~Author's note: A what if based on the IDW origin. Rated T for mild violence and language. Disclaimer - I do not own the turtles or their world, I merely play in it.

A great big thank you to Mordinette for her help as my beta/sounding board and another to Scribbledincrayon for her suggestions and help.~

The lid of the dumpster rested against the top of my shell as my hands vainly searched for anything remotely edible inside. The snapping of my coat against the bin made me glad my head was down here, keeping the worst of the cold from my face, and the drop in temperature meant I didn't have to hold my breath as I had been forced to do during the worst of the heat not that long ago.

Somewhere nearby I heard cries of distress that brought my head up out of the bin, but they weren't close enough that I would need to leave in fear of being discovered. Although those noises were fairly common in the city, a fact that I had discovered much to my disgust, they still made my fists ache to hit something. The higher tones, however, indicated that it was a female making them, and they were always the hardest to ignore for me. Some sick and twisted part of me insisted that it was my place to stop it.

A quick shake of my head before I dropped my sights back down into the bin in a desperate attempt to block out the sound. Another sudden gust of cold air forced me to wrap my coat tighter against my body. The thinness of it was ideal when it was warmer, but I feared soon it would be useless against the weather. Winter was coming, I had heard over and over again, and damn it all, if I was not looking forward to it in the least.

Another cry echoed through the night and it vaguely sounded like someone begging for help. A snarl erupted from me, even though I had found that nothing ever good came of my attempts to help those that were being hunted by their fellow humans. Several times I had intervened, but each one had only lead to more screaming, and cries of 'monster' that still rang in my ears for days.

Nope, I didn't need another reminder of just how different I was again. I don't know why I am this way, but that was just another mystery that I hadn't been able to solve. The other ones that nagged at me included where did I come from and were there others like me? Not to mention there was how in hell did I even end up here or how long had I been in this city - days or weeks before I lost my memory? I had enough to deal with just trying to stay alive, especially with the change of seasons that threatened to make my life a frigging hell.

An especially loud cry brought me out of my contemplation of the situation and the garbage I was staring at. Fuck it, I muttered to myself as I pushed away from where I had hoped to find something for dinner, unable to ignore the cries anymore. My fists clenched at my side as I stalked down the alley towards where the sounds were coming from. On the bright side, I could at least pummel a few assholes just for some variety in my night. Although my frame was bulkier than the majority of humans I had encountered, I found that I had the gift of moving quietly when I so chose to, which meant I typically always got the drop on my opponents if needed.

I stopped at what I found and I could feel my lips twisting in rage. Only two, no stealth required.

"Leave the woman alone or else," I said as my voice dropped down into a growl - a fucking warning: take it, asshole, because that's all you're gonna get; but I hoped they wouldn't take it.

One thug had the woman pinned against the wall with a hand over her mouth. The second had been busy rifling through her things from where he sat on the ground. Ass number one looked over at my words. The woman's dark hair flew about her head as she struggled to free herself.

"Back off, freak, or you'll be sorry."

She bit his hand and as soon as her mouth was free, she yelled, "Help me, please!"

Apparently, her panic had her more concerned about the assholes on her than my ugly mug. The guy slapped her hard enough to make her head rock backwards. "Shut it, whore! You'll get yours in a minute as soon as we deal with this jerk."

My blood roared in my ears and I snarled and swung at the man that had her pressed against the building and my fist connected with his face with a satisfying crunch, and he went down with a strangled cry. He didn't get back up - one down. The second man stood up with a scowl that marred his already ugly face - I should know having seen my reflection enough.

"You'll pay for that, freak."

My mouth twisted into something that resembled a grin before I pushed off from the ground and launched myself across the space towards my opponent. We connected with a loud smack and the human staggered under my weight, but managed to stay mostly upright even as he brought his fist down on my back. I nearly laughed as he cried out in pain and cradled his hand against his body.

"What the hell!"

"My turn," I said before I slammed my own fist into his jaw.

The human's eyes rolled back in his head and he dropped to the pavement. It was over before I was even warmed up, damn it. Now came the worst part. My shoulders straightened before I turned around and waited for the woman to cry out in fear or disgust or both, but she didn't say anything. Although night had fallen a few hours ago, there was still enough light from the street in our little spot that I could see her as she crawled along the filth of the alley and swept her hands in front of her in a wide arc as she searched for something. My eyes scanned the ground, trying to detect whatever she was desperate enough to find to crawl around in the filth of the alley for.

"Are you okay? What did you lose?" I finally asked; why I cared, I don't know. Just another part of me that was twisted as I offered aid to those who reviled me in the end.

"Yes, thank you, but I can't find my cane, though."

I glanced around and spotted a thin white stick about five feet in front of her - oh fuck - and my eyes widened when it dawned on me what it was that she had been trying to find. Using the tip of my foot, I rolled the stick towards her. She might not be able to see how different I was, but if she touched me, she surely would be able to feel it. It bumped into her hand and her fingers clutched the cane before she pushed herself upright. She tapped it around her for a moment.

"My groceries? I don't suppose they survived somehow?"

A tilt of my head to look around her, and my gaze found the torn bag and its contents spilled around the area.

"Yeah," I said as I brushed past her. "The bag is useless, though. I don't suppose you have another one handy?"

"Damn it. I hate to impose on you after you just saved me-"

Before I realized what I was doing, I had waved her off with one hand, but the ridiculousness of that action had me sighing as I bent down and gathered up her items for her instead.

"I got it," I said and paused for a moment as I looked out towards the street. It wasn't late enough for the traffic to be almost non-existent.

"Lady, most people, uh, don't take my appearance well. It's best if I just leave you at the edge of the alley."

That had her tilting her head as she stood still. "I have a back entrance to my apartment - a perk for being in the basement, you might say. In fact, that was where I was headed when they attacked me; otherwise, I try and avoid the alleyways."

"Fine. Lead on, lady."

She gave me a smile. Well, I assumed it was directed at me anyway, even though it seemed to be aimed over my shoulder.

"Thank you, uh. If you tell me your name, I could thank you properly."

"Don't know it," I said under my breath. That was a first; never had someone asked me my name. Most times, they were happy to give me one - one I didn't like.

A soft gasp let me know that she had heard me.

"Surely there is some organization that can help you-"

I grunted instead of just laughing in her face. "Remember when I said that people don't take kindly to my appearance? Freak or monster - you take your pick. So, no, there is nowhere I can go for help. Just lead the way and I'll be out of your hair soon enough."

Her cane clacked against the ground and the nearest wall and after a few minutes of circling, she finally stopped. "I'm a little turned around after the attack; which way towards the street?"

I juggled a loaf of bread still in its bakery paper and the fresh smell of it made my mouth water and my stomach growl, but maintaining my grip on it with one hand and one on her shoulder, I managed to point her towards the street. She gave me another smile before she spun on her heel and headed deeper into the shadows of the alley. The dull thud of my foot connecting with the two guys on the ground brought a smile to my face as I passed over them. It's the little things, I learned, you have to enjoy. The sound of her counting under her breath as she moved through the alley was nearly drowned out by the wind until she finally stopped at a small flight of stairs that led down to a door. I spun around to make sure the chumps were still down; they didn't need to see where she lived. They were. When I turned back, she stood in front of a door and pulled a key out from around her neck before unlocking the door. She stepped inside and I steeled myself - for what, I wasn't sure, but I followed her inside. The door closed behind me and the small amount of light from outside dwindled down to nothing.

"Uh, I've got good night vision, but not pitch black."

"Oh, I'm sorry! Hang on, let me get the switch."

The bright light had me blinking rapidly as I tried to clear my eyes of the spots that half blinded me. The space was small but tidy, of course I hadn't peeped into too many windows so, as far as I knew, I only had a limited experience with indoor living. A couch and a TV stood near the front door, and at the other end of the room there was a small table next to the kitchen area.

With her groceries still cradled in my arms, I walked over to the counter and gently placed the items down on it. She joined me, and fearing that she might accidentally touch me and ruin this moment, I took a step away.

"Thank you so much."

"No problem, lady. I'll just be going."

"Please, I want to thank you somehow. What about dinner?"

At my silence, she gave me another smile. Apparently, she was one of those happy people; didn't think New York had many of those. "I heard your stomach growling. I promise I'm a pretty good cook, well, when I don't screw up reading the instructions."

The warmth of the room was a welcome change to the cold of the streets, and a hot meal, well, that was not something to be thrown away lightly.

"Yeah, I'd like that."

"Great! I'm glad I could do something for you after all you've done for me. I guess you sleep on the streets?"

I grunted an acknowledgement and sat down at the table while she began putting up her groceries.

"You are welcome to take a shower. I have a washer and dryer in there as well that you can use."

"You saying I smell?" A snarl left my lips as I pushed away from the table. I really didn't need to be told that perhaps I was a little ripe; I knew it and just couldn't do too much about it.

My eyes watched her chest lift and fall as she breathed deeply. "No, I just thought you might like a chance to get clean since you say you don't go to the shelters."

"Oh. Yeah, that would be nice then."