Raphael knew he was going to be horribly bruised if he continued on the way he was, but that was so far down his priority list he truly just didn’t care. Getting out of the cage Slash had put him in came first, finding Mikey and Donnie second, and finally, locating Slash and ripping him from his shell.
Letting out another yell, Raph slammed himself into the side of the cage; the bars still held strong, just as they had the last few hours. However, Raph was certain he had felt the cage shift that time. Backing up as far as the small cage would allow, Raph plowed into the bars again, crying out in pain when he felt something in his shoulder shift that he was fairly sure wasn’t supposed to move.
“FUCK!” Raph kicked at the bars, stumbling back and slumping down on the floor, one hand on his shoulder as it throbbed.
He couldn’t stop for long, even if he wanted to rest for more than a few minutes. The faint sound of sobbing he could hear would soon spur him into action once again, but before it could the door to the room opened. Raph turned his attention toward Slash, glaring at the snapping turtle as he brought in what appeared to be a tray of food.
“Slash,” Raph snapped, and the large turtle looked at him. “Let me go,” he demanded.
Slash sighed. “I can’t do that, Raphael,” he said, looking almost upset about it. “I brought you some food,” he told him, coming over and standing next to the cage, frowning down at Raph. “You hurt your shoulder.”
“Why the fuck do you care?” Raph hissed angrily.
“I know it doesn’t seem it right now, but I am doing this to help you. You deserve better than what you’ve been stuck with,” Slash said.
“I ain’t been ‘stuck’ with nothin!” Raph stood up so he could be closer to eye level with Slash, silently daring the larger turtle to come a little closer.
“Your family, they’ve been holding your potential back for far too long. I’m giving you a way out, destroying the poison they’ve been feeding you for years,” Slash said, almost pleading with Raph to understand why he was doing this.
“Except I don’t want any of this! Ya think I want to sit here listening to ya doin’ fuck knows what ta my brothers?” Raph stared at the snapping turtle, and thought for a moment he saw something flash across his face, before it was hidden with that near uncontrollable anger again.
“No, I’m doing the right thing,” Slash said, setting the food down and pushing it toward Raph. “Eat. I’ve got things to do,” Slash said, turning to leave Raph alone again.
Raph darted forward, reaching through the cage for the tray of food, picking it up and throwing it at the back of Slash’s head. The other turtle stopped, and slowly turned back toward Raph. The two of them stood there glaring at each other.
“Why can’t you just see I’m doing this to help you?” Slash questioned. “You’re the one making this more difficult. The more you fight my help, the more I have to hurt your family.”
“Are ya even listenin’ ta yourself?” Raph asked. “Nothin’ you’re sayin’ is makin’ any sense! You’re tellin’ me that I have to choose between my family, and… whatever the fuck you’re offering. But you’re not gettin’ it, I don’t give a shit about what you’re tryin’ ta do. Family ALWAYS comes first!” Raph stood there, panting after his rant, eyes still narrowed at Slash.
“You’re delusional, they have poisoned you-”
“Stop saying that!” Raph shouted.
“You can do better than them,” Slash said, trying to reason with Raph. But there was no way the red-banded turtle was going to even consider what his former pet was saying.
“No, I can’t,” Raph replied.
Slash growled, a low deep rumble. “Fine, I will prove you can do better.” he said and turned to leave the room once again.
“No! Leave my brothers alone! SLASH!”
Raph stared in horror as Slash left the room, leaving the door open this time and Raph could easily see the door to a second room across the hall. Slash opened that door too and strode inside, leaving it open behind him. Raph couldn’t see anyone in the room, but he could hear his brothers, and the frightened noises they made when Slash walked back into the room.
“Donnie! Mikey!” Raph called.
“Raph?” Donnie’s voice replied.
Raph was so relieved to hear it, though that relief only lasted a moment because Donnie suddenly screamed, only for the the sound to be suddenly cut off.
“SLASH! YOU FUCKER! LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Raph raged.
The throbbing in his shoulder forgotten, Raph backed up and slammed himself bodily into the side of the cage with all his might. He cried out, not only in pain, but also in frustration as it held.
He did it again, backing up and then charging across the cage with all the force he could muster, and still the cage held, though this time he was convinced he felt it shift. He could hear sobs coming from the other room, and he could have sworn he heard choking sounds, though he wasn’t sure how much he was imaging. It didn’t matter though, as he repeatedly threw himself across the cage, crying out with fury each time his body pushed against the bars
He could feel it shifting just slightly more each time he charged it and a quick glance behind him showed the bolts holding the cage to the floor were finally coming loose.
“No! No leave me alone, don’t please don’t!”
Mikey’s frantic voice could be heard from the other room, and Raph screamed in rage as he slammed into the side of the cage once more. For a fraction of a second he was surprised to feel it come loose, before the whole cage toppled over with a loud crash.
Raph wasted no time in crawling out of the cage, jumping to his feet and running as fast as he could to the door, just as Slash was coming back to investigate the sound. Raph only barely registered the blood on Slash’s hands before he slammed bodily into the larger turtle, knocking him to the floor.
“YOU FUCKING FUCKER!” Raph shouted, bringing his fist down to connect with Slash’s head.
Rage like he had never felt before was taking him over, one punch after another connecting with Slash’s head.
Slash let out his own roar of rage, twisting so that Raph’s next punch missed, and he threw the red-banded turtle off him, sending Raph flying down the hall.
Leo could hear the familiar sounds of fighting before he and Splinter even reached the building. The angry, animalistic screech that Leo could only assume belonged to Slash echoed around them, and Raph’s familiar battle cry soon followed.
Leo let out a growl of his own, running the length of the building he and Splinter were on, and jumping the final gap. He rolled when he landed, but was back on his feet immediately. He had already chosen his point of entry; there was a single skylight located on the roof, and Leo darted forward. He was only vaguely aware of Splinter by his side as he crashed through the glass.
He landed in a crouching position, katana held ready to strike. But Slash wasn’t in the room. Instead, Leo’s eyes fell on the prone form of Donnie; the olive green turtle was laying sprawled on the floor, held down by thick chains.
“Leo!” Donnie cried out, his voice full of relief at seeing his eldest brother.
“Leo, help your brother,” Splinter ordered, and the rat quickly made his way out of the room, heading in the direction of the fighting they could hear.
Leo didn’t have to be told twice, hurrying over to Donnie.
“Don’t move,” Leo said, using his katana to break the chains, deciding they could deal with the actual cuffs later.
Sheathing his katana, Leo knelt down to help Donnie sit up. The purple-banded turtle smothered a wince of pain and Leo hesitated, getting a closer look at the purple-banded turtle’s injuries; namely the leg that looked to be bending slightly in the wrong direction, and the vivid bruises around Donnie’s neck.
“Don, are you-?”
“I’m fine,” Donnie interrupted, grabbing onto Leo. “We need to help Mikey.” he said, his eyes glued to the form that was laying quiet and unmoving across the room.
Leo turned to look in the same direction; what he saw made his stomach turn, and anger like he had never felt before spike inside him. Leo hardly registered that he was growling, until Donnie placed a hand on his arm, pulling at him urgently.
“Leo, you have to help me up,” Donnie said determinedly, pulling at his older brother in an attempt to get himself up to his feet. “I need to check on Mikey before we move him.”
“No, we need to wrap your leg before you move,” Leo insisted.
“I do not have time to argue with you, Leo!” Donnie snapped, already struggling to stand, despite the pain.
His leg was hanging awkwardly though and the purple-banded turtle muffled a surprised scream as the foot of his injured leg brushed the ground, pulling at the injury. Leo was torn, but knew Donnie was right; they didn’t have time to bicker about what damage would be done to Donnie’s leg, but he also hated causing his brother even more pain.
Leo held tightly onto his younger brother, before he swiftly picked him up off the ground. Donnie cried out then, holding onto Leo as his leg was jarred painfully, but he pushed past the pain; he couldn’t let that get to him right now, not when Mikey needed him. And he made no complaint as Leo carried him quickly and carefully across the room.
“Set me down,” Donnie ordered once they were close to Mikey.
Leo knelt down, placing Donnie on the floor next to their youngest brother. Donnie breathed deeply, riding out the pain shooting up his leg before he was able to shift again. As soon as he was able, Donnie leant over Mikey and started to examine the extent of the damage.
Leo watched with wide eyes as Donnie gently started prodding at their brother, looking at the two spikes stuck into Mikey’s shell first, before moving to inspect the bound wrists. Mikey didn’t move once, and Leo couldn’t hold back the rising panic that they were too late.
“Donnie, is he…”
“Unconscious,” Donnie reassured his eldest brother. “Slash hit him in the head pretty hard not too long ago,” he said; his voice was hoarse as he attempted to shift and move one of the spikes.
Mikey cried out suddenly, pulling away from Donnie in an attempt to get away from the pain. Leo moved quickly, grabbing onto him, stopping Mikey from moving before he hurt himself even more. Mikey struggled against Leo, crying harder, soft whimpering noises escaping him.
A loud roar from outside the room drew Leo’s attention for a moment, before he looked back down at Mikey.
“What do we do, Donnie?” Leo asked.
“We have to get the spikes out of his shell, but I don’t know how deep they are, and we could cause more damage if we try and force them out…” Donnie said, sounding distressed and anxious, visibly flinching when Slash let out another angry noise from somewhere nearby.
“Okay, what do we need?” Leo asked.
“I… I don’t…” Donnie stammered, and Leo looked at him, reaching out and putting his hand on Donnie’s shoulder.
“Donnie, what do we need?” Leo repeated.
Donnie took a deep breath and nodded, trying not to move as he looked back down at Mikey. “I need to make sure that he’s not going to bleed out, if we remove the spikes now,” Donnie said, “and I need you to hold him while I do this.”
Leo nodded, gripping Mikey and pinning him down he gave Donnie a nod. The purple-banded turtle leaned forward, his leg shifting painfully, and he gasped, nearly falling over.
“I can’t… I can’t do this here.” Donnie said through clenched teeth.
“Then we’ll get him home first,” Leo said.
There was a loud crash, and a moment later Slash came flying through the door into the room, landing on the floor and rolling painfully into a pillar. Leo was on his feet, katana in hand before Donnie could even blink.
Slash, slowly shook his head, pulling himself into a sitting position; he didn’t even seem to register that Leo was in the room. Slash just lifted his head and stared at the door he had been thrown through.
Leo glanced toward the door when he saw movement.
Splinter walked into the room, his own eyes narrowed as he looked at Slash. Leo felt his heart hammering in his chest as he watched their father; he had only seen that look of anger on Splinter’s face once before, when he had been under the control of the rat king.
“Slash,” Splinter spoke, coming to stand in front of the large snapping turtle.
Slash looked up at Splinter, but said nothing. The two of them stared at each other, and Leo was practically holding his breath, waiting for whatever was going to happen next.
“I will only give you this one warning,” Splinter said. “Never come near my family again.”
“What!?” Raph raged from the doorway.
“Sensei?” Leo frowned in confusion.
“You’re not going to kill me?” Slash questioned, sounding as confused as Leo felt.
“No,” Splinter said. “I too have suffered through the rage that a mutation brings. It is not an easy thing to control, or break away from. I had thought, by giving you training, I could have prevented this, but your rage, and possessive nature, are beyond my ability to help.”
Slash frowned, staring up at Splinter, still looking defiant, his finsts clenched and Splinter readied himself to continue the fight. However, the snapping turtle glanced toward the side, catching sight of Raph standing in the doorway. There was a look of pure rage and hatred in those green eyes, a silent challenge for Slash to continue fighting, and a warning that if he did, he would not survive. Looking back toward Splinter, Slash let out a rumbling growl, before slumping back against the pillar he had been thrown against.
Splinter raised an eyebrow as Slash lowered his head in submission, accepting his defeat. Unwilling to look away from Slash just yet, Splinter spoke, addressing his two eldest sons.
“Let’s get your bothers home,” he said.
Leo nodded his agreement, turning back around. “Raph, come help me with Mikey,” he called over to his hot headed brother.
Raph growled, sending one more glare toward Slash before he hurried over to where his family was standing. Raph came to a sudden stop when he saw the state of his two younger brothers, A new burst of anger flared in him and Raph rounded on Slash, ready to go after the other turtle and kill him himself, only to find Slash gone.
“Sensei!” Raph snapped, turning his angry glare toward their father. “How can ya just let him go like that!?!” he demanded.
“Because at this moment, your brothers are more important than revenge.” Splinter said, kneeling down and placing his hand on the back of Mikey’s shell. “Now, Raphael, come hold your brother, while Leo and I remove these from his shell.”
“Be careful, I don’t know how deep in they go,” Donnie warned. “If he starts bleeding again, we’ll have to find a way to remove the chains, but leave the spikes.”
“We will be careful,” Leo promised, looking at Raph when the red-banded turtle knelt down by Mikey’s head, gently placing his hands on Mikey’s shoulders. His eyes were wide as he stared at the damage done to their baby brother.
Splinter and Leo knelt on either side of Mikey, each of them grabbing one of the spikes. “We will do this as quickly as possible.” Splinter said.
“They should screw out, so try not to pull to much or you might cause more damage than is necessary,” Donnie instructed, watching his father and eldest brother closely. He would have much rather been back at his lab doing this, where he knew they had things that could help Mikey with the pain, but Donnie couldn’t think of any other way to free the small turtle.
The first turn of the spikes had Mikey jerking so violently that Raph nearly lost his grip on the smaller turtle, the scream that followed caused all four of them to flinch, knowing they were going to have to cause Mikey even more pain.
The second and third turns brought more screams, and sobs as Mikey was pulled back to consciousness.
“No! No please! Please stop!” Mikey sobbed, struggling weakly against Raph.
“I know it hurts,” Raph said, his voice rough, and Leo knew that their red-banded brother was holding back his own tears. None of them wanted to be causing Mikey more pain, though all of them knew this had to be done. “Just hold on, Mikey, they’re almost done.” Raph said, trying to comfort his sobbing brother.
“Please,” Mikey begged.
Another scream was pulled from him when Splinter removed one of the spikes; Leo pulled his spike free a moment later, and blood was bubbling up from the two wounds.
“We have to stop the bleeding!” Donnie said, even as Splinter was already removing his robe, using his claws and teeth to rip it into strips before quickly bandaging Mikey’s shell, covering the two holes that were slowly bleeding. Donnie was just relieved that they weren’t bleeding as much as he had expected them to.
The purple-banded turtle closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. Gentle hands on his shoulders had Donnie jerking upright, hissing out a curse as the movement sent a jolt of pain through his leg.
“Easy, Don,” Leo said. “I’m going to find something to use as a brace. Think you’ll be okay for another moment?”
Donnie nodded. “Yes, I’m in no danger of passing out just yet.” His smile was forced, but then again, so was Leo’s, as the blue-banded turtle stood up and went to find something they could use to keep Donnie’s leg from moving while they made their way back down to the sewers.
Donnie watched Leo leave the room, before turning back toward his family. Splinter was kneeling next to Mikey, gently stroking his son’s head, easing him into sleep.
It was almost hard to believe that they had only been held captive by Slash for just under twenty-four hours. Donnie shuddered to think about how much more damage would have been inflicted on them, had their family not found them so quickly.
“You doin’ okay, Don?” Raph asked, and Donnie turned his attention toward his red-banded brother.
“I’ve… been better.” Donnie admitted. “I’ll survive though,” he assured him.
Raph frowned, leaning forward, his fingers brushing over Donnie’s neck. Donnie jerked back eyes going wide, cursing as pain shot through his leg from the movement.
“Shit, I’m sorry, Donnie,” Raph apologized.
“No, it’s okay, I’m okay,” Donnie said, his hand on his own neck, covering the bruise he knew was forming there. “You just startled me.”
Raph was giving Donnie a skeptical look, but let it slide for now. They had more important things than Donnie’s lying to worry about.
Donnie ignored his brother’s worry, turning instead to watch the door until Leo came back with two planks of wood that would work as a temporary brace. The blue-banded turtle knelt down next to Donnie, setting the wood down on either side of Donnie’s leg.
“We have to set the bone,” Leo said, even though Donnie knew that already; the purple-banded turtle appreciated his brother’s concern.
“Just give me something to bite down on and do it.” Donnie said, making a face when Raph offered the handle of his sai. Taking a deep breath, Donnie nodded his head and braced himself, biting down on the offered handle.
With a ‘snap’ that was mostly drowned out by Donnie’s scream, his leg was set, and Leo held the two pieces of wood in place to keep Donnie’s leg from moving, while Raph wrapped it, using the leftover shreds of Splinter’s robe. Donnie breathed deeply, his teeth still clenching down on the handle of Raph’s weapon as the pain in his leg slowly died down to a painful throb.
Donnie was aware of Splinter watching them, giving Donnie time to compose himself before speaking. “We will go home, once you are able to move.”
Donnie shook his head. “No, we can go now,” he insisted, handing Raph his sai back, before putting his hand on Leo’s shoulder. He had intended to use his brother as leverage to pull himself up, however, Leo shifted quickly, wrapping an arm around Donnie’s waist, making it easier for the purple-banded turtle to stand.
“I really just want to go home now,” Donnie told them. “I want to also get a better look at Mikey’s shell, and see the damage so I can start making a plan for how to patch him up.”
“While I admire your determination to help your brother,” Splinter said, looking Donnie over for a moment before continuing, “your health and safety are just as important.”
“I’m fine,” Donnie insisted, leaning heavily against Leo.
“We’ll argue about that later,” Raph said, turning toward Splinter and Mikey, helping their father with the youngest member of the family.
“I’ll carry him,” Raph said.
With the help of Splinter, they managed to get Mikey onto the red-banded turtle’s back. Raph attempted to carefully shift Mikey, so that he had a better hold on the younger turtle, ignoring the painful throbbing in his own shoulder.
“Easy with him, Raph,” Donnie said.
“I ain’t gonna drop him,” Raph snapped through gritted teeth, and Donnie frowned, but made no comment on his brother’s temper.
They fell silent, and Splinter took the lead as they left the building, keeping to the shadowed back alleyways, until they were closer to home and could move underground without causing more pain to the already injured turtles.
Mikey struggled to remain in the warm and comforting dream he’d been having, he wasn’t ready to face the harsh truth of reality again, not just yet. However that insistant voice kept prodding at him, coaxing him further out of his dream.
“Please,” Mikey whined, shrinking in on himself a little more. The small movement sent an unpleasant throb of pain down his back.
“Shh, easy,” the voice said, and a hand rested gently on Mikey’s head.
Mikey’s face scrunched up in confusion, and he slowly blinked open his eyes.
“Hey, you actually with us this time?” Raph asked from where he was sitting, next to the cot Mikey was currently laying on.
Mikey’s frown deepened, and he glanced around the room, before his eyes settled back on his brother. “Raph?”
The red-banded turtle nodded. “Yeah, it’s me. How are you feelin’, buddy?”
Mikey frowned, putting some thought into that question as he shifted around a little, as if testing how much pain he was currently in. “I’ve… been better,” he admitted. “Though, I’ve felt worse too. My head feels a bit funny though, kinda like a balloon.”
“That’s probably the morphine,” Donnie’s voice answered, and Mikey’s eyes went wide as he attempted to locate his nerdy brother.
“Donnie?” Mikey asked, trying to push himself up so he could see around Raph, letting out a distressed noise when Raph moved and stopped him from getting up.
“Don’s right there,” Raph said, pointing over his shoulder toward where Donnie was sitting at his computer, the purple-banded turtle having turned around quickly upon hearing Mikey’s whine.
“You’re okay?” Mikey asked; baby-blue eyes were wide as he stared at Donnie.
“I’m fine,” Donnie said. “A minor crack in my plastron, and a broken leg,” he said, smiling when Mikey reached a hand out for him. Donnie turned away from Mikey just long enough to grab the two crutches that were leaning against the desk, before standing and making his way over toward the cot.
Raph vacated his seat, allowing Donnie to sit down. “I’m gonna go tell Leo and Splinter that Mikey’s actually awake this time.”
Donnie nodded and waited until Raph left before he spoke to Mikey. “So, how are you feeling, really?”
“I really do feel fine, dude,” Mikey insisted. “My head is all fuzzy though. I don’t think I like that at. And my back feels a bit tingly. Is that from the Morphing stuff too?”
“No, I think that might be because of the injury to your shell.” Donnie frowned, shifting slightly he poked at Mikey’s leg, letting out a small sigh of relief when Mikey giggled.
“Dude, that tickles!” Mikey protested.
“Sorry, I wanted to check and make sure you still had feeling in your legs,” Donnie explained leaned back in the chair. “I hadn’t thought the damage was deep enough to paralyze you, but I’ll do a more extensive check later, when I’m able to move around more freely, or have some help.”
Mikey’s smile faded, and he stared at Donnie. “So… what happened?”
“What do you remember?” Donnie asked.
Mikey shook his head. “I don’t remember much after that punch to the head,” he admitted. “Was Raph really there too?”
Donnie nodded. “He was. Slash apparently had him in the other room, locked in a cage that was bolted to the floor.”
“And what happened to…?” Mikey trailed off, not sure he really wanted to know what had happened to Slash, because while part of him would have been happy to hear that someone had killed the monster, Mikey wasn’t sure if he wanted to be the reason behind the his death.
“Father let him go,” Donnie said, and Mikey blinked at his brother in surprise as he let that information sink in.
“Oh,” was the only response Mikey could even muster up.
“Are you okay?” Donnie asked and Mikey had to think about that for a moment before nodding.
“Yeah, I’m totally fine, D,” Mikey said, shooting his brother a wide smile. “So, when do you think I’ll be able to get off this cot? My fingers are itching to play some video games, maybe see if I can get Raph to wait on me hand and foot while I’m recovering.”
Mikey babbled on, and the only thing Donnie could do was sit there and stare at his younger brother.
“Oh! This means no more training for a while too doesn’t it? I wonder if that means I don’t have to meditate… or maybe master Splinter will make me meditate more because I can’t do any of the physical stuff…”
“Mikey, stop,” Donnie said, unable to take Mikey’s happy-go-lucky attitude. The orange-banded turtle stopped talking and blinked at Donnie, his smile slowly fading again.
“Just stop it,” Donnie said again. “Stop pretending you’re fine, stop pretending that nothing bad has happened! Just…. just stop!”
Mikey wasn’t sure what he had done to upset his brother. He reached out to put a hand on Donnie’s leg, only to have the purple-banded turtle jerk away from him, grabbing his crutches and standing up.
“I have work to get done,” he stated flatly, turning to go back to his desk.
“Donnie, wait,” Mikey called out, pushing himself up, gritting his teeth against the aches he could still feel through the morphine. “I’m sorry, D, please, I’m sorry.”
Donnie turned back toward his brother. “You shouldn’t be getting up yet,” he said, but Mikey ignored him; managing to get himself into a sitting position he looked up at Donnie with his wide baby-blue eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Mikey said again. “I just, I can’t do this, I can’t… it’s best for me if I just forget about Slash, about what he did and…”
“What you’re doing is not forgetting, you’re just flat out ignoring it,” Donnie accused. “Even before this incident with Slash, you were ignoring your problems then too…”
“So what if I was?” Mikey challenged.
Donnie never got a chance to respond though, as the door to his lab opened again, and the rest of their family came in.
“Mikey! What are ya doin’ sittin’ up like that?” Raph demanded, hurrying over to try and lay his brother back down.
“It’s totally fine, dude, I just needed to stretch as much as I possibly could. Donnie was supervising me so I don’t injure myself,” Mikey pointed out.
Raph looked at Donnie, who shrugged. “Yes, well, that’s enough for one day, time for some more rest,” Donnie said flatly, turning his back on Mikey again and returning to his computer.
A look of hurt flashed over Mikey’s face, however he hid it quickly as Splinter came over and stood next to him.
“I am very happy to see you awake, and coherent, my son,” he said, placing a comforting hand on Mikey’s shoulder. And if the younger turtle flinched at the touch, no one noticed, or at least drew attention to the involuntary reflex. No one else commented on Mikey’s fake smile, or his forced jokes, or the way his eyes kept drifting over to look at Leo, who was standing in the doorway to the lab, refusing to come in any further.
It was never easy to admit your mistakes; Leo had learned this lesson at a very young age. However, he had not expected that the older he got, the harder it would become to admit such a failure, especially when those mistakes involved his family.
Four days had passed since their last encounter with Slash, and Leo had done his best to keep his distance from his healing brothers. There really was nothing he could say to help in their recovery, after all. He wasn’t avoiding them though; at least, that’s what Leo told himself as he lay on his bed staring at his ceiling, listening to the quiet sounds of the Lair.
Even with his door closed he could still hear Raphael snoring, the soft noises Mikey made in his sleep, and, when he listened hard enough, Leo was sure he could hear Donnie tinkering around in his lab. Everything sounded so normal.
However, the atmosphere in the Lair was heavy, like an ever increasing pressure upon them all. Leo felt it was going to crush him and his family, if he let things continue as they were.
The scream that suddenly shattered the quiet wasn’t unexpected, but still had Leo bolting upright in his bed, staring at his door with wide eyes; Mikey had had another nightmare.
He heard Raph’s door slam open, his brother hurrying to Mikey’s always-locked-door, and the hard pounding of Raph trying to get in. Leo closed his eyes for a moment before slowly standing from his bed.
“Mikey, it’s me, open the door,” he heard Raph demanded, pounding on the door once more.
Going to his own door, Leo opened it just enough to look out at what was becoming a familiar scene. Raph moved to knock on the door again, but Splinter was there, resting a hand on Raph’s shoulder, gently easing him back from the door.
“It is alright, my son, no one is going to hurt you. Please, let us in,” Splinter said.
Leo continued to watch, waiting until he heard the small ‘click’ of the lock as Mikey opened the door. He couldn’t see his youngest brother from where he was stood, but he knew Mikey would be staring up at their father, with tears still streaming down his face, Leo was assuming, given the sobs he could hear. Splinter said nothing as he gently wrapped his arms around Mikey, easily calming the hysterical turtle before leading Mikey away from his room. Leo knew they would sleep in the dojo once again tonight.
Raph moved to follow them, only to pause and glance over toward Leo.
Leo felt frozen to the spot as their eyes met, not wanting to hear all the ways this was his fault. He knew that well enough for himself without any reminder. Green eyes narrowed, but Raph didn’t say anything, he just turned and walked away, following their father and youngest brother.
There was no fight, no argument, and for Leo, that was a lot worse than his brother constantly trying to start something with him. This felt like Raph’s silent way of saying ‘you’re not worth it anymore’.
Leo had to agree with him; he wasn’t worth it. He was the one who had failed his family. After all, even if it was originally Raph’s fault that Slash had been allowed to stay in the Lair, it was his fault for pushing Mikey away.
Turning away from the door, Leo looked back toward his bed. He felt exhausted, however, if tonight followed the same pattern as the previous ones, he would just be lying there until the morning and only just have fallen asleep when he was woken for morning practice.
Deciding that if he was going to have another sleepless night anyway, he would at least try and make himself useful, Leo left his room. Heading out into the main part of the Lair, he could hear the soft noises coming from the dojo while Splinter got Mikey back to sleep. However, it was the crash and the muffled curses from Donnie’s lab that drew Leo’s attention.
Taking the few steps toward the metal door, Leo raised his hand and knocked softly. He heard another curse and frowned.
“Donnie?” he called through the door, grabbing the handle and sliding the door open enough that he could look in, only to find his brother on the floor. “Donnie!” he exclaimed, hurrying across the room and kneeling next to his fallen brother.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” Donnie waved him off, grabbing the crutch that was on the floor next to him.
Leo reached to grab hold of him too, hoping to help Donnie off the floor before the purple-banded turtle hurt himself more.
“I said I’m FINE!” Donnie snapped, shoving Leo off before pulling himself back to his feet.
“What happened?” Leo questioned, standing up to be on eye level with Donnie again.
“Nothing happened, I just lost my balance, I’m fine,” Donnie said.
“You don’t seem fine,” Leo pointed out, watching how unsteady Donnie was on his feet as he attempted to make it back to his desk.
“Oh yes, because you’re such a GREAT judge on when someone is actually fine or not,” Donnie snapped, sitting down and turning to glare at Leo.
“And what is THAT supposed to mean?” Leo demanded, feeling himself go on the defensive. Though he didn’t really need Donnie to elaborate on what he meant, part of him wanted his brother to put it into actual words, to point his finger and put the blame on him.
“If I have to spell it out for you, then maybe you’re not as smart as I thought you were,” Donnie said, turning his back toward Leo.
Leo stood there in silence, watching his brother type away on the computer while he attempted to think of something to say, something that would perhaps help start healing their broken family.
“What do you want, Leo?” Donnie finally asked.
“What happened to you and Mikey?” A million other questions he could have asked, and a thousand more things he could have said, and Leo found himself asking about the torture his brothers had endured.
Donnie stared at him for a long moment, before turning his shell to him again. However the olive-green turtle didn’t continue typing, he just sat there staring at the keyboard on his desk. “What information are you looking for, Leo?” Donnie asked.
Leo sighed and shook his head. “I honestly don’t know. A reason maybe? Why you and Mikey? Nothing about Slash’s attack makes any sense to me, or why he would torture you and Mikey the way he did.”
“You’re asking me to give a psycho reasoning?” Donnie questioned.
“Yes, because his every move was more planned out more than it should have been if he had simply gone crazy,” Leo insisted. It was then that Leo realized that this was what had been bothering him over the last few days, not just his family suffering, not just the weight of his failure crushing him, but the fact that Slash had planned things out, had calculated their every move enough to not only grab Mikey, but Donnie and Raph as well.
And while they weren’t the quietest, or the most focused, or even the most patient of ninja, they were still ninja.
“Leo?” Donnie frowned, and Leo blinked at his brother.
“I have to go,” he suddenly said, turning and leaving the lab. Something was off, he had been occupied with having his brothers back, safe at home, and Splinter had been more than a match for Slash, it was unlikely that the snapping turtle was going to be coming back for them again. At least not any time soon. However Leo wasn’t able to shake this new feeling that had taken over.
“Leo, wait!” Donnie called after him, and Leo paused long enough to turn and see Donnie standing the doorway to the lab. “What is going on?”
Leo shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Don,” he reassured his brother. “Just, try and get some rest. Your leg isn’t going to heal if you don’t.” And with that, he was gone, leaving Donnie to stand there looking very confused.