The First of Many
There were very few things the Hamato siblings enjoyed more than a nightly training run across the rooftops of New York City. From getting up out of the sewers, to the adrenaline of the chase, to the open air of the night sky, there were some many things to enjoy about these ‘midnight runs’. Really it was the best thing about being a ninja turtle. On this particular night, the turtles were just coming to the end of the training part of their evening, Hisako stretching and taking in the night air for the umpteenth time that evening.
“Gotta say guys,” she remarked, coming out of a particularly long stretch. “I never thought I’d be so happy to return to training.”
The turtles all shared a smile, remembering how Hisako had practically begged Master Splinter to let her join them on their training run. Mikey was practically convinced that she used a ‘Jedi mind trick’ to get her way. However, that had been quickly shot down by Leo’s counterargument that ‘only the weak willed could be influenced like that’.
“So what now guys?” Raph asked. “Because I think I speak for all of us when I say that I don’t want to head in just yet.”
Mikey’s stomach let out a loud grumble, much to everyone’s amusement.
“I think that answers that question.” Leo chuckled.
“Last one to Mario Brothers hatched from a rotten egg!” Hisako suddenly shouted.
Before anyone could react, Hisako had shot across the rooftop, already jumping onto the next building. The brothers all watched her go, then grinned in a combination of exhilaration and determination. Competitions like this were commonplace nowadays, especially with Hisako’s self-confidence on the rise. However, while they were willing to let her enjoy her victories, she would have to earn them.
“You heard her, guys.” Leo announced.
One by one, each of the turtles took off, taking their own shortcuts in an attempt to pass up their sister.
Donnie took to the power lines, using his Bo staff to glide across them like a zip line. When he ran out of those, he swung along the various clothes lines that ran across the rooftops. He calculated that his increased speed would aid him in traversing the vast city in less time than it would take to run.
Mikey leapt down from one lower rooftop to another until he was near street level. He then leapt onto the roof of a large semi-truck and proceeded to ride that down the highway.
“Hey I think I invented truck surfing.” Mikey proclaimed, riding the vehicle.
Raph barreled across the rooftops, making a beeline for the pizzeria. He knocked aside various rooftop furniture and clothes lines that blocked his path, refusing to let Hisako beat him.
“If she wins, she’s gonna rub it in all our faces all night!” he growled. “No way am I gonna let that happen.”
Leo made his way to street level and started jumping from lamppost to lamppost. He kept mostly undeterred from his goal, that is, until he saw something that made him stop dead in his tracks. In a garage on a mostly empty street, a familiar head of pink hair was bent over a motor bike.
“Wait a second.” he muttered. “Was that-?”
He backed up, perching on one of the lamps and peering down at the small garage that had its doors wide open. Right in the middle of the garage was Karai, her pink hair tied up in a messy bun with several strands of it hanging in her face. She was wearing an oil-stained jumpsuit, a bandanna, and her face was covered in grime, but there was no denying it was her.
Seeing Karai again made Leo’s heart skip a few beats as he was reminded of the fun the two had last time. It seemed he hadn’t forgotten about her after all.
“Karai...” he whispered.
At Mario Brothers, Hisako made it there first, landing in the back alleyway triumphantly. She threw her hands up in the air, a large grin plastered in her face.
“And Hamato Hisako wins again!” she cheered.
Don slid into the alleyway, his face dropping as Hisako began to do her best impression of a boastful Mikey.
“Ah come on.” he complained, leaning against the wall pouting. “I could have sworn I found a good shortcut this time. I cut down travel time by 1.72 minutes!”
Hisako just shrugged.
“Sorry Don.” she said. “But I guess the stigma of turtles being slow shall forever remain.”
“Hey!” Mikey called out joining Donny and Hisako. “That’s a hurtful stereotype.”
Hisako stuck out her tongue playfully.
“If you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen, little bro.”
Mikey grumbled. At the same time Raph landed in the back alley and joined up with his siblings
“Oh great.” He groaned. “Sis beat us again.”
Hisako approached her brother with a big grin.
“Don’t worry Raph.” she told him, clapping him on the shell. “At least you’re not last. That’s Leo’s spot this round.”
That’s when everyone noticed the distinct lack of their blue brother. They waited for a moment, then Mikey spoke up.
“Hey, where is Leo?” Mikey asked.
“He probably took a bad shortcut or something.” Raph suggested.
“Leo?” Donny asked. “No way. He knows this city even better than I do.”
“Don’s got a point.” Mikey agreed. “I mean, out of all of us, he should have been first.”
“Well what would you suggest?” Raph asked.
There was silence before Hisako let out a groan.
“Oh for Pete’s sake!” She exclaimed, “You’re all thinking it. Let’s go find him!”
She jumped up onto the fire escape, her brothers hot on her heels in pursuit.
Leo stayed on that lamppost for longer than he bothered to keep track. Seeing Karai again, he knew that he couldn’t just forget about her, nor did he want to. Though it may be a risk to get close to her, it was a chance he was willing to take.
“I’ve got to give her a chance.” he decided. “I’ll just be careful.”
He took out his shell-cell and the number she gave him. After a second of hesitation, he proceeded to dial.
In the garage, Karai wiped sweat from her brow, smiling at her handiwork. With the added fuel tank, and the new noz feature, she’d be able to hit new speeds, and performs even better tricks than before. It still required some fine tuning, but before she could get started, her phone began blaring.
"I don’t give a damn ‘bout my reputation. You’re living in the past it’s a new generation. A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s what I’m gonna do. And I don’t give a damn ’ bout my bad reputation!"
Karai wiped her hands on her pant leg before grabbing her phone, checking the caller ID. Though she didn’t recognize the number, she figured it wouldn’t hurt to answer.
“Hello?” she said as she put the phone to her ear.
“Hey Karai.” Leo’s voice responded.
“Leonardo?” Karai blinked. “Hey there. Gotta say, I was not expecting you to call me.”
“Yeah. Me neither.” Leo admitted. “Listen… you still willing to show me a few moves?”
Karai grinned, wiping her face on a nearby cloth.
“Absolutely.” she agreed. “I’ll need some time to get ready. Hows about we meet in the downtown dump in two hours? Plenty of junk to jump over and there’s nobody there.”
Karai could practically hear the grin in Leo’s voice.
“I’ll be there.” he responded happily.
“Great see ya then.” Karai said before hanging up.
Once that conversation had ended, Karai returned her attention to her bike. She would need to work double time to get those fine tunings done in time, especially if she was gonna show Leo how a real rider acted.
Leo tucked his shell cell back into his pocket, continuing his observations of Karai, as well as wondering how he was going to make the rendezvous with her. It was highly unlikely that Master Splinter would just let him go, and then there was the matter of his siblings.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he almost didn’t hear his family coming up behind him.
“There you are.” Raph called out, approaching Leo from an adjoining rooftop. “We’ve been looking all over for you.”
Leo jumped at the sound of his siblings, his face turning redder than Raph’s mask. Her turned around to see them all perched on the edge of the building behind him, looking down at him with curious expression.
“Hey guys.” he called, waving sheepishly. “Um, what are you doing here?”
“Didn’t you hear Raph?” Hisako asked. “He just said we were looking for you. The real question should be what are you doing here?”
That’s when Mikey looked out passed Leo and into the garage behind him, spying Karai finishing off the last tune-ups on her bike. He got a big grin as he pointed at the building.
“Guys!” he hissed. “Check it out! There’s a hot chick with pink hair!”
The others look down and saw the girl Mikey was talking about. Raph’s eyes went wide at the bike she was tricking out, already making mental notes on how to makes his even better. Donny took one look at the girl, and instantly made the connection.
“Leo, is that your mystery girl?” he asked.
“... Maybe.” Leo admitted, his face turning even redder.
“It is isn’t it?!” Hisako squeed. “No wonder you forgot about the race!”
“Gotta admit bro, she is worth being hatched from a rotten egg.” Raph admitted.
“Uhh…” Leo stuttered, honestly confused with how to reply to that comment. “Thanks. I guess.”
As the five watchers were talking, Karai managed to finish up her work, setting her bike upright before shrugging out of her jump suit. Leo felt his jaw drop a bit, his eyes following Karai as she nonchalantly tossed the jumpsuit aside, grabbed her helmet, mounted her bike, and sped through the night.
“And there she goes.” Mikey announced.
As Karai disappeared down the street, Hisako thought of something that made her pause.
“Hey Leo. I get wanting a quick look, but why stick around for so long?” Hisako questioned. “Were you thinking of going over and asking her out or something?”
Leo suddenly clammed up, turning away from his siblings in an attempt to dodge the question. Everyone noticed this, and were immediately shocked. The mood noticeably dampened as the purple turtle cleared his throat.
“You weren’t, were you?” Donny asked astonished.
“No.” Leo quickly dismissed, perhaps a bit too quickly. “Of course not.”
Hisako jumped onto the lamppost right next to Leo, crossing her arms.
“Are you seriously trying to trick us when you know one of us is a telepath?” she questioned.
Leo felt a flicker of panic pass through him, but didn’t dare let it register on his face.
“There’s nothing to trick you about.” Leo insisted.
Hisako raised an eyebrow.
“Okay then.” she said, waving her hand about. “Then I guess you won’t mind if I go poking around a bit?”
Leo just rolled his eyes.
“Is that really necessary sis?” Leo asked.
“I dunno, is it?” Hisako retorted.
“No.” Leo answered, standing up and glaring at his sister. “I saw her while I was running to you guys and I guess I lost track of time. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Now everyone was looking at their brother skeptically.
“Leo, you really suck at lying.” Mikey told him.
“Well it’s true.” Leo insisted. “What reason would I have to lie? I’ve already stated that it would never work. Why would I pursue the impossible?”
This made everybody back down. Leo did have a point with that, and his track record did show him to be the most reasonable of the turtles.
“Alright, sorry for pushing you bro.” Raph apologized.
“Same.” Donny and Mikey said in unison.
“We worry about you is all.” Hisako defended.
“I know, but there’s no need.” Leo replied, silently grateful he’d been able to convince them. “I’m fine. Really.”
Hisako lightly punched him on the arm.
“Just cause there’s no need doesn’t mean we’re gonna stop.” she told him. “It’s part of being family.”
She then jumped off the pole and back onto the rooftop.
“Now come on, Casey’s got a pizza waiting for us and it’s getting cold!”
“Right, let’s go!” Leo ordered.
Everybody took off back towards Mario Brothers, Leo mentally breathing a sigh of relief after successfully quelling his siblings’ fears and doubts. Now all he had to do was find a way to get Raph’s bike out of the lair without anyone knowing.
The turtles returned home from Mario Brothers, the remains of their pizza with them which Mikey tossed it in the fridge. They all shuffled off to their rooms, getting dressed in their pajamas and letting out loud yawns.
“Aw man. All that running around got me all tired.” the orange turtle commented
“What running?” Hisako questioned. “You road a big rig halfway across town!”
Mikey crossed his arms defensively.
“I still ran.” he countered.
“Whatever.” Raph brushed off, giving his little brother a noogie.
Hisako giggled at the sight, walking over to the wall and pressing the large red button. The floor of the living room opened up, allowing the massive turtle-bed to rise up. Hisako snagged her green blanket from a hook on the wall, flopping into the center of the mattress.
“Come on, bedtime everybody!” she called out. “Lest you wanna deal with another one of my nightmares.”
“Actually,” Donny interjected. “Since our little misadventure, I’ve been registering a major decrease in the frequency of your-”
“Shut up and get in bed.” Raph interrupted, tossing a purple blanket at Donny’s head.
Mikey just flopped onto his designated corner of the bed, falling fast asleep. Donny and Raph each took their corners as Leo turned off the lights. Reluctantly, he laid down, patiently waiting to hear the sounds of his siblings snoozing away.
It took a good hour before Leo felt confident that his family was fast asleep. Once he was, he gently rolled off the mattress and onto the floor. Channeling every lesson of stealth and silence he’d learned, the blue turtle slipped towards is room, throwing his street clothes back on and stashing his pajamas. Once he was dressed, he slipped out of the lair, climbing up into the garage. He nearly gave himself a heart attack when he tried to lift the trapdoor open, forgetting about the squeaky hinges, but thankfully, the rest of his journey to the garage was a silent one.
Once he successfully commandeered Raph’s riding gear and helmet, he opened the garage door and wheeled the bike outside, not wanting to wake them with the sound of the bike revving up. As soon as he was outside he went back and closed the garage door, got on the bike, turning it on this time, and rode off.
He made it to the dump a few minutes late, something he felt more than a bit embarrassed about. Still, Karai didn’t seem to mind as she waved at him from where she’d parked her bike.
“You know, this is the first time I’ve ever had to wait for a guy.” she remarked as she approached Leo.
“Sorry.” Leo apologized, parking his bike and climbing off.
“Eh, no big deal.” she told him. “So, you ready to learn how to properly ride that chopper of yours?”
Leo grinned, climbing back onto his bike.
“Bring it on.” He challenged.
The two revved up their bikes as Karai drove off first. She approached a makeshift ramp that had been set up near a pile of old mattresses, obviously a safety net of some sorts should her trick fail. She gunned the engine hitting the ramp at top speed and going flying in the air. She then released the handles of the bike, grabbing the seat and doing a literal handstand while in the air. She held it for about two seconds before getting back into position to land on another makeshift ramp.
“And that’s just one of many tricks I know.”
Leo whistled in amazement.
Karai gave a dramatic bow.
“You’re too kind.” she joked before straightening up. “Now let’s see what you can do.”
Leo thought for a moment, wondering if he could even perform a trick like that. However, as he thought about it, the mechanics of such a trick seemed to revolve around precise timing, as well as complete control of the rider’s body and bike. Considering his training, such a feat couldn’t be too hard to accomplish. More than that, he had an idea of what trick he was going to do.
Leo revved his bike and went full speed towards the ramp. Once he went up the ramp and got into the air, he released the bike completely. In a sudden flurry of motion, he planted his hand on the seat, sweeping his leg in a full circle as if he was taking out an entire squad of enemies. As he felt gravity beginning to take effect on the bike, Leo pulled himself back into position, landing on the other ramp. His landing wasn’t perfect, and he lost control for a split second, but quickly regained it.
“Woo!” Karai cheered. “Good job, Leonardo. And here I thought you were a rookie.”
“Guess not.” Leo brushed off. “And just call me Leo.”
“Alright, Leo.” she said. “I’ll give you props for skills, but I can’t be friends with a one-trick pony, so I hope that’s not all you can do.”
Under his helmet, Leo couldn’t help but grin.
“Not even close.”
For the next two hours, Karai and Leo continued to do tricks on that makeshift ramp. There were a few wipe-outs on both their parts, but thankfully, those mattresses did their job surprisingly well. In the end, Karai was the first to call it, flopping onto the pile of mattresses with a big grin on her face.
“I don’t know why you said you needed pointers.” she commented, “It’s obvious I have nothing to teach you.”
“Maybe I just wanted an excuse to get to know you better.” Leo replied.
Karai grabbed a small pillow that had also been thrown on the safety pile, throwing it at Leo.
“No corniness.” she chastised playfully.
“Sorry.” Leo replied, his voice anything but.
Karai just giggled, then sat up, turning to her bike.
“We still have some nighttime to kill.” she remarked, going over to her bike. “So how’s about we just ride?”
Leo gave a nod as Karai climbed back on her bike. As he climbed onto his own, a glint appeared in his eyes.
While Leo had seen the city from inside the Shell Raiser, and from the rooftops of New York’s buildings, riding through the quiet streets with only the occasional driver was an experience unlike any Leo had experienced before. Needless to say he was enjoying it. He looked over to see Karai riding alongside him, though she was wearing her helmet, he could tell she was having fun too.
“Hey Leo!” she shouted, “Betcha I can make it to the pier before you!”
“You’re on!” Leo shouted back.
That’s when Karai hit a small switch on her handle, her bike suddenly doubling in speed. As she shot off into the night, blue flames dancing in her tailpipes, Leo called out in mock anger.
“Hey!” Leo yelled. “No fair!”
“Try and catch me!” she called back, her voice getting more distant with each word.
Leo revved his bike and set it as fast as it could go, trying to figure out the fastest route to the pier. Years of rooftop racing had left him with a fairly good mental map of the city, and he put it to good use finding a direct route.
Karai just kept cruising down the road towards the pier. She was just about to cross the makeshift finish line when Leo’s bike came from a by-street she didn’t even know was there, getting there seconds before her. Karai couldn’t believe her eyes.
“So much for just riding.” Leo quipped.
She stopped her bike, staring at Leo in utter amazement.
“How?” she sputtered. “How did you beat me?!”
“I took a shortcut.” he responded with a smirk.
Karai regained her composure, then chuckled.
“Alright then.” she told him. “I guess I’m buying the midnight snacks.”
She set up her bike again, then turned to smile at Leo.
“I’ll meet you on the roof of that fishery.” she said, pointing to the small building. “Think you can climb up there?”
Leo looked up at the fishery, noting it as one of the many spots in the city that he and his family often used as a star-gazing perch.
“Shouldn’t be a problem.” Leo responded.
Karai gave him a small salute, then drove off to get the desired snacks.
When Karai returned to the fishery, Leo was sitting on the edge of the building waiting for her. She slid onto the edge next to him, a box of cheese-squares under her arm and a few cans of pop in a bag.
“I didn’t know what kind of snacks you liked, but I figured everyone liked cheese-squares.”
“Sounds great.” he told her, “Though I think in the snack department, I’m open to pretty much anything.”
She plopped the box down between them, and Leo did reach for a few, though he only lifted his visor up enough to slip the small squares into his mouth. Thankfully, it was dark enough that Karai couldn’t see the green hue of his skin.
In between bites of their shared snack, Karai seemed to stare out at the sky, marveling at its beauty.
“Y’know, it never fails to impress me.” she said aloud.
“Yeah.” Leo agreed. “The city is beautiful at night.”
Karai leaned back, laying down on the roof.
“When I was a kid, I would stare up at the stars, and try to find shapes and patterns.” she told him. “It’s silly, I know, but-”
“Not at all.” Leo interrupted. “My family and I do the same thing.”
Karai sat up.
“Seriously?” she asked. “As in you still do it?”
“Yeah.” he replied. “My sister kind of started it the first time… well…. She started it, and it turned into a tradition for us. We’d sit out and stare up at the sky, trying to find the craziest constellations we could.”
Karai laughed as well.
“Sounds like you and your family are close.” she told him.
“We are.” he agreed. “Then again, we’ve been the only family any of us have ever known, so I guess that kind of helps.”
There was a bit of silence, then Karai spoke up again.
“What’s it like?” she suddenly asked.
“What do you mean?” he asked for clarification.
She looked over at him, her smile faded somewhat.
“Having a close family...” she explained. “You know... with siblings and such.”
He was a bit confused by the question, but did his best to answer.
“Well it can be a bit claustrophobic at times,” he admitted. “But they always have my back. And I know they’ll never let me down.”
“Claustrophobic?” she repeated with a hint of amusement. “How many siblings do you have?”
“Three brothers and one sister. We’re all around the same age, and that makes things very interesting.” Leo chuckled. “Especially around meal time. I’m surprised we ever have enough food to feed all of us. Mikey alone eats enough food for all five of us!”
Karai laughed a bit.
“It must be nice…” she told him, then she looked down. “What about your parents? What are they like?”
“My dad…” Leo thought, “Well, he can be a bit strict sometimes, but only because he loves us. Plus, he’s very protective of us, but that’s only because of what happened with his first family.”
“His first family?” she asked.
Leo rubbed the back of his helmet.
“He doesn’t like to talk about the day it happened, and he’s only mentioned small details.” he explained. “He lost everything. After that, he adopted me and my bros… then our sister about 4 years ago.”
Karai seemed to look at Leo in a different light, as if something had just clicked in her mind.
“You’re all adopted, huh.” she realized.
“I guess you could say that.” he admitted, “Though I just like to put it this way: We’re all we’ve ever had, and all we’ve ever needed.”
“But, don’t you ever wonder about your real family?” Karai questioned.
Leo honestly thought about it. Having been born house pets, there was a very good chance their eggs had been taken from some large turtle hatchery somewhere.
“Not really me and the guys.” Leo finally answered, “Though we have wondered about our sis. We wonder if she has any family out there somewhere, but she seems quite content with calling us family.”
Karai gave a nod at that, then wrapped her arms around her legs.
“I wish I had siblings.” she commented. “But, it’s just me and Dad for as long as I can remember.”
Now it was Leo’s turn to ask the questions.
“So tell me about your family. What’s your dad like?” he asked.
Karai gave a shrug.
“Like any other dad I guess.” she replied. “He’s very strict, and has very high expectations for me. Well, for everyone really.”
“And do you have a mom at all?” Leo inquired.
Karai shook her head.
“No.” she answered. “She died when I was very little. An arsonist lit our house on fire when I was three. Dad says I’m lucky to be alive.”
She shrugged out of her biker jacket, revealing several dragon shaped tattoos on various parts of her body. However, even in the low light of the evening, Leo could make out scar tissue underneath the ink.
“Present for my 13th birthday.” She explained. “They hide the scars rather well, and they look awesome too.”
She slipped her jacket back on as Leo continued to look at the tattoos.
“Seems scars on a constant feature on everyone I meet,” he muttered, “Physical and mental.”
“What was that?” Karai questioned.
Leo turned red under his helmet, shaking his hand.
“It’s nothing.” he assured her.
Karai gave him a look, then shrugged it off, getting back to her feet.
“Well, I think I’ve had enough sappy backstory talk for tonight.”
She rose to her feet and struck a pose.
“Come on.” She declared “I’m going to show you the best driving route through the city.”
She held out her hand for Leo to take, a big smile on her face. Leo took it, and when he did, he spotted the time on the watch he was wearing.
“Oh shell.” he swore quietly.
He got to his feet, immediately dropping onto the ground below.
“I need to get back home.” he told her. “I’m sorry.”
“No problem.” she told him. “I’ll call you, k?”
Leo gave a thumbs up, then sped off. As he disappeared, Karai suddenly realized something. With no small amount of reluctance, she looked down at the large belt around her waist, squeezing two small buttons on the top and bottom of the buckle. It revealed a small compartment containing an array of about three tracking devices. She had been so distracted by Leo and the conversation they’d had that she’d completely forgotten to do her job. Face palming herself hard, Karai leaned back, flopping onto the roof.
“I didn’t plant that tracker!” she exclaimed. “Father’s gonna kill me…”
Leo made a pit stop by a nearby gas station in order to fill up Raph’s bike. Once that was done, he pulled up to the garage, cutting the engine a few feet from building. He placed the bike back in its usual spot, slipping the riding gear where it usually belonged. With that done, he lifted the trap door, sliding down into the lair. He caught himself on the opening, lowering himself down as quietly as he could manage. Touching down, he made a b-line for his room, changing back into his pajamas in record time. After stashing his clothes where they belonged, he went back out into the living room and slid onto his corner of the bed, pulling his blanket over him. The movement of the blanket caused Hisako to stir a bit as she opened her eyes a crack.
“Leo…?” she questioned sleepily.
He panicked for a moment, then forced it down.
“Just went to the bathroom.” he told her simply.
“Okay...” she mumbled, her eyes closing as she went back to sleep.
Leo watched her drift off, then let out sigh of relief. He’d actually been able to get away with it. As he went to sleep as well, his mind was already imagining what would happen the next time he met up with Karai.