Mikey was lying on the couch, his head resting on Raph’s lap as he drifted in and out of sleep, trying to get some much needed rest.
Between the pain in his back, and the nightmares, the young turtle had only managed a couple hours of sleep each night for the past week, something that was really starting to take its toll on Mikey. And, though he wouldn’t admit it, Donnie hadn’t been faring any better.
The loud crash that echoed through the lair had Mikey jerking awake so suddenly that if Raph hadn’t been holding him, he most likely would have fallen off the couch.
Mikey bit his lip, grunting in pain as he clenched his eyes shut and waited or the throbbing in his back to stop.
“I got ya,” Raph said soothingly, a cool hand rested on Mikey’s head and the smaller turtle flinched slightly from the touch.
“What happened?” Mikey asked when the pain had faded enough, and he opened his eyes again to look at Raph.
“Donnie’s throwing things in his lab again,” Raph said, glancing toward the locked door where the loud crashes could still be heard from the other side.
Mikey looked in the same direction, shrinking a little into his shell when there was a particularly loud crash. “So… are you sure you and D haven’t switched minds or something?” Mikey asked, a poor attempt to make a joke out of the situation.
“Dunno, give me a screwdriver and I’ll see if I can do something nerdy with it,” Raph said, his hand still resting on Mikey’s head as the smaller turtle giggled.
The two of them fell silent for another few minutes, before Mikey sighed and started pushing himself up off the sofa.
“Whoa, where the shell do you think you’re going?” Raph asked, stopping Mikey from moving.
“To talk to Donnie. It’s not good that he’s locked himself in his lab, and if he’s angry enough to start breaking his things…” Mikey trailed off, glancing toward the door when another loud crash echoed through the door, before everything went silent.
Mikey and Raph exchanged a look, before the red-banded turtle stood up as well, helping MIkey over to the door.
“Donnie?” Mikey called out, knocking softly on the large metal door.
“I’m fine, go away,” came Donnie’s reply.
Mikey ignored him and knocked again.
“Donnie… I… I really want to talk, please?” Mikey asked, when there was no answer this time,
Mikey looked toward Raph once again. The red-banded turtle nodded his head, grabbing the door and sliding it open.
“I’ll go see what fearless is up to,” Raph said, before closing the door behind Mikey once the smaller turtle was inside the lab.
Mikey looked around the lab. He had been in here a couple times over the last week, and it seemed each time Donnie allowed him in, another piece of equipment was broken.
He spotted the purple-banded turtle sitting in his chair, looking tired and physically drained.
“Donnie…” Mikey said sadly, slowly making his way forward. He sank to his knees on the floor in front of the olive green turtle, staring up into the tired face of his brother.
“I can’t… I don’t know how to fix this,” Donnie said, staring back at Mikey. “I couldn’t do anything when Slash had us, and… and even now… I’m so fucking useless!”
Mikey rested his head on Donnie’s lap, trying to comfort his brother as much as he could. Because he knew how Donnie felt, the feeling of being useless, of being a liability.
“You’re not, D, you’ve never been useless,” Mikey said.
“How can you say that? Have you seen what we looked like? Slash could have killed us whenever he wanted! He’s destroyed your shell! He fractured my leg simply by stepping on it!” Donnie ranted and Mikey sat up straighter again.
“I know exactly what Slash could have done to us,” Mikey said, his voice taking on a darker tone. “I know how strong he is, and I know what it feels like to be useless, to be laying there helpless to stop whatever it is he plans on doing next!”
“Mikey… I…” Donnie tried searching for the right words to day, but Mikey continued, his own hurt and anger coming to the surface.
“He raped me! He fucking raped me, Donnie! I… I wanted to die… when he caught me again, and when he dragged you in, I thought, I thought he was going to… ” Mikey had tears rolling down his cheeks and he lowered his head to Donnie’s lap again, his shoulders shaking as he cried, hands gripping at Donnie’s shell. “You’re not useless, you can’t fix everything but… you’re not useless, not to me.”
“I’m sorry,” Donnie said, lowering himself to hug Mikey, the position was awkward, but comforting.
A noise from out in the lair cut their moment short, the two brothers sat up straight, each turning to look at the door of the lab.
“Casey Jones is in da house!” the new voice rang out through the lair and Mikey smiled, looking back toward Donnie who was sitting there with a thoughtful frown on his face.
“I’m curious, Mikey,” Donnie said, glancing back at the younger turtle. “How did you meet someone so…”
“Crazy?” Mikey supplied. “He hit me over the head with a hockey stick,” he said with a laugh at Donnie’s horrified expression, before standing up slowly, using Donnie’s chair as support when his back throbbed again.
“That sounds like how Raph would meet someone,” Donnie said, watching Mikey’s face as it scrunched up in pain. “You know, you really shouldn’t be moving around so much,” he insisted with a sigh, even though everyone knew it was near impossible to keep Mikey sitting still for any extended period of time.
“I’m fine,” Mikey insisted. “Are YOU okay, bro?” he asked, looking down at Donnie in concern.
“No,” Donnie answered truthfully. “But I think, given time, you and I will both be fine,” he said and
Mikey smiled, leaning down and kissing Donnie’s cheek, before standing up straight. “If Casey is here, April is probably with him, we could… we could all watch a movie together, maybe?”
Donnie looked at the door to the lab again, sighing but giving a small nod. “I suppose I can’t stay locked in here forever,” he said.
“If I can’t stay locked in my room, you can’t stay locked in your lab,” Mikey insisted. Looking around, he found Donnie’s crutch and handed it to the olive green turtle, who was struggling to stand up from his computer chair.
“Let’s go make your loud friend shut up, and find a movie that’s not too violent,” Donnie said, and Mikey nodded his agreement.
It was some time later, halfway through their second movie, when both Mikey and Donnie fell asleep. Raph was pinned by both his brothers, as they had taken up the couch on either side of the red-banded turtle.
Raph hadn’t complained, even though the new loudmouth human Mikey had somehow befriended, kept sniggering, despite the elbow to the rib cage that April had given him.
“Shut up, it’s sweet,” April hissed when Casey chuckled again.
“Keep laughing, Jones, I’ll knock out a few more of those teeth, as soon as these two wake up,” Raph growled, though he stopped when Mikey let out a whimper, shifting in his sleep. “Shh, easy, I got ya buddy,” Raph whispered, keeping his voice calm until Mikey settled back down.
Casey shifted slightly, thankfully keeping his mouth shut until he was certain that Mikey had fallen back asleep. “So…” Casey said, also keeping his voice low. “How are they doin?”
“Good I suppose?” Raph shrugged.
“You don’t know?” Casey asked, frowning.
“They ain’t exactly been talkin a whole lot,” Raph huffed. “I dunno, they don’t really talk about what happened, not ta me anyway.”
“I don’t know about the purple dude, but I know MIkey, he’s a strong kid,” Casey said. “He might be a bit banged up from this, but he’ll be okay.”
Raph looked at the human boy in mild surprise before nodding his head in agreement. “Yeah, both Mikey and Don are strong,” he said, looking down at his sleeping brothers.
They fell silent for a few moments, before April stood up. “If those two are sleeping, Casey and I should get going,”
“Already? The movie ain’t over yet, red,” Casey said, motioning to the tv.
“Yes, but it’s also getting late, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like walking home on my own,” April said, and that was enough to get Casey jumping to his feet.
“Bye,” Raph said, chuckling as Casey grabbed April’s bag before she could.
“Bye Raph. Tell Leo we’ll see him next time, and I’m sorry he missed movie night,” April said while she snagged her bag back from Casey.
Raph waved from his spot on the couch as the two humans left.
The Lair was silent again, except for the sound of the movie as it reached the end and the credits started rolling. It was then that Raph looked over toward the doorway.
“You can come in, Leo, they’re gone, Mikey and Donnie are fast asleep, and I’m gonna need help getting them into bed.”
A moment later the blue-banded turtle came through the doorway slowly.
“Let me put my gear away, then I’ll come help,” he said and Raph nodded his head once, watching as the eldest, armed with every knife he owned, made his way down the hall and into his room.
Raph couldn’t say he was to happy about the sudden role reversal he and Leo had going on at the moment, and as soon as he could corner his older brother, he was going to find out what the deal was.
“When did they fall asleep?” Leo asked, as he came back out and looked at Raph on the couch with Mikey and Donnie.
“You should know, you’ve been waitin’ outside that door since the start of the second movie,” Raph said eyeing Leo. “Didn’t want April to see ya armed for war or somethin’?”
“Something like that,” Leo admitted, coming over to the couch and leaning down to lift Donnie up, being careful not to hurt his injured brother’s leg.
Once Donnie had been removed, Raph was able to shift out from under Mikey. He easily lifted the orange-banded turtle and followed Leo down the hall to their rooms. Raph went straight to his own room with Mikey, knowing the youngest would be awake within a couple hours from another nightmare, and come crawling into his bed anyway. Not to mention Mikey’s room was still a minefield of empty pizza boxes and who knew what else.
Being as gentle as he possibly could, and careful not to jar Mikey too much and bump his injured shell, Raph laid him on the bed, pulling the sheet up and over him. He was about to pull away when Mikey reached out and grabbed his wrist.
“Don’t leave me,” Mikey’s said tiredly as he blinked up at Raph.
“I’m just going to be right outside, no one is gonna hurt you,” Raph reassured him, placing a hand on Mikey’s head and coaxing him back to sleep.
Mikey’s breathing evened out and Raph was able to pull his hand away, turning toward the door. He narrowed his eyes when he saw Leo standing there, leaning against the frame, eyes on Mikey.
“Out,” Raph ordered in a hushed voice, stepping forward and blocking Leo’s view of Mikey.
Leo raised an eyeridge at Raph, but backed out of the room as Raph followed, pulling the door closed behind him, but leaving it open a crack in case Mikey woke up again.
“How are they doing?” Leo asked.
“Why don’t you try sticking around here tomorrow and askin’ them that yourself,” Raph snapped, storming off toward the living room to clean up their mess from movie night.
“What the fuck is with the attitude?” Leo asked, following after him.
“Attitude? I ain’t got an attitude! You’re the one who just keeps on leavin’ me here to look after Mikey and Donnie, deal with their nightmares, while you’re top side doing who knows what!” Raph snarled. “You haven’t been around all week. Where the fuck are you even going every night?”
Leo couldn’t help but smirk. “You know, you’re starting to sound like me, every time you ran off without telling anyone.”
“Yeah, but you guys expect that shit from me. So come on, spill; what is so important that ya can’t be here?” Raph asked, crossing his arms over his chest. “Or that you can’t ask me ta at least go along with ya?”
Leo let out a sigh and lowered his head. “I don’t even know,” he admitted.
“Bullshit.” Raph narrowed his eyes at his older brother. “It’s ta do with Slash, isn’t it?” he guessed.
“Maybe,” Leo said, running a hand over his head in frustration. “I don’t know! I really don’t, I just have this gut feeling that something is still wrong,” he tried to explain.
Raph studied him for a long moment before nodding his head once. “Alright then,” he said and turned to finish cleaning the living room.
“That’s it?” Leo asked, sounding surprised.
“I ain’t like you, Leo, I’m not gonna tell you to stay in the lair, to stay locked up and let this ‘feeling’ fester before it’s too much and you explode,” Raph said, keeping his shell toward Leo.
“This isn’t like you, this isn’t like US. Where’s the yelling? Where’s the arguments? Where’s the fight?” Leo asked, and Raph chuckled.
“If it would make ya feel better, I can punch ya in the head,” Raph offered, looking over his shoulder at the blue-banded turtle.
Leo couldn’t help but laugh and he shook his head. “No, I think I’ll pass,” he said and he moved to help Raph finish cleaning up.
The two of them fell into an uncomfortable silence as they brought the dishes to the kitchen, and Leo moved to start washing them.
“You know,” Leo said when Raph pulled out a towel to dry and put the dishes away. “I never meant to hurt Mikey the way I did. I just… he wasn’t getting better, and I hated seeing Mikey so broken.”
Raph paused in his own chore, looking at Leo.
“You could have shown a bit more tact in dealing with him. None of us can understand what he went through, what he’s still going through, but he ain’t broken, he never was.”
“I suppose Mikey is stronger than we give him credit for,” Leo admitted, a small smile on his face as he and Raph once again fell silent, though the heavy feeling in the air seemed to be disappearing.
For the following two days, Leo had decided it might be for the best if he remained in the lair, just to see for himself how his two youngest brothers were holding up.
Mikey seemed to have picked up a stubborn streak from Raph. He was insisting he was fine as he moved around the kitchen, only to have to stop when his back throbbed painfully, just because he had moved the wrong way, or had bumped his still healing shell.
However Raph and Master Splinter both seemed to have the youngest turtle well in hand, the one Leo was starting to worry about, was Donnie.
It wasn’t unheard of for the purple-banded turtle to lock himself away in his lab for days on end, however Leo was sure that doing such a thing at the moment wasn’t healthy for his brother.
So while Raph handled Mikey, Leo went to Donnie’s lab and stood in the doorway. The purple-banded turtle was sat at his desk, the keyboard clicking as he typed quickly, pulling up new windows on the computer before shaking his head and moving on.
“What are you working on?” Leo asked.
Donnie jerked and spun around in his chair quickly, eyes wide as he reached for the crutch that was next to his desk, only to relax when he saw that it was Leo.
“Are you okay?” Leo asked, taking in Donnie’s tired appearance, and the empty mug that was sat next to him on the desk.
“I’m fine, never better,” Donnie said flatly, turning his back toward Leo again.
“Mikey’s making lunch, maybe you should-”
“I’m fine,” Donnie said again, cutting Leo off.
“Donnie,” Leo sighed, moving further into the lab and standing next to his brother. He waited until Donnie had at least glanced in his direction before speaking again. “You still mad at me?” he asked.
“For last week? No, I suppose I’m not that irritated at you anymore for your unreasonable demands,” Donnie said. “If that’s all you wanted, you can leave now.”
“You’re right,” Leo huffed, “asking you to explain what you and Mikey had gone through, so soon after getting home… it wasn’t fair on you.” Leo sighed, leaning against Donnie’s desk.
Donnie said nothing, but he stopped typing to fully look at Leo again.
Leo continued when Donnie was still looking at him expectantly. “I’m also sorry for demanding you help me come up with a reason for why Slash targeted you and Mikey.”
“And for running out of the lab like your tail was on fire?” Donnie pressed, and Leo nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, and for that,” Leo said.
Donnie nodded his head, turning back toward his computer once more. “Apology accepted,” he said, glancing up at Leo when the blue-banded turtle chuckled.
“You know,” Donnie said, “I think we might be wrong about who’s the worst at apologising, I always thought it was Raph, because of how embarrassed he gets when he’s wrong. You however, are on a whole different level.”
Leo stared at Donnie for a long moment before laughing and shaking his head.
“Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Raph at least gets around to apologising the same day. Though, better not tell him that, don’t need him thinking he’s better than me at something; his ego’s large enough as it is.”
Donnie grinned. “And your’s isn’t?” he shot back. “Now, was there something else that you needed? Because I’m fairly sure you didn’t come in here just to apologise.”
“Honestly, I just came in here to check on you, and see what you were doing. I might not have been home a lot over the last week, but I can still tell when you’re hiding in your lab,” Leo said.
“I’m not hiding, not on purpose,” Donnie admitted, moving his chair slightly so that he could show Leo his computer screen. “I’ve been keeping track of some unusual energy surges in this area,” he pointed to the screen, showing Leo on the digital map exactly where he had been talking about.
“That’s…” Leo trailed off.
“That’s where Slash took me and Mikey,” Donnie nodded, looking back at the computer screen. “I don’t know if it’s anything to be worried about, so I wasn’t going to mention it to anyone until I was sure, but…” Donnie trailed off and Leo nodded his head in understanding.
“I’m going out again tonight. I’ll check it out, if that will make you feel better?” Leo asked.
“I’m not sure if I like the idea of you going there on your own, but MIkey and I aren’t up to leaving the lair yet…”
“You still have those old headsets don’t you?” Leo asked, and Donnie looked confused as he pointed toward one of his shelves. “I’ll take one, and you keep the other with you. If this is nothing, then you’ll know immediately, but if Slash is still up to something, we’ll know that too, and we can make a plan of attack,” Leo said, grabbing the headsets and handing one to Donnie.
“And if Slash is still there and catches you?” Donnie asked.
“Then you’ll know that I’m in trouble, and can get Raph, or Master Splinter to come help me,” Leo said.
“Or you could just take both of them with you to begin with,” Donnie supplied.
Leo shook his head. “If this turns out to be nothing, then I don’t want to worry anyone needlessly.”
Donnie sighed and reluctantly agreed. If this power surge was just a strange anomaly, and had nothing to do with Slash at all, then not only would Donnie be losing sleep over it, Mikey would too.
“Tonight?” Donnie asked, looking at Leo.
“Tonight,” he agreed. “Now come eat some lunch, or I’ll send Mikey in here to drag you out.”
Leo sat on the roof to the abandoned warehouse, looking down into the familiar room where they had found Mikey and Donnie weeks earlier. He narrowed his eyes when he could still see the blood stains on the floor; even though Leo knew that no one would have been around to clean up the mess, the sight of it still made his stomach turn.
“Leo, you okay?” Donnie’s voice came over the headset and Leo took a deep calming breath.
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m at the warehouse, there’s no sign of Slash,” Leo informed his brother. “I’m going in to find what’s causing that power surge you’re tracking,” he said.
“Be careful, Leo.”
Even though the warning was unneeded, Leo knew his younger brother was worried, and really didn’t like the fact that Leo had gone out on his own.
Throwing the rope over the ledge, Leo lowered himself silently into the building, taking his katana out once he was on his feet. His eyes were narrowed and whited out as he looked around for any possible threat.
“Alright Donnie, I’m in,” Leo said over the headset. “It doesn’t look as if there is anything here that could be giving off anything that you’d be picking up, this place doesn’t even seem to have working lights.”
“Try towards the back of the building, it’s a big place, there are more than two rooms in there,” Donnie suggested, and Leo nodded his head even though Donnie couldn’t see him.
Keeping his weapons at the ready, he made his way silently out of the room, and into the hallway that would lead him through the rest of the warehouse. The place was quiet, and that in itself made Leo suspicious. Simply because if no one had been around, there would be some kind of sound from critters scurrying across the floor. But the only things that Leo could hear were the normal sounds from the city outside.
Leo took his time, making sure to glance into every door he passed, even though there weren’t many, he didn’t want to chance missing anything. It was as he was pushing a door open slowly to look inside that he heard it, voices coming from another doorway near the end of the hallway.
“Donnie, someone’s here, I’m going to maintain radio silence,” Leo said, informing his brother of his plan before using the shadows to hide his presence.
The voices were muffled by the large door, however Leo could tell that one of the voices belonged to Slash. The large turtle was in a rage, and was clearly stomping around the room inside. If the door had been open at all, Leo would have been able to slip in undetected, however the weight of the metal door, and the old hinges, meant that it would be impossible to open it without some sort of noise. So he did the next best thing, he pressed against the door and listened.
“Calm down, brother,” a gravelly voice spoke, before letting out a sound almost like a strange cough. “I told you before, he was not needed for our plan.”
“You don’t understand! He belonged to ME! He was mine and they poisoned him!” Slash raged, and the sound of a metal table could be heard being tipped over and kicked across the floor. “I shouldn’t have listened to you! I should have killed them all.”
Leo’s hand clenched around his sword, holding back his own angry growl as he listened.
“Next time, my brother, but now we must go. The utrom are on the move, and we must destroy them,” the unknown voice insisted.
“No, I will not help you, not without Raphael, we need him. Despite what you say, he needs to be with us, and if you will not help me, I’ll do this on my own. I’ll break each one of them for what they have done to him. I will kill them all, and then Raphael will be free,” Slash insisted.
Leo had heard enough. Pulling away from the door, he slammed it open, catching Slash by surprise as the large turtle turned quickly toward the noise. He managed to dodge Leo’s attack, and the katana blade nicked his foot.
“Come back and help me fight! You coward!” Slash roared at an empty spot in the room, and Leo frowned, looking around trying to see where the second person had gone.
The room was mostly empty, a few tables and chairs, but everything appeared to be broken, and there wasn’t any place suitable for hiding. All the windows were still in tact and sealed shut.
“Leo, what’s going on? Are you alright? I just picked up on another power surge,” Donnie’s frantic voice came over the headset.
Leo didn’t have time to answer when Slash screeched and charged at him. Leo dodged the sloppy attack with ease, swinging his sword out and slicing the back of Slash’s ankle.
There was a loud crash and a roar of fury and pain as the snapping turtle landed hard on the ground, knocking a table as he rolled around to face Leo.
“I’m fine, Don, I’ll be home soon,” Leo said, lifting a hand he switched off the headset, his eyes narrowed to mere slits as he advanced on Slash.
“I will kill you!” Slash insisted, pushing himself to his one good foot, as his other one was too painful to stand on.
“You were given a warning,” Leo said, unphased by Slash’s threat. “You were told not to come near us again, you were warned what would happen if you attempted to go after myself, or my brothers again.”
Leo swung out, slicing at Slash’s good kneecap, watching as the other turtle stumbled backwards, more blood running down his leg to pool under him.
“You’ve poisoned Raphael against me!” Slash insisted.
“No, you did that all on your own, as soon as you made the decision to attack, to rape, our baby brother,” Leo said, sneering down at Slash.
Slash’s face twisted in rage at the mention of Mikey.
“He deserved that and more! I should have killed him, and all of you when I had the chance!”
Slash hadn’t even finished speaking when Leo swing his sword, the blade slicing through Slash’s throat. Leo had thought that he might feel a slight twist in his gut, a feeling of guilt as he watched the other turtle try to suck in air, the only sound coming from him was a choking, gurgling sound. But the only thing Leo felt in that moment was an eerie calm, and a silent wish that he could have caused this monster even an ounce of the pain he had inflicted on Mikey.
Leo was unsure how long he stood there, but it was long enough for Slash to stop breathing, and his body stop twitching in the last few moments as it struggled to hang on.
And still, Leo stood there, waiting for the guilt, the remorse, but the only thing that remained was that calm, and a slowly growing feeling that now everything was going to be alright.
Another day had passed, and while it wasn’t one of the worst days, things could have been better. Mikey had ignored strict orders to take it easy, and as a result he hard hurt his arm, and nearly done more damage to his back after climbing on the counter in an attempt to reach something on the top shelf.
Raph didn’t know what was worse, watching his brothers struggling to get around the lair, the nightmares that interrupted their sleep, or the cold rage that seemed to have become Leo’s new default emotion. Even after their talk a few days ago, Leo had been very closed off and distant about everything.
Raph knew the leader was trying to hide it, and he had done a better job over the last few days, however each time one of their brothers screamed out, or Mikey bumped his still healing shell, Raph saw it, that icy look that flashed over Leo’s face.
Something kept nagging at Raph to talk to the eldest turtle again, to point out that he knew what Leo was planning, and demand he be allowed to tag along. But for once in his life, he remained silent, he let Leo leave the lair alone each night.
So it was no surprise to Raph, sitting on the couch one night, gently coaxing Mikey back to sleep after another nightmare, when Leo came back into the lair.
Raph looked at him, and they made eye contact for just a moment, and Raph saw it, that subtle shift in Leo’s expression, the calm acceptance of what he had done, and Raph knew then, Slash would never be able to hurt their family again.