Braving it in the New World

BY : EvaBrick
Category: Comics > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dragon prints: 7728
Disclaimer: I do not own the Ninja Turtles, nor am I making any money from them. I'm just borrowing the boys for a while. I do own my original characters.

CHAPTER 1

“I don’t know what to do anymore, Charlotte,” Lisa sighed, leaning back against the new counter. It was high, with a beautiful walnut finish, and a brass footrest around the bottom. Charlie had ordered it from an antique dealer who’d gotten it out of an old bar. It was still covered in bubblewrap and cardboard to keep the drywall dust off. Charlie’s fingers itched to open it and get it set up, but until Raphael and Donatello finished the glassed-in cafe on the roof, they didn’t really have anywhere to put the darn thing.

Charlie plugged in the coffee machine that she’d brought from her apartment and turned to look at her distressed friend. “Maybe there’s another group you could try?” she suggested.

“I dunno,” Lisa said. “I’ve been to personal counseling, group counceling, self-defence classes, rape victims meetings, and that weird psychiatrist up on 15th, but nothing’s working!” She rubbed her eyes - there were dark gray circles under them. “I’m not sleeping. I’m scared to be alone at night.”

“So come and stay with me,” Charlie said. “You can stay as long as you like. You’re always welcome.” She moved over to her friend and put her arms around her. They stood there for a moment, listening to the air nailers and rock music from Michelangelo’s radio. The bookstore renovation was moving along very fast, thanks to the turtles, who were putting in ten to twelve hour days. They’d refused to let her spend her money on contractors when they could do it for free... under Donatello’s instruction, of course.

“No,” Lisa said, shaking her head. “I have to work through this. I can’t run away from what happened to me or I’ll be running forever. I need to keep facing up to it.” She slammed her palm down hard on the counter in frustration. “It’s just... I feel like no one really, truly understands. I mean... it was bad enough that he... he touched me...” She shivered as she remembered Bubba’s assault at the old community college. His scaly skin, the knife pressing between her legs, his cruel voice calling her his angel... “But it’s worse that he was such a monster - literally!”

Leonardo winced and paused behind the bookcases he’d been installing. So she was completely repulsed by mutants. He sighed, the cheerful energy fading from his muscular body. He’d been thinking about Lisa night and day for the last two months, but he got so shy around her that he could hardly speak. She’d been through so much, that he didn’t think she needed anything else to worry about - like how to tell him that she thought he was gross, so he’d never tried to get too friendly with her. Now he was glad he hadn’t.

Michelangelo heard her say it too, and he patted his brother’s shoulder sympathetically before lifting another sheet of drywall into place. “I’m sure she doesn’t mean us, bro,” he said in Japanese. “Bubba was pretty fucking gross. We’re totally hot.”

Leonardo laughed as he used the air nailer to hold the sheet in place. “Yeah, he was,” he responded in Japanese, “but still... ouch.”

“I know you like her, dude. Maybe you should try harder to get to know her... or rather, you should try harder to get her to know you. After all, the first mutant she ever met was a fucking rapist, not a sexy ninja like us.” Mike grinned confidently.

“I wish I could be more like you, Mikey,” Leo said, blinking in surprise as Mike brought a finger to his lips, motioning for his older brother to be quiet. Leo listened again to the girls chatting.

“This is the only place I feel safe anymore,” Lisa was saying, “Cause I know that the turtles will protect us.”

Mike punched Leo hard in the arm. “Get out there. Offer to walk her home.”

“Of course they will,” Charlie smiled. “They love us.” Mike nodded to Leo encouragingly and tried to push him out into the open. Leo pushed back, terrified at the possibility of rejection.

“She hardly knows me!” he snapped, still in Japanese.

“That’s my point!” Mike whispered.

“Maybe they love you, Charlotte, but they hardly know me,” Lisa was saying. Mike slapped his hand on his forehead in a ‘duh’ motion.

“They would if you let them,” Charlie said, kindly, pouring Lisa a cup of fresh coffee. “Ask one of them to walk you home - I promise you that they won’t mind. A big art of their ninja training is about honour. They’d be honoured if you asked them to help you. You don’t have to do everything alone, honey.”

Leonardo turned slowly to look at Mike with a raised eyebrow. The phrases were too similar - his brother and Charlie had ganged up against him. Mike shrugged sheepishly and ducked quickly as Leo took a swing at his head. So what if he and Charlie were trying to get him hooked up? It’d be good for him.

Charlie went to the empty elevator shaft and looked up to the roof where the other guys were working. Someone was running a drill up there. “Lunch is ready!” she called, her voice echoing around her. The drill sound stopped and she heard some scuffling.

Donatello jumped from the roof down to the open space on the third floor where the elevator doors would be once they got it installed. Charlie kept looking up to watch Raphael do the same. It was thrilling to see how agile they were and how well they could move. Don hung down the shaft from the gap, and Raphael climbed quickly down his brother’s body, swinging to land in the gap of the second floor. He reached his arm out and grabbed Don as his brother fell passed him, pulling the purple turtle onto the second floor with him. Together, they both leaped off into the void and landed in neat crouches at Charlie’s feet.

Don stepped forward and grabbed Charlie up in his arms, standing so her feet hung a few inches above the floor, as she wrapped her arms around his neck for a kiss.

“Hi,” he said, nuzzling her nose.

“Hi,” she replied, grinning. “Hungry?”

“Starving,” he said, setting her down and heading over to the huge pile of subs that she and Lisa had made.

“When are they comin’ ta install the elevator?” Raphael asked, following his brother. “Not dat I mind the death-defyin’ leaps ‘er nothing, but it’d be nice ta take the elevator.”

Charlie laughed. “They’ll be here next week.”

“On Thursday,” Lisa agreed. “You know, you could just take the stairs.”

“That’s fer sissies,” Raph said through a mouthful of food. It still shocked Charlie how much the guys could put away. “Where are the drywall princesses?”

“Get bent!” Mike called from the far corner of the room, where he and Leo were just finishing the last piece. Lisa rolled her eyes and picked up a bucket of water and a towel for them to wash the dust off with. The water wasn’t getting hooked back up for another two days.

She walked through the maze of drywall sheets, saw horses, new bookshelves, ladders, and lumber until she found them. She set the bucket down on a chair, and Mike chucked his square edge on the floor with a clatter.

“Thanks, babe,” he said, plunging his hands into the cool water and quickly toweling them dry. He was nearly white with dust, but now it looked like he had green gloves on since his hands were the only part of him that was clean. He took off quickly, muttering something about being really hungry. Mike glanced quickly back over his shoulder at Leo and winked.

Leo had mixed feelings about Mike leaving him alone to talk to Lisa. Hadn’t she basically just said that mutants were gross? Well, okay, she hadn’t said that, but wasn’t that what she meant?

“Thanks,” he said, sticking his hands in the water.

“Um... I have soap,” Lisa smirked, holding out the bar that had been hidden in her hand. “Michelangelo breezed by me so fast that I didn’t have the chance to mention it.”

Leonardo chuckled, “Yeah, he’s pretty hungry.” He reached a hand out to take the soap from her. His three, green, thick fingers brushed lightly against hers by accident as he took it and she gasped and dropped it. It landed in the bucket with a splash.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” she apologized, reaching into the bucket at the same time as Leonardo to fish it out. “I didn’t mean to flinch, I’m just so jumpy lately. No one touches me but Charlotte and my mother and it startled me. I’m sorry.” Her fingers found the soap and then Leonardo’s big hand closed gently around hers, silencing her nervous babbling.

“Are you okay, Lisa?” he asked, feeling like he’d been a jerk. It didn’t matter that he liked her or that she thought mutants were gross. It mattered that he hadn’t realised just how traumatised this poor woman was.

Lisa tensed at his touch, expecting his skin to feel cold, but to her surprise it was warm. Very warm. Her arm relaxed a little as she shook her head. She was very far from alright. Lisa bit her lip and looked at her feet, scared to look him in the eye because she knew that the hot tears burning behind her eyes would spill if she did.

“I understand how you feel,” Leonardo said, softly. He stuck his other hand in the water and took the soap from her so he could wash. Lisa stood there with her fingers still trailing in the water. The felt cold after he’d let go. “I was there. I saw you suffering, and it kills me that I couldn’t rescue you sooner. I had to wait until he put down the knife.”

Lisa watched him as he washed up his arms, slowing rubbing the dust away in gentle, soapy circles. “I wish that you hadn’t saved me,” she whispered. “I wish I was dead.”

“No you don’t,” Leo said, his voice very soft. “I saw you run from him, trying to save yourself. I remember how your back straightened when you thought that someone else was there. You wanted to live, Lisa.”

“But I didn’t know what life would be like after!” she sniffled, her lower lip quivering as she traced the water at the edge of the bucket. “I’m afraid all the time and...” her voice trailed away. She couldn’t say it.

“What?” Leo said, cocking his head to one side. Whatever she wasn’t telling him was the real monster that wouldn’t let her heal and move on. Whatever it was was something she obviously hadn’t told anyone, and whatever it was needed to be said. “Tell me, so I can help you,” Leo whispered. “Shut your eyes and just whisper it.”

He waited and watched the dark-haired woman while she closed her eyes and struggled to control her racing breath. “I feel so dirty all the time,” she breathed so quietly that he could hardly hear her. “I can’t get clean. I can still feel him... touching me...” She sniffled and shivered.

Leonardo bit his lip to keep himself from saying anything. He reached out and brushed his fingertips over the back of her pale hand before taking it gently in his and pulling it back into the water.

Lisa tensed as he touched her, but relaxed as he rubbed the soap over her skin. He dropped it in the bucket and massaged the small muscles in her hand with his thick fingers, letting the soap melt away. When he’d finished, he reached for her other hand. He didn’t touch her, but left his dripping hand out, waiting for her to come to him.

Lisa hesitated then carefully put her hand in his, letting him wash it like he had with her other. It felt good and sent warm feelings up her arm. Leo let her hand go, then stood, took the towel, and dried his arms before gently rubbing her skin dry.

“You’re not dirty,” he said.



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