Welcome to New York City

Setting: 2k3 Turtles

Rating: M [for strong language]

Summary: [Self-Insert Fic]Moving to a new city for a new job is supposed to be exciting. For Marie, it may be more excitement than she's able to handle after she meets four brothers late one New York City night only by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"…I just don't understand why it had to be New York City, Marie. There are plenty of jobs here in Lincoln or Omaha that you could have applied for…"

"Those jobs all suck! They only want to hire contractors or people with PhD's! I spent three fucking years busting my ass as a contractor while listening to management swear over and over that they were going to hire me on as full associate, but instead I get a foot in my ass when they decided to move the company overseas! I am not putting up with that bullshit again! And since I don't have a PhD…"

"So go back to school! I still think you ought to be a pharmacist…"

Marie blew an irritated breath as she listened to her sister rant and rave about the wonderful world of pharmacology for what had to be the hundredth time. Stretched across her hotel bed, she stared over the rim of her glasses at the bland ceiling tiles above her, wishing for the phone conversation to come to an end. Her right hand habitually raked through her long, blonde hair which had recently been freed from its ponytail prison. The sensation helped eased the ache in her head, but she knew it wasn't going to go away completely until her sister did.

"I am not going to spend four years and a quarter million dollars learning how to count pills for the rest of my life!" Marie interrupted. "I want to stay in research and if the only worthwhile job I can find is on the East Coast then so be it! You're just going to have to deal with it!"

"It's not just me who has to deal with it. Dad does, too. Don't you care how he feels about this? You're going to be so far away. We're never going to see you except for the holidays! If you even bother to come home for them..."

"Yeah, things will pretty much the same as they are now, won't they?!" Marie snapped. The anger in her sister's tone was riling up her temper as well. "You never came to visit me when I lived across town from you, why the hell are you bitching about not being able to visit me when I'll be living across the country from you?!"

"You could have made the effort to come see me! You're so reclusive it's…"

Biting her lip, Marie silently fumed as she recalled several instances in which she had tried to arrange plans to spend time with her sister only to have them rejected or postponed. Her patience had officially reached its end.

"Nina, I have to go," she announced, cutting into her sister's newest tirade. "I'm supposed to meet my realtor. Bye."

"….call me aft-…"

Marie hung up before her sister could finish speaking and tossed the phone onto the bed. Slipping her glasses off, she rubbed a hand across her tired face. A quick glance at the clock told her that she really did have about 45 minutes to the realtor's office. With a groan, she sat up and shoved her glasses back as she rose from the bed and moved to the mirror mounted on the wall by the bathroom door. She eyed her reflection critically, smoothing out the wrinkles in her black peasant-top blouse, adjusting the waist line of her dark blue jeans, and trying to tame the wild strands of hair that stood up at awkward angles. Deeming herself presentable enough, she stepped into her shoes and grabbed her messenger bag before stepping out the door.

The front desk clerk tried to insist on using the shuttle service, but Marie politely declined and chose to walk the eight blocks to the subway. Outside the sun was shining and a soft breeze cooled the otherwise warm mid-September day. Hustling up the stairs at the Astoria Boulevard station, she reached the platform a mere minute before the Q train pulled in. Only a handful of passengers occupied the car she entered and she slipped into an empty seat across from an elderly gentleman who was mulling over the newspaper's daily crossword puzzle.

As the train jerked forward, Marie turned sideways on the slick, blue bench to gaze out the window. A forest of buildings flashed by, obscuring the view of the East River. The number of passengers dwindled and swelled at each stop. Checking the directions on her phone again, Marie stood up when the train approached the station at Queensboro Plaza, edged past the onslaught of new passengers, and descended to the street.

It was hard to stay focused when there were a hundred other things happening in her surroundings. Marie's head turned to and fro trying to take in every single sight while she weaved her way through pedestrian traffic. Ten minutes later, she descended below the street to board the G train and two stops later she resurfaced.

The realtor's office was a block down from subway on the corner next to a beauty salon. Marie glanced at her watch and saw that she still had five minutes to spar. Feeling somewhat proud of her navigation skills, she pulled open the office's door and stepped inside.

"Welcome to Lindholm Realty! I'm Jerry Lindhom! You must be Marie!"

Marie jumped as a slim, gray-suited man suddenly appeared before her. He smiled with all his teeth and had his right hand extended in greeting. Grinning awkwardly, Marie reached out to complete the ritual and cringed as her fingers were mercilessly throttled by his tight grip.

"Uh…yes…that's me…" she confirmed in a small voice while wondering if she only imagined that she could she her reflection in the shine of his balding blond head.

"Wonderful!" Jerry exclaimed. Still holding her hand, he pulled her along as he walked over to a tidy desk on the left side of the room in front of which was a pair of matching yellow plastic chairs. "Here, sit, sit, sit!" He deposited her in the closest seat then scuttled around the desk to sit across from her in his own black leather office chair. Propping his elbows on the desk, he rested his chin in his hands and stared at her, his smile never faltering. "So, moving to the city to start a new job! How exciting!"

"…yeah…it…uh…it really is…" Marie said, his overbearing nature making her fidget nervously.

"Well, I can't tell you how glad I am that you've chosen Lindholm Realty to help you find your new home!" he beamed. Spinning in his chair, he opened the middle drawer of a filing cabinet behind him and extracted a manila folder. "When we spoke on the phone last week you said that you were hoping to find a two-bedroom apartment in either Brooklyn or Queens, right?" Jerry spun back around, plopped the folder down on the desk, and laced his fingers together over top of it. "I actually have six listings that fall within your budget and two that are a teeny bit…" He made a pinching motion with his left thumb and forefinger, leaving a tiny space between them. "…higher, but we might be able to haggle a lower asking price if you 're interested. Five of these places are right here in Brooklyn and those are the ones we'll be looking at today. So, Marie, are you ready to get started?"

Marie blinked as her brain finally caught up with his rushed spiel. Nodding, she forced herself to smile. "I'm ready if you are."

XXXXX

So did you find a place to live yet?

Marie read the text message from her dad as she made her way back towards her hotel. It was barely 8:30 pm, but the street was already dark and abandoned. Most everything shut down at five in this particular neighborhood, save for a few diners and of course the bars, but neither of those types of establishments were directly along her route. Passing under a flickering street light, she typed a reply.

Not yet. Still got a couple of places to look at tomorrow.

Sighing, she returned her cell phone to her left pants pocket. In a word, dealing with Jerry had been exhausting. He talked a lot and barely let her offer a response before switching subjects. Irritation had taken over her mood by the time they reached the second place and it had taken all of her energy to remain politely interactive with the man. Four and a half hours later, they'd finally returned to the office and she had exited as quickly as possible with Jerry loudly promising that tomorrow would be equally exciting.

The rumbling of her empty stomach had been uncomfortable enough to make her seek out food when she reached the Court Square station. She didn't wander far, settling for a small Italian restaurant about a block away. Dining on chicken ciabatta, she mulled over the housing options she'd seen thus far.

She liked three of the five apartments they'd seen. The one in Brooklyn Heights was at the top of her list. It was the most expensive, but the price included an amazing view of Manhattan across the river. Her current second choice was the apartment in Sunset Park which was slightly bigger for a few hundred less. Third, was a condo in Brownsville that was right next to the 3 subway line. The last two had been automatic no's: one was a couple dump that needed more TLC than she could afford and the other was so far removed from the trains that commuting to and from work would have been absolute torture.

Lamenting the difficulties of home-buying, Marie had paid her bill and walked the remaining distance to Queensboro Plaza and hopped aboard the Q train that would take her to Astoria. A hot shower was the only thing on her mind now and she still had six blocks to go to reach the hotel. Her phone beeped and buzzed in her pocket, alerting her to a new text message. Unsurprised to see that it was her dad again, she had just unlocked her phone when the sound of tires peeling made her look up and left.

Eyes widening, she had about two seconds to move out of the way before a black muscle car jumped the curb and crashed into the side of the bookstore she'd been passing. The impact tore a sizeable hole in the building's brick. Marie threw an arm up to shield her face from the rain of debris. Coughing, she squinted through the dust cloud to view the damage. Before she could approach the crash to lend her assistance, the front doors creaked open and two men stepped out, grumbling and groaning about their fortune. Both were dressed in low-sagging jeans and gray t-shirts, but the most distinguishing features about the two were the handguns they held.

"…oh shit…" Marie swore and began to back away.

"Hey! You!" the passenger-side man yelled at her when he spotted her and the phone she had in her hand. He assumed she was either calling the police or recording the incident which was not something he wanted to happen. Stepping forward, he made a grab for her. "C'mere!"

"Ahhhh!" Marie screamed. Jumping out of reach, she turned and took off running down the block.

"Goddammit! Get the phone from that bitch!" the driver yelled at his companion while holding his gun-free hand over his bleeding shoulder.

The smart thing to do would have been to ditch the phone, but the rational part of Marie's brain had been shut down by the panic. Instead, she gripped it tightly as she fled the scene, her messenger bag constantly smacking into the side of her thigh. She could hear the man pounding down the pavement after her and she willed herself to move faster even as her un-athletic body protested. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she discovered to her dismay that the distance between her and her pursuant was shrinking. Marie cursed and rounded the corner, praying that by some miracle there would be a shop of some kind still open where she could seek refuge.

She had just passed a dark bakery when she felt a hand grab her by the shirt and yank her backwards. Marie lost her balance and fell, landing hard on her right hip. A foot connected with the small of her back and she yelped in pain. Fingers wrapped around her left forearm in a death grip. Looking up, Marie's heart skipped as the pock-marked face of her assailant leered at her in victory.

"Gimmie the phone, girlie," he commanded in a wheezing voice while tucking his gun into his waist-band.

He was reaching for her phone when a dark object suddenly collided with the side of his head, knocking him unconscious to the ground and simultaneously freeing her from his grasp. Sitting up, Marie scooted across the sidewalk away from the downed man. It took her a second to realize that the object had been someone's fist. A small sense of relief flashed through her and she glanced around for her apparent hero, but then a new hand had her by the elbow and was pulling her to her feet.

"Keep moving!" a gruff, masculine voice said in her ear.

Instinct told Marie to trust this unknown person. Even though she wasn't sure where she was supposed to go, she took a step and almost sank to her knees as her bruised hip gave a nasty throb. She heard an impatient sigh right before she was plucked off the ground and draped over a shoulder while still clutching her phone. Marie was too shocked to protest: she could only hang on tight as the person broke into a run.

The rough jostling was making her stomach queasy. Squeezing her eyes shut, she fought the urge to upchuck and paid no attention to the direction she was being carried. Several minutes passed before her carrier finally slowed and she opened her eyes to see the ground shrinking away from her. Startled, Marie shouted in alarm.

"Quit squirming!" the mystery person scolded and the arm around her waist tightened. "Or I'm gonna drop ya off this ladder!"

Whimpering, Marie obeyed and her fingers clutched tightly at what she thought was a very strange backpack. Heights were one of her top five fears and as they climbed higher she found herself closing her eyes again so she wouldn't have to watch if she fell to her death. At long last, their ascent came to an end and Marie was pulled off the stranger's shoulder and set down gently on her feet.

"Ya alright?" he asked. "Those jack asses didn't hurt ya, did they?"

Marie shook her head. Taking a deep, she lifted her head to finally get a proper look at her savior. "…no…I-….oh my god!"

Dropping her phone, she stepped back as she tried to figure out who… or what…had rescued her. It wasn't a man at all. After a few seconds of study in the dim light of the surrounding street lamps, she deduced that the backpack she'd been hanging onto was in fact a shell and the thing standing before her was a giant turtle: a giant turtle in a red mask who looked like he could easily kill her with one punch from his muscle-packed arm.

"What…the…actual…fuck…?" she questioned and glanced around for an escape.

"Ya wanna run? Go right ahead," the turtle told her, watching her movements. His arms were now folded across his burly chest and he wore an annoyed look on his face. "I'd love ta see ya try and get down from here. I need a good laugh."

The jibe crushed Marie's fear and raging anger immediately took its place. "Hey, screw you, jerk! I didn't ask you to bring me up here to…" She had to look around to figure out where she was exactly. "…the damn rooftops?!"

Her response made the turtle bristle and he began to advance on her. "Oh, well, I'm sorry for saving yer ass from getting murdered by some lowlife! Damn humans! Yer all a bunch of ungrateful, snot-nosed brats who…"

"Raphael!"

Marie jumped at the sound of yet another voice speaking behind her. Spinning on her heel, she found herself face-to-face with a second male turtle sporting a blue mask. He was flanked on each side by a third and fourth turtle – both apparently masculine as well. The one on the left wore orange while the one on the right wore purple. Their sudden appearance was too much for Marie to handle and she hastily clapped a hand over her mouth to muffle her next scream.

"Awww, Leo!" the orange-masked turtle tutted. "You scared her!"

The newly identified Leo ignored the reprimand. Lifting his hands in a gesture of surrender, he softened his features and lowered his voice to a soothing tone.

"It's okay, miss…we're…"

"Stay back!" Marie warned. She had managed to fumble inside her bag for the pepper spray she had stashed inside and now brandished it at Leo. "Just…stay back…whoever the hell you are!"

"…not going to hurt you…" Leo finished lamely with a roll of his eyes. He wasn't the least bit threatened, but still he kept his hands raised. "…you can put down that pepper spray…"

"As if!" she scoffed.

"Oh, for fuck's sake…" Raph growled impatiently. Coming up behind her, he reached around and plucked the can from her hand then tossed it well out of reach. Marie turned to confront him, a scowl on her face, and he grinned down at her smugly. "Whatcha gonna do now, sweetheart?"

His mockery gave Marie courage. Forming a fist, she drew her arm back and swung it towards his face. He looked almost bored as he caught her by the wrist to block the punch.

"Nice try," he snorted, keeping a hold on her.

"Let go!" she demanded, aiming a kick at his knee only for that to be blocked, too.

"Make me!" Raph challenged.

"Raphael!" Leo repeated. Hurrying over, he placed a restraining hand on Raph's chest. "Quit antagonizing her and let her go!" The red-masked turtle glowered, but did as he was told and Marie stepped back from the pair. "Now explain to me why she is here with you when you were supposed to be pursuing the Dragons in the car."

"I was pursuing 'em!" Raph insisted as he batted his brother's hand away. "I finally caught up ta 'em on 35th Street and was turning on ta the boulevard ta keep on 'em when the idiots crashed their damn car. Then they got out and one started chasing blondie here…" He pointed at Marie. "…trying ta get her phone." Scowling deeper, he crossed his arms over his chest. "And since I didn't think ya'd approve of me just standing by and letting the scumbag hurt her, I knocked his lights out and decided ta take her someplace safe before any more Dragons showed up which threw a monkey wrench in ta yer wonderful plan. That's why I sent ya a text telling ya ta meet me here. Now you figure out what ta do with her, Mr. Fearless Leader."

Leo turned back towards Marie who was glaring at Raph, miffed by the "Blondie" remark.

"Why did those men want your phone?" the katana-wielder asked. "Were you taking pictures of them?"

"No!" Marie denied hotly, her gaze shifting to Leo. "I was walking down the street, minding my own business, and texting my dad when out of nowhere a car slams into a building right in front of me, okay?! Then some guys with guns get out and start coming at me so of course I'm going to start running! One of them pulled me to the ground and the next thing I know I'm being shanghaied by Red over there!" It was her turn to point at Raph. "And now I'm up here trying to understand what the hell is going on!"

The entire group jumped as the chorus for Hanson's "Mmmbop" suddenly started to play loudly. Realizing that the source was her ringtone, Marie automatically reached for her pocket to take out her phone only to find it empty. She then remembered that she had dropped it and her eyes fell to the rooftop in search of it. The device was face-down and just to the left of Leo who spotted it about the same time she did. Darting forward, Marie snatched it up just as the leaf-green terrapin was reaching for it. A quick glance at the screen, which was thankfully undamaged, confirmed that it was her sister calling. After a second's consideration, Marie accepted the call and lifted the phone to her ear.

"Hi, Nina," she greeted, hoping that she sounded calmer than she currently felt.

"I thought you were going to call me after you finished with the realtor." Nina skipped the formalities and launched straight into griping. "Why haven't you?"

Marie rolled her eyes and supplied an honest answer. "I forgot. I'm sorry."

"Geeze, I see how I rate…Does that mean you found a place then?"

"I still have a couple of places to look at tomorrow."

"Really? I would have thought you'd have your decision by now since you're so eager to be out there…"

"I'm not going to move into a dump just because it's available," Marie protested, her eyebrows furrowing in frustration. "I'd like to actually enjoy where I'm living, thank you very much. How many houses did you look at before you made a decision, huh?"

"Fair enough," Nina acquiesced. "What are you doing the rest of the night? Not out roaming the streets all alone, are you? Please tell me you're not that stupid."

"I'm locked in my room at the hotel watching re-runs of House on tv," Marie lied smoothly. "Is that okay with you or should I shut the tv off before it corrupts my mind?"

Her sister was not amused. "Well, excuse me for being worried about you."

"Well, you shouldn't because I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself."

"I'll remember that when I get a phone call telling me you've been attacked by a mugger or worse."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," Marie said dryly. "I'm going to go take a shower now."

"Fine. But make sure you call me tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay. Goodnight, Nina."

"Goodnight. Love you."

"Yeah, love you, too."

Ending the call, Marie stowed her phone and looked up to find all four turtles fanned around her and watching her intently.

"What?" she asked dumbly.

"So, getting caught up in gang business is how ya take care of yerself," Raph snorted. "Damn, I'd hate ta see ya on yer worst day."

"Oh, was I supposed to tell my sister that I'm being interrogated by four strangers on a rooftop after being chased down the street by a bad guy carrying a gun after witnessing a crime?" Marie replied sardonically while planting her hands on her hips. "That'll really convince her that I ought to move out here."

"You're not a New Yorker?" Donnie inserted, cutting off Raph's retort which was bound to be rudely sarcastic. "Where are you moving from?"

"I'm from Nebraska," she told him with a hint of pride in her voice.

"Nebraska?" Mikey repeated, lifting one eyebrow curiously. "Where the heck is that? Somewhere in Europe?"

His question earned him a smack upside the head from Raph. "Does she sound European, numbskull?"

"Nebraska is a Midwest state located between Kansas and South Dakota, Mikey," Donatello explained briefly to his little brother then turned his attention back to the girl. "That's got to be quite a change. What brings you out here?"

"A new job," she replied vaguely.

"Doing what?" Mikey wondered.

Popping a hip, Marie crossed her arms and eyed the four turtles suspiciously. "Geeze, you guys are nosy."

"Sorry," Don quickly apologized. "We're just curious. There's not a lot of humans out there who would carry on a conversation this long. Most of them run away screaming at the sight of us."

Marie shrugged. "Where the hell am I supposed to run to up here? I can only stand here praying that you don't hurt me or jump and end up as pavement paste."

"We don't want to hurt you," Leo assured her. "We only want to help you."

"What are you? The night guardians of New York City?" Marie questioned.

"Something like that," Leo answered with a soft smile.

"We're ninjas," Mikey explained. Tapping a finger to his chin, he thought for a minute. "But The Night Guardians does sound pretty cool…"

"We are not gonna go around calling ourselves 'The Night Guardians', " Raph announced, knowing exactly what was going on inside the youngest turtle's imagination. "Just get that thought outta yer head right now."

"Ninjas in New York…" Marie said slowly with a shake of her head. "I suppose next I'm going to find out that the mafia is still alive and well." She watched the turtles exchange glances and their expressions told her that her supposition was accurate. "Oh god…"

"Let me give ya some free advice, Blondie," Raph offered, stepping away from his brothers to approach her. "Keep yer nose in yer own business, stay off the streets late at night, and ya'll be just as happily oblivious ta all the real crime going on in this city as about 98% of the people that call NYC home, alright?"

"Yeah, that worked so well for me tonight," she shot back. "Now let me give you some free advice: Stop calling me Blondie and you won't feel my foot up your ass."

Amused by her sass, Raph couldn't resist the urge to push her temper a bit further. "Oh, is that to informal? Ya prefer Miss Blondie?"

"Are you always this big of a jerk?" Marie asked. "Or am I just special?"

"He's always that big of a jerk," Leo confirmed, brushing his burly brother aside. "But he is right about staying off the streets at night. Where were you headed before, Miss…?"

"…Marie…" the girl supplied after a second's hesitation. "…just Marie. I was on my way back to my hotel…the Fairfield on 45th Street."

"That's a bit of a walk yet," the leader told her. "We can get you there safely."

"Bro, where are your manners?" Mikey scolded as he came up on Leo's left. "You don't offer to escort a lady home when you haven't even introduced yourself!" He turned to Marie and bowed with a flourish. "Mademoiselle, I am Mikey." Straightening up, he nudged the eldest with his elbow. "This is Leo." He pointed around Leo to the emerald-colored turtle. "That little ray of sunshine is Raph." Finally, he gestured back towards the remaining ninja. "And that is Donnie. We would be delighted to assist you in returning home for the evening."

Amused by Mikey's antics, Marie couldn't hold back a short laugh. "You guys are something else." Running a hand through her hair, she heaved a defeated sigh and started for the fire escape. "Alright, if it means I can get down from this damn roof..."

"Actually, it'll be faster if we travel by the rooftops," Leo countered, bringing Marie to halt.

"Are you serious?" she asked as she spun back towards them. Gesturing at herself, she raised a skeptical eyebrow. "I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not exactly built for roof hopping here."

"We noticed," Raph assured. Together, he and his brothers began to advance. "That's why we'll be carrying ya."

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no…" Marie protested, shaking her head vehemently. She took a hasty step back as Raph breached her personal space with his hands outstretched. "…don't you dare…ah!"

And for the second time that night, she was unceremoniously hoisted up and thrown over Raph's shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Marie barely had time to establish a grip before the group was on the move, bounding from one rooftop to another at surprising speeds. Keeping her eyes screwed shut, Marie muttered curse words throughout the entire journey.

"We're here," Raph announced several minutes later as he was lowering her.

Clutching at his forearms for support, Marie stood on wobbly legs while she took a look around. All five of them were standing at the mouth of a dark alley and across the empty street was her hotel. Relieved, she loosened her death grip and adjusted her glasses which had been jostled during her ride.

"Th-thanks..." she said shakily. "…but let's not ever do that again, okay?"

"For obvious reasons, this is as far as we can take you," Leo told her. "But we'll be watching to make sure you get inside."

"Alright." Marie tightened the strap on her messenger bag and prepared to step out onto the street but paused and looked back at the turtles. "So those guys that crashed the car…am I better off not knowing what that whole situation was about?"

"Probably. Ignorance is bliss, as they say," Donnie answered. Extending his left hand, he presented her with the can of pepper spray Raph had disarmed from her. "Better keep this with you though, just in case."

Accepting the can, Marie shoved it in her bag and glanced around at each of the four. "Am I ever going to see you guys again?"

"Maybe," Leo said. "But I don't suggest that you come looking for us."

Marie nodded in understanding. "Right…uh…well, then…I guess this is goodbye." She offered them a smile of gratitude. "Thank you for your help."

"Hey, no problem!" Mikey grinned while waving away her thanks. "And by the way, welcome to New York City."

A/N: Written purely for my own amusement/mental exercise and posted thanks to the encouragement of a good friend.