The Lair was abnormally quiet, and April could feel the heavy atmosphere before she had even stepped foot through the turnstiles. Looking around the Lair, she frowned when she didn’t see any of the four turtles. The TV was off, which was strange in itself, Donnie’s lab door was shut, though that wasn’t as strange, but, as she moved closer, April couldn’t hear the normal sounds of Donnie tinkering.
“Hello?” she called out, scanning the room once more, now on her guard. Something seriously wasn’t right. Her eyes fixed on the dojo, she made her way to the door, and was just wondering if she should knock first when the door slid open and there stood Master Splinter.
“April,” Splinter said, looking a little surprised to see her, as she had not been around in some time now, due to the unexpected accident with her father’s mutation.
“Uh, hi, Master Splinter,” April greeted, glancing behind him, wondering if the turtles were in the dojo with him. “I was just looking for the guys,” she explained.
“April,” Leo’s voice came from behind Splinter, a moment later the emerald green turtle stood in the doorway as well. “We weren’t expecting you,” Leo said, glancing from her to Splinter.
“We will continue our meditation later,” Splinter said, giving a small nod toward April, before leaving Leo there to talk with her.
“What’s going on?” April asked, “did something happen?” she was unable to hide how worried she was.
“Yeah… something did happen,” Leo said. “It’s kind of a long story too…” Leo trailed off, looking at April as his frown deepened. “What are you doing here?” he questioned. “Last I knew, you never wanted to see any of us again.” Leo didn’t mean to sound as accusing as he had, but right then he would have liked to talk about anything else other than what was going on at the moment.
“I’m still mad,” April said, crossing her arms. “And I’m going to continue being mad until this mistake is fixed,” she admitted, then let out a long sigh and let her arms drop back to her sides. “But, mistakes happen, I know you guys were only trying to help, and I know that none of you would have purposely taken my dad away from me again.” April closed her eyes, taking a deep breath before looking back up at Leo.
“I’m glad to hear that,” Leo said, “Donnie will be happy to hear that as well.”
April looked up at Leo, feeling as if there was more he wanted to say, but he seemed unsure of how to say it. “There is another reason for me coming down here,” April admitted. “All last night I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong, I spent all day trying to figure it out, when I realized that something might have happened to you guys,” she said, and continued looking up at Leo.
The blue banded turtle could tell that she wanted him to say that everything was fine, or to confirm that no one had been hurt, in the last couple weeks that she hadn’t been in their lives. But Leo wouldn’t lie to her; however, he couldn’t seem to find the right way to explain the current situation to her. It didn’t seem right to dance around the topic before telling her, and blurting it out definitely wouldn’t help matters.
“Leo, what happened?” April asked, her own worry growing the longer Leo remained silent.
“…It’s… it’s Mikey,” Leo finally said, turning his head, breaking eye contact with her.
“Oh my God, is he okay?” April asked, eyes widening as she started to imagine all kinds of horrific things that could have happened to the youngest of her four friends.
“He’s fine,” Leo said quickly, then frowned. “Well, I mean he’s not really fine, he was hurt, but the physical wounds aren’t to bad, he’s just really not himself,” Leo tried to explain.
“…not himself?” April asked.
“It’s kind of a sensitive topic right now,” Leo said, closing his eyes.
“That is the understatement of the year.” Raph’s rough voice broke into their conversation, and April turned to look at him now.
“What Raph means is, we’re all still trying to process what happened,” Leo said.
“I ain’t trying to process shit! I know what happened! And when I get my hands on that fucker, I’m gonna make him pay!” Raph snarled, taking April by surprise. She had seen Raph angry before, but this felt darker than his normal anger.
“No one is going to do anything,” Leo ordered, ignoring the angry growl Raph directed at him. “It’s like Splinter said, now is not the time to go and seek revenge. Mikey needs us right now and going after Slash isn’t going to fix what happened,” Leo said.
“He RAPED our brother!” Raph shouted, his anger rising quickly. “Mikey doesn’t even want us near him! And I ain’t gonna sit around and wait for something else ta happen!”
April stood off to the side, watching the two brothers as they argued. She didn’t know how to react at the moment; she was still very confused but also horrified to hear that something like that had happened to Mikey. But it definitely explained the tense atmosphere in the Lair. The only thing that was really confusing her at the moment, she didn’t know who this ‘Slash’ person was.
Donnie’s lab door suddenly slammed open, stopping Raph and Leo’s fighting instantly. The purple banded turtle didn’t say anything to his two oldest brothers, but he didn’t have to, Raph sent one more angry look toward Leo before stomping off toward his punching bag, and started taking out some of his frustrations on it.
“Sorry, Donnie,” Leo said, looking at his second youngest brother.
“You two fighting isn’t going to convince Mikey to come out of his room any sooner,” Donnie said and Leo let out a small sigh.
“I know,” was all Leo said, glancing at April, who had remained quiet this whole time. “Maybe today isn’t the best for you to be down here to visit,” Leo said, and it was only then that Donnie seemed to notice that they in fact had company.
“April?” Donnie stared wide eyed at the red head.
“Hey, Donnie,” she gave him a small smile, and wasn’t all that surprised when the tall turtle didn’t return the gesture. “Look, Donnie, I know you guys have a lot to worry about at the moment,” April started, but stopped when Donnie held up a hand silencing her.
“I’m really sorry, April, but could we talk about this another time? You’re right that we have a lot to worry about at the moment, and… I can’t deal with this right now,” he said, and April could see, as well as feel, how hard it was for Donnie to say this to her.
“I just wanted to apologise, to all of you. And… if you want any help with Mikey…” she trailed off, leaving the offer hanging out there, looking from Donnie to Leo, and then over to Raph, who had stopped punching his bag long enough to glance in her direction.
“I don’t really know if you could be of any help,” Donnie admitted. “Mikey’s locked himself in his room right now, and the only one he’s let in there at the moment is Master Splinter,” Donnie said.
“Raph said he was… that he was raped?” April asked, noticing how Leo’s shoulders stiffened, and Donnie averted his eyes before nodding slowly. “Could I try and talk to him?” she requested, startling the three brothers.
“No offence, April, but he won’t even talk to us, what makes you think you’ll have better luck?” Leo asked.
“Because I’m not avoiding it for starters,” April pointed out. “Look, just let me try, please?” April asked, feeling like she had to do something to help Mikey.
Leo looked to Donnie, as the purple banded turtle had been the appointed ‘doctor’ of the family for some time; if Donnie said it wouldn’t be a good idea, then Leo would take his advice but his younger brother looked just as lost as he felt. Letting out another sigh, Leo turned his attention back to April. “Alright,” Leo agreed, and led April down the hall to Mikey’s room.
April looked at the closed door; she could already feel the raw emotions coming from the turtle on the other side. Raising her hand she knocked softly on the door, waiting for an answer that never came. “Mikey?” she called through the door, wondering if he might be asleep. But she heard movement behind the door, and knew that he must be awake.
She glanced over her shoulder at Leo, who was standing against the opposite wall, watching her. Taking a deep breath, she looked back at the door and knocked again. “Mikey, can I please come in?”
“Door’s open,” came the soft reply from Mikey. Opening the door slowly, April stepped inside, getting one more look at Leo before she closed the door behind her.
Mikey’s room was completely dark, something that was very out of place for the youngest turtle. “Mikey, can I turn on the light?” April asked.
“… I guess…” Mikey said, and April felt along the wall until she found the light switch. She scanned the room, her eyes landing on Mikey’s bed first, but he wasn’t there.
“Mikey?” April frowned, looking around the room, ignoring the mess on the floor as she took a few steps further into the room.
“What do you want?” MIkey asked, and April turned in the direction of his voice, finding him sitting on the floor under his desk, a blanket hanging down protecting his small hiding space.
“I came in to talk to you, your brothers told me what happened,” April said, kneeling on the floor. Mikey watched her, but didn’t come out from his spot from under the desk.
“What did they say?” Mikey asked, watching every move that April made.
“They said that you were hurt, and you locked yourself in your room,” April said.
“… I never locked the door,” Mikey admitted after a moment of hesitation. “They just don’t want to see me…”
“Mikey, that’s not true.” April shifted so that she was sitting more comfortable. “They are just scared and confused about what happened.”
“Raph said I deserved it…” Mikey said in the same soft, broken voice that he had been speaking in. April hated seeing him like this; it was so clear to her that the normally vibrant, and easily excited turtle had been hurt deeply, and while she didn’t really know what she could do or say to make Mikey better, she knew that leaving him like this was not going to help at all.
“I’m sure Raph didn’t mean it,” April said. “No one deserves what happened to you,” April said firmly, giving Mikey a small smile when blue eyes locked with hers again. They sat there in silence, April watching Mikey as he thought over what she had said. She could still feel the confusion, fear, and pain coming from her small friend, but she waited for him to speak.
“I just… I don’t understand,” Mikey said, lowering his gaze to the floor.
“What don’t you understand?” April asked.
“…all of it,” Mikey said softly, his voice cracking as he attempted to hold back a fresh wave of tears. April bit her lip, trying to think of what she could say that would actually be of some help to Mikey.
“Maybe if you start at the beginning, I can help you understand?” April suggested. “You don’t have to though, if you’re not comfortable talking about it. But I will listen, if you do want to talk about anything,” April said, reaching out and placed her hand on Mikey’s. She felt him tense, and pull away slightly, but stopped his eyes focused on her smaller hand over his. Taking in the warm comforting feeling, before he turned his own hand over to hold hers.
Mikey remained quiet, never looking away from where his and April’s hands were joined. They remained like that for nearly five minutes as Mikey had an internal war with himself about what he should talk about, how he should start, things were confusing enough in his own head, that he wasn’t sure if he could even put his thoughts into a coherent sentence. But he wanted to understand, and most of all he wanted to know why, why had he deserved such a thing.
“Mikey, you didn’t deserve it,” April’s voice broke into his thoughts, and Mikey looked up at her in confusion, not sure if he had voiced his question out loud, or if April was just really good at guessing what was going through his mind.
“…it hurt,” Mikey said. “Like, more than Raph beating me up…more than being in Donnie’s lab when it explodes… more than morning training with Leo…” Mikey said, trying to find a good comparison, but couldn’t seem to think of what else he could compare it to.
April still nodded her head in understanding, and Mikey felt like she really did understand what he was saying, and she still sat there, still let him hold her hand. “…he said I deserved it,” Mikey said.
“You didn’t, what Raph said was-”
“Not Raph,” Mikey interrupted. “Slash… when he… he had me tied down…” Mikey said, looking at his bandaged wrists, were he knew the marks from the chain was. “He said I deserved worse,” Mikey closed his eyes tightly, removing his hand from April’s and pulling himself further under his desk.
“Mikey,” April began, but didn’t know how to continue.
“…said I was useless…” Mikey said.
“You’re not Mikey, no one thinks you’re useless,” April said, trying to reassure him.
“My brothers do,” Mikey wrapped his arms around his knees, hugging them tighter. “I screamed for them… I thought it was a nightmare, and… and they always wake me up from them…” Mikey’s voice sounded strained as he talked, and April felt her heart breaking even more for the orange banded turtle.
“Mikey,” she kept her tone as comforting as she could, reaching out to put a hand on his arm. “It’s okay, it’s going to be okay,” April soothed, shifting a little closer, but Mikey pull himself fully into his shell. April refrained from sighing, moving her hand to rest on Mikey’s shell instead. “Mikey, please listen to me, you did not deserve it,” she said again, already knowing that she was going to be repeating those words an awful lot in the near future. But she wouldn’t get tired of saying them, as long as Mikey believed what she said.
“…I want to be alone…” Mikey said, and April couldn’t help but feel like that was the last thing that Mikey wanted at the moment, but it wasn’t her that he wanted, it wasn’t her that he needed reassurance from. It was the three turtles that had left him alone in his room.
“Alright Mikey,” April said. “I will be here, if you need to talk, and you have my number, even if it’s three in the morning, I will listen,” April promised, pushing herself up from the floor and slowly leaving Mikey’s room. She paused in the doorway, glancing back toward Mikey’s desk just in time to see a hand grab the sheet and close it around the opening again.
Raph growled as he focused on his punching bag, swinging one punch after another, turning out everything happening around the Lair. Anger like he had never felt before was burning just below his skin, he knew that both Leo and Donnie felt guilty for what had happened to Mikey, and maybe it was fair that all of them took some of the blame. However Raph knew where to put the majority of the blame, without even knowing what Mikey was going to say, Raph had told his youngest brother that he deserved what Slash had done. And worse yet, he had practically given Slash permission to go after Mikey.
“I’m sure you can think of a few good ways of getting back at him later,” that is what Raph had said to his once pet turtle. Raph knew he could argue with himself, that there could have been no way of knowing that Slash could even be capable of something so horrid. But then that little voice in his head, that sounded suspiciously like Leo, reminded him that all the signs were there, that Slash had been mutated, that the mutagen had a way of affecting the mind, they had seen it time and time again.
Letting out a rawr Raph punched his bag hard, pulling back for another punch, only to have his hand grabbed by Leo who was suddenly standing next to him.
“What do you want?” Raph snapped, pulling his hand away from Leo. The blue banded turtle said nothing, but looked toward the door, Raph glanced in the same direction and saw April standing there. “What, he afraid of you too?” Raph asked, and April looked at him shaking her head.
“No, we actually did talk a little bit,” April said.
“You made more progress than we did, April,” Donnie said, looking over from where he was sitting on the couch.
“Have you guys even tried talking to him?” April asked, trying not to sound accusing, but wanting them to see that avoiding Mikey right now was going to do more harm than good.
“Course we talked ta him!” Raph snapped.
“No Raph, I mean really talked,” April fixed a glare on Raph. “Has he told you exactly what happened? Have you told him that it’s not his fault? That he doesn’t deserve what happened?” April asked, looking from Raph, to Leo and finally Donnie.
“I told you before April,” Leo said, gaining her attention, “things are complicated.”
“Things can’t be that complicated that you can’t be there for Mikey,” April said. “He’s hurt, and confused, and all I’m seeing right now is you three avoiding him,” April sighed. “What is so complicated about just going and talking to him?” she asked.
“Because we don’t know how to approach him right now,” Donnie admitted sadly.
“He’s your brother,” April said.
“And we want to help him,” Leo said. “But Mikey… he’s always been more…more innocent than us,” Leo tried to explain, looking to Donnie for help explaining this one.
“April,” Donnie spoke again, running a hand over his head. “We’ve lived down here for fifteen years, and have only had contact with the world topside very recently, there are a lot of things that happen up there that… well we’ve never had a need for that kind of… personal information,” Donnie explained.
April frowned, trying to understand what Donnie was saying. “I don’t-”
“He means sex,” Raph interrupted, blunt and to the point as usual.
“Yes, thank you Raph,” Donnie huffed, sending a glare to his red banded brother, before looking back at April. “We have all discovered things on our own, as I suppose a normal human would,” Donnie said, still trying to explain, without going into too much unnecessary detail.
“But not Mikey,” April said, seeming to understand now what Donnie was trying to say, and she wished she didn’t, because that just made the whole situation so much worse. Being attacked, being violated in such a way was bad enough when you knew what was happening, but April couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through something like that, and not actually understand. And now, her conversation with Mikey also made a lot more sense too, April felt physically sick as she continued looking at Donnie.
“So you see, April, it’s not as simple as just going and talking to Mikey,” Donnie said. “It’s talking to him, and trying to help him understand what happened, and trying to help him heal from it as well.”
“That makes sense, it really does Donnie, but while you three are trying to figure it out, Mikey is trying to figure things out on his own, and the longer you three take to go and talk to him, the more convinced he’s going to be that it was his fault, that he deserved this,” April said.
“He didn’t deserve it,” Leo said.
“That doesn’t stop him from thinking that, because it’s what his attacker told him,” April said, and while she felt guilty for saying it the way she had, especially when she noticed the color drain from Raph’s face. It was something that the three brothers had to hear, considering that Raph had said almost the same thing to Mikey. She hoped with this bit of information, that they would stop sitting around, waiting for the problem to fix itself.
“Raph,” Leo said, reaching out to put a hand on his shoulder, only to have his hot headed brother shove the hand away.
“Don’t say anything,” Raph snapped, and before anyone else could stop him, or say anything else to him, he stormed out of the room, going down the hall to his bedroom. Slamming the door behind him Raph took a deep breath, however his focus landed on the end table where he had kept Spike’s aquarium set up. And he couldn’t holding his anger back any more, letting out a rawr of pure uncontrolled anger, Raph kicked the table over, watching in satisfaction as the tank smashed to the floor.
Sinking to the floor and staring at the he remains of the tank, Raph silently mourned the loss of his pet and best friend. A soft knock on his door had Raph turning around to glare at it, silently wondering which one of his brothers was brave enough, or stupid enough to disturb him at the moment.
“What?” He snapped. When there was no answer and Raph got to his feet, going over to the door he pulled it open ready cuss out whoever it was standing on the other side of the door, only to freeze when he saw his frightened baby brother standing there.
Baby blue eyes widened when the door was suddenly pulled open, and Raph could only guess that Mikey hadn’t expected the door to be open at all. And now they were both stuck standing here, waiting for the other to speak, or maybe Mikey was waiting for Raph to slam the door in his face.
The thought was tempting, Raph really didn’t want to deal with any of his brothers right now, but the frightened look Mikey was giving him is what made Raph hesitate, knowing that if he shut his brother out now, he may never be able to fix his mistakes.
“Mikey…” Raph said, breaking the silence between them.
“I’m sorry,” Mikey said quickly, backing away from Raph. “I just… I heard a noise and I thought…” Mikey gave a nervous glance in the direction of Slash’s door, and Raph looked in the same direction for a moment, before looking back at Mikey.
“Slash is gone,” Raph said, hoping to reassure his youngest brother that is attacker wouldn’t hurt him again.
“But… but Spike-”
“He’s not Spike!” Raph snapped, and Mikey flinched backing away further, and looked like he was seriously regretting even leaving his room. “No… Mikey, I…” Raph sighed, closing his eyes tightly as he took a deep breath, trying to calm his anger like Splinter had been teaching him for years. “Mikey, Spike is gone, Slash, he’s just a monster,” Raph said, opening his eyes to look at Mikey.
“He hurt you,” Raph interrupted again. “He hurt you bad, and that never should’ve happened,” Raph took half a step toward Mikey, wondering if he would end up scaring Mikey off again.
“…I deserved it…” Mikey said, keeping his wide eyes locked on Raph.
“No, ya didn’t deserve what he did to you,” Raph said firmly, “I know what I said before, but that… I didn’t mean it, I didn’t know what had happened and…” Raph said, struggling with the words he wanted to say, knowing what he had to say, but apologising had never been his thing. However at the same time, Raph didn’t want Mikey to be afraid of him any more, he was supposed to protect his brothers, and he had already failed the smallest of them.
Mikey didn’t say anything, just continued to look at Raph, and the red banded turtle knew that Mikey needed more than a few simple words. His brother was still scared, and rightly so, taking a deep breath, Raph forced himself to say what needed to be said, wanting to reassure his brother that even though he had failed him once, he wasn’t going to fail him again.
“Mikey,” Raph began, and Mikey blinked slowly at him, Raph took a step forward, but stopped when he saw the smaller turtle tense, though Mikey didn’t back away again, so Raph counted that as a little progress at least. “I can’t say anythin’ that could make any of this better,” Raph said, keeping his eyes locked with Mikey’s. “I can’t say ‘I’m sorry’ because that doesn’t seem like enough,” Raph said, pausing again, and Mikey didn’t say anything, just let Raph talk. “But I promise, I’m going to find Slash, and I’m gonna make him pay for what he did,” Raph growled.
Mikey still didn’t say anything, though Raph saw the tears falling freely down Mikey’s cheeks now, and wondered if he had just made things worse, he had meant to reassure his brother, not make him cry again. Mikey gave no indication as to what was going on in his mind, but Raph suddenly found his arms full as Mikey dove at him and latched on.
Raph stood there stunned, staring down at his sobbing brother, slowly he let own arms wrap tightly around Mikey, giving him plenty of time to back away if he needed. However Mikey just buried his face further into Raph’s plastron, sobs shaking his entire body as Raph held him close.
Not wanting to stand in the hallway, just in case Donnie or Leo came to see what was going on, Raph maneuvered the two of them backward, into his room and Raph closed the door. Mikey let himself be led into the room, refusing to let Raph go as the red banded turtle sat them both on the bed, Mikey curled up on Raph’s lap.
“I got you,” Raph whispered, and allowed Mikey to cry out his fear and pain.