I know you and who you are;
A star, a constellation far above.
And I am just a traveler,
A gatherer of everything I love.
The sun is falling, fading out of sight
The fire inside will guide me through the night
-Whichever Way the Wind Blows, Gaelic Storm
Y'Gythgba made her way through the ship towards the holoroom. It was good to still be here, especially after everything that had happened on Dregg’s home world. Had the situation been reversed, she doubted that she could have been so forgiving.
But among their many other attributes, the turtles were remarkably magnanimous. And she was determined never to require their forgiveness, ever again. Having nearly lost it once, she would not risk that sacred bond of trust for anything. Besides, she suspected that with turtles as allies, no obstacle, enemy or hardship was insurmountable. She would place her faith in them above all else henceforth.
The war awaited and life must go on, but she was grateful for this brief respite, here on the Fugitoid’s ship. Although she had a reason other than that contributing to her reluctance to leave. One that currently had her tail cheerfully swishing behind her with each step, as though she were a nymph.
Commander G’throkka was on the bridge, speaking with Leonardo and the Fugitoid. And, as she strode through the recreation room, she could see the others watching a strange piece of audio-visual artwork on the tele-screen.
April O’Neil sat in the middle of the couch, holding a bowl of popped corn. Donatello and Casey Jones sat on either side of her. Casey Jones sprawled across his half of the couch, with one leg hanging over the armrest and an arm draped around April O’Neil’s shoulders. Donatello, sat straight and stiff on the other side, close enough that April O’Neil’s arm was tucked in against his shell while he poked around inside a piece of one of their spacesuits with tiny screwdrivers while casting her surreptitious glances.
Michelangelo lay splayed across floor in front of the couch, munching on a slice of pizza with eyes glazed over as he stared up at the screen. “Kwis Bwadfood’s so wame…” he snickered with a mouthful of pizza.
Shaking her head, she walked past them and into the holoroom. Drawing a sharp breath, she spun around, taking in the sights around her. Against a backdrop of steel and glass spires and columns, she was in a large open space, with shaggy, green ground and water blue sky, crowned by a golden sun. Brown stalks of wood jutted out from the land, capped with fluffy green tops. A stream of water trickled past with a red and white checkered cloth spread beside it.
She approached cautiously, examining the cloth, which, based on the arrangement, appeared to be the focal point of the scene.
“It’s my home.”
She spun around at the sound of Raphael’s voice. He was holding a steaming platter of pizza and a couple of cans she’d thought she’d once heard him refer to as soda pop.
“This is Central Park, in New York City, where I’m from. Or at least what I think it looks like during the day.”
She smiled. “Raphael. You asked me here, to show me your world?”
He sighed happily, before shaking himself out of it and spreading the pizza, spare plates and beverages out on top of the cloth. “Uh, yeah. And I thought, maybe we could, you know, hang out…without everyone else.” He plopped down on the cloth and looked up at her expectantly.
She could refuse him nothing and seated herself beside him. “That sounds like a wonderful idea. What is this ‘hanging out’ you spoke of?”
He shifted uncomfortably as he struggled to come up with words to describe what he thought should be self-evident. “Uh, it’s talking…and having fun, I guess.”
Fun. It had been a very long time, since she’d given any thought to having fun. The war had burned away the little joy and frivolity that had existed in her life. But as she reflected on it, the few opportunities she’d had to spend time with Raphael, outside of life-threatening peril, had been, if not fun, then deeply enjoyable.
She placed her hand on his. “I would gladly hang out with you anytime, noble Raphael.”
His cheeks reddened in a pleasing way that matched his mask. He looked away, shyly. “I know that my brothers and I need to save Earth and your people have their own troubles. I…just wanted to spend some time together…before you have to go back home and…I might not see you again…”
She could hear the touch of sorrow in his voice as he freed his hands and focused on dividing up the pizza onto plates for each of them. Colors faded and the light dimmed a bit as she considered his words. Meeting him had uplifted her entire existence, offering her hope and joy she had not before known. The thought of never being near her again was crushing.
She would not have it. This was the only thing she’d ever wanted for herself and she refused to relinquish it. Setting down the plate that Raphael had handed her, she looked up towards the sky. “I am honor-bound to serve my planet and my people, with the privilege of proving my worth in glorious battle. But, Salamandria is not my home.”
She glanced over to see his puzzled expression.
“It’s not? Then where are you from?”
“I am from Salamandria, although I have not been back there in a long time. My home is where my heart is…with you. And to it I shall always return, no matter how far I might travel. I love you, my Raphael.”
His eyes lit up like the stars of the cosmos and an easy smile spread across his face. He caught up her hands in his. “Mona…I love you too.”
Her tail encircled him, pulling him close, pressing her nose against his, sparking a pleasurable sensation throughout her body from her snout straight down to her tail, as the world around them faded away, only this moment real. He was her heart and her soul. Wherever she had to go and for however long she need be gone to satisfy the demands of honor to which she was bound, with him, she would always belong.
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