings again. “Raph... I'm so so sorry... I... was...”

"Shh. It was just a nightmare, Ari." Raphael held her hand with his free one as he put his said down on the floor out of her reach. He flipped on the lamp so she could see easier and get her bearings back quicker. He could tell she was still struggling to come back to reality, almost like the nightmare was still playing even while she was awake. He sat up on the bed and placed his hands on her face, cupping her cheeks he damn near broke when she jumped and gripped onto his wrists like a vice. He needed to bring her out of whatever hell was gripping her mind and he knew he had to be very gentle, very careful, so the situation would not become worse.

“Look at me,” he kept his voice calm and as soothing as he could, even though his heart was still pounding hard in his chest from damn near getting skewered. He let his thumbs caress her cheeks as those gorgeous violet eyes of hers looked at him. He smiled and now that he had her attention he was determined to ease her more to the waking world. “You're safe. I ain't gonna let anything get ya.”

“I could have killed you just now,” Arietta could hear the quivering in her voice and could feel the slight shake in her body. Her brows scrunched as she heard him laugh and hearing it was a genuine one made her crack a small smile.

“Lucky for me you're a hell of a lot sloppier when you're sleepin'.” He let out another laugh when she playfully nudged his side with her elbow. He took that as a sign that she was a lot calmer now and more coherent so he brought her closer to him for a quick kiss. He placed another to her forehead for good measure before pulling back. “Did ya need ta talk about it?”

“Not really in detail. Just too disturbing to give the full picture but, I have this feeling.” She ran her hands through her hair before looking at Raph with her brows still furrowed. “Something really bad is about to happen and it has Hisoka's name written all over.”

“I won't let him get to ya, Ari.” Raph's mouth set into a line seeing the look she gave him. She was planning something he was not sure if he was going to like it.

“Might not have much of a choice. I'm still a pretty good bargaining chip, remember? We can take advantage of that. I know Donnie saved those tracking devices and I know Lyra has been helping him fix one of them. We can use it.” She let the grin slowly set on her lips and she took Raph's hands into hers giving a gentle squeeze.

“Ya can't seriously be thinkin' on bein' some kind of bait.” Raph's brows furrowed as he gripped her hands back. He was right though, he did not like the plan she was concocting.

"That's exactly what I'm thinking. I get the tracker put in and Donnie will be able to keep tabs. If anything it can be a precautionary measure." She could see how much the thought of what could happen was bothering her dear ninja. She smiled gently and placed one of her hands against his cheek. "I love you, Raphael. I have never felt so strong of an emotion until I met you and I want you to know that whatever happens, I'll come back to you. Always."

“Damn it,” he cursed with a soft growl to his voice as he pulled her against him. He held her tightly but made sure not to hurt her in any way. “Promise you'll give 'em hell, Ari. Promise you'll fight with all ya got if somethin' does happen.”

“I promise, I swear it to you.” She held on to him just as fiercely as he did her, burying her face to the side of his neck as added comfort. She grinned against his skin as another thought came to her mind of being able to tease him a little. “You're stuck with me now, Red.”

"Good," Raph retorted with a chuckle as he tilted her head back so he could look into her eyes. "I love ya too, Arietta, and ya damn well better remember it."

“Hell, after last night I don't think I could ever forget it.” She let out a laugh and gave him a quick kiss before she got out of their embrace. Stretching her tired limbs she let out a small moan feeling just how sore she was. No better way to get out the kinks than to get up and moving around to which she set on getting her clothes back on. “Hopefully they're already shopping now. The quicker they get done playing family the quicker we can do some real planning.”

“Should probably get some trainin' in too. The branch here got taken out and we can use the momentum. Go after the others maybe.” Raph got on his pants again and made sure to strap up his gear too.

"You read my mind. I'm going to get some real clothes on. I'll probably get your brothers caught up on the plan and whoever is still here that didn't decide to go up top." Arietta gave a smile holding most of her gear as she unlocked the door. With a wink, she headed out of his room and went straight to her shared room to get properly.


 

"Are you absolutely positive you want this?" Donatello was still a little reluctant to put the tracking device back into one of that assassin's skin again. Yet, with how Arietta had explained the idea he could not really hear any wavering in her voice.

“Yes, Donnie, I'm absolutely one hundred percent positive.” Arietta looked over her shoulder as she sat on a stool in his lab. She moved her hair from the base of her neck to bare the Black Lotus tattoo where she wanted it implanted. “I knew my mom and my siblings were going to get some supplies. To have both Cicero and Kazuto gone too just isn't sitting right with me.”

"You don't think Hisoka will do anything in broad daylight do you?" The worry was not unheard when Michelangelo asked and Arietta knew exactly who he was worried about most of all. Oh, how she wished she could ease the youngest but that would be lying.

“Honestly, I wouldn't put it past him, Mikey. If he has any sort of opportunity he'll definitely take it. Day or night, he doesn't give a damn.” Ari glared at her lap feeling her anger starting to bubble up. “We've always been adamant as hell about not being out together all at once. Makes it easier to be seen and recognized if we do. Now they're all of a sudden throwing caution to the fucking wind. They're being careless and stupid.”

“Are you upset you didn't go?” Leonardo had thought he heard a little jealousy in Arietta's tone but he was not about to just call out on it.

“A little bit. Yeah, I want to catch up on lost time with my mother too but I also know that we aren't really safe. We won't be safe until Hisoka is dead.” She tensed a little when she felt a hand on the back of her shoulder and she looked back to see Donnie had his gloves on and was holding a scalpel.

“Keep really still until I give the word. Don't want to cut you too deep.” He waited until she nodded and settled herself on the stool more comfortably. He focused on the task she had asked of him and knew he would be racing with her healing factor regardless. He looked to Leo and nodded to the gauze intending on getting some help. “Leo, I need you to hold the gauze against her skin and keep the blood off of her clothes. Mikey, you get to stand over here and hold the tray so I can get this done faster. Raph, you should probably help hold her still and make sure she doesn't pass out on us.”

“Aw, so thoughtful, Professor Plum,” Arietta let out a laugh and winced when she got a flick to the back of her head. “Ow! So rude!”

“The sarcasm isn't needed, Cowgirl.” Donnie grinned when he got a glare from her and he waited for his brothers to settle themselves where he needed them. “No, you're still not living that one down.”

“Didn't figure I ever would.” She took a slow deep breath in and let it out before she placed her hands on the top of Raph's shoulders.

"Here we go," Donnie gave the one warning before he made the incision on the tattoo. Hearing her sharp intake of breath made him feel bad about doing it but it was what she wanted after all. He quickly set the scalpel on the tray and grabbed up the forceps that held the altered tracking device. He carefully sprayed the blood away with saline water he had in a squirt bottle and bit back an apology when she hissed in pain. He pressed the device against the exposed tissue and added a little pressure to get the tiny spikes to pierce so it would stay. It was odd to him that they were all so quiet while he worked but it was not too much of a surprise given the delicate operation. Using the forceps he lifted the skin back over to cover the device before he took the gauze from Leo and pressed it to the wound. The forceps were set on the tray and he smiled. "Alright, it's in. Thanks, guys."

“This one isn't going to explode when you take it out right?” Mikey remembered the last time they had to deal with the tiny trackers and he really did not want to have to go through that again.

“No, Lyra and I made sure to get rid of all explosive wiring when we were fixing it.” Donnie chuckled hearing his little brother sigh out in relief. He moved the gauze away after a bit and was surprised to see the incision already healed over. The lack of a scar made it seem as if he never cut into her skin at all. “All I need to do is activate the program and synchronize it. You should be all set from there.”

“Thanks, Donnie. If any of them ask about it don't tell them I have one unless absolutely necessary. I know it's wrong to keep secrets but the less they know about it then the less Hisoka will know.” Arietta reached back feeling the familiar lump in the tattoo but she was not scared of it blowing her up this time around.

“You really are serious about Hisoka pulling a fast one aren't you?” Leo was starting to feel something was just not right. There was a nagging sensation at the back of his mind and it only intensified when she locked eyes on him. He let out a sigh and crossed his arms before giving her a nod of his head. “What's your plan then?”

“I won't really have much of a plan until something does happen. No matter what, you guys need to keep focus and you will have to keep them focused too. No half-baked plans or going on the fly.” She looked to see Donatello finish up with the programming and she smiled seeing the small pulsating red dot that signaled her location.

“Ari! Ari, come quick!” The sound of Lyra calling out got all of their attention but something did not sit right. Arietta got herself up from the stool and quickly blocked the guys from leaving before she peeked out. She could see all of the Assassins had returned with bags in hand and Dorian was carrying a bleeding Cicero on his back. There was something in the way they were all acting that sent more warning signals through her. Their eyes looked glassy and the fact that Calliope would have been working on patching Cicero up rather than just standing there and the slip of Lyra not using the full of her first name was her red flags.

“Something happened alright. No matter what don't interfere okay?” She looked over her shoulder at the ninjas and only when they nodded did they all head to the main room. Cautiously she made herself visible to them and she signaled for the guys to keep their distance. “How was the shopping trip?”

“Ari it's a trap!” Cicero groaned out and let out a howl of pain when he was suddenly thrown to the floor by Dorian.

“What are you doing, Dorian?!” Mikey took a step forward with a little shock to see the way the eldest sibling was acting.

“Stay back, Mikey! I'm not joking!” Arietta snapped at the youngest over her shoulder before she turned her attention back to the assassins. She looked down to Cicero seeing him bleeding from a deep wound on his chest and he was already looking pretty pale. “Let them all go Hisoka and I'll do whatever you want.”

“That's my girl,” Hisoka's voice sounded out and Shiori pulled out a phone from one of the shopping bags, holding it out so the video could be seen. “I don't think Karasu is going to make it but you are more than welcome to try to save him. Donatello, correct? You may come forward to retrieve him but no one else moves.”

“You're going to pay for this, Hisoka,” Leo spoke in a growled tone and he could see blood dripping down Dorian's hand. Donnie was quick to go over to Cicero and he carefully picked the guy up before he backed away slowly from the others. It was unsettling seeing how still and calm they all were.

"I highly doubt that Leonardo but, if you want to test me then go right ahead," Hisoka let out a laugh when he saw Leo grit his teeth at his open baiting. "I did not think so. Now, we are going to making an exchange but on my terms and my terms only."

“What makes you think there is an exchange here?” Arietta needed to keep him talking so she could get closer to her brother. She stopped and went completely still when the assassins all activated their wrist blades and pressed them to their temples. She realized then they were being remotely controlled though she was not sure how exactly. Seeing the blood dripping from the blade pressed at Dorian's temple made her come to the conclusion that her brother was forced to give Cicero the fatal stab. “Point made, Hisoka. I'll do whatever you want just don't kill anyone else.”

"I'm feeling good today so I will give you that. Once you are in my custody I will shut off the devices. You double-cross me and their blood will be on your hands, Arietta." Hisoka was all grins on the screen knowing he was about to get exactly what he wanted. "Hold your arms up and keep still for your brother."

There was really nothing she could do other than comply with Hisoka's demands. She held her arms up from her body for Dorian and did not move an inch as he came toward her. His wrist blade retracted and he started roaming his hands over her to search for any and all of her weapons. Her tessen were removed the holster on her back before she was checked over again. Her eyes widened and she heard the growls coming from behind her as Dorian's hands went up underneath her shirt. No doubt making sure she was not hiding any other weapons beneath her clothing.

“Is that necessary?!” Leo snapped but was quite proud that Mikey had been able to stop both him and Raph from moving any closer. Dorian's hands came out of the shirt and the growling from the two came to a stop.

“I'm unarmed now, Hisoka. I'm not hiding anything either so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't be perverted about this,” Arietta kept her tone level and she kept her eyes on the phone not at all amused.

“I was only being thorough. The device that is going around your neck is a lovely little gift from your father. He was actually quite generous in providing me with the little toys currently controlling your comrades.” Arietta watched as Dorian took the metal collar from Kazuto's hand and she could see the small needles on the inside. She closed her eyes as her brother opened it and placed it around her neck. A small sound of discomfort of the needles stabbing into her skin came out and she heard the device whir to life. “You have an hour to get to the previous site I mentioned as the exchange point. That will provide you enough time to say your goodbyes. Should you not be there alone when the time is up then I am afraid that you will watch each of your family members die very messy deaths and you will be forced to said location against your will. Try to remove anything including that collar and the same applies.”

"You have a deal, Hisoka. On my word, I will be there." Ari looked at the phone with a glare and only saw the wicked smile come to the man's lips.

"See you soon, Kitsune." The screen went black and a small popping sound issued from the phone as the screen spider webbed. The small plume of smoke that came out of the phone solidified there would be no tracing back the call. Arietta's eyes snapped to her brother as she saw his hands slowly raise up and they were shaking. He was in shock and with a quick glance, she could see all of the assassins were back in control of their own bodies.

“Dorian?” She carefully grabbed her brother's hands to keep them from shaking and she kept her voice calm.

“Cicero... I stabbed...” The tears in his eyes almost broke Arietta's heart and she knew the nightmare was only just beginning for all of them. She quickly pulled him to her and hugged him fiercely as she closed her eyes.

“It wasn't you, Dee. It wasn't you.”

Chapter Text

"Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting." - J.M. Barrie

 

Cicero lay on the medical bed and was really thankful that Leatherhead had taken the still unconscious Nanni to the bedroom. He really did not want the child to wake up and see so much blood or to watch him die. He was even more grateful when Donatello gave him the painkillers to help with the agony he was feeling from the stab wound, the throbbing had definitely not been helping him accept the fate that was before him. His eyes went to the doorway and he bit back tears to see his friends were back to their senses again and when he caught Dorian's eyes he smiled at him.

“Don't beat yourself up over it, Dorian. He made a damn good move and I'm glad it was you stabbing me and not him.” He let out a small chuckle but had to cough a bit to clear the blood from his throat. “It's a damn good thing you fought enough to miss or I wouldn't have been able to say goodbye.”

“Shut up, Cicero. Save your strength,” Arietta spoke up as she went up to his bedside where he got a good look at the collar now around her neck.

“No can do, Kitsune-taichou. I'm going speak my peace and I'm going to die with no regrets.”

"What about the fast healing?" Mikey sounded a bit hopeful but when Donnie grabbed his shoulder gently he knew without having to look at his brother's face.

“It's alright, Mikey, I know you guys are going to get Hisoka for this. Just make sure you add a little something extra for me.” Cicero grinned before he reached down and grabbed a hold of Arietta's hand tight. “Don't you dare let them break you with this. You fight whatever they do and you get your ass back. If you give up I'm going to haunt your cute little ass, mia amata.”

Arietta laughed and despite herself, she let her tears fall even though she had inwardly sworn to herself she would not cry. She closed her eyes when he wiped her tears and could feel the sticky smudge of his blood now on her cheeks. Cicero smiled sadly knowing his time was just as limited as hers and he forced himself to sit up. He was a little surprised to see Lyra rush into the room and came over to the side of the bed that Arietta was not standing next to. She held out his raven mask for him to which he took before pulling her close, giving her a quick kiss on her forehead receiving a gentle hug from her in return. When she moved back he resigned to the hugs he received from each of the other Assassins one by one, feeling a lump forming in his throat that he just could not swallow. He was a bit surprised when he got embraced by three of the Ninjas and even from Leatherhead who had made it a point to tussle his hair. The embrace from Splinter left Cicero a bit warm but there was still one left that had yet to come to him and say goodbye.

“Can I ask you a favor, Raph?” Cicero needed this and he was not ready to let go just yet, even though he could feel his heart trying to slow and his breathing becoming a bit more labored.

"Sure," Raphael moved up to the side of the bed that everyone else had and he looked at the dying man. His eyes widened as Cicero held out his raven mask to him.

“Promise me that when you get her back you won't let her go? Take care of her, since I won't be able to make good on my promise to be here to pick up the pieces if something happens,” Cicero chuckled a bit but then looked up at Raphael and grinned as much as he could manage. "Nah, I can see it. I'm leaving her in very good hands."

“Ya got that right,” Raph retorted with a slight smirk and took the mask in his hand but he cleared his throat when Cicero gave his arm a quick smack with the back of his hand. “Hell, ya can haunt my ass if ya think I ain't takin' care of 'er.”

“You bet I will, caro amico.” He grinned and even laughed when he got a smack back on his shoulder from the red-clad turtle. His eyes then looked up to Arietta again and he gripped her hand tightly. “Mia amata, no more tears. It's going to be alright. This is what we're trained for, no?”

"It's the hazards of what we are but that doesn't make this hurt any less. You might have been a pain in my ass but you're still my best friend damn it." Arietta could not bring herself to say any sort of goodbye so her eyes looked up to Raphael who, rather quickly, nodded his head to her; knowing just what she was wanting to ask without her having to utter a word. Arietta looked to Cicero before she leaned in to give him the only thing she could give him that could sum up everything for her where words were failing her. Her lips were pressed against his and only when she felt his hand go limp on her own did she pull back slowly. Cicero looked as if he was asleep with his lips frozen in a slight smile but she knew just as well as anyone as the tears slid down both of his cheeks that he was gone. She slowly pulled up the sheet and covered him entirely before she stood still with fists clenched to her sides.

They all filed out of the medical room and back into the living area where she would be able to convey her commands. For Ari, the clock was still ticking and she had no time to mourn and no time to be able to concoct an elaborate plan. She crossed her arms and looked at everyone one by one ready to make sure she would be able to leave without any doubts. Taking a deep breath she let it out slowly just to keep her emotions level.

“I need all of you to listen and not ask questions if you can help it. I'm on a time limit and the clock hasn't stopped ticking. I'm deadly serious when I say that there will be nothing done until those devices on you are offline and removed safely. Only then can you make the next move.”

“What's the next move?” Calliope stared at her sister knowing there was no room for argument at this given junction.

“Finding a new place to live. This location has become highly compromised and unsafe now. You lay Cicero to rest too. After that, you can make plans to find me. No half-assing it either. The Shredder is highly involved now and far more deadly than Hisoka could ever pray to be. You got your one time of normalcy this morning on the little outing so no you guys have got to check in on what needs to be done.” She heard the scowl from Dorian and she looked at him with a very hard glare.

“Don't rub it in, Ari.”

“Fuck off, Dorian. Cicero is dead because all of you made the stupid decision to go out on the town together. Your asses got tagged and controlled because you wanted to play family and go shopping like there was absolutely no danger. You guys fucked up and now we're left with the price we have now,” she paused in her scolding to look at Kazuto then over to her mother and finally to her siblings. “The creed is there to ensure something like this doesn't happen and yet you all seemed to let yourselves cast them aside so easily like they didn't apply to the moment.”

No one could have been prepared for what erupted. In a flurry, Dorian tackled Arietta to the floor but she had been quick to fight back. They were only allowed to exchange a few blows before they were pulled apart. Leo had Arietta held tightly and Raph kept Dorian in a headlock as they backed away from each other.

“Have ya lost your damn mind, Dorian?” Raphael growled out and had to hold back on doing any harm to the man he held. He was pretty ticked and ready to break the guy's fingers for lashing out at his mate but that would have just added more fuel to the fire already. Now was not really the time to suddenly drop the bomb of what he and Arietta had done to the entire family either. He moved Dorian over to the sofa and roughly sat him down before glaring at him. “Don't move.”

“We don't have time for this,” Leonardo sighed out and he slowly let Arietta go but he made her look up at him. “Quit cutting with your words, Ari. It's only going to make it harder.”

“I know, I know,” she quipped as she ran her hand through her hair making sure to clear her throat. “I have to go, just please don't do anything this reckless again. We can't lose anyone else to this damn mission.”

“Arietta please, don't go?” Lyra had gone up to her sister not even hiding the tears as she grabbed her sister's hands.

"I have to, Rara, or I'll lose all of you and they'll still get what they want." She gently kissed her sister's forehead and she smiled sadly at her little sister. "I'll be back before you know it. Donnie's going to need your help to get me home safe though so, you've got to have a clear mind for him. Right, Donnie?"

“She's right, Lyra. Trust me, she's not going far,” Donnie spoke gently as he carefully pried Lyra's hands from Arietta's before he wrapped his arms around her. He moved back with the youngest assassin as he looked up to Arietta with a stern stare. “Go now, Arietta. Run as fast as you can and you'll make it with some time to spare.”

“Ari?” Calliope had been able to shake the fog from her mind quick enough to realize this was no illusion and as her sister took off, she tried going after her only to be caught by Michelangelo. Her hear pounded as she watched Raphael take off after her sister when she could not, making her tears finally fall.

“Raph, don't!” Leo called out but he quickly had to grab a hold of a very panicked Dorian. He could see Kazuto keeping a firm hold on Shiori and he closed his eyes tight as he pulled Dorian against him.

Raphael had been able to catch up to Arietta just before she started up the ladder to get top side. He would not have been able to follow her once she got through the manhole and he did not plan to either given the threats that loomed. He would be damned though if he did not get to tell her goodbye at least. Without much thought to it, he pulled her from the steps and set her on her feet to where she faced him. He could see it in her expression she was ready to argue but he was not going to hear it. He kissed her with everything he had instead, his heart pounding as she gave as good as she got right back. All the emotions he was feeling spilled out of him without any sort of hesitation or filter and he held on to her for as long as he could. Reluctantly he pulled from their bruising kiss and he pressed his forehead against hers.

“It's not goodbye, Raph. I'm not going to be going away forever, just long enough to keep everyone safe.”

"I know but I don't gotta like it," he raised his head up and looked into her eyes before giving her a nod. Together they climbed the ladder and he moved the manhole cover far enough she could get out. The moment she slipped out to the surface, he felt a pain starting to settle deep in his chest. The cover sliding closed and plunging him into darkness made the pain grow and all he could do to help relieve it for the moment was slam his fist against the metal steps before he descended them. He made his way back to the lair but even as he saw the mixture of sorrow and anguish on everyone's faces, he could not safely be around anyone else at that moment. He instead went to the bedroom that Nanni was resting in and hid there knowing that he had to wait and that time waiting was best done watching over the little girl that had attached herself to him as a daughter.

He felt like it had already been well over an hour that he sat there letting it the entire day replay in his mind, trying to find if there might have been a way to stop it all from happening. He did not know how long it was going to even take to get Arietta back and the not knowing was feeding the anger that was already there. Reason number two of why he was staying away from everyone else, they had been lashed out at enough even though he wanted to give them a piece of his own mind. The small grown that sounded out surprised him enough that he jumped to his feet ready to attack whatever or whoever was intruding. When his brain kicked into his surroundings again all that anger simply vanished once he realized who was making the noise. He knelt back down next to the bed seeing the little girl rubbing at her eyes with the backs of her little hands.

“Mornin' kiddo. Did ya get enough sleep?” Raph kept his voice gentle, not wanting to startle the child. He could not the smile that formed as those bright red eyes looked up at him and he could see instant excitement light her features.

“Daddy!” Nanni sat up quickly and her arms latched around Raph's neck as much as they could. She let out a small giggle when he hugged her but after a moment she could feel it. The emotions in the entire place she called home felt heavy and very sad. “Wha' happen? Why so sad?”

He felt the lump forming in his throat, not sure if he should or even could tell Nanni what all had gone on while she was out cold. Hell, the fact she was going to find out the woman she called Mom was gone broke his heart enough as he gently sat her back on the bed. He cleared his throat trying to find the right words to make it easier for her to understand or where he would start. When she pats his bicep he raised a brow but gave her his full attention.

"Nanni can see?" She smiled innocently as she pointed at her head before she put her hands in her lap awaiting his answer and pretty much permission to delve into his mind. His eyes widened as he realized what else she'd be able to see without meaning to and that was not meant for children. He quickly shook his head no and at the same time, his voice finally came back to him.

"Not in my head, Nanni. Ya ain't old enough ta see that and probably shouldn't ever see that. How 'bout we get Leo in 'ere? He could show ya." Well, he had wracked his brain to figure out someone that she could get answers from and Leo was really his best choice at the moment. He knew his brother was pretty good at the whole mind meditation thing and if there was something he did not want Nanni knowing he could keep it locked up from her even psychically, or so Raph was hoping.

“Otay!” Nanni beamed happily, actually alright with that compromise as she ran toward the door. She poked her head out of the doorway making sure not to completely go out of the room. “Uncle Lolo! Tum 'ere! Nooo... only Uncle Lolo!”

Raph could not help but let out a laugh that he made sure was not loud enough to be heard from the next room. He was not sure why but hearing her telling someone no straight out like that struck him as hilarious. She was definitely a Quintus, not afraid to speak her mind at all. He shook his head as Nanni ran back over to the bed and hopped on it. He did not even hide the smirk as Leo walked in with confusion riddled all over his face.

“Hey, Uncle Lolo,” Raph tease his older brother and snickered seeing a half smile form on his face.

"She gets the passes because she's young. You don't get an excuse and I'll make you regret it the next time," Leonardo grinned at his brother before he sat on the edge of the bed looking at Nanni with a full-on smile. "I'm glad you're up and about, Nanni."

“Yeah and she's got a feel on the rooms. She wants ta know what happened, wants ta see it with the mind power but I can't let 'er in my head.” Raphael kept his facial expression as serious as he could, all the while praying that his brother would not ask him too many questions.

“Alright I'll do it but, is the reason why you can't have anything to do with your anger or is it because something happened between you and Arietta that she shouldn't see?” Leonardo had a smug smirk on his face that made his brother instantly bristle. Leave it to Leo to peg it all on the snout.

“I'll say yes jus' because Nanni's in 'ere,” he retorted with a very hard glare and with the chuckle that came from Leo he knew there would be a long annoying talk at some point. “Jus' hurry up so LH can check 'er.”

"Sure. Okay, Nanni, what do you need me to do?" Leo turned his attention fully to the small child and was a bit surprised when she stood up on the bed. Fearful she would fall and hit her head, both he and Raph steadied her as she got closer. He gave his brother a nod and wrapped an arm around her so she would not topple as she stood at his side, allowing Raph to relax. He blinked a bit when small hands held his cheeks and he could see her getting into a state of concentration. It felt like an instinctual reaction to take a slow breath in and relax when he let it out just as slowly.

Raphael watched in awe as not only did Nanni's eyes started glowing red but, Leo's were glowing in a light that was the same blue as his eyes color. It was a little creepy to watch especially since neither really moved or said a word for quite a while. The second the eye glowing stuff stopped he tensed up waiting to see how the child was going to react. He was a little worried when she sat down on her knees and glared at her lap with no tears at all coming to her eyes. Leo seemed just as uneasy at the way Nanni was behaving all of a sudden and neither of them were prepared for the way she looked up at them.

“Nanni help. Nanni 'as to help! 'Soka lie!” That last little phrase set off warning bells in the two turtles who were now looking at each other with wide eyes. The two of them got up and Raph picked up the little girl before they went out into the living room. There definitely was not going to be much explanation to what was happening as he set Nanni down on her feet.

"All of you need to get in close. Nanni says that Hisoka lied and I think she's going to take out those mind control devices." Leo left no room for argument and within a matter of seconds, they all crowded around the little girl with the adult Assassins kneeling down in front of her. Nanni closed her eyes and held her hands out in full concentration while everyone held their breaths, hoping and praying there would not be any explosions.

 

Chapter Text

"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways." - Buddha

 

Arietta felt colder than she had ever felt in her life as she waited in the old City Hall subway station. Even with the sweat beading down her skin that caused her clothes to stick as proof that she had raced to the station; the person she was waiting for made her blood feel like ice in her veins regardless of the workout. After the measures Hisoka had taken to ensure her cooperation, she was all but ready to strangle the man with her bare hands just to get her revenge for Cicero. Keeping herself hidden in the shadows, Arietta tensed as a subway train passed through on the busy line. She watched the empty cars go by and could not help but let out a small growl as Hisoka jumped from the train to the platform, two of his most trusted bodyguards landing next to him.

"Punctual as ever I see. My condolences on your loss, pet. I know how dear Karasu was to you." The faked empathy made her want to hurl as she moved from the wall she had leaned herself up against.

“Shove it, Hisoka. I know damn good and well you don't give a shit about who lives or who dies,” she snapped at the man and even snarled at him as he got closer to her. She had to resist all urge to lash out as he took a hold of her chin between his finger and thumb. The look he had in his eyes did not settle well and the Cheshire grin that slid on to his face made her stomach drop.

"Can't put anything past my clever little fox. You are right my dear. I could care less who lives or dies when someone gets in the way of what I want. Alas, there are quite a number of pests that I need to still exterminate. Some of which will make Saki a very happy man if they are wiped from existence," Hisoka abruptly grabbed a hold of Arietta's jaw in one hand before producing a tiny remote from his coat pocket. He held it up so she could watch as he pressed the tiny button that was no doubt meant to detonate the mind control devices.

"You son of a bitch!" Arietta bellowed out, unable to stop the tears that poured down from her wide eyes. Out of her emotional state, she moved to strike the vile man in any way she could only to see stars as she was slammed against the wall by his bodyguards. The bulkier of the two had his hand on her forehead since he was the kind one that slammed her head back against the tile.

“Again, I offer my condolences for your monumental loss. I would be a merciful man and let you join your dearly departed but alas, your father has made it abundantly clear that you are alive when I take you to him,” Hisoka straightened the cuffs of his suit after he tossed the remote onto the tracks to be destroyed. He checked his watch and as if right on time the subway train pulled into the station slowly. Arietta glared coldly as the train came to a stop and one of the car doors opened for them. “Come along Arietta, we have a tight schedule to uphold and Saki is not one to be kept waiting.”

“How about you go deep throat a knife, Sasori,” Ari hissed with a grin seeing the look of surprise that crossed his face when she used his old code-name. “That's right, I know all about your little scheme to get to where you are. Did you stab Master Hamato in the back like you did all your fellow assassins? All for the sake of power and a title?”

"You think you're so clever, don't you? Think you know all there is to know about me?" Hisoka could feel her getting under his skin and he hated just how easy it was for her to do it.

"I am Kitsune for a reason. Always the clever trickster and you can damn sure bet I'm going to be the one that stops your black heart in the end," Arietta was really good about letting her mouth get her into trouble and she found herself in yet another similar situation. The bodyguards had grabbed her arms moving her from the wall and moved her closer to Hisoka. There were no words or warning before the man reared his hand back and struck her on her right cheek hard enough that it caused the inside of her mouth to bleed. She slowly turned her face back forward again and did not hesitate to spit a good amount of her blood-lace saliva onto his face.

“Get her on that train and out of my sight!” Hisoka ordered harshly as he pulled out a handkerchief to wipe his face while the two men did as they were told. He quickly sent a text message to the Shredder before he got onto the train, all but ready to get the delivery over with.


 

By the time they had arrived at the warehouse, Arietta was absolutely numb on the inside. She would not shed another tear, even though the loss weighed heavily in her heart. The press of a single button was all it had taken to rob her of her whole world and she did not have the drive to fight her fate as she was escorted into the warehouse. Hisoka held his head up high in confidence as he saw Oroku Saki standing there with two of his own people with him.

“As promised, Saki, I present to you your daughter and I also come bearing wonderful news. Using your generous gifts I've rid us both of some highly aggravating thorns.” Hisoka motioned for his bodyguards to release Arietta to him before dismissing them entirely to wait for him in the car. He placed his hand on the woman's back and gently ushered her forward toward the Shredder.

“You've done well bringing my daughter to me but, I will not put much merit in your claims of destroying the pests.” Shredder moved to stand in front of Arietta cupping her chin to raise her head so he could look at her face. The look in her eyes alone told him he would have a much easier time at molding her to his side since it was evident that she had already given up. His eyes narrowed seeing the slight bruising on her cheek and there was dried blood at the corner of her mouth. “Were my instructions not abundantly clear that she would not be touched once in your care, Hisoka?”

“She's got quite the mouth on her and I regrettably allowed her to get under my skin.” Hisoka knew he had screwed up and lying would not have yielded a desirable outcome for him either. As Shredder kept silent he feared his relapse in self-restraint was going to cost him dearly. “Her regenerative trait is already healing all the damage that was done. There won't be any permanent marks in about an hour or so.”

“Shall I take care of the issue, Master Shredder?” The blonde behemoth of muscle that had accompanied both Shredder and Karai stepped forward, cracking his knuckles to further his menacing threat. Hisoka knew the man to be the leader of the local street gang that was slowly building a reputation within the city. The very noticeable tattoo on his left arm showed the claim to the Purple Dragons while the red dragon claw on his right shoulder served as a branding that he also belonged to the Foot Clan.

"That won't be necessary, Hun. Take Arietta and wait in the helicopter and we will be there momentarily," Shredder spoke in a level tone as he moved from Arietta, waiting for Hun to take her out of the warehouse before he moved closer to Hisoka. He kept his expression stoic even though the slight tremor of fear that Hisoka let slip pleased him. He brought up his hand to Hisoka's right cheek and with no words he activated his steel claws that were hidden under the sleeve of his business suit. He slid the blades against the skin and as blood cascaded down Hisoka's cheek he retracted the blades. "When I give an order it is to be followed by the letter. Let these scars be a reminder the next time you even contemplate defying me."

“Yes, Oroku-san,” Hisoka quickly replied with a bow of his head knowing he just got off easy with the punishment he received and with never being given the healing mutation he knew he would forever have the scars for all to see.

"Return back to the monastery in Tokyo. If I need any more services from you or the Black Lotus then I will contact you." Shredder turned from Hisoka and looked to his second command who quietly awaited his orders. He smirked thinking of a much better way to keep close tabs on his new underling organization. "On second thought, Karai will be accompanying you while I have some time to bond with Arietta. You can expect me in a few weeks and if Karai's reports are satisfactory then I will forego removing your leadership status."

"Very well, I will call and make the necessary arrangements to ensure Karai is comfortable," Hisoka bowed again and did not hesitate in leaving the warehouse before any more commands were given to him. He officially had his fill of orders with the last one being the topper. Karai looked at her master and when he locked eyes on her she bowed before him.

“Keep a close eye on him, Karai. There is a reason he has so little close friends,” Shredder gave her a nod before he went on his way to his personal helicopter that awaited him. Karai watched until he was out of the warehouse before she clenched her fists tightly. She did not like Hisoka since the first time she had made contact with him and now that she was babysitting she knew that dislike would grow even more into hate.


 

During the entire journey in the helicopter, Arietta sat still staring at the man she knew to be her real father. Seeing him in person for the first time in her life felt strange to her, and sickening all the same. He did not look like someone capable of so much evil, then again, she had never pegged Hisoka as a traitorous murderer that would kill his own friends. She narrowed her eyes as he looked right at her while the helicopter made its descent toward the landing pod located behind the manor.

“It's astonishing how much you look like Shiori.” The smile that appeared did not make her feel any less distrust toward him. “Your mother was very dear to me.”

"If she was so dear to you then why did you let Hisoka kill her twice?" Arietta bared her teeth at him with a sneer trying to look as angry as she felt toward him.

“Twice? What do you mean twice?” Shredder narrowed his eyes at his daughter but he stood as the engine was powering down. He only had to give Hun a look before he stepped out onto the landing pad leaving the massive henchman to bring Arietta along.

"It was Aunt Yukina who was killed in Paris that night not my mother. She was alive all this time posing as Ryuu but, thanks to those devices you gave Hisoka, he was able to finally end her life." Arietta kept her eyes on the ground as she was escorted into the massive mansion. To hear the Shredder let out a low chuckle at what she had informed him of just infuriated her more.

"I never believe someone to be truly dead unless there is proof, which I'm certain you've been taught that with your training as an Assassin. Hisoka is a fool if he truly believes that he killed all of them with just the touch of one little button." Shredder looked over his shoulder at her and the wicked grin that appeared on his face did not help her already very raw nerves. He turned to face her and even got closer, adding to the slowly rising panic she was feeling. "I'm certain they will be coming to save you but with the plans I have in mind, you will not desire to be saved."

“Like I'll follow you willingly. You may have had a hand in creating me but I will never call you my father!” Arietta let out a gasp as both of her arms were gripped tightly by Hun and yet again she wished she had not run her mouth.

“You're just as defiant as your mother, far more mouthy. However, much like her your willing participation is not an issue.” The grin on Shredder's face stayed as he reached forward, pressing the farthest right button on the collar she was wearing. Arietta had only let out a small gasp as she felt a cold liquid inject into her neck from the needles that were embedded in her flesh. The cold sensation coursed quickly throughout her veins and the drugs eased her into a sudden coma.

Hun smirked as the woman went limp within a matter of seconds and he easily maneuvered her into his arms, holding her bridal style. Shredder merely turned and went toward his personal office not wanting to waste any more time. The small dragon statuette on one of the bookshelves was turned left and he waited for the hidden ramp to be revealed. He knew that Hun would follow without a word from him, the smirk on his face disappearing as they both took the ramp down to the sub-level laboratory of his estate.

“Stockman do you have everything in order for the procedure?” The almost growled stern tone the Shredder had used made the scientist that was hunched over a keyboard instantly straighten up and turn out of the fear that had been instilled in him for many years. His ebony eyes stared wide behind the large black framed glasses while he swallowed thickly to ease the fear induced lump that was suddenly in his throat.

“Y-Yes, sensei Shredder,” Stockman quickly moved from the computer he was working on and moved over to the metal table he had prepared for the task of conditioning the new person. “Lay her down on the table and I'll get everything hooked up to her right away.”

Hun carefully put Arietta down onto the metal slab carefully before stepping back to get out of the way. He picked himself a good place to stand so he could watch all the work that was done mainly because he had nothing else better to do now. He had to bite back any sound of annoyance as he felt two presences coming up to watch on his right side. They were just about as stealthy as he was which was equivalent to an elephant stomping around. He did not have to look to know that Bebop and Rocksteady were gracing everyone with their unwanted company.

"Looks like you'll get your payback, Rock," Bebop let out a chuckle as he looked at the assassin on the slab. Rocksteady was quick to join in on the chuckling as he popped his knuckles, a more menacing grin spreading across his lips.

"About time, I've been lookin' forward to it. My back is still sore!" The rhino made a move to go toward the woman that had ridden his back during their first encounter but he was quickly held back by Hun's massive hand that he placed roughly on his chest. Rocksteady snorted before looking at the man with a scowl, not appreciating the sudden end of his revenge beating.

“That would be a very stupid idea,” Hun glared right back but he moved his hand away knowing they were not in the best of places to get into an argument. Any disagreement he got into with either of the two mutants usually ended up very violent and environmentally destructive.

"My daughter will not be harmed while she is here, am I understood?" Shredder had moved to stand before all three of his massive henchmen and he gave them an icy glare until they nodded in understanding. Turning back around with his hands resting against the middle of his back, he watched the scientist at work making equally sure that nothing was mishandled.

“We didn't know you had a kid, boss.” Bebop raised his purple IGAAKS sunglasses up to rest on the top of his head so he could get a better look at the girl.

"Without that mask on her, I can kinda see it. So, how come she's here?" Muscles yes, brains not really worked out as much between the two mutants.

"I plan to have her become a very deadly Foot ninja. She will follow my every command without question and with deadly precision. Thanks to her upbringing as an Assassin of the Black Lotus, there will be no training necessary." Shredder had a genuine smile appear as Stockman finished his work of restraining Arietta to the table, the various parts of the machinery that would mold her finally hooked up to her. He stepped forward placing one of his hands on her forehead while the other stayed behind his back. “Her orders will be just as genuine as my own. Anything she tells you must be executed as if it came from me.”

"The serum seems to be working flawlessly. All of her vitals are in peak condition to begin the process of memory distortion." Stockman turned sideways from the computer that would do all of the work necessary. He was awaiting further orders before he would begin the process. None of the questioned as Shredder removed the collar from around his daughter's neck carefully. After all, the device had done its job and would no longer be necessary once she was under his complete control. The thing that confused his four underlings was what he did after he handed the collar off to the scientist. He moved her bangs from her forehead and gave it a tender kiss, a caring fatherly gesture they never thought was possible to come from him. None of them were stupid enough to question or even bring attention to what they had just witnessed.

“You may proceed, Stockman,” he ordered as he took a small step back and his hands were resting interlocked behind his back again.

Stockman did not say anything as he turned to the monitor. His fingers typing feverishly on the keyboard as he initiated all of the necessary programs one by one in their proper sequence. More of the serum was pumped into her veins to induce a very potent effect of amnesia as the first step. Once the vial was depleted and in her system, the electrical hum of machinery filled the air and the visor that was over her forced open eyes began the visual. Audio played in the earbuds to go along with the fabricated life memories to further the brainwashing. All that she knew of her life gone in seconds and replaced with a life alongside her father. The family she had now known as the enemy, the turtles now on the engage to kill list and the ones she called enemies had now become her dear family.

 

Chapter Text

"The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you." - J.K. Rowling

 

Casey looked around the old lair finding the empty feel a little creepy, even though just a few weeks ago it had been so full of happy home vibes. After they had lay Cicero to rest and began the search for a new lair, the one he had come to know as a second home felt more like an abandoned memory now. He had only come down to see if he could not find a certain hothead turtle who, as per the usual, refused to listen to the rules about coming back. He sighed out heading over to where the dojo once was only to smirk finding Raphael standing there with his sais out, breathing heavily.

"You know, if they ever catch you here they're all going to flip out," Casey teased with a smirk as he leaned against the door frame with his arms crossed over his chest. His facial expression changed as he saw just how exhausted the guy was looking. "Come on Raph, let's get you back home. This isn't even remotely healthy."

“Jus'... ten more minutes, Case.”

“You get five, my friend. I'll give you longer if you start talking. I know the whole fact she's gone is the biggest reason you've been acting weird but with the way you've been looking this week it's got to be more than that.” Hell, he still felt pissed off they still had not gone to get Arietta back. He would have happily gone and brought her home himself but everyone had been pretty adamant about not going in blind on the enemy's home turf.

"The waitin' is killin' me. We've got a damn tracker on 'er and they don't wanna do a damn thing! It's like they've forgotten she's out there waitin' for us ta get 'er!" Raphael let out a frustrated groan as he put his sais in their proper place on his hips before running his hand down his face.

"I promise you they haven't forgotten, Raph. Hell, I know for a fact you wouldn't ever let them forget and neither would Nanni," Casey offered a small comforting smile to go with his pep talk when Raph looked at him and for a moment he saw something in the turtle's eyes that made his smile disappear quickly. "Raph, be on the level with me? I know you and your brothers have become really close with the Quintus siblings but I'm starting to wonder just how close is close."

“Pretty damn close. I ain't given ya too much detail but there ya go,” Raph headed toward Casey and even went passed him figuring it was about time to head home anyway. He smirked hearing Casey following suit and decided to get a jab in. “Ya know I thought it was obvious even for you, Jones.”

“Hey, no need to bust my balls,” Casey laughed knowing the turtle was trying to tease him now. “It's kind of obvious but I wanted to get confirmation so I don't go making an ass out of myself more than I already do.”

“Smart,” Raph smirked at the guy as they made their way through the sewers. No matter how hard anyone tried, Arietta was always at the forefront of his mind and until they got her back she would always be a constant ache.

"Alright, just to help me not piss anyone off tell me if I've got it all down right. It's a no-brainer that just by the way you've been acting lately that you've got more than a thing for Arietta so won't try to pry on that one. To which you're welcome," Casey grinned cheekily at the turtle who gave him a slight glare as a warning. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket he was instantly wishing he had driven and not walked at that moment. "Mikey has been practically announcing every chance he gets just how much he likes Calliope. I mean, he's been attached to her even more than ever since the move."

“Ya got it right so far.”

“Sweet. Lyra, much like Mikey, has no problem what so ever saying how she feels about Donnie. I don't think I'll ever stop laughing every time she turns him into a stuttering mess.” Casey grinned hearing the laugh that came out of Raphael and knew they were both picturing the same events between the couple. “Which leaves only Leo and Dorian. Are they a thing?”

“Yeah, they're a thing. Have been since the night that Black Lotus branch here blew up. Couldn't tell ya why they ain't showin' the lovey-dovey openly,” Raph smirked as they turned down a tunnel leading toward on old subway circuit that had long since been abandoned. He had a lot of ideas as to why the two eldest did not show so much public affection but he was not going to speculate on it.

“I get it. They've all been a pretty good addition to the band of misfits. It's like they've been a part of the family for years,” Casey smiled and closed his eyes a moment to reflect on everything that had happened to them. He recalled a vow Calliope made to April on the night they all blew up Hisoka's mansion. The promise that if things went too south the assassins would leave with no questions asked. “No matter what happens now and no matter how bad things might get, they can't just up and leave. They're all family now, even if they don't realize it. So, we'll get Ari back, Raph, I can promise you that.”

"Thanks, Case," Raph spoke gently knowing that the guy was trying to cheer him up even just a little and he knew Casey would keep his promise come hell or high water. "Which reminds me, who gets ta kick yer ass today?"

“It's Lyra's day to do the training. Meaning you can get the tiger balm ready for me, honey.” Casey grinned hearing the bark of laughter his joke elicited. They had not really let up with any of the training from the moment they moved into the abandoned subway station. Between making the place their home and keeping an eye on Arietta's signal, they squeezed in every second of training they could. At least one Assassin worked with Casey, honing his fighting skills so he would be able to assist the next time they needed extra help.

“She's quick, that's for sure,” Raph grinned as they made it up the stairs that lead into the open common area, the first room that got put together fully.

"Yeah, and her agility is insane!" Casey chuckled and seemed to brighten more as he saw April sitting on the couch reading while keeping watch over Nanni who, at that moment, was looking through some sketchbooks. The little girl looked up and instantly got excited seeing who had come back home.

"Ceecee foun' Daddy!" Nanni got to her feet with one of the sketchbooks in hand and rushed over to Raphael at her full speed. She giggled as she jumped into his waiting arms and was even more excited when he lifted her up.

“What'cha got, little mouse?” Raph smiled with the genuine smile he always had reserved for the little girl.

“Mommy's pretties!” Nanni beamed happily and flipped through a few pages before turning it so Raph could see the sketches. She grinned pointing to one of the pages a bit pleased to see Raph's look of surprise. “See? Pretty!”

“She's been pouring through some of Arietta's drawings that she found for about an hour now,” April spoke up as she set her book down with a gentle smile before getting up from the couch to join them. She took a look at the page Nanni was showing off and chuckled seeing the drawn scene of their first pizza night with the Quintus siblings. “I never really would have thought she was an artist or that she is so talented.”

“Guess she didn't want to show off her artsy side?” Casey smirked as he put his hands in his jacket pockets again.

“Nah, think she was shy 'bout it,” Raphael chimed in with a small smile as he looked at the detail in the artwork. He blinked when Nanni handed off the book to him so she could hop out of his arms with a cute little laugh. He watched as she ran back to the table she had been kneeling at when they walked in. When she picked up the crayon and started doodling again the panic rose rather quickly in him.

“Easy, Raphie. I got her some coloring books on our way here this morning. She hasn't touched any of Ari's works.” April bit back the laugh seeing the relief instantly wash over her terrapin friend. Oh, the joys of parenting and the poor guy was getting a crash course in it. They all were if she was perfectly honest since the child had instantly adopted all of them as her family.

“She's gonna give me a heart attack,” he chuckled out a reply as he closed up the sketchbook, turning his attention to Casey. “We'd better get ta the dojo. Don't wanna be late.”

“I hear that. You good, babe?” Casey smiled warmly at April and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek just so it would distract her from his term of endearment for her.

“I'm good, Shiori and I were going to take Nanni to the aquarium. Let her get some running around done so she'll go to bed easier tonight,” April smirked as she took the sketchbook from Raph so she could put all the artwork away.

"Just be careful. We haven't heard anythin' from that damn Hisoka or the Shredder. Ain't no tellin' what could happen," he knew he did not really have to stress the danger but at the same time, their enemy had been a little too silent lately.

“Which is why I insisted on going with her, Raphael. She came up with the outing and was going to try to take Nanni alone but I offered to be a bodyguard, just in case.” Shiori came into the common room from the direction of the dojo with a smile on her face.

“Ba-chan!” Nanni ran over and wrapped her arms around one of Shiori's legs in a tight hug. “Fish, fish with Ap'il!”

“That's right, Nanni. We're going to go look a the fish with April,” Shiori spoke in a gentle tone to the child as she gently picked her up in her arms before walking over to stand next to April.

“We'll be back by the time you guys get done with training. Try not to get your butt kicked too much, Casey,” April teased giving Casey a kiss on his cheek before she headed out of the lair with Nanni and Shiori.

"Is there anyone in this little family that has confidence in me?" Casey chuckled out as he looked at Raphael who only gave a sly smirk back.

"I don't think there is anyone on the planet that does," he barked out a laugh when Casey gave his shoulder a small punch to his answer. The guy might have been a huge pain in the ass when they first met him but Casey Jones had easily become his best friend over the year. He actually felt like he could let loose and just be himself with no judgment from the guy what so ever. He nodded his head for Casey to follow him as he headed off toward Donnie's lab. "Let's get yer teacher so we can get some trainin' in."

“I hope she doesn't use those damn throwing needles this time. Those things suck so bad!” Casey groaned as he followed Raphael already feeling his skin prickling at just the mere thought of the slivers of metal. He raised a brow seeing the door to the lab was closed which seemed odd since it had not been closed since the move. He could only get in an eye roll and quickly follow Raph in, not too surprised the hothead did not feel like knocking or waiting for that matter.

"Yo Lyra, are ya hidin' in 'ere with Donnie? We got trainin' already and Casey's ready for more needle sessions!" Raph snickered when he got another punch on his arm from the guy as they made their way through the larger laboratory.

“You're an ass, Raph!” Casey glared as hard as he could manage but did not put much threat behind it. They both rounded the row of shelving that was full of chemicals and supplies to check Donatello's desk when they found the two they were searching for. Casey felt his face burn seeing both Lyra and Donnie in the middle of a very heated make-out session. Instantly he regretted following Raph in as he cleared his throat loudly. The surprised yelp of being caught that came out of the turtle was rewarded by their laughter, the two of them adding to the already building ammunition to use on the poor techie.

“Do you two not know what a closed door means?!” Lyra was glaring daggers at the two who had interrupted. The laughter was not helping to sedate her frustration in the least.

“Next time lock the door,” Raph managed to retort and knew he was going to get paid back later by the glare he was getting from his purple-clad brother.” It's time ta train and it's yer day to teach Jones, Lyra.”

“Fine, we'll be there in a little bit,” Donnie pointed toward the exit giving them both death glares, which only made the two males laugh harder since his glasses were still sitting lopsided on his face. Lyra was growling a little and he knew she was about to take care of their intruders in her own way.

"Out! We'll be there in ten minutes now leave, you gorram cock blocks!" That only got Raphael and Casey laughing even harder and she instinctively grabbed something off of the desk beside her. With her deadly precision, she threw the permanent marker and hit Casey square in the middle of his forehead.

“OW!” Casey went to voice his protest at being a target but seeing Donnie pass her more markers he quickly turned to high tail it out. “Shit!”

“We're goin', ow, we're goin'!” Raph ran with Casey, having a few markers peg him pretty hard on the back of his knees. Once the two were out of sight and the door slamming shut signaled their departure, Lyra put the marker she had in hand back on the desk before looking at Donatello with a huge triumphant grin on her face.

“Now, where were we?” She let out a soft giggle when she was answered with a nip to the side of her neck. Her eyes widened when she caught the small red dot that signaled where Arietta was leaving the area it had been for the weeks she had left. She gasped and patted the top of Donnie's shoulders in a very excited fashion as she felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. “We've got movement!”

“She's left that compound?” Donatello picked up the tablet that was constantly feeding the tracking signal for their lost assassin and his eyes widened seeing the dot was out of the compound and headed toward the city. He could not help the smile that formed as he locked eyes with Lyra. “Ready to get your sister back?”

"Ya damn straight I am!" She gave him a quick kiss before she quickly got out of his lap. She wasted no time running for the door of the lab all kinds of excited to rescue her sister. Donatello laughed out hearing her bellow to the others the exciting news as he made his way out of the lab. The unsettling feeling that nagged at the back of his mind was one of warning that they could very well be walking into a trap. Then again, when were they not finding themselves getting into some kind of deadly trouble?

 

Chapter Text

"Sometimes, all you had to do was exist in order to be someone's savior." - Keigo Higashino

 

Night had fallen on the Big Apple and the Foot Clan had been running ragged all day long by their new commanding officer. Each hit to every chemical facility and technology warehouse had been executed efficiently with swift precision, all of them robbed of their supplies. Their last mark of the night was another chemical housing facility and a few of the soldiers were carrying out the last of the crates to their trucks. Hun was highly impressed with the Shredder's daughter since she had been able to keep the orders simple enough that even Bebop and Rocksteady had no issues in following them.

"That's the last of it, Arietta. No problems so far and we've got everything on Stockman's list," Hun smirked as he crossed his arms over his chest while standing on the right side of the woman. The silence she held instead of answering him was not setting well as he looked down to see that she had heard him. Seeing how still she was and how she kept her eyes closed sent a chill down the back of his neck, a warning signal that something was off. He glared hearing Bebop and Rocksteady walking back inside, joking with one another as usual in the loudest volumes they could manage. That was one thing that never failed to irk him about those two, they always announced their presence whether wanted to not.

"All done here, boss lady," Bebop grinned as he stopped in front of Arietta. He raised his sunglasses up having caught her demeanor and he quickly elbowed his best friend in his side to get him to focus a minute. "Boss lady?"

“Did you piss her off, Hun?” Rocksteady grinned at the gang leader hoping that the guy was about to get a good reaming from the deadly woman they were working for.

“Shut up you walking trophy!” Hun snapped his retort at the rhino and even growled out at the chorus of 'oo' that came from the two mutants.

"All of you, shut it!" Arietta commanded quickly as she removed her dual katana from their sheaths on her back. She glared catching the slight movement in the rafters and her previous suspicions were now a reality for her. They were no longer the only ones in the facility and by the way, the ones in the shadows moved she knew exactly who had joined them. They were most certainly in for a fight now. "Hun, Bebop, Rocksteady; get ready to fight, the rest of you get everything back to the compound with no delay!"

“Get ready to fight? Fight who?” Rocksteady looked around seeing nothing but the now empty freight crates and nothing more. He let out a snort as he caught the slip of a shadow as someone rushed between the crates. He let out a laugh instantly pumped as he made his charge to chase down the intruder. “Found one!”

"Game on suckahs! You can run but you can't hide!" Bebop had rushed in the opposite direction since he had seen another run-pass more crates, his blood pumping with excitement.

“Idiots!” Arietta cursed out but her attention went back to the rafters as two massive figures jumped toward her and Hun. She let out another soft curse as Hun was tackled to the ground by Raphael leaving her to clash swords with Leonardo. “Took your sweet time catching up. I was beginning to think I'd have to hunt all of you down myself.”

"We've come to take you back, Ari!" Leo scrunched his brows as he heard the laughter come from Hun and Arietta both. He stared into her eyes seeing the odd coloration to her iris and how her pupils slit like cat eyes. The sudden hard kick to his midsection made him groan out as he slid back a foot away from her.

"Take me back? Funny you'd say that when I've never been on your side, to begin with. You and your brothers are going to pay for what you've done to my father," Arietta got into a low stance to rush at Leo but she quickly flipped herself around. In a blinding speed, she took Dorian down to the ground having thwarted his attack from behind. In a matter of seconds, she had him flat on his back with his naginata knocked several feet away from him. The blade of her katana pointed to where the tip rest against his throat and her foot pressed against the middle of his chest. "Looks like you've brought some more trash with you too."

“Don't do it!” Leo knew by the subtle twitch of Arietta's arm that she was poised to stab Dorian in his throat. When her eyes looked up to him he dropped his weapons and held up his hands in surrender not wanting for anyone to die by her hands. “Don't kill him and we'll surrender.”

"You don't have much of a choice," Bebop chuckled out as he emerged from the area he had run off to holding a seemingly knocked out Lyra. He threw the unconscious Assassin over toward Arietta with a smug grin. Rocksteady came out with a prize of his own and he deposited a passed out Calliope on the ground next to Lyra giving out a triumphant snort.

“Hun, quit playing around with Raphael and get over here,” the command was short and sharp but it had definitely been heard. Arietta kept her eyes on Leo as Hun roughly threw Raph down at his brother's feet. She could tell the man was not pleased that he did not get to choke the turtle out but she was forming a plant to rope her biggest prizes. “You three tie up these would-be Assassins and if you even think about using your wrist blade, Tanuki, I will cut your hand off.”

“You know me so well,” Dorian kept his tone as level as he could and did not move an inch as Arietta removed the foot from off of his chest. He glared when she moved away from him and the three massive henchmen did exactly what they were told.

“Now, if you want them to continue breathing then I highly suggest that Donatello and Michelangelo join us in the next ten seconds,” Arietta smirked beneath her half-mask as the two turtles she asked for jumped down from the rafters, landing on either side of their brothers. “I'm loving the obedience, boys. Weapons, please?”

“At least she asked nicely,” Mikey retorted flatly as he tossed his nunchaku to Arietta's feet. He held back the growl in his throat seeing Rocksteady holding up a bound Calliope against him. “Come on Ari, are you really going to let them handle your brother and sisters like that?”

"My brother and sisters?" She tilted her head and raised a brow at the youngest turtle. She grinned wickedly seeing him swallow hard and knew he must have been trying to throw her off somehow. "I don't have siblings so nice try. Cough up your weapons now or necks will break."

As if to make good on the threat all three Assassins' heads were grabbed and Dorian's groan of discomfort sounded out from the slight torque. The sounds of more weapons hit the floor as the other three lay down their arms. Arietta let out a small amused laugh as she sheathed her own swords before she kicked their weapons over to where Dorian's naginata rested. She reached up and removed the mask the covered the lower half of her face shortly after and put it in the pouch that was resting against her thigh.

"What'd they do to ya, Ari?" Raph did not like her new appearance or how she was acting. This was not his mate, not his Arietta. She looked just like a Foot ninja which was not what she was. The bloodthirsty look in her eyes was unsettling to all of them and it was driving home the fact more she could very well be lost to them.

“No more questions from any of you,” Arietta glared before she looked back at Hun. She held out her hand and easily caught the thrown bag he had retrieved from off his belt.Turning her attention toward the four ninjas, she grinned even more scarily as she pulled out a device from within the bag. It was the same model of the device that had been used to control all of the Assassin weeks ago. "Since tying the four of you would be useless, I'm going for a much more efficient method."

“I don't think so,” Leo retorted with a grin and in a matter of seconds all of the lights went out. Fearless and his brothers made their move quickly to retrieve their weapons from the ground while the Assassins got themselves free from their captors. The girls had done their jobs of playing it up being passed out helpless damsels that they so were not.

Arietta could only growl out in frustration as she heard the pained groans of Bebop and Rocksteady. She was cursing herself for having fallen for the cheap trick as she reached to take out her katana again. The second her arms were pinned to her side and she was lifted from the ground she yelled out in a howl of anger. The hold only became tighter as she struggled to free herself, all in complete vain.

The lights were flipped back on again and she froze to see Hun, Bebop, and Rocksteady on their knees with blades at their throats. To her relief, they were still alive and very much awake looking at her with equal amounts of confusion and frustration. She glared figuring it was Michelangelo that was holding on her since she could not see him standing around. Her vexation growing to see the man in the hockey mask walk out into view, no doubt to her he had been the one to flip the lights. The man let out a low whistle as he raised his mask to rest on top of his head, his eyes locked on Ari as he joined up with the group.

“They really did a number on you, Arietta. I'm digging the cat eye contacts, though.”

“Well played. I wouldn't have guessed you brought Casey Jones here,” Arietta sneered and tried again to get herself free but let out a sigh of defeat knowing she was thoroughly caught. “Let them go and I'll do whatever you want.”

“We're not leaving without you,” Hun barked out as he looked to the woman knowing if they returned and she did not, Shredder would make sure to give them the harshest punishments he could think of.

“Yes you will,” Arietta snapped back which made the three tense with the commanding tone she had used. They all three bowed their heads in unison at her and she looked to Leonardo. “They are set free and I won't fight back. That is all I ask, you have my word.”

“Alright, let them go,” Leo kept his attention to Arietta as the blades were moved from the three behemoths' throats. When he heard them get to their feet he looked at them before nodding his head quickly toward the exit. “Leave. Now.”

"This isn't over," Hun stared at them all as Bebop and Rocksteady made their retreat first, not needing to be told twice. He only spared Arietta a quick glance before he took off after them, ready to get the hell out of there so they could mend their bruised pride. Arietta glared as she kept the small blade she retrieved from her boot in her previous struggle hidden against her palm. She was waiting for the right moment to make her move so she could make her own retreat.

"So far so good. Now, what do we do?" Mikey kept his hold tight, not letting up on the tight bear hug he had on her. It had pained him to know that she was definitely not on their side anymore and it pained him, even more, to think they would have to hurt her at all.

“It's obvious they brainwashed her somehow but without knowing the exact methods they used, I can't guarantee we can reverse the effects.” Donatello got closer and pulled his visor down trying to do a full scan just to see if he could find any quick answers. “I'm afraid we'll have to get Nanni's help. She might be able to find out psychically what all was done and she might even be able to reverse it.”

"No way. Seein' 'er like that is already gonna break the kid's heart," Raph did not want to subject the child to see what was done to her mother. Even he was having a hard time stomaching that she had been brainwashed.

"There isn't much of a choice. With her mind under their control, we're going to have to keep her under lock and key," Calliope crossed her arms looking up at Raphael. She did not like the idea either but she knew they could very well lose her sister forever if they did not reverse what was done. "It's a safe route to use Nanni rather than poke around at her brain."

"Do you really not remember us, Arietta? Your friends? Your family?" Lyra lifts her rabbit mask to the top of her head as she neared her sister, staring at her dead in the eyes. Those red eyes that held so much hatred and evil intention toward all of them rather than being the loving amethyst ones she knew to be her sister's.

"You are nothing to me!" Arietta yelled out causing Lyra to closer to Donnie just to get away from her in fear. The enraged assassin took her chance to strike by stabbing the knife deep into Mikey's hip. The orange masked turtle let out a cry of agony and had no choice but to release his hold on her as he fell to his side, grabbing the wound to stop the bleeding.

"Mikey!" Calliope brandished her kusarigama but hesitated to strike knowing that she was about to strike at her sister and if she missed she could very well hurt Michelangelo more. Arietta had got out her katana and went to strike both Donatello and Lyra but Raphael had come in to protect them. He had stopped bother of her katana with his sais and was pushing her back to give everyone more maneuvering room. Calliope quickly got her mind back into gear and she ran over to Mikey's side to see how bad the wound was that Arietta had inflicted.

“I should have seen that coming,” Mikey hissed a little when Callie touched near the wound. When she looked at him apologetically he shook his head with a small chuckle to ease her worry.

“She missed anything vital but you're going to hate moving around for a while,” Donnie spoke gently to his youngest brother and got out the supplies to help Calliope with the triage. He looked up to see the progress of getting Arietta back into a restraint but the scene was less than encouraging for him.

Dorian and Casey both had rushed in to give Raphael a hand only to get themselves both hurt in the process. Dorian was on his back holding onto the heavily bleeding wound that was in the spot where his collarbone met his shoulder while Casey lay comatose on his stomach. A welt on the side of his head where he was knocked out was forming while the long gash that went from his left hip to the top of his right shoulder bled heavily. Raphael groaned from where he sat braced against the side of the cargo crate, having been kicked hard enough to slam against the metal leaving a nice dent. The left side of his head was covered in blood from the gash that went from his jaw to his temple and it was already making a pool on the ground. It was Leonardo now who was engaged in a fierce battle with Arietta. Donnie prayed that his brother would prove to be the superior swordsman that they all knew he was and that he would be able to subdue Arietta again.

"Snap out of it, Ari! You're stronger than this!" Leo was not about to give up on her just yet. He was not going to let her slip away from them again. He had seen the effect of her absence on Raphael. He had seen the change in her siblings, her mother and in Kazuto. The way Leatherhead kept himself distant from all of them, just to deal with the losses in his own way. The many nights of Nanni waking up crying because she missed her mother. Master Splinter was the one calm and soothing presence for all of them, easing their loss as best he could. Arietta was right there in front of him and yet, he could still feel her beyond his reach.

"You've lost, Leonardo. Give it up now and I might just let the rest of you live," Arietta grinned as her blood coated blades clashed against his in a symphony of metallic ringing. They attacked and blocked in unison, not once causing any damage to the other. It seemed as if they were in a deadlock until she was taken by surprise by the chain that wrapped around her legs. Her attention snapped over to Calliope who was glaring at her defiantly with tear filled eyes.

“Snap her out of it, Leo!” Callie screamed out as she yanked the chain back toward her causing her sister to fall on her back. Once Leo got Ari's swords out of her hands and far enough away from her did Callie let go of the chain. Her attention going back to her role as field medic even with the tears that fell from her eyes. Now that Mikey was patched up there were three more to care for and she had no time to let her own emotional pain take hold.

"Arietta you have to fight it. Fight whatever they're using to control you," Leo pleaded as he kept Arietta pinned to the floor by straddling her and holding her wrists by her head. He had discarded his swords with hers once he had disarmed her, not wanting there to be any more bloodshed. "You promised Cicero that you'd fight no matter what, remember?!"

"You're so pathetically delusional!" She glared up at the turtle that kept her pinned down and she saw something in his eyes that made her stop her struggling for a brief moment. He looked so exhausted to her and not just in the physical sense but spiritually and emotionally.

"Ari," Leo's tone was soft and he had one last ditch effort left to try and get her back. He knew if what he asked next did not get to her then they would have to take her home unconscious and restrained like a prisoner. That thought pained him as he pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, fighting back the tears that were stinging his retinas. He felt her tense as he whispered softly to her. "Can we go get some Gelato?"

"How about any time any of us needs to talk we just ask to get some Gelato and no matter what we go talk?"

Arietta's own voice echoed from deep within the recesses of her mind. Her eyes widened as flashes of memories robbed her of her sight. The false memories that had been implanted fighting the truthful ones for dominance in her psyche and the searing pain made her feel like her mind was being torn apart. Leonardo let go of her wrists and sat up when she had suddenly let out a cry of the pain she was in. Her hands instantly clamped tightly over her eyes as if to stop the mental assault while she continued the howl of agony. The sound of her voice sent a chill through his body and the best way he could describe it was the agonized cry of something feral.

“Get away from her, Leonardo!” Lyra's sudden shout made the leader in blue quickly get to his feet. He jumped back to give him a little more space from the woman that was now writhing on the floor in pain.

His eyes widened as he heard the sharp whistle from behind him as four darts lodged into Arietta's back. He snapped back to look at Lyra only to see her shaking and pale in a pose that conveyed she had thrown the darts without hesitation. The howling slowly died down and he looked to see Arietta succumb to the sleeping toxin-laced needles. Cautiously, he went over to her and knelt down checking to see if she still had a pulse while Lyra approached them to retrieve the projectiles. He looked at her in shock even though he was relieved to still feel Arietta's pulse beating faintly beneath his fingertip.

“What the hell just happened, Lyra?!”

"Her psyche shattered. You remember how we got our code-names? How the mutations didn't stick, right? You break us down in our minds, make us become savage and the mutation can take over," she answered as best as she could while she kept herself from crying. Tenderly she brushed Arietta's hair from her forehead and that was when she let the tears finally fall. Leo wrapped his arm around the youngest assassin and gave her a moment to collect her emotions, his eyes lifting up from the sleeping Ari when Raph knelt down beside her.

“Let's get 'er home,” Raphael did not look to anyone else but Arietta as he picked her up in his arms gingerly. Leo could see the toll the quick battle alone took on his brother and he sighed out, not making a comment about the still bleeding facial wound. They were all tired, beaten, and raw. Their victory, even though it was a win, felt hollow knowing the fight was not done yet.

 

Chapter Text

"You never realized how thick your fog was until it lifted." - J.R. Ward

 

“The mind once broken is a hard thing to mend,” Kazuto spoke sternly with crossed arms as he looked at the sleeping Arietta. She was lying on the medical bed that sat behind a cell of very thick glass. Confining her to the glass prison was deemed a necessity not only for her safety but for the safety of everyone else once it was revealed what all had transpired.

"It was a shot in the dark and I thought it would work, Kazuto!" Leonardo was beyond exhausted by this point. His emotions were raw with how many had to be patched up because of the wounds Arietta had inflicted and watching her mentally snap was just too much for him for one night. He let out a sigh of exasperation as he uncrossed his arms and turned to go back to Dorian's bedside. He placed his hand on top of the male's head, waiting for the anesthesia to wear off. Leo felt he could rest easier and think straighter once they were all on the mends.

“Don't beat yerself up, Leo. Ya did what ya had to so she could be home. OW!” Raphael winced at the unnecessary tug on the needle and thread that was at his cheek. He gave Donnie a glare with a small growl to go right with it.

“I told you not to talk while I'm stitching this up or do I need to sew your mouth shut too?”

“You'd be doing us a favor, bro!” Mikey let out a laugh but it soon turned to a wince from the pain that shot up from his hip. He sighed out leaning his head back against the wall he was standing against, his eyes staring at the ceiling. “What are we going to do now? Are we going to keep her caged up forever?”

"It's the safest plan until she comes back to her senses," Calliope finished the wraparound Casey's forehead and she could see in his eyes how much he was beating himself up for what happened. "Hey, you did your best, Casey. A lot better than what had been expected given the circumstances."

"I still got my ass kicked. I feel like I didn't have enough training," he sighed out as he laid himself on his side, all but grateful for the painkiller that Calliope had given him. He could still feel the pressure on his back from where he got sliced.

“You didn't die and that's what matters. Nobody died tonight considering who we were up against which counts as a blessing to me,” Lyra kept her eyes toward the glass cage, waiting for her sister to just wake up. The tears were long gone but her eyes were still a bit puffy and red from all the crying she had done.

“Mommy!” Nanni's voice caught all of them by surprise as the little girl ran toward the glass prison. Lyra quickly caught the toddler and kept her from trying to find a way in.

“You can't go near her yet, Nanni bear,” the teary look Lyra got from the child made a whole new set of tears spring to her own eyes. With a sniffle she held Nanni closer to her, letting the child cry into her chest as she silently cried into Nanni's hair. She hated that she had to deny Nanni the one person she had been missing for weeks now.

“So, training turned into getting Arietta back? No offense here but you guys look like hell,” April kept her tone as gentle as possible as she went to sit on the side of Casey's bed that he was facing. She could just feel the atmosphere of the room and it pained her to see all of them looking so defeated. “Did you at least catch the plate number on the bus that ran you over?”

“Even better,” Casey chuckled as he sat up, taking April's hand in his before gingerly pressing his head to her shoulder. “We caught the driver over there.”

“Arietta did all of this?” April looked around at all of the injuries and the solemn faces. It was a shock to hear that Arietta would attack any of them, none the less that she would hurt them, especially Raph.

“They wiped her memory, didn't they?” Shiori looked at the group as she kept her hand pressed against the glass prison. Seeing the nod from Leo she turned her attention back to her comatose daughter. “Damn you to hell, Saki.”

"We might have a way to reverse it," Donatello put the last patch on Raphael's stitching while he offered up the insight. He turned to address the room, the uncertainty surely present in his eyes as they all looked at him. "I hate to do it but, Nanni could reverse the effects using her psychic abilities. It could take us months or even years to figure out what method of brainwashing they used and it could take even longer to come up with a cure for their method. Seeing as we don't have that kind of time, Nanni may just be our one and only option."

He turned his attention back to Raphael now since he had been the only one adamant about not using Nanni's abilities. Raph still was not so keen on the idea but he knew his brainy brother was right. This was the only quick option available and since he was so over with waiting to have his Ari back, he was done fighting against it. Silently he got off of the stool he was sitting on before making his way over to Lyra. He offered the teen girl a small smirk as he put his hand on the top of her head. Only when she nodded to him with a smile did he carefully take Nanni from her and he was feeling a little relieved the two of them were not so teary-eyed now.

“We'll give it a shot but I'm goin' in there with 'er. Not takin' any chances of Nanni getting' hurt.”

“The second you see Arietta start changing in any way you get the hell out of there,” the strained groggy voice of Dorian made Raphael look over to the Assassin who was slowly sitting up with Leo's help. Raph could see a mix of fear and concern in Dorian's silver eyes that sent a lick of warning through him. “There is a chance the mutation could still take over. It isn't cute when it happens either.”

"Any chance this could backfire? Could Nanni change too?" There were just so many risk factors running through Raph's mind and it was making him hesitant to go through with this little plan.

“Daddy?” Nanni's gentle tiny voice made Raph look at her and she smiled up at him. All she did was give a single nod and the smile got bigger to help show off her confidence, her lack of fear. He could only chuckle and rub the top of her head finding himself feeling proud that she was being so brave with everything going on.

"Alright, little mouse, ya win," he admitted his defeat as he shifted the little girl over to one arm so he would have an easier time getting the door open. When Donnie went over to the lock the door behind him he only slightly smirked at his brother and walked into the room.

He could see all of them gathering around the glass to watch, which made him roll his eyes. It was making the whole thing feel like they were part of some circus act. Not dwelling on the annoying thought, he sat Nanni down on the bed close to Arietta's head before he sat himself down on the left side of the bed. He got himself in a strategic position so he would be able to quickly restrain Arietta if something went wrong. He looked at the child who was settling herself in comfortably as she could.

“Whenever yer ready.”

"Save Mommy, make one," Nanni spoke in a stern tone as she readied herself for the daunting task ahead. She sat on her knees and placed her right hand on the middle of Arietta's forehead before she reached out to Raphael with her left. The smile was gone now as she became prepared to tap into her power.

“Make one?” That idea did not sound at all foreboding. Raph took in a slow deep breath and grabbed a hold of Arietta's hand as more of a comfort to himself. He then looked over at the glass wall the whole crew was watching from, waiting with anguished hope that this would work. They had done their damnedest to bring her back to him physically and it was only right that both he and Nanni brought her back the rest of the way. He let out his breath slow as he leaned toward Nanni's little hand, his forehead resting against the child's palm while he closed his eyes.

“No be 'fraid,” Nanni whispered gently as she began to link both Raphael's psyche and her own to Arietta's. Their bodies glowing in the usual red aura and the lights above flickered rapidly from the spike in energy. The little girl focused herself and her breathing before slowly closing her eyes to begin the fight to save her Mother.


 

Raphael found himself in a very strange place that looked like something out of a nightmare. The whole room seemed to be covered in crimson satin while shards of glass in varying shapes and sizes littered the air. There were thousands of them just floating around which to him felt ominous. He looked all around him and felt panic settling in when he realized he was sans one little psychic assassin.

"Nanni? Where are ya?!" He yelled out hoping that she was close enough to him in this nightmare to be able to hear him calling. He tensed when he felt hot air billow on the back of his head and down his shell as an answer to his call. The air that wafts over him had definitely felt like it was a snort made by a large creature and he was just a bit reluctant to see what was standing behind him. On a growl, he unsheathed his sais and spun around not wanting to let fear of the unknown stop him but he was not prepared for what he saw. The haunting red eyes of a very large black fox stared back at him, the beast stood just a few inches taller than he was putting its muzzle right at his face level. He slowly put away his weapons and brought his empty hands up to seem less threatening to the creature. He did not want to get his face eaten even if the fox was not physically real. "Easy, easy. I ain't gonna hurt ya."

The fox tilted its head only a little before it lowered itself onto the ground. The animal let out a small whine as it looked over its shoulder at a small lump that had been clinging to the nape of its neck. Raph raised a brow and approached the side trying to get a better look and when he saw the familiar head of white hair he let out a small chuckle. Gently he tapped the back of Nanni's head and grinned when she popped her head up, looking at him with wide eyes. Her shock and fear washed away quickly when she realized who had got her attention.

“Hi, Daddy!” She grinned all cute like as usual while she adjusted herself on the fox's back to ride more comfortably. “Kitsune found Nanni!”

“Yeah, found me too. Think she'll be willin' to help us find Ari?” He let out a laugh when he got a light nip to his forearm as an answer. “Lead the way then, Foxy. I'll follow on foot ta save yer back.”

Raphael felt less vulnerable being back to rely on his own two feet either way. As the fox stood to its full height he smiled hearing Nanni let out a sound of excitement. It seemed like to her that she was riding on a carousel horse instead of the enormous fox within someone's mind. He kept at the fox's side letting her lead the way only to have the realization hit him the fabric all around them was not satin or even velvet. It was blood, deep crimson sticky blood, as far as the eye could see. That did not lessen the creepy factor at all as he heard the squishing echoing slightly as they padded over the putrid liquid. The scent of it all, the coppery sickly sweet scent had only just hit him when he realized what was surrounding them.

"The bloodshed by her hand. Corrupted and innocent melded in a pooling prison," the fox looked at Raph but her muzzle did not move to indicate she had spoken. That muzzle parted wide to make small yipping sounds like a sort of laugh after she saw the surprised expression on the turtle's face.Yes, I can talk because of Nanni's ability to create psychic links. If you had come here alone communication would have been non-existent.”

"Jus' keep on addin' ta the weird why don't ya?" Raph sighed out not sure if he was mentally prepared for all of this. He looked ahead still only able to see miles of blood and shards of glass which was not very promising to him. "Ya sure ya know where we're goin', Kitsune?"

I would certainly hope so, Raphael. To you, this is an endless lake of blood and glass but, do you understand why it is like this?” The fox kept walking forward, keeping her red eyes towards the front, not sparing him a glance at the moment.

“Guess she keeps all the bloodshed in her mind. Keeps tabs on what she spills. I'm lost on the shards of glass,” Raph sped up his pace a little so he could gauge the fox's reactions a little easier. He saw the red eyes narrow as they continued walking.

“The glass is the world that is shattered to her. The events of tonight were not the cause but rather her belief that all of you were dead. Hisoka pressed the button and she thought it had destroyed all of you,” a wide smile formed on Kitsune's muzzle after she revealed the meaning of the glass, it was a tad bit creepy to Raph.She will be in for one hell of a surprise when she sees that all of you live.”

"Takes a lot more than a buncha necklaces ta kill us," Raph grinned at his witty retort before quickly shielding his eyes as a door of white light suddenly appeared just in front of them. He kept walking forward right along the fox's side as they went through that brightly lit door, his senses telling him to look behind them in time to see the bloody glass filled room disappear. His eyes widened in surprise as he got a good look around the white room that seemed to have a sort of ancient temple dojo feel to it. He was taken aback when his eyes went where the fox should have been standing only to see a woman that looked eerily similar to Arietta staring at him. He tensed and dropped his hand to his side seeing those red eyes of her bearing into his very soul. The tail and ears of the fox were throwing him off just slightly. "Wait a minute, are ya Ari?"

"Yes but I'm also not. I'm the Beast that absorbs the bloodlust. The animal within that was awoken by the mutation," Kitsune spoke softly as she looked down to Nanni who was focused on the direction of an altar that sat in the middle of the room. She smiled gently and let go of the child's hand before carefully ushering her to the lead the way, mindful that her claws did not harm the precious girl. "I am only one part of the whole that was torn asunder."

"One part?" Raphael scrunched his brows trying to make sense of what she was talking about, hell having Donnie or Leo there to translate would have been better for him, though he would never admit that out loud to either of them. He stopped just short of the altar when he saw Arietta's armor kneeling in front of the altar Nanni had led them to. What should have been his Ari in that armor was nothing but a creepy mass of swirling crimson smoke.

“There are now three parts left before everything will be as it should be. Nanni must stay here to keep the link so none of us become torn worse than we are. It is up to you to bring the others here, Raphael,” Kitsune kept her tone gentle as she turned to look at the turtle with a small smile on her lips, her eyes twinkling with that mischievous light all foxes usually held.

“Sounds easy 'nough, which one first?” He smirked and had to bite back a laugh seeing her fluffy white tipped tail wag slightly in delight of his enthusiasm. His followed where her clawed finger had pointed to only to watch a black plume of smoke billow from the floor. A door in the distance appeared in the smoke. The door looked to be made of ebony-steel and was embellished with a silver symbol that looked familiar to him. That emblem is the same one from the Nightingale necklace that Arietta had inherited from her father.

“The Shadow is the next to be collected since the Assassin has stayed here. Good luck to you, Raphael,” Kitsune lowered her arm to her side before she sat down in front of the altar close to the armor. Nanni smiled as she happily sat herself down in Kitsune's lap and occupied her time by playing with the fluffy fox tail.

Raph took a deep breath before he made his way toward the new door. Seeing that there were no handles to speak of he placed his hands on the metal and tried giving a push to open it. The damn thing was not budging an inch which proved to only instantly agitate him. Taking a step back with a growl he looked up at the mass of metal and glared at the silver bird that mocked him. A memory tugged faintly at his mind of Arietta reading the inscription on the back of her pendant out loud. He took in a slow breath to calm his bubbling rage hoping that it would work like some kind of pass-code.

“Eyes open and walk in the shadows.”

 

Chapter Text

"You put your arms around me and I'm home." - Christina Perri

 

Raphael watched as the massive door swung open on its own with a loud creaking noise, sending chills throughout the turtle's body. He clenched his fists tightly as he stepped through the threshold, all but ready to keep going. Not to his surprise, he heard the door slam closed behind him as he continued walking forward, going farther into the pitch black room. Just as he could feel the agitation build up from not being able to see anything a faint light filtered in from who knew where. He continued pressing forward but kept himself hidden in the shadows, not allowing any part of himself to touch the light.

“I feel like I'm in a damn video game!” Raph growled out as he came to the end of the pathway which had led him to a small pedestal being slightly illuminated by the burning braziers on either side of it. He stared at the necklace that was given to Ari with a little skepticism before he grabbed it up from where it lay on the stone. He almost regretted the impulse as stone grinding echoed as the pedestal slide down to the floor. The wall between the two sources of warm light slid down in the same manner and he was a bit surprised to see the old temple again. It was not nearly as blindingly white as when he just left it.

“You work fast, Raphael,” Kitsune mused with a smirk as the turtle came towards her looking both highly confused and slightly enamored by the change in the temple. Hardwood flooring in a deep amber color now covered the floor and the walls had gained the signature look fitting of a dojo setting.

“I didn't even find the Shadow, Kitsune. All I found was a necklace,” he spoke in a rather perplexed tone as he held up the jewelry to show it to her. The smirk she had only made him glare at her in return. “What'cha smirkin' for, Foxy?”

"Look behind you and you will see that you found far more than just a trinket, Kame," she spoke gently with the smirk becoming a full-blown grin as the hothead looked slightly behind him. A female figure dressed in a more modern styled armor of the Nightingales had been right at his back the entire time he stayed in the shadows. She had walked among him just as the phrase had gone.

“This is the Shadow? How long 'ave ya been behind me?” Raph turned fulled to face the figure not really sure if the empty eyes were creepy or annoying to him. When she raised her hand up with her palm just under the pendant he raised his brow at her. He relinquished the jewelry over to her and stared daggers as she put it on while she walked over to the altar. She claimed up a shadier spot to linger in and did not utter a single word to his question. “Ain't much of a talker is she?”

"As a Ninja, you should understand that to be one of the shadows you must enact silence. Thus why she does not speak. Two more to go, make haste. Nanni cannot keep this up much longer," Kitsune muttered as she looked at the small child laying in front of the altar in a shivering fit. She carefully scooped the girl into her arms and covered her with the large sleeves of her kimono as well as her tail to try to ease the child's suffering.

“Shit, show me the next door!” The state Nanni was in lit a fire of quickened determination in Raphael and he looked toward his right where Kitsune pointed. He was less than pleased to see the symbol of the Foot Clan glaring right at him in all its bright red glory against another ebony metal door. “Fuck me.”

He rushed over toward that insulting door and without much thought to it he kicked it in. He was quite pleased when it slammed open for him with a loud bang once it hit thewall. He brandished his sai figuring he was more than likely about to be in a hell of a fight. He was actually looking forward to hitting something as he kept his momentum going. He continued his path forward ready to face what awaited him in the dark. The braziers burst into flame to light up the path and the figure that was suspended in front of a large banner with the same symbol as the door gave him pause. He narrowed his eyes as the room become more lit with the soft glow of the flames and the figure too was illuminated. Those hellish evil eyes met his own and all he could do was sneer at the woman clad in the Foot Ninja armor. It would have been all too soon to see her again like this.

“Do you remember what I said? If ever my father used all of you against me?” Having a civil conversation with this particular person was far from Raph's mind but, her question did catch him a bit off guard.

"Not really a good time for riddles," he retorted as he approached the woman keeping his eyes trained on her just in case. The sound of metal snapping made him instantly take a defensive stance with his sais as the Foot version of Arietta fell from the air. She landed gracefully on her feet and brought her hands up to the half-mask that covered the lower part of her face.

“If I must become a monster to protect what is mine, then a monster I shall become,” she spoke softly as she lowered the mask to reveal a gentle smile, the rest of her body she kept still. Raphael sighed out as he put his weapons away before he held out a hand for her take.

"He didn't give ya much of a choice and ya ain't no monster ta me," he offered a smirk with his statement which quickly turned to a full-on grin when she took his hand.

“Smooth talker,” she replied teasingly and walked with him side by side to the room with the other representations of the psyche. Her eyes widened when Nanni came barreling over to them in a fit of laughter and latched onto her unoccupied arm. “Hello to you too.”

“One lef'!” Nanni grinned looking up at Raph who was looking slightly confused that she was so hyper all of a sudden when a moment ago she had been a wreck.

“Someone injected her with a little adrenaline,” Kitsune offered the answer with a small smile on her lips as she approached them. Carefully she took the hand of the Apostate from Raph's and led both the woman and the child toward the altar. The Shadow moved over towards the Assassin as Kitsune let go of the Apostate's hand to pick up Nanni into her arms. “You've done well, Raphael.”

“Not done yet, Foxy. One more right? Like Nanni said?” Raph walked over to the altar but was taken by surprise when Kitsune handed Nanni to him. He raised a brow when the fox woman gently caressed the little girl's cheek.

“There is one more but you won't find her in here, Kame.”

“What are ya sayin'?”

"Daddy?" Nanni looked at Raphael and grinned as big as she could. "Wakey wakey. Mommy waiting."

Raphael let out a chuckle understanding now what needed to be done and he gave the little girl a nod. His eyes widened when he looked over to say goodbye to the personas only to see on standing there smiling at him. It was his woman. His mate. She was made whole again, which brought a smile to his lips for her as his vision went bright white again.


 

Raph's eyes snapped open and right behind it came a searing migraine from his little mental vacation. He was never happier to see his brilliant brother holding out a glass of water and the altered painkillers for him to take. He quickly downed both to get relief going faster as he took note of the silence in the room. Looking to check on Nanni he could see she was not only wide awake as well but she was staring at the still sleeping Arietta.

"Had to give Nanni some adrenaline, she looked like she was having a hard time holding the connection," Donatello took back the now empty cup and gave his brother a quick glance to make sure he was truly back in his own mind.

"Always a quick thinker," Raph replied but did not put much real emotion behind it. He was starting to feel on edge with every moment that ticked by without Arietta opening her eyes. It was making him question to himself silently if he had done enough. Had he truly saved her or did the damn fox within trick him into believing he had succeeded. "Come on Ari, come back ta me."

With each passing second, the tension grew more in the medical room. The more Raph and Nanni stared at the comatose woman the more dread settled in when her eyes did not open. It was weighing heavy that they may have failed in their attempt to return her mind back to normal. Raphael looked around the room seeing everyone standing at the clear glass, watching along with him. Donnie's concerned look was making him feel even worse but the one that pained him more was seeing Nanni on the verge of crying when he looked up at him. He was not sure if he would be able to console her if they had failed.

The small grown of discomfort snapped both of their gazes back in time to see Arietta scrunching her brows together. Her eyes slowly opened and she blinked quite a few times to get used to the bright lights above her. The color of her irises was back to their usual, not demonic, amethyst colors much to their relief.

“Ari?”

"Mommy?" The two that had been the most eager were now leaning closer to Arietta hoping for some sort of response from her. Arietta's eyes slowly moved and when she saw the two closest to her she quickly sat herself up in the realization of her surroundings. She scooped the little girl against her with one arm and pulled Raph into the crook of her neck with her other arm not even holding back the tears of relief.

"I'm home," she spoke out in a whispered tone holding on to the two of them as if they would disappear if she let go. She looked up to see Donatello smiling and slowly she turned her head toward the door that was abruptly opened. Raphael and Nanni got out of the way in time as Lyra launched herself onto the bed and latched onto her sister tightly. Arietta wrapped her arms around her little sister just as tight and buried her face in her rainbow colored hair, not even caring that she was openly crying in front of everyone. "Told you that you all would get me back home safe, Rara."

"Don't you ever leave like that again! I don't give a damn why you just don't do it!" Lyra cried into her sister's chest but there was no real threat in her tone at all. She pulled back and got off the bed to stand next to Donnie who took a second to ruffle Arietta's hair with a grin. That got Arietta laughing and she gave him a wink as she fixed it back. Her laughter was cut short with a small grunt of slight surprise as Michelangelo quickly got his hug in, all but relieved that the missing member of the family was back and not evil anymore.

“Mikey, I'm so so sorry about the stab to your side.”

“It'll heal, don't worry. Just glad you're back on our side now,” Mikey admitted as he pulled back to allow Calliope in now to get at her sister.

"You'd better take it easy for a few days. Got a lot of healing to do and it's not just the wound that needs to mend," Callie could not help but give the orders to her sister, ever the loving mother-hen even when she wanted nothing more than to hold Ari tight and not let her go.

“Callie, save the doctoring and just hug me,” Ari teased as she carefully got out from underneath the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed. She hopped off the mattress and quickly wrapped her arms around her older sister biting back the urge to sob when she felt Calliope shake with the silent tears.

“Damn it, Arietta. I thought Hisoka had killed you or that Shredder had. The nightmares were hell on all of us,” Callie gripped at the red material of the scarf around Arietta's neck as she openly spoke what hell they had gone through.

“I know. To be honest, I thought all of you were dead. Hisoka pushed that damn button and I believed it.”

"Nanni caught on quicker than we did about Hisoka's little double-cross. She got the devices off and deactivated them safely," Dorian spoke up from the doorway keeping his eyes to the ground as both Kazuto and Shiori got their hugs in. He was surprised when he was pushed forward a bit and he looked at Leo who had been the one to give him the light shove on his back. Leo nodded his head toward Ari and Dorian knew exactly what he was telling him without any spoken words needed. He let out a small chuckle and got closer to his sister feeling his chest starting to tighten with all of the things he wanted to tell her all at once.

Arietta took one look into his eyes and could see all of his pent-up emotions, all the turmoil. There was the one thing none of them had spoken on and the one person that it was eating up was right in front of her. She took a deep breath in and smiled softly at him feeling the stinging of more tears in her eyes. Dorian took in a shaky breath as his own tears sprang to his eyes and he cleared his throat.

“Dorian, you don't have to say anything.”

"Y-Yeah, yeah I do. Ari, I'm sorry for it all. I should've been thinking clearer. I know Hisoka just as much as the rest of us and I knew he was going to pull something. If I had just been more alert, Cicero..."

“Cicero would be kicking your ass right now, Dee. He wouldn't want you to be standing here feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody knew Cicero better than I did and he would be all for us getting that bastard back,” Arietta grinned all but confident that they would be able to get the ball rolling on their little mission. “That's the next play. We take out the other four compounds and then we go after that son of a bitch with all we got.”

“Then that's what we're going to do. Welcome back, Kitsune-taichou,” Dorian quickly pulled Arietta against him into a tight hug and he kissed the top of her head when she hugged him back just as fiercely. “I'm so glad you're back, Ari.”

“Me too, DJ. Me too,” Arietta smiled and pulled back wiping away her tears. Her eyes looked over to Leo who was looking right back at her with a smirk on his face. Dorian let out an amused chuckled as he moved to the side of his sister to give her the go ahead.

“Think you got a few more hugs in you, Arietta?” Leo asked in an amused tone as he held his arms open for her. He grinned when she rushed over to him and jumped into his arms to hug him hard. He held her back tightly and hid his face against the top of her shoulder to keep his tears in check.

"You got through Blue. Thank you," Arietta whispered and swallowed back the next wave of tears that threatened to fall. She could feel a slight shaking of Leo's frame which told her he was fighting the same thing.

“I didn't think I did. I thought I'd broken you,” Leo admitted that fear he had from the second he spoke the words out that had caused her to snap. Carefully he set her back down on her feet and pulled back to look her in the eyes only to find her smiling brightly at him.

"No, Leo. You did exactly what you needed to do in order to get me home," she playfully smacked his arm which elicited a much-desired laugh from the Ninja leader. Her mind replayed the battle just hours ago and she scrunched her brows as she looked at all of them to assess the damage she had done. "Did I-"

“No, just bumps and a few scraped but we'll live. Don't go beating yourself up over any of it. It was all worth it to get you back,” Casey and April both came in and exchanged hugs with Arietta. The vigilante even messed her hair up a bit to further drive home his words to her.

“Tell that to my side! I won't be able to do much of anything for a while!” Mikey's complaint made Arietta laugh knowing he was just poking fun at her and she was all but willing to tease back.

"Next time you'll be more careful on who you give bear hugs, huh?" She grinned at the orange-clad turtle giving him a wink before she looked around in a bought of confusion.

“Leatherhead is workin' on some hackin' job to get more info on the compounds and Master Splinter is probably meditatin' in the dojo,” Raph answered her silent question with a smirk as he helped Nanni onto the floor.

“Both have said they wanted to see you the second you were in the clear to be up and about. Seeing as there is no real issue at the moment you're free to go, just take it easy until Callie and I can run a few tests to make sure there is nothing residual with the brainwashing they did,” Donnie smiled getting right back into the swing of resident physician which made Arietta laugh a bit.

“I think I can manage that. My first order of business is to get out of this outfit as soon as I can. I feel really out of place right now,” Arietta tugged at some of the Foot Clan armor she was still wearing and that got laughs from everyone. Raphael made his way over to her with a big grin on his face.

“I'll give ya the tour too once you're clear of bein' a spy,” he teased and let out a bark of laughter when she smacked his arm in retort.

“Hardy har har,” Arietta smirked as she picked Nanni up in her arms glad it was real and not some dream. She really was home.

“I think we should get some drinks on the stronger side to celebrate,” Dorian grinned mischievously as he looked over to Casey who was grinning just as mischievous as he was.

“We've got a date topside then, Dee.”

“It feels good to be home!” Arietta laughed out all but ready to settle into the swing of things again.

 

Chapter Text

"If you don't know exactly where you're going, how will you know when you get there?" - Steve Maraboli

 

"Are you going to hover near the door all day or are you going to come in and join me?" Master Splinter cracked one eye open having felt a presence near the door for quite a while during his meditation. He had thought for a moment that it had been one of the Quintus siblings or perhaps even Shiori coming to seek solace with him from their grievance of Arietta's missing status. His eyes widened when he saw who appeared in the dojo's doorway and in a matter of seconds he was standing up still in shock, thinking he was now seeing things.

“Splinter-shishou,” Arietta smiled warmly as she spoke in a choked gentle voice. She saw his features change from shocked confused to tearful relief and she quickly went over to him. She hugged Splinter tightly with a smile as he returned the embrace just as tight.

“Welcome home, Arietta. We all missed you so very much,” Splinter spoke softly as they both pulled back from their hug and he placed his hands on her cheeks with a smile. He then motioned to the mats on the floor for her to join him before he took his place on the mat he had been meditating on.

“It feels good to be back home. To be honest, it's only felt like a day has gone by but three weeks?” Arietta sat in front of Master Splinter all but comforted to be in his presence again.

"They were all adamant about sticking to your requests before you left. What happened that day changed everyone," Splinter kept his tone soft as he poured two cups of jasmine tea before offering one of the cups to her. "Now that you've returned to us, I have no doubt that all of you will have the drive to complete your mission."

“Yes and I already have the first stage planned out to the letter,” Arietta took a sip of her tea, enjoying the soothing taste of the flowery warm liquid as it coated her throat. “We are going to destroy the laboratory where all the chemicals and technology are being taken to. Tonight.”

“That is a risky move but judging by your tone I can tell you're set on this,” Splinter set his cup down and he looked into her eyes. He could see the ordeal she had been through had taken its toll on her. She looked rugged and not quite back to her fully fiery self. “You all will have my blessing for this little sabotage mission but under one condition.”

“Name it,” she smiled gently all but compliant with doing anything for the wise rat.

"Once it is done we will all make a trip to the country. Casey has a farmhouse large enough where we can all stay and we will take our time. All of you will train and become as one before you even contemplate the next move," Splinter smiled, even more, seeing Leo now standing in the doorway listening. The second he made eye contact with him, his son walked over to kneel next to Arietta. He made a cup for his eldest son before he continued naming his one stipulation. "You will all take time to relax as well. All of this has become a heavyweight that you all bear and I can see the toll it has taken on each of you."

“I can agree to that. What do you say, Blue?” Ari looked at Leo who chuckled a bit after he took a drink from his cup.

“A little country air might do a lot of good. I know Nanni will have the time of her life running around in the open.” The three of them had a chuckle being able to easily picture the child tearing off to adventure in the woods or take a swim in the river.

"Then it is settled. Now, what is this plan of yours for tonight? No one with any injuries is going with you, correct?" The rat lifted his cup again eyeing the two leaders, wanting to hear the confirmation they had thought about preventing any further injuries.

“Hai, sensei. We're only taking a team of four. Ari, Raph, Donnie and myself.”

"We'll be able to get in, grab some data that will help on the major mission, set the explosions, and get out before dawn," Arietta kept her tone level not giving away her internal excitement to be able to get a jab in against the Shredder. Splinter could see it in her eyes even when she looked down quickly to her teacup.

"Do you have a plan if there are surveillance cameras or lookouts?"

“Donnie will be handling the computer magic while the three of us handle the heavier lifting,” she answered before looking at Leonardo who, having been enjoying his tea, gave a nod of agreement to the plan.

“We know that there may be a big fight on our hands but we'll buy Donnie enough time to get all we need before we make a tactical retreat,” Leo gave a bit more to the explanation and it was worded more to appease his father.

“The end result is to put a stop to Shredder's latest scheme,” Donatello spoke up as both he and Raph walked into the dojo geared up and ready to go.

"Latest scheme?" Splinter watched the two kneel down and by the way, the four reacted to his question, he knew he was not going to like the answer.

“A chemical weapon that he plans on unleashing through the water system,” Donnie looked at Arietta who gave a nod of confirmation.

“She still remembers all the plans the Shredder has and know where we need to hit to put a stop to it,” Raph could see the woman was still not letting the memories staying in her mind sit well by the way she clenched her fists but the knowledge she had was an advantage for all of them.

“We won't run into Shredder while we're there. He left for Tokyo three days ago to conduct more business with Hisoka,” Ari saw the relief cross Splinter's features at that little bit of good news she could give.

"Then you have little time to waste. Do what you must and come back safely. When you've returned we'll have some downtime to pack and ease the worn spirits," Splinter chuckled as all of them stood up. He watched the four of them bow before they left the dojo in to which he only shook his head. "There will be a day they'll be bored to tears when there is no saving to be done."


 

"You idiots had better start praying that sensei Shredder doesn't give us a surprise call!" Stockman was a bundle of fear having heard Arietta was lost on their watch. He could only imagine the awful punishments in store for them.

“There wasn't much we could do. She gave the orders to leave so we did,” Bebop shrugged leaning against the wall of Stockman's office with Rocksteady standing beside him, both of them having their arms crossed over their chests.

“You heard what Shredder said. Follow her orders no matter what,” the rhino backed up his warthog buddy, not really liking the unwanted scolding Stockman was giving them.

“You three could easily take them on! You've got the muscle and with her fighting at your side you could have put an end to all of them,” the scientist was having a field day and even Hun could tell that if Shredder found out there would be no hesitation from Stockman to through them under that bus.

“It wasn't our call, Stockman. They had the upper hand and we got out because Arietta bargained our lives for hers.”

“To which I won't be doing the same for you, Stockman,” Arietta spoke up leaning against the doorway of the office once again dressed in her Foot armor from earlier. Her eyes having the same altered coloring thanks to Nanni's power and by the relieved looks on Hun, Bebop, and Rocksteady the plan was working.

“How did you get away?” Hun turned to face the woman as she approached once she closed the door behind her.

“I cut down the numbers into my favor and used the wounded to my advantage. They let me go once I brought to their attention that lives were at stake,” Ari kept her tone even as she walked over to the desk to sit down on the closest edge. “So, breath easy, Baxter. Dad doesn't have to know what happened on the last run. It'll stay in this room between all of us.”

“Maybe we can add a distraction by the massive haul you secured for us,” Stockman sighed out as he rand his hand down his face to ease his nerves.

"See? You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours," she gave the scientist a playful wink even though she was trying not to hurl or bust open some heads. She let out an 'oomph' when Bebop patted her back and her brow raised as Rocksteady pat the top of her head.

“That's our girl!” Bebop let out a laugh not hearing the growl that came out of the earpiece Arietta had in her left ear. The growl coming from Raphael who was giving Leonardo a hand at working out the Foot Ninja while Donatello did his hacking magic. The four in the room with her had no idea what was happening in the lab below them and she was set on keeping them distracted.

“Don't hold out on us, Ari! Tell us the details,” Rocksteady grinned as he pulled up a chair wanting to hear the gory story since they had nothing better to do. She placed her hands on the desk to keep herself up as a grin slid onto her lips. The grin was not because she was going to tell the story but more because Donatello had given the green light that he got all the data and they were headed her way.

“You know it surprises me how my father has been able to keep his power for so long. With such weak and easily dealt with employees I just don't get it.” When the confusion hit the four men's faces she clicked her tongue and pulled out the detonator for the bombs they had planted in the ventilation system earlier.

“What the hell are you doing, Arietta?!” Hun felt quite a bit of betrayal seeing her eyes changing back to their purple color. He clenched his fists as she walked right by them toward the door just as it opened.

“I'm putting an end to this little nightmare,” she calmly explained as she turned to face the henchmen while Leo, Raph, and Donnie stood beside her with their weapons drawn. “Poisoning the water system is a whole new level of crazy but contaminating it with that brainwashing agent? That's just going a bit too far.”

"Is it really? After all, that serum I created worked wonders for you. Tell me, how did you lot manage to reverse the effects? There shouldn't have been even a drop of her memories left," Stockman glared as he pressed the button on the remote he had tucked in the pocket of his lab coat. He was making a certain phone call just to cover his own hide.

“Ya didn't get all of 'er, ya sick fuck,” Raph sneered at the man but their attention was grabbed by the monitor that lowered from the ceiling. The faces that lit up on the screen made his rage build quickly.

“What is the meaning of this interruption, Stockman?” Shredder glared seeing what was going on in the room and he was less than pleased to see not only three of the turtles were at one of his facilities but his daughter was no longer under his control.

“Now see, didn't I just say we could have kept all this between us? Your funeral now, Baxter.”

“Looks like Kitsune is back to her pleasantly witty self,” Hisoka spouted off earning a glare from both Shredder and Karai.

“What is it you're planning now?” Shredder knew he was going to have yet another mess to clean up and the four henchmen in the room would pay for it upon his return. He narrowed his eyes hearing the chuckles coming from the four intruders.

"We're way past the planning phase, Shredder," Leo grinned as he looked at the four that stood in from of them. "Get out."

“Or stick around and get blown up. Either way don't matter ta us,” Raph's grin was a bit unsettling to the four men and even more of the promise of going up in an explosion. “What's it gonna be?”

“You're going to let them walk away so easily?”

“Yes, because we aren't monsters like you,” Donatello glared at the screen as his words came quick and stern. Hisoka shifted back appalled by the answer he was given.

“They have worse punishment to come once they've met back up with you. I'm sure,” Arietta grinned as they parted from the door that lead to their exit. She held up the detonator for those on the video call to see. “Either way. This place, all the chemicals, all the equipment? Boom.”

"Take your leave. I will deal with the four of you when you've arrived in Tokyo," Shredder gave the order that his men could make their exit and Stockman did not hesitate in going first once he set the remote down on the desk. Bebop and Rocksteady followed shortly after but made it a point to have a bit of a macho spat with Raph on their way out. Hun was the last to leave and he stopped next to Arietta, his back facing the screen as he stared out into the hall.

“You get all you need?” His eyes glanced to Arietta who gave a subtle nod but kept a glare trained on him. “Good, you guys take them down and don't fuck up. I draw the line at messing with kids.”

“Make yourself scarce then and stay the hell out of the way, Hun. You only get the once,” Arietta smirked only a little when she heard him chuckle slightly.

“See you around,” Hun headed out ready to make sure he and his gang of Purple Dragons did as Arietta had suggested. All eyes were now back on the screen and the glares were promising threats of the future battle looming.

“You will pay dearly for this, Arietta.”

“I look forward to it, father,” Ari spat the last word out before she turned her attention to the man that stood smugly next to Shredder. “Enjoy what's left of your days breathing, Hisoka. The next time you see us you will be begging for a quick death.”

She did not wait for the old man to answer as she threw a few kunai at the screen that ended the call abruptly. Taking a deep breath she felt the rage inside of her slowly subside and she smiled feeling a hand on her shoulder. Donnie patted the top of her shoulder giving her a small smirk before he went to the window of the office. Once it was opened up he was the first to go out on the first escape wanting to get back to the lair again.

“Casey and Dorian should be back by now,” Leo smirked giving Ari a nudge which made her laugh a little.

“I'll lose it if our drinkin' gets interrupted this time!” Raph followed Leo to the window and he even gave Ari a wink as he waited for her to head out before him.

"Knowing our luck, Red? Better off slamming them back quickly and deal with the hangover after," she teased right back as she climbed out the window behind Leo.

“To save on the stomachs we could just turn off the phones this time,” Donnie snickered joining in on the banter as he waited for them to join him on the roof.

“Where's the fun in that?!”

“I think Don's just worried he'll puke first,” Raph pulled himself onto the roof and barked out more laughter when he got a shove to the side by Donatello. The four kept the momentum going and made their way home using the route along the rooftop. Their spirits lightened even more once they heard the explosion in the distance. Having that small victory helped ease them even if only a little.

 

Chapter Text

"I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand." - Leonardo da Vinci

 

"Here we are, good old country air and the old Jones family farmhouse,” Casey grinned as the crew got out of both the van and the garbage truck. His grin falling slightly when he saw the look on Arietta's face as she took off her motorcycle helmet. “What's with the face?”

“It's a nice place, Jones,” Ari smirked at him as she set her helmet down on the passenger seat of the Harley. “In a haunted manor kind of way.”

"Hey!" Casey crossed his arms with a small glare hearing both Raphael and Arietta snicker at him, with the massive turtle nudging the woman's arm once he got off the bike, having been the one to drive it. The vigilante looked over to his family estate and winced inwardly when a window pane fell from the second floor. "Okay, it needs a little fixing up, so sue me."

“With a few nails and a couple coats of paint it'll look good as new,” Mikey pat Casey's back trying to ease the poor guy but they both flinched just as the porch swing collapsed.

“Just point me towards the tools and I can help with repairs,” Dorian spoke up from the back of the van as he pulled out his bag only to wince when the weight of the bag jostled him a bit. Leo quickly grabbed up the bag and hoisted it over his shoulder before giving Dorian a stern yet gentle look.

“The only thing you're doing is letting that shoulder heal up,” Leo smirked nodding toward the farmhouse which got a chuckle out of Dorian who started in the direction he was told.

“Yes, dear,” he laughed as he got a light kick to his rear from the terrapin but he raised a brow hearing a snicker coming from Michelangelo. “Hey, you're on healing duty right along with me and Casey, bub.”

“Aw, come on!” He looked over to Ari with a playful glare. “I'm gonna get you back, Ari.”

“What, over a little stabbing? You'll be healed up in another hour, two at tops, OJ. So, quit your whining,” Arietta retorted and stuck her tongue out at Mikey who stuck his tongue out right back at her. She had to think fast in catching her bag that was thrown to her by Calliope and she feigned her innocence. “What did I do?”

“It's more of what you're going to do. You get to change the bandages this time,” the red-head smiled at her sister sweetly but the smile disappeared when she got nudged by the leader in blue. Catching the look on Arietta's face filled her with instant regret seeing the guilt on the woman's features. “Ari, I'm kidding, honey.”

“Nah, it's cool. I can do some triage while you strap on a tool belt, Callie,” Arietta was quick to hide her regret with a wink as she walked over to the garbage truck to grab the bag with all of the medical supplies. She dodged out of the way just in time as Nanni came barreling out having been freed from her car seat by Lyra.

“Heads up! Sorry!” Lyra called out as she quickly jumped out of the vehicle tearing after the now fully awake and hyper little girl. Donnie laughed out seeing Lyra having a hard time trying to get a hold of Nanni again.

“Who do you think will wear out their energy first?” He smirked at Ari who gave him a sarcastic smirk as a reply before the black Escalade finally pulled in with the last of their caravan.

“Took yer sweet time, Vern. Thought ya got lost,” Raph grinned wasting no time at picking on the driver that had insisted he needed a vacation right along with them.

“Yeah well, next time you guys get the talking crocodile and his philosophy buddy,” Vern gave the turtle a glare before he gave Master Splinter a hand out of the front passenger seat.

“So which one was it? The biting power of a crocodile's jaws or the uncanny grace of cats?” Lyra called out as she put Nanni on her shoulders after having finally got a hold of her again.

“Don't get them started again, Rara. They've only just agreed to disagree for my benefit,” Shiori got out with her bag in tow and took in a deep breath of the country air already feeling her mind at ease. Kazuto and Leatherhead both followed suit only to give each other glares before heading toward the farmhouse. April covered her mouth the stifle her laugh before she took Nanni from off of Lyra's shoulders.

“I'm going to get some lunch started for all of us. Ari, you can use the living room to play triage and whoever is working on repairs, the tools are in the barn waiting for you,” she gave the instructions before making her way to the house too.


 

"Ow ow ow! Easy with the bandage tape, Ari!" Mikey did his best to stay still being the first to get worked on and he immediately regretted his bellyaching. The glare his nurse was giving him spoke volumes that he was in for it. She had been taking it off the taping as gently as she could but with his string of complaints, she quickly yanked it off the rest of the way. "Youch!"

"My bad," she spoke quick and tossed the blood-soaked bandage into the wastebasket as a few chuckles sounded out from the other three in the room. Raph had insisted on getting the stitches taken out so he was waiting his turn patiently.

"Told ya ta quit yer bellyachin', Mikey."

“Says you, scar-face,” Michelangelo retorted to his brother but he quickly sucked in a hiss of breath when the wound was being carefully cleaned. He looked down at his side to see how bad it looked but the complete focus on the assassin's face threw him off a minute. He reached down grabbing her wrist gently to stop her a moment. “Seriously Arietta, you don't have to play nurse for us.”

"You can take off the kid gloves for a bit, Mikey. I remember what I did so it's not like I don't know I was the only that did this. I also know why the wounds aren't healing like they're supposed to," Arietta was grateful when the orange-clad turtle let her wrist go so she could finish the patch job.

“Casey, I can get. He doesn't have special powers.”

"That's right, untainted human right here, man," Casey chuckled out sitting in a chair backward that he brought in from the dining room for himself. "I've been wondering that myself though. I've seen how you guys heal so, what gives?"

"It's a specially made salve that I coated my blades with. Something Stockman concocted to be a bit more long lasting against anyone that could regenerate quickly," Arietta finished putting the fresh bandage on Mikey's side and she smirked patting his arm to give him the go-ahead to move.

“How come it didn't work on the cut you gave Raph then? He's barely got a scratch left!” Mikey had moved over to his brother getting annoyingly close to his face and let out a laugh when he got a hand pressed to his mug before he was pushed back a bit.

"You got the most of it from the boot knife. Casey and Dorian got the coating on the swords," she carefully explained as she uncovered Dorian's shoulder wound. She scrunched her nose up hearing him hiss in pain and a fresh drop of blood oozed from the wound. She worked quickly to clean it up and when she went for the salve she used on Mikey she looked to see the turtle was currently sniffing the container and making a face. With a laugh, she took the salve from the youngest turtle and got a bit of the jelly content on her fingers before looking to her brother. "This is going to sting, a lot."

“Go for - HOLY SHIT!” Dorian cried out and turned his head to the side, his face going pale as Arietta coated the wound. Once he stopped seeing stars and his breathing got back to normal he looked to see his sister putting on a fresh bandage. “What the hell is that stuff?”

“It's a cure for the weapon coating. Had it in the pouch for those just in case of stupidity moments. Hurts like hell but you guys will be back to normal in a couple of hours.” Arietta motioned for Casey to stay seated where he was as she moved everything closer to where he was sitting.

“You know, you were pretty scary. I mean, we've seen you guys fight but not like that,” Casey admitted out as he removed the black tank top he was wearing and sat it down on the back of the chair before leaning back enough she could easily get the wrapping off.

"That's the difference between focus. I had no distraction or worry. I didn't focus on anything else but the fight and getting away," the female spoke softly as she carefully pulled the bandages from Casey's wounds. She bit her lower lip finally seeing just how deep the cut was.

“It's a look no one usually gets to see and lives to tell about it, Casey. The transition from human to monster, trained to kill,” Dorian looked at the vigilante and he moved his eyes back to the floor not wanting to keep eye contact with the current topic of discussion.

“SON OF A BITCH!” Casey yelled out breaking the silence of the room and he instantly shot up from the chair, almost knocking Arietta down in the abrupt motion.

“I know it hurts but this stuff will make it heal a lot faster and it'll kill the poisons. If not, with that coating it could stay open for a hell of a lot longer!” Arietta held her ground as Casey stood there trying to breathe through the searing pain in his back.

"Just give me a second, I wasn't ready for that," Casey ran his hand over his face feeling a film of sweat forming all over from the spike in pain. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he sat back in the chair again. His eyes widened slightly in a bought of confusion to see the handle of one of Raph's sais being help out in front of him. His eyes lifted to meet the golden green eyes of Raph who held a very stoic look on his features.

"Bite down on the leather. The quicker she gets tha' stuff on the quicker the pain 'll be done," he gave only a small smirk as Casey took the weapon from him on a sigh of defeat. He gave the guy's arm a quick pat before he moved over to watch Arietta work, possibly even help if she needed it. Arietta waited until Casey gave her a thumbs up as the signal he was ready and she began the process of applying the salve again. Her lips stayed in a hard-pressed line as she heard his muffled cries of agony since the wound had stretched from his hip and wrapped to the top of his shoulder making a nice trail up his back along the way. His wound alone had almost used up all of the salve she had but she knew he needed it either way. The sigh of relief from the man made her smile only lightly as she started to bandage him back up again.

"I don't give a damn if just one spot needs it, I don't want any more of that stuff anywhere near me," Casey did not waste the opportunity to make the demand as he handed Raph his sai back. His wording got a few chuckles from both Raph and Mikey as the wrapping was being tied off.

"I promise you won't need anymore," Arietta held out two painkillers for him to take and even passed him his glass of water so he could swallow them.

“It sounds like a torture chamber in here. What on earth are you doing to these poor guys?” Calliope came in with a platter full of sandwiches for all of them and April had followed right behind her with a pitcher full of strawberry lemonade. Nanni was bringing up the rear holding a sandwich in her mouth while carrying a small stack of plastic cups. Her brows knitted in focus on being careful not to drop the dishes she had been entrusted or her lunch.

 

“Arietta is a horrible nurse!” Mikey gave Callie his best puppy eyes look along with the best pout yet.

“Aw, did I forget to kiss it and make it better, OJ?” Arietta grinned smugly as the turtle she teased gave her a quick go to hell look.

"You always kiss it and make it better, Ari. That's patient care 101 after all," Callie teased as she set the platter on the coffee table before going over to Michelangelo to give him a well-deserved kiss. Arietta rolled her eyes as she sat herself down in a chair to finally get the stitches out of Raph's skin.

“How about I just leave that job to you, Callie,” she retorted teasingly but she looked up at Raphael giving him a playful wink that earned her a sly smile right back. She got to work removing the covering that protected the stitching but hearing Casey groan out she paused and rolled her eyes again. Raph let out a chuckle seeing April giving the guy a hand with getting his tank top back on.

"That bad, Jones?" Raph could not pass on being able to jab at the man when the opportunity presented itself.

“Bite me, Raph,” Casey quipped back and sat down on the love seat with April, making sure not to lean back at all. He smiled as Nanni brought him a cup full of strawberry lemonade and a sandwich to go right along with it. “Thank you, sweetie.”

“Welcome, Ceecee!” Nanni kept her bright smile as she made sure everyone in the room got their lunch and drinks, even making sure that Raph's and Ari's were closer to them for when they were done. She let out a small laugh when Mikey scooped her up and sat her on one of his knees. Another sandwich was offered to the little girl by Callie and she was content.

"We should go camping tonight. Don't have to go too far in the woods. Make a campfire, cook up s'mores, tell scary ghost stories. The whole shebang," Mikey grinned rather liking his suggestion but the grin faded seeing the confused looks he was receiving from the three Quintus siblings. "You have been camping, right?"

“Not really for fun, no,” Arietta admitted as she re-focused on snipping at the stitches carefully.

“Shut the front door!” Mikey was quick to be creative with his non-curse for Nanni's benefit since she was very much still in the room. That creativity got quite a few laughs from the others.

“The front door is closed, Michelangelo. No need to shout about it,” Lyra chimed in and looked a little confused as even more laughter erupted in the room. She looked at Donatello, who was walking in right behind her, and she tried to convey just how confused she was with her facial expression.

“I'm sure Mikey was being creative so he didn't curse in front of Nanni,” he smiled leading Lyra over to the couch to sit on the open cushion while he pulled up on of the empty dining room chairs next to it. “Now, why were you not cursing, Mikey?”

“They've never been camping!”

“No Mikey, we've been camping just not for fun,” Dorian corrected the turtle before he grabbed up another sandwich for himself.

“We'll just have to fix that won't we?” Leo had walked in at the right time in the conversation making sure he got his helping of the provided meal before looking to Casey. “Vern, Master Splinter, Shiori, and Kazuto took a trip into town for more nails and some new paint. Leatherhead is getting rid of the materials from the barn for everyone's safety.”

“What? Did the nails rust or something?”

"Yes, and all the paint is old and lead-based apparently," the leader in blue sat next to Dorian on the base tiles of the fireplace with a smirk on his lips. "How's the shoulder, Dee?"

“I'm just going to call my sister the Devil and leave it at that,” the tone Dorian had with his retort was nothing but playful and even helped the banter along by popping the last bite of his sandwich into his mouth when Arietta quickly glared at him from over her shoulder.

"I should have just let the three of you suffer without the antidote. Maybe then you'll appreciate my help a little more," she gently pulled the last of the thread from Raphael's jaw and even gave his cheek a quick kiss before she stood up to clean all of the triage supplies. Raph quickly grabbed a hold of her and held her in his lap figuring the clean up could wait a bit. Arietta did not mind it at all knowing he was reigning in the reality that she was really there and if she was honest, it helped her too.

"You know, it might not count as full-on camping but there is a fire-pit out back and some benches. We could get a fire going tonight, tell some stories and make s'mores." Casey smiled but a thought struck him and he snapped his fingers right when the light bulb in his brain lit. "Do any of you know how to play guitar?"

Dorian tensed with wide eyes once the question was asked, but the fact all three of his sisters pointed right at him made his cheek redden. He could feel all eyes on him and he sighed out giving a nod to confirm their outing him. Casey got a cheese eating grin as he got up from his seat and walked over to the door close to the fireplace. It proved to be a storage closet stocked with random supplies and firewood but the man pulled out a guitar case from off of one of the shelves, still grinning his head off. He closed the door before he set the case in Dorian's lap gently only to go right back to his spot on the love seat without much explanation.

“I'll promise to play if Arietta promises to sing,” the male assassin opened up the case and gently ran his hand over the wooden body of the Ibanez vintage parlor acoustic. He carefully pulled the instrument from the case and went to the task of making sure it was tuned properly but he spared his sister a quick glance. The blush on her cheeks made him grin but the soft she gave him let him know she was happy to hear he would play again.

“Deal,” she gave a nod to go with her answer.

"Woo! Is it dark yet?!" Mikey, of course, was instantly excited and as per usual he managed to make everyone laugh without much effort at all.

 

Chapter Text

 

"Night air, good conversation, and a sky full of stars can heal almost any wound."  - Beau Taplin

 

The fire was roaring now that the sun had finally set on the rather busy productive day. The whole group had made themselves comfortable around the fire-pit and as had been promised there were many s'mores made and even a few roasting sessions of hot dogs or marshmallows going. Shiori had just finished up an old tale, being the last to share the more lighthearted stories before the scary ones could begin.

"Time for the creepy, spooky tales and I'll do the honors," Michelangelo had been biting at the nail to tell his scary story. After all, this one he had cooked up so his brothers could help with the narration and sound effects. No one else around the campfire was at all in the know which to him was absolutely perfect. He passed the roasted marshmallow to Leo for Nanni as he kept the all-knowing grin.

"Pray it doesn't scare anyone too bad," Leo chuckled as he blew on the melted treat a moment as the little girl waited patiently while sitting on his knee.

“Nanni not 'fraid!” The excited admittance of the toddler got all of them laughing and she beamed happily when she was rewarded with the cooled off fluff of sugar.

“That a girl! Too bad Rose Marie wasn't near as brave as our little Nanni,” Mikey grinned being able to easily transition into the scary tale and everyone quieted down to listen to him. He kept a small smirk as he stared into the flames, knowing his brothers knew their queues. “One very quiet night, Rose Marie woke up around midnight to the unfamiliar steps of someone walking around downstairs.”

Mikey grinned as scarily as he could while Donnie made a knocking sound on the table he sat in front of. The sound mimicking footsteps walking around on wooden flooring. Nanni's eyes were widened and she had paused any movement, the marshmallow she was nibbling on half in her mouth. Lyra was equally enamored hearing the sound effects, though she knew that Donatello was the one making them next to her. The orange-clad turtle was beyond pleased he had captured his audience so far.

“She quickly pulled the covers up over her head and shivered, holding her breath in fear as the steps got close to the stairs. Soon, she hears an unfamiliar voice,” Mikey paused and Donnie ended the sound on a louder thump.

"Rose Marie, I'm on the first step and I'm comin' ta get ya," Raph spoke in a deeper and more gravely voice, taking on the role as the intruder of the story. He flashed Arietta a grin as she glances at him from over her shoulder. Donnie made another loud thump to continue with the story.

“Another step and Rose Marie closed her eyes tight, hoping that her parents would wake up.”

"Rose Marie, I'm on the second step and I'm comin' ta get ya," Raph focused on the fire now so he would not crack up laughing each time Arietta glared back at him. Donnie continued to mimic the thudding of slow footsteps, making them gradually louder

"With every step, the voice kept calling out to Rose Marie who prayed and prayed to be saved," Mikey leaned back to ready for the finale as Donnie gave out the last and loudest thump of the tale.

“Rose Marie, I'm right beside yer bed,” Raph poised himself to grab Arietta and grinned wickedly seeing his brothers getting into position to grab onto the nearest person. Lyra, Callie, Nanni, and Arietta had no idea what was in store for them. “Rose Marie...”

“I GOTCHYA!” All four of the brothers grabbed and shouted in unison while their female victims screamed out. Thanks to those screams from the unlucky females they got a few more shouts of fright and a few jumps from the sudden scare. Dorian was quick to grab the metal cooking rod from Nanni before she had her chance to retaliate. He had no doubt the little girl would have smeared marshmallow remnants on poor Leo's face during her bought of arm flailing.

“Kids,” Splinter sighed out with a shake of his head seeing his sons getting paid back quickly by each of the girls. Shiori laughed out with her hand against her heart having been just as frightened as the rest of them.

"That was a good one boys but, we may need to ease poor Nanni before she had to go to bed," she spoke gently giving just a little insight to the possible hell they would have later if they were to put the child to sleep now. "Unless you four want to stay up with her all night. There is that option."

“Not a bad idea, who has another scary story?” April grinned wickedly and bit back a laugh at the chorus of no's that came out of the four turtles rather quickly at that notion.

“A son might just be your saving grace,” Leatherhead chuckled as he pulled out the roasted hot dog he had been cooking up for himself.

“Good thing I remembered to bring this out with me then,” Dorian reached down under the bench to grab the acoustic guitar he had tucked away safely. He moved to the end of the bench so he could have enough room to play comfortably and not get anyone's way.

"Dee to the rescue!" Mikey laughed out and settled himself on the bench that he shared with Callie, Donnie, and Lyra. Calliope settled herself closer to Michelangelo's side and smiled as he wrapped an arm around her. Lyra got more comfortable by sitting herself across Donatello's lap, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek as a way to tell him she was not too upset about their little horror narrative.

"It's been a while since I've played so I wouldn't go singing praises just yet, Mikey," Dorian winked at the youngest turtle and he looked over toward Arietta who was readjusting herself to sing easier. He tested out a few chords to make sure the instrument had still held the tuning he gave it earlier while Ari settled herself between Raph's legs so they were both sitting on the table. She wrapped his arms around her in a cozy hug before giving Dorian a nod to signal she was ready. Dorian looked at his fingers a moment as he began to play the song's intro before he looked up to see everyone's excitement for the performance. He smirked seeing Lyra and Calliope give him signals that they knew their part which would prove to be a wonderful surprise for everyone else. The smirk slid into a smile as he looked at his main singer once it was time for her to start singing.

“Underneath the echoes, buried in the shadows, there you were,” Arietta sang out in her angelic voice and a warm smile appeared on her lips as she felt Raphael ease just slightly around her. Her eyes stared at the fire in front of them just to keep from feeling awkward or anxious by her audience.

“Drawn into your mystery, I was just beginning to see your ghost, but you must know,” she moved her eyes to look at Dorian who was looking at the campfire to keep the same focus as she was on their performance. Her smile widened slightly as she knew he took a breath to be able to join her on the chorus.

“I'll be here waiting. Hoping, praying that this light will guide you home. When you're feeling lost I'll leave my love hidden in the sun for when the darkness comes,” the two grinned catching some of the reactions from the first time of hearing Dorian singing right along with Arietta. Arietta had to keep from laughing seeing how quickly Leonardo looked to Dorian with wide eyes and slightly gaping mouth from the shock. The song was far from over and there was still one more surprise left for them all.

“Now the door is open. The world I knew was broken. There's no return. Now my heart is not scared just knowing that you're out there, watching me. So believe, I'll be here waiting. Hoping, praying that this light will guide you home. When you're feeling lost I'll leave my love hidden in the sun for when the darkness comes,” the two that had done most of the performance looked over as Calliope and Lyra added in the non-lyrical vocals to the melodic solo. They had both closed their eyes to concentrate on their parts and not become shied by the surprised stares both Mikey and Donnie had plastered on their faces.

“For when the darkness comes,” Arietta sang out to keep it going and she leaned her head back to rest against Raph's chest. She smiled as he placed his chin on top of her head, holding her even closer. She could see Casey and April cuddled closely together while the much older adults had their eyes closed to fully enjoy the song. Nanni gave a small yawn being lulled easily into a sleepy state by the music as she curled more into Leo's arms. Lyra and Callie both finished their parts and Dorian gave a brief pause in the acoustic playing as per the usual to the song before he and Arietta continued.

“Be here waiting, hoping, praying, that this light will guide you home. When you're feeling lost I'll leave my love hidden in the sun for when the darkness comes. Hidden in the sun for when the darkness comes,” Arietta closed her eyes to listen to Dorian finish the song off with the guitar. Once the last chord was played she opened her eyes to see him looking at her with a big grin on his face and a blush on his cheeks.

“We should be calling you sirens instead of assassins,” Leo grinned and winked when Dorian looked at him with widened eyes and even more of a blush.

“No joke, bro! That was beautiful! How come you guys didn't tell us you could all sing?”

“What and pass up the chance to surprise all of you?” Calliope grinned before giving Mikey a kiss on the cheek. “Can't show your hand right from the start.”

“Dorian and Arietta are more the musical siblings. Calliope and I tend to favor baking and cooking,” Lyra grinned with a blush just as deep as her brother's.

“Well then, you girls are going to help me make some sunshine cookies tomorrow,” Shiori smiled warmly as she got up from her spot around the campfire and went over to Leo who now had a very passed out Nanni in his lap.

“She's had a very active day,” Leonardo mused as he helped the child shift into her grandmother's arms. He bit back a chuckle hearing her groan her protest of having to be moved.

“Think she'll sleep all night?” Raphael had a smirk as he continued to hold Arietta against him. She let out a chuckle as her mother was headed to take Nanni to the house but Leatherhead had intervened before she got too far since he was ready to go to sleep himself.

“If she doesn't I'm pretty sure you and I will be the first to find out,” Ari grinned having become accustomed to the child finding comfort in sleeping with either one of them when she had any nightmares or was simply restless.

“I've got to ask. You all didn't come out here for just some vacation time, did you?” Vernon had for the most part been silently enjoying the company and being able to enjoy his own relaxation. The impromptu trip did seem like it had more motive to him now when he realized all of them had decided to just go.

“No, there is quite a bit more training to be done while we're here and being in an open setting will make it easier,” Kazuto fed a little more wood into the fire and poked some of the cinders around to help evenly burn the new logs.

“You've got four compounds to take down before you hit Black Lotus headquarters. Where are they?” April felt more at ease with what was on the horizon for her dear friends. After the hell they had been through already she knew there was nothing that could stop them from succeeding in taking down such a corrupt organization.

“There is one in Beijing, one in Paris, another in Madrid, and the last is in Singapore. After those are out of the way it's on to Tokyo,” Dorian gave the answers with such ease while he carefully set the guitar back into its case.

“Have you figured out who will be going where?” Splinter looked at his sons and the Assassins not sure if they had been able to decide the teams yet. He smiled when he got a few nods from all eight of them and he placed another marshmallow into the flames. “Let's hear it then.”

“Dorian and I will be taking Beijing,” Leo smiled as Dorian slid back over to sit in front of him. As both a way to tease and show affection he reached down and began massaging the man's shoulders. He bit back a chuckle when the male practically melted at the contact.

“Lyra and I are going to Paris,” Donnie looked at Lyra to double check she remembered and she smiled brightly at him.

“C'est vrai!” She laughed out at her own little joke of answering in French to confirm.

“We've got Madrid covered!” Michelangelo spoke up and gave a now laughing Calliope a gentle squeeze of a hug not even skipping on the chance to nuzzle the side of her neck for more laughter from her.

“Leavin' us with Singapore,” Raph grinned all but excited to be going across the world again. He was even filled with hope that there would not be anymore plane jumping necessary either.

“Pretty far off places. How are you guys going to travel?” Casey raised a brow knowing that it would be all but impossible to get four massive talking turtles through customs. Adding in four human weapons to the mix? Nightmare, pure and simple.

“That's the easy part,” Arietta grinned smugly at Casey through the fire while he paused in making his next s'more. “We're going to commandeer the helicopters that are still in commission for the branch that was here.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Are you telling us you guys know how to pilot helicopters now?” Casey raised a brow when all of the assassins had laughed at his question. Even Kazuto and Shiori had got a laugh out of it.

“It's one of the many skills under our belt, yes. You never know when you have to provide your own transportation,” Shiori answered him not having a condescending tone since she did not want to offend the man in any way. Her smile did vanish as she stared into the flames, being privy to information that had no digital or paper trails to speak of.

“Shiori?” Kazuto had seen her demeanor change and the look in her eyes sent chills down his spine. “What is it?”

"Something that they will need to be prepared for," she answered and looked up at the eight who were now staring at her in equal amounts of confusion and worry. "Nanni is not the only child that was a successful creation. There are more."

“How do you know that?” Arietta narrowed her eyes and clenched her jaw seeing her mother looking back into the campfire.

“Being the highest rank, I had the more unpleasant missions. I was the one who had to find them and take them to certain facilities,” Shiori paused to look at Calliope who at that point went a little pale and stared back at her in disbelief. The elder woman took in a slow deep breath as her daughter quickly feigned a yawn and stretched her arms up.

“We've got an early start. I think I'm about ready to get some sleep,” she smiled as she rubbed at her eyes to sell the cover-up quickly. Dorian and Arietta most definitely were not buying it and neither were Donnie, Raph, or Leo. “We can talk more about this whole possible more kids in the morning, right?”

“Training will be an hour before sunrise so it may be best that you all get some sleep,” Splinter gave them his usual look that showed there would be no arguing and only when they began the trudge toward the house did he smirk. April, Casey, and Vern had even decided to retire for the evening leaving the wise rate with Kazuto and Shiori to help him watch over the dying fire. “More family secrets, Shiori?”

“I am afraid so. It isn't my place to speak of it,” Shiori pulled her kimono closed even tighter as she stared at the dwindling flames. “Calliope will be the one that has to reveal the truth on that one.”

"The sooner there are no more secrets the better," Splinter admitted out as he looked up at the star-filled sky.

“When you're right, you're right, Splinter-san,” Kazuto chuckled out as he set to the task of burying the smoldering ashes so they too could get some sleep.

 

Chapter Text

"Our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness." - Vladimir Nabokov

 

The sun had just barely begun its ascension to start the new day yet the usual sounds of early risen birds were being drowned out by the clanking of metals. Splinter kept his eyes focused to see how each of his sons fought against the assassins, their weapons all sliding with precision to strike or block. He had been pleasantly surprised to see the two pranksters of the team were fully focused on the team training. His ears flicked back barely picking up the crunching of dew-laced grass behind him. He let a smirk play on his muzzle as bother Shiori and Kazuto joined him taking to standing on either side of him.

"Have we missed the free-for-all yet?" Kazuto crossed his arms with a grin sliding on to his lips. For the moment his cat mask rest on the side of his head and his hood was left down.

“Your timing is perfect. Yame!” Splinter called out and watched as all eight of the warriors ceased their movements. They all moved to kneel in front of Splinter and he gave them a nod to signal they could take a breather.

“How do you guys move so fast in all that armor?” Michelangelo breathed out as he sprawled himself back in the cool grass. His chest heaving as he took copious amounts of oxygen to try and get his system to calm down.

“We've practically lived in these things from the moment we got them,” Calliope took off her wolf mask and lowered her hood with a grin as she answered her turtle.

"Doesn't it tire you out having all that gear?" Mikey looked over at his assassin with a grin on his face as she winked back at him. He tensed and his grin vanished when Lyra stood above his head now half bent. She was still wearing her rabbit mask and the way she tilted her head to the side instantly crept him out as per the usual.

"Not really, it's like having a second skin. Almost like a shell of our own," Lyra let out a laugh and easily jumped away from Mikey's lazy attempts at trying to grab her. She knew he was just trying to get back at her for creeping him out. Their fun was abruptly halted when Splinter cleared his throat making Mikey sit up and Lyra sat down in her spot again next to her siblings.

"You have all come a long way fighting as teams. You know your strengths and weaknesses and are able to fight as one. Soon you will not need you to work as a whole but as pairs. For the next exercise, you will each pair up in the way you've told me. From there you have only your partner to look to as the rest are the foe. Now, pair up and spread out," Splinter made sure to keep his instructions quick and simple for the next session. He watched as each of his sons paired off with their assassin and they complied with the order of some distance.

“Just to liven things up a bit you could add the stipulation that they are not allowed to go against their own siblings,” Shiori had to bite back the laugh seeing the looks of shock she received from all of them because of her suggestion.

"She has a point and you all know it. As siblings, you know how the others think and fight. The point of all of this training is to make the unknown know," Kazuto had actually seen what Shiori had suggested made perfect sense. It would have made the training more of a challenge, that much he was certain of.

"Aren't we kind of at a disadvantage here? I mean, how many months were you guys doing surveillance on us?" Donatello looked over at Lyra who tensed at the question. Even with the rabbit mask on, he could tell she was embarrassed just by her mannerism alone.

“I plead the fifth?”

"Give or take half a year? Even with that amount of time, we weren't able to get that much in the way you guys fight. You were all just too elusive," Calliope had been quick to shed some light on the information which did catch the ninjas a little by surprise.

“Half a year and you still didn't get all of our moves?” Mikey was not sure to feel prideful or humble. He let out a chuckle when Callie poked him in his side and he held up his hands. He had barely enough time to hear his father call out the start of the session before he had to think fast. He had been only seconds away from being split head to groin by Dorian's weapon. Luckily the chain of one of his nunchaku had halted the weapon's strike and he glared right at the raccoon masked man. “Dude, seriously?!”

"Free-for-all, Mikey. Ninjas versus Assassins, so you may want to keep your wits about you," Dorian gave the friendly warning before he spun his weapon around to catch the blow Donatello was about to make to the back of his head.

“That's some good advice, Tanuki,” Donnie was quick with the retort that was muffled by the half-mask covering the lower part of his face. Dorian's eyes widened when he realized what his youngest sister was planning, only a little too late. As Raphael and Arietta were heading toward the group to join the fray, Lyra emerged from behind Donatello in her agile leap. She used the back of her turtle's shell to gain even higher attitude before she threw down several small spheres.

The yellow smoke exploded out violently from the bombs and instantly the battlefield was covered. A chorus of coughs rang out and even a few groans of discomfort were mixed in as Lyra landed beside Donatello gracefully. The eye holes of her mask covered with the protective lenses she had activated at the start of the battle. As the gas dissipated they could see their siblings on the ground trying to get fresher air or relieve the burning in their eyes.

"I think we won that one," Lyra lifted her mask with a big grin one they were in the clear. Donatello took off the half-mask and raised up his goggles with a chuckle. He returned the mask to her winking.

"I believe you're right, Usa-chan. Which should bring the game score to eight points for Ninjas and seven for Assassins?" He crossed his arms with a grin seeing their opponents were recovering quickly while the three that had been watching came away from their cover on the porch steps. "Given that it was your idea and your execution was flawlessly swift, I'll give the Assassins two more points."

“Aw, have I told you I love you yet today because I so love you, Donatello,” Lyra giggled out with a blush tinging her cheeks and tugged at him to lean down so she could solidify her words with a kiss to his cheek.

“I don't know who I want to hurt more right now. Donnie and Lyra for the damn stunt they just pulled or Callie for making the smoke pellets in the first place,” Arietta sat back on her rear having placed her mask on the grass next to her while she squeezed her eyes tightly still feeling a slight sting in them.

“I don't hear you complaining when you get to use them, Arietta,” Calliope retorted out as she kept her eyes shut gently to wait out the effects.

“Their stunt proved that they have an advantage to being outnumbered. Donatello had the foresighted wisdom to keep most of you blind while Lyra quickly overpowered all of you,” Kazuto chuckled softly seeing most of them look highly embarrassed by the whole situation being rubbed in more.

“Anything can be used as a weapon to stem the tide of battle. You must have all aspects well guarded as not to give them the advantage over you. Even the tiniest grain of sand can spell out victory or defeat,” Shiori kept her smile gentle as she added more insight to what they could face in the near future.

“That will be enough training for this morning,” Splinter could see the slight irritation on most of their faces which he knew could lead to sloppy techniques and explosive tempers.

"Well then, I believe pancakes are in order for breakfast. Lyra, Callie, will you two help me with the cooking?" Shiori let out a small laugh seeing her two daughters perk up instantly at her inquiry and they both made a rush toward the house to get changed and washed up. She followed after them with a promise to Splinter that she would make some coffee, to which, he followed with her inside wanting to welcome the day with the fresh brew.

“I need you four for just a moment. I want to get a few measurements for fitting purposes,” Kazuto smirked as the turtles looked at him in confusion before looking at each other. Dorian and Arietta covered their smirks and contained their snickers knowing what the measurements were for. Mikey knew a cover-up when he saw one that was so obvious and he raised a brow at them while crossing his arms.

“Care to share kids?”

“Who are you calling a kid, kid?” Dorian grinned but ended up laughing as he got a glare in reply from the orange-clad turtle.

“We've all got our talents, remember? Kazuto is our crafty blacksmith. Any kind of metalwork that needs to be done we go straight to him,” Arietta had a smirk on her lips and even gave the boys a wink to hint more as to why Kazuto would need to get measurements done.

“I won't be able to make anything until we've taken control of headquarters from Hisoka. The forge there is the only one I'm comfortable with and my work would suffer if I used any other forge.”

“Wait a minute, are you saying we're getting cool armor like you guys?” The puzzle piece clicked right into place for the youngest terrapin as he finally asked that golden question.

“Bingo,” Dorian smiled as he gave the answer. “I can promise it won't weigh you guys down or slow your movement but it will take some time to get used to wearing.”

“Well, happy early Christmas ta us!” Raph grinned finding he was feeling pretty excited to get specially made armor.

“Precisely. Now, follow me. This should take at most an hour to get everything I need and you will be free to do as you wish,” Kazuto ushered the four brothers inside and just as Arietta was going to follow them, Dorian gently grabbed her arm to stop her. The smirk he had on his face was a small warning to her that he was up to something and to that she raised a brow at him.

"Today you get to see to Casey's training," Dorian informed his sister and she crossed her arms as his smirk turned into a full-on grin.

“Alright, but you get to go wake him up,” Arietta grinned right back but the small victory was robbed from her as Casey emerged from the front door with a still sleepy Vernon right behind him.

“I'm up and ready to kick some butt,” Casey smirked already geared and ready for his own training session. He clapped the groggy man on the shoulder, pulling him to his side. “Vern here has agreed to get at least some fighting basics in.”

“Oh really now?” Arietta raised her brow with a way too playful smirk now gracing her lips.

“Yeah, this way I'm a little more helpful if it ever comes to it,” Vernon rubbed at his neck to try and get the sleep out of his system a little faster.

“Well then, I'll help you with the basics. Arietta here will try and kill you before you learn a proper punch,” Dorian smirked and motioned for the guy to follow him.

“You're no fun, Dorian!” Arietta pouted playfully before she turned her attention back to Casey. With a small chuckle and a nod of her head to the right, she moved a little ways from the house to where they were out in the open. “Alright, you're going to be dealing with someone that's a little more up close. You good with that?”

“Guess we'll find out. Anything is better than dodging those needles from Lyra,” Casey admitted freely his dislike for Lyra's arsenal as he got out his hockey stick, all but ready to get started. His eyes widened hearing an actual genuine laugh at his all too relaxed complaint and it made him smile in return. “Found that funny did ya?”

"Quite a bit, yeah. Believe me when I say that you're not the only one who shares that complaint, Jones. Now, Mask on and get ready," she gave him the quick warning only to rush toward him the second his hockey mask was on properly. She heard the scraping sound of her tessen raking against his sporty weapon of choice. She could tell it by the way he moved to meet each of her strikes and how he tried to deliver his own blows that he had been training him well.

“Is that all you got, little kit?” Casey knew he was goading her on and he had been warned before that her temper was only rivaled by Raph's. He just did not want her treating him with kid gloves while she trained him and that little jab of a nickname definitely struck a nerve. The pace was quickened and he had a much harder time blocking out her bladed fans with an equally harder time with her speedy kicks. Casey let out a loud grunt when he got a particularly hard kick to his stomach but he saw his chance and knew better than to miss taking it right then.

He swung his hockey stick towards her, aiming to get to where she left an opening at her back but he soon realized she had baited him. Arietta quickly spun around and grabbed a hold of the bladed end of his weapon allowing her tessen to fall to the ground. This put her in a stance where the blades of her other tessen were now under his chin letting him know all too quickly how dead he would have been if this had been a real fight. He was oh so glad that is was not.

"I knew you weren't taking it seriously. I can see why you're playing the leader," Casey chuckled out to try and ease the anger head had provoked. He glanced down when something falling from his weapon caught his eyes only to see she was gripping the blade hard enough that it cut into her hand. His eyes widened a little as he brought his attention back to her very focused stare. "You okay?"

"I'm fine," she relaxed her stance, bringing her tessen to her side and her other hand released its grip on the blade. She bent down to retrieve her other tessen from the ground before she put both away in their holsters under her coat. She straightened herself and let out a small exhale of breath seemed to calm the anger she had. "Got too focused for a minute. I'm sorry if I scared you, Jones."

“You didn't scare me, worried me is more like it,” he calmly replied as he leaned his hockey stick against his shoulder before grabbing a hold of her wrist to look at the wound. He let out a small whistle seeing the cuts were already healed up. “Which I see I worried for nothing.”

"Don't let what I'm about to say inflate your ego too much but, I do believe you can officially hold your own against the Black Lotus clan. That being said, I have something to ask of you while all of us are overseas," Arietta wiped the blood from her hand and his blade with the handkerchief she pulled out of one of her pouches on her belt. She had a small smile gracing her features but even with that smile, Casey could tell she was the one worrying about several things. With the mission drawing closer to the ending battles he did not blame her for having it on her mind.

“You don't have to worry about Nanni. While you guys are gone April and I will watch over her. It will free up Splinter and the others to focus on keeping in contact with all of you,” Casey gave her a smile of his own and even placed his hand on the top of her head to kind of give a little comfort to her. “I'll make you the same promise I made to Raph. I won't let anything bad happen to that little girl. I swear it.”

"Thanks, Casey," Ari replied with a small smirk before lightly punching his side which got a groaning chuckle from the man. She looked over to see how the training with Vernon was going and all she could do was laugh. Casey turned to the side and quickly had to swallow down a laugh of his own as he pulled his mask up to make sure he was seeing right. Vern was bent over hurling up his guts as an apathetic Dorian stood at his side patting his back.

"Did you break him?!" Casey finally lets out his laughter as Vern promptly flipped him off while still puking.

“Maybe just a little. He wanted to know just how hard I could punch,” Dorian shrugged with his nonchalant reply as the poor guy he winded finally got his bearing back.

“I can say... didn't puke near as much... when I got shot,” Vern panted out as he stood up keeping his hand on his stomach to ease the pain. He glared at Casey as he approached them with Arietta. “Not... another word.”

“You're probably going to feel that for a few days. You'd better get Calliope to check and make sure nothing is bleeding,” Arietta smirked and nodded her head towards the house. “I'm sure it's about time to eat anyway.”

“I'm good on food. An ice pack may be on my menu,” he groaned and followed the female assassin with Dorian and Casey following behind them. The dining room was already set and ready as the air was permeated with the scent of freshly made bacon and pancakes. The timing had not been more planned as everyone began meeting in the same room. Arietta and Dorian both came to a halt seeing the solemn look on Calliope's face while Lyra seemed to be just as worried.

“You all should go wash up first,” Shiori came up to them and her smile faded seeing how pale Vernon was. “What happened to you?”

“Oh, he asked for the full on Dorian punch,” Casey chuckled and made his way over to April, giving her a quick kiss before heading to get himself ready for the first meal of the day.

“I see. What have we learned?” Shiori raised a brow at the man who seemed more flustered than anything now.

“Be careful what you ask for.”

“Precisely. Now, you come with me and I'll get you fixed up. Ari, Dorian, hurry and get yourself ready for breakfast. There is something Calliope is wanting to tell everyone,” Shiori looked at her children before ushering the wounded man to get him bandaged. That left both Dorian and Arietta a bit uneasy about what was bothering Calliope.

It had taken only a few minutes to get everyone situated once all the plates were filled with the delicious promise of the homemade breakfast. Calliope seemed more nervous now than before as they all sat down and she could not help but grab a hold of Mikey's hand to ease her nerves even a little. Her sweet turtle looked at her with those baby blue eyes and she smiled at him before clearing her throat to get everyone's attention. Once all eyes were on her she felt her heart rate spike and the fear came bubbling right back up again.

"I have something to tell all of you. It's been something I've kept for a long time now and it's only something myself and mom knew about," she paused in her speech seeing the reactions of her siblings. The worry of Lyra, the confusion of Dorian, and the hurt-filled irritation of Arietta all sank into her soul as she swallowed hard. She felt Mikey grip her hand and she looked at him to see he was trying to encourage and comfort her.

“It's alright, Callie. You can tell us anything,” he smiled and she understood his words to be true. There would not be any harsh judgment, especially if she explained thoroughly. She nodded with a small smile and she closed her eyes. When she looked at her siblings again she instantly felt the panic again having not told them long before now. The panic hit the switch in her mind before she opened her mouth to say anything.

"Tengo una hija de un matrimonio arreglado," she nervously admitted out not realizing that she spoke in her favorite second language. She bit her bottom lip seeing mixed reactions of confusion from those that did not know Spanish and shock from the Assassins, save for her mother. Arietta took in a deep breath and narrowed her eyes at her older sister trying to keep her tone as level as possible wanting to give Calliope a chance to explain properly.

“Say that again. In English this time so everyone understands.”

"Oh. Sorry, um, I have a daughter. From a marriage that was arranged by Hisoka," Callie cleared her throat and carefully let go of Mikey's hand to wipe at the tears that had sprung to her eyes. The sorrow of having her child taken from her, the memories returning in a flood was damn near heartbreaking all over again.

"J'ai été une tante tout ce temps et personne ne m'a dit?!" Lyra spoke out excitedly and was surprised when Donnie looked at her in shock. She blushed a little as she tilted her head. "What?"

“Just another common ground but we can delve into that later. Calliope, why are you revealing this now? Why not way before?”

“I didn't know where she was. I thought she had been taken for from the Black Lotus by her father's family but I was wrong,” Callie regained her composure and looked over toward her mother. That shifted the main focus from Calliope over to Shiori who had been prepared the entire time.

“This has to do with that unpleasant stuff you spoke about last night, doesn't it?” Leo asked and tensed when Shiori looked right at him. Right on the money once again it seemed. He hated it when he was right sometimes.

“It does. I was responsible for kidnapping my own granddaughter and selling her to the devil.”

 

Chapter Text

"As swift as wind, as gentle as forest, as fierce as fire, as unshakable as mountain, as unpredictable as shadow, as quick as lightning." - Sun Tzu; Art of War: Chapter 7, passage 17-19

 

Silence had fallen over the table after Shiori confessed what she had about the children. To admit aloud that she was not only the one responsible for a deep wound to her own daughter but that one was her very own grand-daughter she gave up for experimentation was a hurtful blow. Calliope took in a slow deep breath all but ready to break the painful silence but she proved to be slightly slower than Arietta.

"There are three kids you handed off? Where are they, Mom?" The way she spoke so calmly in contrast to the rage within her eyes was a bit unsettling for her siblings to witness. They braced themselves for the explosion that could come from their leader regardless.

"Isabelle was taken to the facility in Madrid. The boy with no name is in Paris and a little girl name Mei Pieh Chi is in Beijing," Shiori responded in a solemn tone knowing that beyond where they were, she had no clue as to what was done to them. Arietta took in a deep breath only glancing at Nanni for a moment to keep her anger in line. Seeing the little girl happily enjoying her breakfast seemed to solidify Arietta's decision even more.

“You guys up for adding a rescue objective to this already crazy mission?” She smirked and her features softened a little more as she looked right at Calliope who seemed to be fighting back a new well of tears. “After all, we don't leave family behind.”

“You have to ask?” Mikey grinned and took a hold of Calliope's hand again. His grin became a full smile when she looked at him in surprise.

“We've got a chance to give those kids a better and happier life? To be able to rescue our own flesh and blood? No objections from me,” Lyra smiled and gave Donatello a wink as the atmosphere seemed to ease quite a bit.

“Glad we are all on the same page. Now it's a matter of being prepared. We haven't really decided on when we're headed out,” Leo saw the nod from Dorian and knew he was not alone in needing a timeline to be established.

“Sooner we hit 'em the better. Longer we wait aroun' doin' nothing' the longer they have ta get ready fer us,” Raph brought up the solid point they were all thinking as everyone started in on eating their breakfast.

“There won't be much of an element of surprise at this point. Hisoka and Saki will no doubt have all bases covered by now,” Leatherhead took a bite of his pancakes after his remark while Kazuto rubbed at his chin in contemplation. As if a light bulb went off in the Assassin's head he smirked and grabbed his cup of coffee.

“We can have all transport ready by tomorrow morning at the earliest,” he gave them a little time but not much detail as he took a sip from his cup. Leonardo and Arietta both perked up at that bit of information while they looked at Kazuto. The leaders then looked to one another a moment not saying a word. Arietta let a smirk grace her lips and simply nodded to the blue-clad Ninja before she took a forkful of pancakes into her mouth. Leo let out a small chuckle as he turned his attention back to Kazuto.

"Greenlight then. Tomorrow morning we make our move."

"In that case, the eight of you will join me in the woods at sunset without your weapons or armor. There is one final thing I must teach you before you leave," Splinter smiled as he had eight sets of eyes now trained on him. He would not divulge any more detail on the matter as he began to enjoy his own plate of food.

“I don't know whether to say have fun or good luck tonight,” Vernon chuckled and tried his hand at getting some food down now that he was feeling a little less nauseated.

“Both would probably cover it,” Casey grinned knowing just how cryptic Master Splinter could be. “Well, that leaves a whole day to do whatever. What's on the agenda?”

"Swim!" Nanni piped up enthusiastically, earning her laughter from everyone save for Arietta who merely groaned in protest.

“That sounds like a great idea, Nanni bear,” Lyra gave her sister a cheeky grin seeing the glare she was now receiving in return.

"Do I get to tie cinder blocks to your ankles, Lyra?" Ari retorted in a deadpan tone and smirked at the wide-eyed reaction she got from her youngest sister.

"It would be an opportune moment to work on your aquaphobia, Arietta," Donnie was quick to bring up that valid point as a way to defend Lyra and there was not much arguing it either. He chuckled when Ari simply took a drink from her coffee cup. He could almost feel the daggers she was glaring at him.

“I do believe that gives our Ninjas another point in the game. What's the score up to now?” Calliope grinned finished off the last bite of her pancakes.

“Seven ta five now. We gotta pretty good lead goin',” Raph winked at Ari who gave him a playful glare as she set her mug back down on the table.

“I've been meaning to ask something for a while now. Who give you guys your tattoos?” Arietta was all but willing to change the subject from her swimming issue. The question seemed to catch both Lyra and Dorian's attention as well.

“That would be Donnie,” Leo answered with a smile as he filled up his cup with another round of orange juice.

“The Inkmaster!” Mikey laughed out after getting a small jab to his ribs from his purple-clad brother. Casey smirked a bit seeing the now contemplative looks on the three intrigued Assassins.

“You thinking about getting some ink done?”

"It would be nice to have a choice of the art that gets put on our skin. The lotus tattoos on the back of our necks are pretty and all but their meaning is kind of not so pretty," Lyra smiled gently with her reply as she got up to start cleaning the dishes. She blinked confusedly once Arietta quickly took over for her.

“You know the deal. The ones that cooked don't clean,” she winked at her little sister as she took the dishes Lyra had and skillfully started piling up the rest. Dorian grabbed up what she could not, intending on giving her a hand with washing.

“How about after the mission is over I'll give you guys whatever tattoo you want?” Donatello piped up with his deal and smiled seeing Arietta and Dorian pausing at the doorway to the kitchen with Raph and Leo right behind them.

“Well now, if that doesn't hype up the mission more I don't know what will,” Dorian smirked already thinking of what he wanted and where he wanted the ink to go.

“I know. How about adding in piercings from yours truly?” Arietta grinned quite enjoying the shocked and excited looks that got.

“Is it tomorrow yet?!” Mikey and Lyra both asked excitedly in unison, causing the household to erupt with laughter. Even though their missions were going to be teeming with danger, there was an unwavering will to succeed in all of them.


 

The sun had barely begun to kiss the horizon where the sky met land when Splinter finished his work on the bonfire. The clearing he had chosen was perfect for what he was about to teach not only to his sons but to the Quintus siblings as well. Everything felt so serene and peaceful in the quiet forest around him. Until he could hear the very group he was waiting for in the distance. He chuckled softly being able to pick up the banter as he stared at the growing flames before him.

“Come on! I said I was sorry a billion times already, OJ,” Arietta half whined to the orange-clad as they made their way through the forest. Their weapons and armor left at the house just as Master Splinter had requested earlier in the day.

“Give it up, Ari,” Raph chuckled as he playfully messed up Arietta's hair. “He'll be like that for a while.”

"Can you blame him? I'd be mad too if I unexpectedly got a mouthful of mud," Calliope smiled, trying really hard not to laugh at the comedic way Michelangelo resurfaced from the lake only to have remnants of the muddy bottom on his face. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze with her own as she continued walking beside him, letting him know she was totally on his side in this.

"Add-on that you did use his head as a springboard to keep afloat," Lyra added on and did not even suppress her laughter when she got the got to hell look from both Mikey and Ari. Her laughter abruptly halted once Master Splinter cleared his throat at them to get all of their attention.

“Sit around the fire, all of you. I have one more lesson that will help you on your missions in the morning,” he spoke in his usual wise and gentle tone as he watched each of them get comfortable on the ground. He stood in the open spot with his hands behind his back so he could look to each of them while he spoke out his words of wisdom. “Fu Rin Ka Zan In Rai. Are any of you familiar with that phrase?”

"Sounds kind of familiar. Oh?! Is it from a video game?" Mikey grinned completely confident that he was on the right track. The groans mixed in with a few giggles made him double-guess and he simply shrugged. He figured he would get the answer anyway.

“It's from Art of War by Sun Tzu. I believe it's been on many battle standards during the Sengoku era,” Calliope smiled as she gave out her answer, trying to keep her giggles in reaction to Mikey's guess suppressed.

“Except they took out 'In' and 'Rai' for those standards,” Donatello added to her answer and smiled when Callie gave him a nod of affirmation. Splinter chuckled and gave a nod of his own at the two that hit the nail on the head.

"Yes. It is very popular and rightly so. The whole concept can be valuable to keep in mind as you battle. Each of you has excelled in those traits. As individuals, you have one but when you work together you have them all," Splinter paused a moment to let the words sink in so far. He could see on some of their faces that he had caused a little confusion. Dorian was the first to look at him ready to get a little more clarification.

“What do you mean, Master Splinter?”

"You and Leonardo are as swift as the wind. Calliope and Michelangelo are gentle like the forest. Raphael and Arietta prove they are as fierce as fire. Donatello and Lyra are unshakable like the mountain. All of you fighting together can be elusive like a shadow and strike fast like lightning," Master Splinter smiled seeing his explanation made it more clear to them on what he was trying to relay to them.

“To be better warriors we have to learn all of the traits individually?” Lyra tilted her head to the side in an inquisitive manner. “I don't think we have enough time to learn them all.”

"No, but while you are away you can keep the phrase in your subconscious. It may just help give you an advantage," Splinter chuckled before looking at the flames. He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly as he felt a little anxious about their having to leave in the morning. They would be worlds apart and not all in one group, which caused him a little worry.

“Shishou,” Arietta spoke up to get his attention and when he looked at her she gave him a soft smile. “I promise that no matter what, your sons will be back in one piece.”

“Ari,” Raph did not like the implications of that declaration and seeing her siblings now looking so somber at the flames was so not helping.

"Hold on a minute. You guys are coming back in one piece too. Right, baby doll?" Mikey looked at Callie and even gave her hand a gentle squeeze to try and get her to look at him. He felt his heart wrench when she closed her eyes and lowered her head.

“That is a promise we can't make. As much as we want to, Michelangelo,” Lyra spoke up for her eldest sister and her smile was small. Hollow.

“What do you mean you can't?” Donnie could feel his heart racing and by the looks on his brothers' faces, he knew they were just as upset by this as well.

"It's the Assassin way. We see the mission through by any means necessary. We are trained to complete any assignment without fail. Even if it means a sacrifice on our part," Dorian relayed the reasoning and even looked at Leonardo with an apologetic expression. The blue-clad turtle sucked in a breath quickly before he looked to the fire with a heavy heart. He closed his sapphire eyes to stem the tears and he let out a small chuckle in a way to clear his throat.

“Is there anything that would supersede it?” Fearless opened his eyes and glanced at Dorian who had a look of slight surprise.

"The only thing that would is a blood oath," Arietta spoke up at that point looking at the Ninja leader. She was now slipping into her role as leader of the Assassins with such ease and confidence.

“A blood oath?” Splinter was not sure if he liked the implications that those words held.

"It's the most sacred bond within our Clan. Not even Hisoka would break a blood oath," Calliope explained before she looked at Arietta. She knew this was something she and her siblings had to do. Needed to do. "As the leader, you should make the oath first, Kitsune-taichou."

“Hardy har har,” the ebony haired teen retorted before she reached into the back pocket of her jeans. She brandished a small pocket knife that she quickly flipped open. There was no hesitation as she slid the blade against the palm of her right hand, none too phased by the shocked reactions that elicited.

"What're ya doin'?!" Raphael moved to stop the blood but he froze when she held the knife out for him. It clicked in his head instantly when he looked into her violet eyes just what he was supposed to do. Taking a deep breath he grabbed the knife and copied what she had done to the palm of his right hand. Arietta gently took the knife from him before passing it off to Dorian next. Wasting no time and knowing their wounds would heal quickly, she grabbed Raph's right hand with her own but she still kept silent.

One by one they each sliced the palm of their right hands. The Assassins grabbing the cut hands of the Ninjas next to them while Splinter watched in awe. There was a sense of powerful tradition in the ritual and he could tell by looking at the Quintus siblings that it was indeed something sacred to them. After the pocket knife made it back to Arietta, she closed it and put it into her rear pocket one more before locking eyes with Raphael.

“Verum verbis nostris. We hold this vow above any other. A vow that we will do all in our ability and power to see this mission through without the loss of our lives or any other. Signatum sanguine,” Arietta spoke every word clearly to make sure they heard her over the roar of the fire.

“Signatum sanguine,” the other three Assassins repeated the last phrase in unison. The abrupt change in color of the flames as it erupted had startled all of them. The oranges and yellows replaced now by whites and blues as they all gathered closer to Master Splinter.

“Th-that's a neat trick, sensei. H-how are you doing it? Magic powder?” Michelangelo was hoping his father was pulling a fast one on them because any other explanation may just send a chill down his shell.

"It's not my doing, Michelangelo," Splinter kept his eyes trained on the blue flames as they danced around a figure that began to manifest within the light. His eyes widened as the four Assassins took a step forward. A sign they knew who was appearing before them.

"Father," Diego whispered gently and tried holding back the tears that were threatening to blur his vision. The Spirit opened his eyes and looked to the four that had come close to the flames with a smile.

“Look how much all of you've grown. My beautiful children. I don't know how long I have to speak but I want you to know just how proud I am of each and every one of you. You've become strong. You've honed your skills greatly. I only regret that all of you were forced to follow the same path your mother and I walked. It wasn't the life we wanted you to have but fate has a way of dealing us things that we've no choice but to face,” he looked to each of his children before his eyes trailed over to the five being behind them. He let out a chuckle of amusement and bowed his head toward them.

“I've watched what has transpired when I was able to and I thank you for opening your home and your hearts to my children. I know they're well cared for and are able to know what it means to have something to live for through all of you. A blood oath is certainly one extreme we of the Black Lotus don't take lightly,” Diego opened his eyes and smiled warmly as the four Ninja stepped closer to the Assassins. No doubt to help steady them through the shared spiritual experience. Splinter kept his hands behind his back and a smile on his features as he watched in awe of what was transpiring before them.

"You are about to take on burdens far greater than any of you should. I know that you will succeed and Hisoka will finally pay for all that he has done. Together, I know all of you will be free from the burdens of the past and pave the way to your own futures. My children, you will have a decision to make down the road. To continue as you are now or become your own being, free from any binding contracts," the flames flickered and he knew his time was getting closer to the end. Straightening himself up more in a fashion that seemed he was taking a breath, he stepped from the flames. To all of their shocked surprise, Diego became more solid, as if he were flesh and bone again. He stepped up to his son first and clapped him on the back of his neck.

“Dad,” Dorian's voice cracked and he did not waste his chance to embrace his father tightly. The lump in his throat robbed him of words when he felt strong arms wrap around him in return. Diego kissed the top of his son's head before looking up to stare into Leonardo's eyes.

“You'll have your hands full with this one if he's a chip off the old block,” he winked with his words which only caused the blue-banded turtle to let out a soft chuckle.

"Challenge accepted then," he laughed when Dorian gave him a light punch to the shoulder but he bowed to the man's father respectfully. "I will do my best to keep him out of trouble, sir."

“Hey!” Dorian laughed out but pressed into Leo's side, resting his head on his shoulder with a smile. The blush he had already now deepened as little as he felt Leo wrap his arm around him. Diego smiled warmly and nodded his head before he turned his attention to his eldest and youngest daughters. Both were not even hiding the fact they were crying.

“Calliope, Lyra,” he spoke their names gently and opened his arms for both of them. Had they had more room to rush at him he knew they would all be on the ground from the force the girls had lunged at him with.

“Papa,” Lyra whimpered as she gripped him as tight as she could muster.

“Daddy,” Calliope muttered into his chest, her shoulder shaking with her sobs. Diego pet their heads, trying to console their tears as best he could. Once he gently pulled the two of them back to look at them he carefully wiped at their tears.

“How beautiful you both have become. What I would give to have watched you grow and bat away at the boys,” he grinned as that got laughs from both of them. He turned his attention toward Donatello and Michelangelo who both tensed the second they were under his gaze. “I don't think I need to threaten you two with unending poltergeist events but, know that it is a promise if you break my daughters' hearts.”

“Wouldn't dream of it!” Mikey quickly spoke up and felt a little bit at ease when Callie kissed his cheek. He wrapped his arms around to hold her close with a big grin on his face.

“I find it highly probable they would kill us first, Mr. Quintus,” Donnie admitted nervously and let a smile appear as Diego let out a hearty laugh. The techie terrapin wrapped his arm around Lyra as she snuggled up to his side. His head dipping down giving the top of her head a kiss.

“I have no doubts that they would,” Diego smiled and turned his gaze to the last of his children. His features softened as he moved to stand in front of Arietta who had her head lowered. He could see the tears falling from beneath her bangs, the shaking of her hands as she kept them balled up and it pained him to see her holding back so much emotion. “Arietta, look at me.”

“I... I can't,” Ari admitted out and clenched her hands even tighter. She tensed up when she felt cold hands against her cheeks but she did not fight them. Slowly she lifted her head with the guidance and when she saw him smiling at her she felt her heart hurt more.

“I regret not showing you just how much you mean to me. You may not be mine by blood but I'll be damned if anyone tries to say you weren't my daughter at all. You mean just as much to me as your siblings and are just as precious. Don't you ever let anyone tell you otherwise,” he wiped at her tears before he reached down and carefully pulled on the chain around her neck. Once the medallion came into view from beneath her shirt, his smile widened a little more. “Eyes open, my Nightingale.”

“Walk with the shadows, tousan,” she replied in a whisper and without a second of hesitation she quickly wrapped her arms around him in a fierce hug. Diego returned her hug just as fiercely before he pulled her back from him slowly. He looked to the red-banded turtle that had been beside her the whole time and he raised a brow when the poor male flinched.

“I swear, I ain't gonna do nothin' ta hurt 'er in any way,” Raph quickly spoke up but was a bit taken aback when Diego let out a bark of laughter.

“I don't doubt that, Raphael. I don't think anything I could threaten you with would compare to what she'd do to you,” Diego teased and let a smile grace his lips as Raph let out a chuckle. He let Arietta go and smiled seeing her wrap the turtle's arms around her with a genuinely honest smile on her face.

“You have very skilled and kindhearted children, Diego. I've no doubt they've found where they truly belong,” Splinter spoke up with a gentle voice and extended his hand to the apparition.

“Thank you, Splinter. I can see they are exactly where they need to be. They've found those to share life with,” Diego took the rat's hand and gripped it in a firm handshake. The flames began to spark and flicker once more behind him as he let go of Splinter's hand. His smile became soft and his eyes became somber with the thought of having to return to the spirit realm.

"Time to go," Splinter confirmed what the sign had meant and Diego nodded his head as he walked toward the flames. Once he had returned to the center he faced them all again, taking one final look at the group as a whole. He could not find any more words to say and did not want to tell any of them goodbye. He watched with a surprised expressed as they all bowed to him. The Master, the Ninjas, and his children all bowed in respect to him as his spirit began to fade. As they rose they watched as the man returned their bow to them all with one of his own before he was gone. The flames taking on their orange and red hues once again.

Master Splinter looked at the Assassins to see them silently crying again and his heart hurt for them. A bittersweet reunion for sure and he could not have prepared any of them for such a spiritual encounter. Nor could he have prepared them for the heartbreak of having to see one of their parents disappear once again from their lives. It was an experience all of them would surely keep in their hearts for years to come, that he knew.

“We should all get some rest. With the beginning of the end coming at dawn you will need to be well rested,” he looked to each of them and he could see the reality coming back to the forefront of their minds. The reality of tomorrow sinking in.

"May we stay out here just a little longer?" Lyra asked meekly all the while keeping her eyes on the flames. Splinter knew what was being asked even if the words were not spoken. What she and her siblings needed at that moment was a little more time to engrave the memory into themselves.

“You may, so long as you make sure the embers are out completely. We don't want the forest to catch fire,” he smiled softly and bit them all a good night as he made his way back toward the farmhouse. He was willing to give them all the time they needed.

 

Chapter Text

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

 

The dense fog that had settled over the private airstrip was anything less than eerie. They had all piled into the vehicles and left the farmhouse hours before sunrise and had made it to the now abandoned facility in time for it to begin to peak. Kazuto made his way to the warehouse to retrieve the keys for the helicopters as everyone else filed out from the vehicles.

“This is it, my friends. Once you leave here, there is no turning back,” Leatherhead looked to the eight that were taking on the task of ending such a corrupt nightmare. Something he felt both responsible for as a contributor and relief as a product of the experiments.

"We're going to see it through, Leatherhead. It's time to end this dark chapter in our lives once and for all," Lyra smiled warmly at the crocodile as she tied her rabbit mask to her belt. They had all agreed to travel with the bare minimum, taking only what they absolutely needed to complete their missions.

"We'll have a full day to do surveillance on the target compounds. By nightfall, we strike," Arietta reiterated the plan as she checked over her twin tessen.

“How will you be getting back home? I mean, you guys are going to have three more kids in tow,” April was worried for each of them as she held a still sleeping Nanni against her hip. Kazuto rejoined the group and the jingling of the keys got their attention.

"Hisoka has more enemies within than he realizes. I have made arrangements for secure transportation. Trust no one unless they first give you the phrase; the shadows gather," he gave the Assassins each a key to a helicopter as he gave April the answer. Dorian raised a brow once he got his key last only to realize Kazuto had one more left. His eyes widened seeing his mother emerge from Vernon's van dressed completely in her armor. When she came over and handed off a duffle bag to Kazuto, the warning bells went off for Dorian.

“Wait a minute. What are you two about to do?” His question turned attention to the two elder Assassins and Shiori did not let her stoic expression falter as she tied her dragon mask to her belt.

"We've had our hand in the evils that Hisoka commanded. Kazuto and I plan to right those wrongs and atone for what we have done in our own way," she finished checking her weapons before she faced her children and their ninja. The way her expression stayed did not settle anyone and neither did her cryptic answer. She knew it and she could not offer any more than what she had to them.

“Don't dwell on it. We will meet up again in Tokyo for the big finale,” Kazuto smiled gently to try and ease the anxiety, if only slightly. He looked to the sky seeing the fog was beginning to vanish with the sun's growing warmth and not being ones for goodbyes he and Shiori simply bowed to everyone before making their departure. It was only until their helicopter was off in the distance in the direction of Tokyo that Splinter let out a slow breath.

“It is time,” he spoke out the thought they all had and gave a gentle nod to let them know that their farewells needed to be exchanged quickly.

"You all had better come back in one piece or I'm going to make some heads roll," April smiled meekly, trying not to lose her composure. She was just as afraid as they all were that this may be a final goodbye. Her halfhearted jab got a few laughs from her dear family.

“And miss throwing a baby shower?” Mikey grinned and gave April the first farewell hug. When he pulled back he gave her a wink to keep his misty eyes in check. “We're not missing out on that. I promise.”

“I'm holding you to it, Mikey,” she replied. One by one the turtles and even the Assassins hugged her, being careful not to wake the sleeping toddler in her arms.

Everyone was able to get their farewells out of the way in a quick manner and as the clock continued to tick they knew it was time to begin the next phase of the mission. Nanni had chosen at that moment to awaken only to see part of her family walking away. She was quick to wiggle her way earnestly out of April's arms and once her feet touched the ground, she took off running toward them. She was not about to let any of them leave without her begin able to say goodbye at the very least.

“Guys, hold up!” Casey called out the warning and was walking after the toddler to let her get out her farewells. The Ninjas and Assassins stopped in their walk to their respective helicopters and the first she got to was Leonardo who quickly picked the panicked child up in his arms.

"No bye?!" She pouted at him and the look of guilt made tears spring to her eyes immediately.

"Aw, we didn't want to wake you up, Nanni," Leo hugged her feeling terrible now that their plan had backfired so horribly. He softly patted her back as his brothers and the Quintus siblings crowded around to help ease the little girl. Casey chuckled in amusement seeing Nanni rubbing tears and no doubt her sleepiness from her eyes. Nanni lifted her head from Leo's shoulder and smiled brightly at him.

“Be safe,” she gave Leo the biggest hug she could muster and even made sure to kiss him on the cheek before shifting over to Dorian. She knew just how important it was to make her goodbyes quick so they could begin the journey across the world.

"We'll be safe, Nanni, and we'll be back before you know it," Dorian hugged the child tightly and found himself grinning like a fool when she kissed his cheek. He let out a small laugh to see Lyra holding her arms open to show she was next in line. Nanni was all for being passed around now as she shifted over to her aunt.

“We won't forget to bring back presents for everyone either. You have to promise something first though, Nanni bear,” Lyra peppered the little girl's face with gentle kisses and smiles brightly to hear the giggles she got in return.

“Wha's that?” Nanni asked excitedly after giving her aunt a hug and kiss farewell. When Donatello scooped her up in his arms she smiled looking at him right in the eyes.

“Promise to be a good girl for you Aunt April and Uncle Casey. Can you promise us that?” He cracked a grin when she nodded and held up a pinkie. Gently, he took her pinkie with his and they shook on it.

"P'omise, Uncle Tello," she affirmed and gave him a hug and a kiss on his cheek. She leaned down to switch to Calliope now and was quick to hug her tightly.

“Oh, I'm going to need a big hug like this when we get back!” Callie hugged her just a tight and smiled once she got her kiss, making sure to give the child quite a few in return. She chuckled seeing Michelangelo waiting patiently for his turn and he was doing his best not to tear up. She knew just how much he cared for the little child the second he found her on the bus. The way his eyes lit up when Nanni was now in his arms made her heart swell. It left no doubt in her mind that he was going to love Isabelle just as much.

“Be good too, Uncle Ikey. No t'ouble, otay?” Nanni gave the orange masked turtle the sternest, most serious expression she could muster. That got all of them laughing which caused her concentration to break enough that she let out a giggle.

"For you, punkin', I think I can stay out of trouble," Mikey nuzzled the toddler's cheek with his agreement and even made sure to give her cheek a big kiss to go right along with it. His heart melted instantly when she nuzzled into his cheek while they hugged. His smile could not have been any bigger once he received a kiss on his forehead and it even stayed plastered there as he passed Nanni off to Arietta.

“Love you, Mommy,” Nanni held tight and in that little voice, Arietta could hear her struggling to keep herself from crying.

"I love you too, sweet pea," Arietta heard the little hiccup and she gently pulled the child from her shoulder so she could look into her eyes. Seeing the tears threatening to fall almost broke her own dam of emotions. Never the less, she cracked a smile knowing what would help ease the toddler. "I have a mission for you, Nezumi.”

“Hai, Kits-t'ich'u!” Nanni straightened herself up and became serious again, even with the tears rimming her eyes. That cracked a few smiles and almost made Arietta burst into laughter. Carefully Ari fished out her Nightingale pendant and removed it from around her neck. Her smile softened even more as she placed the jewelry in the toddler's hands.

"Keep this safe for me and make sure it doesn't get lost, okay? Do you accept your mission, Nezumi?" Arietta smiled, even more, when the child held the pendant close to her and nodded fiercely. With a chuckle, she embraced Nanni once more and kissed the side of her head. "That's my brave girl."

"My turn, munchkin," Raph spoke up holding his hands out for the little girl only to have to quickly catch her when she leaped out of Arietta's arms. He shut his eyes so none of them could see his few tears as he hugged Nanni. He knew where they were going was no place for a child and she was being left in damn good hands. That did not make this any less bittersweet.

"Love you, Daddy," Nanni pulled back from the hug and gave him her bravest smile, even with the tears falling down her cheeks.

"Love ya too, Lil' mouse. No tears now. When we're all home yer gonna have some kids yer age ta play with," he gently wiped away at her tears and felt a bit better she had cheered up at his promise of friends.

“Mo'e kids?!” Nanni was all too excited and looked at the other adults to make sure what he promised was true. Seeing the nods and bigger smiles she looked to Raph and happily bounced in his arms.

"Yep, that's a promise," he gave her a kiss on her cheek and chuckled as she returned on to his quickly. Once she was safely in Casey's arms he playfully messed up her hair to get more giggles from her.

“Alright, you guys get out of her and make sure you keep us in the loop,” Casey grinned as he headed back to a safe distance with Nanni in tow. The group had yet to move, figuring this was a good a time as any to say their own goodbyes.

“This is it then. First time not working as a team,” the tone of uncertainty in Michelangelo's voice was not missed by any of them. His brothers heard and understood it loud and clear.

“Yeah but, ya've got one hell of a partner, Mikey,” Raph smirked as he gripped the top of his little brother's shoulder. He was a bit relieved when that statement earned him a smile too.

“That I do!” Mikey chuckled as he gave Calliope a wink before he turned his attention back to his older brothers.

“Just remember, they take lead. This is their territory and if we're going to succeed we've got to follow their orders,” Leo smirked a little knowing he was going to have a bit of a struggle giving up his role as leader. Though he had full faith in the Quintus siblings, even more faith in Dorian.

“Get in, get out. Blow the place to the ground,” Arietta smirked as she spoke up. She winked when everyone had looked at her oddly for the simplified version of the plan. “Of course save those kids before you get out, preferably.”

“Stay as focused as you can. No telling what Hisoka or Shredder may have up their sleeves,” Calliope added in the warning and smirked getting nods from them all. “Arietta, you've got even more of a target on your back than any of us do.”

“Don't I know it. I've got one hell of a partner myself, though,” Ari winked in her reply to Callie and even grinned to see that got a big smirk from her turtle. She had almost been caught off guard when Lyra slammed against her in a rushed hug.

“Oh good, I thought Lyra was going to forget the group hug,” Dorian chuckled out and joined his little sister in squeezing Arietta with a hug.

“Never! It's tradition, damn it!” Lyra shouted against Arietta's chest and even though it had been muffled, they all heard her words.

“Always one for tradition. Good thing I am too,” Calliope grinned as she joined her sibling in the group hug. She laughed out a little hearing Arietta moan out in slight discomfort from the embrace. When Lyra moved her head and Callie saw the mischievous grin, she was so on the same page. They both looked back at the Ninjas that were standing there grinning at the whole thing. “Well? What are you guys still doing way over there?”

"Get your buts over here and get in on this moment!" Lyra grinned even bigger and the words from both her mouth and Calliope's made Ari's eyes bug out.

“No! Don't you guys dare!”

“Well, now we gotta,” Raphael retorted out with a grin as he and his brothers joined in on the group hug. Arietta let out an even louder groan as more squeezing was added.

“Alright, alright! Can't breathe!” She shouted out more of her protest in being the one stuck in the middle. The moment she was freed from the massive hug she got to a safe distance and bent over to get a few gulps of air down.

“I like that tradition,” Mikey laughed out and even moved back a little more from Arietta when she glared at him.

“I think we've stalled long enough,” she straightened herself up again and her glare vanished as she looked toward the helicopters. She took in a deep breath to calm her nerves before grabbing the keys from her pocket in a tight grip.

“Ya alright, foxy?” Raph came up to her side seeing the tense look already in her eyes.

“Yeah. Just have a gut feeling is all,” she looked up at Raphael and smiled a little. Seeing the others going off to their own transportation sealed it that there was no going back.

“Gut feelin' 'bout what?” He raised a brow at her, not sure if it was something that was all that bad or if it was worse. Arietta shook her head gently as they made their way to their helicopter.

“I'm sure it's just the usual pre-mission jitters. Once we're in Singapore safe and sound it'll pass,” she got herself settled into the pilot seat before she began a check over.

“So, do ya really know how ta fly this thing?” Raph sat in the co-pilot seat, looking at all the buttons and lights as she turned everything on.

“Guess we'll find out, huh?” She replied in such a simple manner that Raphael snapped his head toward her. His eyes were widened with shock and the second she glanced in his direction she cracked up laughing.

“Not funny,” he grumbled out and was a bit taken aback when her laughter stopped once she held out a headset for him. She was already now wearing the pilot headset and once he had his on she looked forward with the big grin still on her face.

“Relax, red. I know how to pilot this puppy just fine,” she gave him a wink to try and help ease his anxiety before she began the procedure of taking off.

The family members that stayed behind watched as the helicopters vanished on the horizon. Already they anxiously awaited for their safe return.