When Kori opened the door a second time, no upset face greeted her. Unsure where the brothers went, Kori followed the sound of a television downstairs to the living room area. The brother that wore the orange mask was watching cartoons. "Do you mind if I join you?"
Mikey jumped at Kori's voice, "Geez dudette! Rule number one, don't be sneaking up on ninjas," he said with a grin to let her know he was joking.
"Ninjas?" She looked quizzical.
"Yeah, ninjitsu. Master Splinter was tellin' ya about all that. "
"Oh, I wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about. What're you watching?"
"Oh, nothing really." Kori wasn't an expert on these strangers' expressions, but she was sure the turtle was embarrassed to be caught watching cartoons.
"So do you mind if I join you?"
"Sure. I mean, ya know, there's not much on." Mikey mumbled.
"Are you kidding me?" Kori said with a laugh, I love looney tunes!" Kori eased down onto the couch next to Mikey with a groan. "You know, you'd think after being unconscious for however long I've been here, I'd be rested."
"You're askin the wrong turtle, science is Donny's domain. I'm not even allowed in the lab anymore." Mikey said the last with a pout.
"Oh, I know, he told me all about it." Kori grinned.
"What!" Exclaimed the indignant turtle. "Well, it wasn't entirely my fault."
"Uh, huh, I'm sure" Kori said with a yawn. I'm just going to rest here a bit…
Mikey watched from the corner of his eye as Kori lost her fight against sleep. Once he was sure she was sound asleep, he gently picked her up and headed towards his room.
"Just where do you think you're going?" Raph said, walking out of the dojo.
"Figured she could use some sleep in a real bed and not on one of Don's tables. I can sleep on the couch tonight."
"Whatev'" Raph rolled his eyes.
After Kori was tucked into Mikey's room, the four turtles and Splinter gathered in the dojo to discuss their guest.
"So she seems like she's on the mend. She told me she remembers her distant past, but her recent past is patchy. Growing up is easily remembered, but as to how she ended up unconscious in the sewer turning into a bobcat, there's no memory. Or at least not one she's sharing. I don't know if it's temporary, but she may regain those memories and it's hard to say what might trigger it." Don explained to the group.
"How do we know we can trust her? She may represent a danger to us." Leo pointed out. "I would guess she has somehow come in contact with the same mutagen that changed us."
"True, my son, but it does not seem that happened willingly. I believe that our guest needs not only security but kindness. Be her friends, my sons, and we may find out what has so violently changed her life."
"Yes Master Splinter." The four brothers agreed with varying levels of enthusiasm.
All encompassing terror, fear, pain, chased, run! Emotions coursed through her. No matter how fast she ran she never gained any ground. Each step was agony but she must keep going. Run, run, run!
"Yo, dudette, Kori? You're safe, hey wake up." A gentle voice broke through the nightmare's fog of pain and fear. Kori struggled back to the awake world. Finally awake, she realized she was panting in fear and completely tangled up in sheets, on a bed. Huh? Where? She was disoriented for a moment until a slight movement from the direction of the voice caught her attention. A sleepy but concerned face peered at her. The orange bandana around his neck gave Kori the clue she needed to figure out which brother came to wake her up.
"I walked by, heard you thrashing around, and wanted to make sure you were ok. Are you?" Sleep fogged blue eyes looked at her.
"Yeah, just a bad dream, can't really even remember what it was about, just badness. I'm sorry." Kori started to disentangle herself from the cocoon of sheets.
"Alright, if you need to talk, I'll be in the living room." Mikey stood up to go.
"Where am I?" Kori asked, sounding a little lost.
"Ah…you're actually in my room, we don't usually have many visitors, so not much need for a guest room. Figured you'd want to sleep in a real bed rather than the one in Don's lab. We got a room we can turn into another bedroom just so long as you don't mind bunking next to Master Splinter."
"I…no of course not. I didn't mean to put you out, Mikey."
"Not a problem, dudette. I'm just that much of a gentleturtle." Mikey cracked a grin. "Goodnight Kori."
"Goodnight Mikey." Kori grinned. Mikey slipped out the door shutting it quietly. Kori rolled over and curled up with a gentle smile on her face.
Mikey lounged on the couch thinking of their visitor. Don was interested in how she had been changed and how they might change her back. Leo was worried about her change being the tip of the iceberg. Raph was, well not worried, but convinced their visitor was troubled. Mikey wasn't really sure what to think of her. It will be nice to break the testosterone of this place up a little bit for once, he thought to himself as he drifted into sleep.
The next time Kori awoke, she was alone in the room and couldn't hear anything in the hallway. She poked her head out the door cautiously and was met with an empty hallway. She wandered down the hallway, down the stairs and into the living room area. That room was also empty. Started to get a little alarmed, Kori crept around the lair looking for the turtle brothers and their sensei.
"Good morning, my child." Kori shrieked and whirled around to see that Splinter had managed to creep up on her. "My apologies, I did not mean to startle you."
"That's ok," Kori said with a nervous laugh, "It's better than a cup of coffee."
"My son's are currently doing their morning workout in the dojo," Splinter explained and gestured to a closed door with one paw, "You are welcome to watch, or join, if you wish."
"Um, watch for now. I don't think I'd last more than a few minutes." Kori frowned; feeling this weak and helpless was getting old quickly. Splinter gave her a nod and motioned for her to follow him into the dojo. The room looked vaguely familiar. A familiar face popped into her head, a friend, she had been watching her practice. No, a test to advance to the next level, whispered her subconscious. "Chelsea?" Kori whispered weakly. Her legs felt weak, then collapsed and she sat down, hard.
Immediately, activity in the dojo stopped. The four brothers looked at her worried as Splinter knelt down next to her. "Are you alright, what happened?" He placed a comforting paw on her shoulder.
"I…I remember. Not everything. But coming in here, reminded me of watching a friend. Test for a belt? Some sort of martial arts." She looked at each of her hosts in turn, looking lost and confused.
Donatello knelt down next to Kori and Splinter. "It's ok. I know it's sudden and overwhelming. But it seems like you're going to remember, if only at first in small chunks." Don said soothingly.
Kori looked up into sympathetic brown eyes. "I know," she said with a small waver in her voice. "It's overwhelming, but I'm happy I remember. I'm so sorry to interrupt." Donatello and Splinter stood up. Donatello offered Kori a hand up.
"Back to practice." Splinter commanded. He led Kori over to a couple of cushions on the floor by the wall. As they watched the brothers paired off and began sparring. Splinter explained some of what they were doing. Kori was struck at how graceful the brothers looked, and how deadly. Watching the brothers, Kori was able to pick up a bit more of their personality. They all had obviously trained together, but at the same time they all were different. Mikey seemed to bounce in and out of reach with endless enthusiasm. Kind of like a demented bouncy ball, she thought with a small giggle. Donatello was more methodical, scientific almost. Fits with the lab, I guess. Raphael was a surprise, because in him she saw a fire of passion. Leonardo was also a surprise, he was as opposite to Don's scientific approach as you could get. He seems to emphasize the artistic aspect of martial arts, she thought. As Kori observed the brothers more, Splinter had taken control of the workout, clearly issuing commands and critiquing the brother's performance.
Splinter watched their guest out of the corner of her eye. He was not entirely sure what to think. On one hand, his heart went out to her, obviously something traumatic had happened. But on the other hand, she clearly had contact with either the substance that was responsible for his and his sons' change or something enough like it, it didn't matter. Splinter resolved to help this stranger, but to remain vigilant in case she revealed knowledge critical to his family's safety.
As Splinter called an end to the practice, the brothers because a series of slower movements, gradually cooling down tired muscles. They ended the practice with a short period of meditation. The peaceful atmosphere of the dojo almost lulled Kori to sleep again. She came back to herself with a start as Splinter stood up next to her.
"Hope ya'll are hungry, cause I'm gonna make breakfast!" Mikey announced before taking off towards the kitchen.
"Is that a good thing?" Kori asked, truly confused.
"That would depend on what he decides to make. Come on, Kori, I just want to run a few quick tests before Mikey gets done making breakfast." Donny motioned for Kori to follow him out of the dojo. Kori followed Don into his lab a little uneasily, but as she stepped into the lab and saw the corner with the medical equipment she was filled with a feeling of familiarity.
Donny watched their guest look around his lab with interest. He was surprised she had started to remember so quickly after such a long time unconscious. It will be interesting to see what she remembers and what triggers it, the scientific part of his brain thought. "If you could just sit on the table, I just want to take a quick look at you and make sure everything's working like it's supposed to." He said nodding towards the table Don used as an exam table.
Kori sat on the table while still looking around at the equipment that was familiar but wasn't. Don cleared his throat to get her attention, and her gaze snapped back to him. She gave him a sheepish smile and muttered an apology. Don proceeded to shine lights in both eyes, test her reflexes, and asked her various questions.
Don pulled a chair up facing Kori. "I know you haven't known me very long," he started uncertaintly, "but I would really like it if you talk to one of us. About what you remember, what you're feeling, anything. I'm worried if you start bottling things up, what I mean is, well….you know." He trailed off.
Kori nodded warily. "I guess I can do that." She fidgeted a little, avoiding meeting Don's eyes. "Earlier, when you guys were working out, I just remembered a flash of a friend testing for a higher level. And when I walked in here, I got a feeling of familiarity, but not really." She looked around again, with a slight look of confusion on her face. "It's like I remember these things, but only slightly different." She shook her head. "I'm sorry, I'm not making much sense, and it's really not helpful." Kori gave Don a small sad smile and shrugged.
Don awkwardly patted her shoulder. "It'll come in time, it's ok."
"You guys gonna eat or what?!" Mikey hollered from the kitchen.
Don looked back at Kori and rolled his eyes, "Come on, I don't want him barging in here."
Kori followed him back to the dining room with a grin.
A few weeks had passed and Kori was slowly adjusting to living with the four brothers and their father. She laughed and joked with Mikey and was drawn to Don's lab. She started watching the brothers practice every morning, but declined joining them. The part of martial arts that resembled a dance was very appealing to her, but when it came to using those graceful moves for their true purpose, something inside her quailed. She didn't spend much time with Master Splinter outside of joining him in observing practice, but she was very drawn to him in a father figure sort of way. Leonardo truly intimidated her and Raphael frankly just scared her so she tended to avoid them both when possible. Kori seemed to spend a majority of her time with Mikey. She really enjoyed his company, he made her laugh. When they were joking around, she almost forgot about her lost memory and her changed state.
After the first week, the brothers had cleaned out a room they had been using for storage for Kori to use as a room. They were somehow able to keep it a secret until they were able to get the basic furniture for it. The walls were bare compared to the brother's room, but it was space all her own. She had begun to feel guilty every time she saw Mikey sleeping on the couch.
Unknown to the brothers, she was remembering her past life in small segments, and mostly in her dreams. She knew now why Don's lab seemed so familiar, but different. Kori was almost certain she worked in a lab before whatever happened to change her. She also remembered she was an orphan, and hadn't had a very good childhood, even though she couldn't remember much in the way of specifics, just a heartbreaking feeling of loneliness. Although Don had assured her she could talk to any of them, she didn't feel comfortable talking to them until she got sorted out who she was.
Kori woke from a deep sleep gasping. She had been dreaming again, and this one involved overwhelming panic, running, and pain. But just on the edge of remembering, she had woken up. Growling, she punched her bag in frustration. Not knowing was killing her.
Kori tossed and turned trying to return to sleep, but it seemed to stay just out of reach. With a silent snarl, she got up and glided out the door. She had found out earlier that week, if she tried, she could walk silent enough to sneak up on Mikey. Remembering his utter surprise brought a small smile to her face. She prowled the lair restlessly, needing to get out pent up energy, but not wanting to wake up the other residents.
With a start, Kori realized she was at the door of the dojo. She slipped inside and closed the door so there was only a small crack left open. Turning on the lights, she looked around, a vague idea forming. Sure enough, there was a small CD player shoved in the corner with an equally small stack of CDs next to it. The names of the artists were unfamiliar to her, so she chose one at random and turned it on. Poets of the Fall quietly started playing.
Almost without conscious thought to what she was doing, Kori started stretching muscles for so long had been inactive. She slipped into a warm up routine without even realizing it. When the next song came on, she lifted up on her toes and started dancing. She couldn't remember the names of the moves, or even when she learned them, but they came to her almost as easily as breathing. Relaxing into it, Kori danced her confusion, fear, and sense of loss. By the time the CD finished, Kori was panting with exhaustion. Doing a few quick stretches, she returned the CD to its case and turned off the dojo's lights.
She made it back to her room without seeing anyone, and she heaved a sigh of relief. After being able to express so much of her pent up emotions, Kori fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Mikey made it back to his room before Kori realized she had an audience. He had never seen anybody dance like that outside of the occasional tv show. The emotion that was poured into the dance had taken Mikey's breath away. He felt a little guilty, almost like he had been eavesdropping on a personal conversation. I'll tell her, if she brings it up first. He thought with a mental shrug.
Mikey had a hard time getting back to sleep. But every time he closed his eyes, he saw Kori dancing.