A/N: I originally did this (like many other TMNT fics on my computer :P ) spontaneously and with not much intention of ever publishing it, but I'm currently working on another major TMNT fic that I hope to publish within the year, and I felt like it's been taking way too long. (If you'd like to read a sample, please visit my profile to follow a link to my deviantart page.)
So, while I deal with writer's block on that one, I wanted to put something out there to keep you guys entertained.
The Foot were on the move again.
A large canister of mutagen, previously collected by Baxter Stockman and forgotten in his old lab, had gone missing until the Foot had suddenly re-located it, and were on their way to bring it back to their master's base. The turtles had headed out immediately, trying to prevent as many unnecessary, merciless mutations by the Kraang – and Shredder – as they could.
There ended up being a big fight between the turtles and the Foot in an abandoned subway station underground, which was made more complicated by the addition of Dogpound and Spiderbites, the latter of whom was not associated with the Foot, but had teamed up momentarily on the empty promise of a reward.
The canister of mutagen was about half as tall as Mikey, and nearly as big around – making it understandably difficult for him to carry. He stood at the edge of the subway station, guarding it as his brothers successfully fought off their enemies while trying to keep a close eye on Dogpound and Spiderbites. He was waiting for Leo's signal that it was safe to make a run for it, a pair of his nunchucks looped through a handle at the top to help him carry the heavy canister. Keeping a wary eye on the fight and checking every moment to re-confirm that this was the best vantage point to protect the canister and give him a good path out of the subway at the right time, Dogpound and Spiderbites managed to slip out of his sight for a few moments, before they were suddenly charging at him!
Quick on his feet, Mikey wheeled around toward the railroads to take a shortcut out of there – the guys would know what happened, they'd meet up later. But, stopping before he jumped down, somewhere in the distance he heard a familiar blare that caused a curse to fly through his mind.
"Wasn't this station supposed to be abandoned?" He irritably wondered, checking behind him again.
The two charging him were after the canister, but were probably also aiming to knock him off the platform. The canister was too heavy to make such a quick dodge and get out of the way in time. Or, he could try throwing the canister to one of his bros – there was enough time, and he was sure he could manage it, but he'd be left wide-open; or he could try forfeiting it to his enemies, hoping they'd spare him. Any way he went, though, he was pretty sure it would result with him on the tracks.
He didn't like any of his options, but he chose the one that made the most sense.
Jingling was heard as the canister and the weapon that had slung it flew through the air.
Leo looked up in time to see the canister coming at him. Good thing he had just cleared a round of enemies – he'd been planning on calling the retreat as soon as Donnie had smashed through the last Foot blocking the exit. "Raph-!" He called, a bit startled, getting ready to catch the heavy container. Spotting it, Raph came and helped Leo safely land it just in time.
Leo looked back to praise Mikey for such a strong throw, only to realize what had just happened.
Mikey landed on the ground with a hard thud and skidded backwards a little, catching a glimpse of the deeply aggravated expressions of Dogpound and Spiderbites, before quickly scrambling up to get out of the tracks and the approaching train's path. He might have to take that shortcut after all, he thought. With a sharp halt, though, he realized he couldn't get his left foot off the tracks, like one of them had followed down and was holding on –
Mikey gasped. He was stuck! Crap, he was stuck! His second pair of nunchucks had gotten tangled around his ankle and in the train railings, and they were caught good. He dropped and started trying to rip himself away from the tracks, making the chains dig into his ankle with a jarring ache, but the weapon was too tightly ensnared around him and the tracks. He snapped open the blade that jutted from one end, but it was broken, snapped off when he tested its luck against Dogpound's claws earlier. Hammering the jagged base of the broken blade against the chains anyway, he looked up and quickly squinted when a bright light assaulted him, and a warning blare echoed down the tunnel. Dogpound and Spiderbites didn't pursue their attack, processing what was unfolding in a bit of shock and backing up to stay out of the way.
The train had rounded the curve and was coming at him now, fast. His blade wasn't cutting through the chains at all; he couldn't have had five seconds. He looked up at his brothers helplessly, wide-eyed, but they only looked back with frozen, wide-eyed terror. They were too far away – they couldn't possibly do anything. There was simply no time.
Mikey looked back at the train, terrified, and cowered back as it flew through the station.
First to snap himself out of it and react, Leo pushed the heavy canister toward a shocked Raph and dove down closer to the edge of the subway, from where Dogpound and Spiderbites had already fled when they saw Mikey get hit. Murmuring that taking down one of the turtles was success enough, Dogpound ordered the Foot ninja to retreat and they made their escape, while Spiderbites, apparently disconcerted about what just happened, suddenly remembered his forgotten reward and chased after them.
Deciding to forget about his enemies and what he thought about them for now, Leo frantically watched as the train roared by, impatiently and unsuccessfully trying to see around it, leaning to the sides and ducking down. "Mikey!" He called, but there was no answer from the other side. He'd have to wait and see what became if his little brother. "Mikey!"
"Leo, what do we do?!" Raph said, jumping down by his side. Looking up at him, Leo saw the panic in Raph's face. Donnie stood a ways back, holding the canister, the same pale terror reflecting in his eyes.
"You guys go back," Leo said.
"Leo, don't screw around!-" Raph started.
"Don't be an idiot-" Donnie added.
"GO!" Leo roughly commanded, cutting them off. "Get the canister out of here! It's the least we can do now. I'll get Mikey. HURRY!"
Raph hesitated a second, but looking back at Donnie and the canister, he huffed an aggravated sigh and leapt back. After heaving up the canister and pushing a resistant Donnie up the stairs at the entrance, he turned back.
"As soon as we get home, you better be draggin' both'a your shells back, or we're comin' after you! You better come back, you hear me?" He called down to Leo, over the roar of the train. "Both a'ya!"
Leo turned back to the train as Raph and Donnie escaped, leaving him to wait for the tail of the endless monster to roar out of sight. He gripped the support pillar next to him, gritting his teeth and letting loose a long string of mental swears, daring everything in existence and its mother that Mikey be hurt.
In what almost seemed like a sudden visual freeze-frame, the last of the speeding train suddenly raced out of sight, leaving the dark, unmoving tunnel in its wake, empty.
Leo felt his hand fall back to his side, before his knees hit the ground and the color drained from his face. Even seeing Mikey laying there, in God knows whatever state, would have been better – wouldn't it have been better? – than just a small blood stain on the ground and nothing else.
Mikey closed his eyes tight and suddenly felt his body being slammed into, though it was a strange sensation, and then tumbling along the ground in the same direction as the force from the wind pulled him along. Though, there wasn't so much pain then – it happened too fast, his mind was too numb and racing too hard. After the world tumbled out of control for what felt like days, he started losing momentum; and after a few attempts, he finally managed to dig his fingers into the dirt and let the rest of the train ramble by.
After it was finally, finally gone, he took a few minutes to rest. When his numb mind started to respond again, he took in a shaky breath and opened his eyes. He looked down the way the train had disappeared, and after a second, let out a discomforted, panicky sigh. Then, turning his head to look back at himself, he examined what damage was caused before he really prepared himself, and his heart started racing with fear as his imagination automatically went to the worst –
He was still in one piece. At least, he was sure he would've lost his left foot, but though it was bloody and his ankle was probably broken, covered with nasty pressure marks and gashes from where the chains had squeezed tight around it before they snapped, it was definitely still there. Looking around, he finally noticed his nunchucks were the ones who went to heaven. Only a few small, broken chain pieces could be seen, and one of the wooden rods was smashed to splintered smithereens and seemingly spread out over a mile, but the rest was nowhere to be found.
He realized the train had never actually hit him – no, he wouldn't have survived that. He had managed to get far enough out of the tracks with his nunchucks pinning him that the sudden air pressure was the only thing that collided with him, though the train severed his binding to the tracks immediately. Maybe the chains had gotten tangled with the train when it flew by, and dragged him for a distance - it felt possible, but he wasn't sure. He was a little bloody and scuffed up everywhere, and now his ankle was starting to burn with a tingling type of pain he didn't recognize, but he was alive. When this sunk in, Mikey pried his trembling fingers out of the ground and rolled from his stomach to his side, curled up into a ball and started sobbing.
"Mikey!" Leo called, running down the tunnel. He got more scared the farther he went; there didn't seem to be any evidence of his little brother beyond the small blood spatter in front of the station, and it felt like he'd already been running for twenty minutes – it couldn't have been that long; every nervous minute that went by was tripling in his mind. He was sure he was going in the right direction. He kept calling out, but he never got an answer, and the pestering idea grew stronger that he couldn't deny the inevitable truth – Mikey got hit, and he was long gone.
Already exhausted, after he just couldn't run anymore, he came to a gasping, slow stop, and throwing his head up to the ceiling, he collapsed to his knees and dropped his head into his hands.
Mikey...his little baby brother...and he'd lost him, just like that. Anguish heated into fury, and he pounded the ground with an enraged cry, but his energy was spent and he was already exhausted; he'd lost.
"Oh, Mikey!" He wailed in his head. He could feel the last bit of his composure bubble down the drain.
Frustration withered into despair, and he put fists over his eyes as he started crying.
After a few minutes, he rubbed his fist over his eyes and shakily got back to his feet. There was no point in going forward...he needed to go make sure that Raph and Donnie had gotten away with the canister safely, but that train had stolen his little brother from him, and he wasn't ever going to see him again. Another sob escaped Leo's throat at the thought, but he rubbed his eyes again and pulled it back in. He had to go back and tell the others...tell them what? They'd beat him senseless if he tried to give them this kind of news – Raph might strangle him just for going back without him. He couldn't comprehend his little brother was really gone – no, he couldn't be! It was impossible – but, the train – oh, he didn't know what to think, he felt like his mind and heart were splitting in two. This couldn't be happening...what would he tell his family? Sensei would be devastated. Raph and Donnie would insist on going to look for him...he didn't even want to see what they'd find, Mikey couldn't be more than a bloody mess of flesh scattered across the –
Leo lost his balance and stumbled, a little horrified cry letting loose before he covered his face with his hands, trying to shake the terrible thought, the terrible, horrible image away. All these years, all of his childhood paranoia about him or one of his siblings getting hit by one of those trains on the active rails they lived so close to, and it'd finally happened. He didn't want to think about it...he didn't want to think about it. He just wanted to go home. He wrapped his arms around himself and started heading back again, clenching his eyes shut to try to block back the streaming tears.
"I'm sorry, Donnie...Raph..." He murmured, stumbling his way forward.
Suddenly, a sharp pain stabbed into his foot, making him startle back. Grimacing, Leo looked at his foot to see a small puncture wound where his bandages didn't protect his feet, and he looked down at the ground to see what was there.
Something sparkled, and wondering, Leo bent down to see what it was. A piece of glass? But it looked different. Almost like...
A chain link...
A piece of a chain link.
After a moment of silent staring, Leo scrambled down and scooped the little piece of metal out of the dirt, gazing at it in shocked wonder. It was...it definitely had to be. Looking around, Leo spotted another piece of metal a ways down the tunnel in the direction the train had gone, glittering in the distance, and there was no doubt in his mind that Mikey's shattered nunchucks had actually made it all the way down here.
If his nunchucks made it down here...
Leo bolted down the tunnel, toward the direction of the train that he started cursing in his head in the worst ways he knew how.
Mikey laid shivering in the dirt, an injured, sobbing mess, just thankful he was alive, but terrified. The only thing he could think was the same thought that kept replaying over and over again in his head – he should've been dead, laying here alive was nothing short of a miracle. He might've been crying for about fifteen minutes before he suddenly heard a noise down the tunnel that made him perk up.
Oh, Lord save him, not another train. He looked around in a panic for any indentations in the wall, made for people to hide in, built around a barred grate, anything, but there was nothing. Either way, his extremely swollen, blackening and blistering ankle was throbbing so hard, there was no chance on earth he could walk, but he couldn't make himself move anyway. He was frozen on the ground, his body petrified and unresponsive to his commands. As the sound got closer, Mikey reactively hid his head in his arms, too afraid to look.
Startled, Mikey opened his eyes again. Before he could hardly move, there was a scuffle of dirt behind him and he was suddenly being squeezed tight, strong arms latched around him in a death grip. When he got his bearings and managed to look up, he realized he was snuggly locked in Leo's embrace.
Leo cradled Mikey against himself like a baby, holding him tight against him and crying into his shoulder like a bigger baby. He couldn't help himself – he was just too relieved, happy and terrified and just overwhelmed, and all he could do was sit there and cry it out into the little one that had scared him so bad.
Relief washing through him in a torrent of other combatting emotions, Mikey understood. He was scared, too. He cuddled into Leo's embrace, snuggling his cold muzzle up into the crook of his neck to hide his face, crying in a fright. After a while, Leo pulled himself together enough to pick Mikey up and carry him off of the tracks, back toward an indentation in the wall he'd seen earlier. Once there, he settled against the wall with Mikey nestled into his embrace again, squeezing him tight as if afraid he might be taken away again.
"It's alright," He said, nuzzling him as his own tears came down. "You're safe now. I've got you. It's ok..."
After a little while, Mikey started to calm down, cuddled closely into Leo's warm hold, slowly feeling safe and secure again and the drumming heartbeat in his older brother's chest helping him to relax. He gave a shuddered sigh, and Leo squeezed him tighter, gently rocking back and forth.
"Oh, Mikey..." Leo let out a distressed sigh. "Hey, next time, just drop it and run, ok?" He said with a small grin, trying to comfort him.
It took Mikey a second to remember what Leo was talking about, but he meant the canister. A grin somehow found its way to his face, and he wiped his cheek with one hand and leaned against Leo's chest again, giving a light, sob-choked giggle. He hadn't spoken once since everything happened, and his voice was unsteady. "I might try to do that from now on, bro."
Leo chuckled and pressed his muzzle on top of Mikey's head, before looking down and putting a hand on his kneepad. "That's gonna hurt," He said, looking at his ankle.
Mikey cast an irritable grimace at the statement. "It already hurts, like shell. Don't touch it," He flinched in recoil when Leo placed a light finger at the top of the injury. He didn't put any pressure on it, but the slightest sensation stung like crazy and he hissed in pain. The aching from the injury was spreading throughout his whole body and giving him a headache.
"Come on, let's get you home." Leo said, scooping him up and continuing down the tunnel to take the shortcut, carrying him in his arms. "Besides, the others are worried sick."
They continued on in silence for a few minutes before Mikey spoke up again. "Leo?"
"Yeah?" He looked down at him.
"...I'm sorry." Mikey lowered his head sadly. "I was trying to help...really I was. I wanted to protect the mutagen."
Surprised, Leo was suddenly laughing before he could stop himself. "Of course I know that! You did help. Don't give me that now," He gave him a comforting nuzzle. "In fact, doing what you did is probably the only reason we still have the canister now. Just..." But here Leo paused, stopping in his tracks and making Mikey nervous. He looked down at him now, dead-serious. "Don't you dare ever do it again, or I will skin you alive and kill you."
Mikey gulped, staring up with a frozen, terrified grin in agreement.
Smiling, Leo softened again and chuckled, squeezing him in a hug as he continued forward again.
Mikey's face fell and his expression turned serious again, sensing the intense fear still swirling inside of his older brother as he held him tight. As Leo walked, his hardened, worried face all the more clearly stated to Mikey just how much he was struggling to stay strong and keep it together.
Slowly, he reached his arms around Leo's neck and buried the side of his face in his shoulder. "I'm sorry." He repeated, mumbling.
Leo glanced down at him, knowing this was a different apology.
He sighed, trying to gulp down his still furiously-pounding, terrified heart, and rested the side of his face against his little brother's head.
"You scared me...really badly."
"I know...I didn't mean it."
"I know you didn't." Leo kissed his cheek. "I love you, little bro."
Mikey smiled and snuggled into Leo. "I love you too."
"Get back, Raph!"
"THEY AIN'T COMIN' BACK, DONNIE!"
"Would you CHILL?! Yes, they are! I just recently got movement again from Leo's T-phone." Donnie held his own up to point out the dot on the electronic map moving toward their lair. "He stopped for a little while and now he's coming home. What do you think that means?"
"He gave up, caught his breath an' now he's draggin' his teary shell back home 'cause Mikey's a goner?" Raph insisted, fear-stricken eyes glaring down his little brother's similar, red-brown ones. "We both saw what happened to'im, Donnie! We gotta go back an' help Leo find him! Just think'a what kind of stressed-out, emotional wreck he is right now! How's he s'posed to do this on his own?!"
"And we're any better?!" Donnie combated, drawing fists at Raph's aggressive position and raging voice.
"Don't matter if we are! You sayin' you jus' wanna give up on Mikey?!" Raph challenged.
"Take that back, you empty-skulled hothead! I said Leo's got him!"
"WE DON' KNOW THAT FOR SURE!"
"Guys, settle DOWN!"
Both brothers wheeled around at their older brother's commanding Leader Voice, to see him walking from the entrance with a contrasting relieved expression and holding their baby brother, safe and sound in his arms.
"Oh, God." Raph exhaled, the two of them running forward towards the pair.
Donnie wrapped his arms around Mikey, breaking down into tears, while Raph held onto Mikey and Leo both, trying to hide his own. Both of them nearly knocked Leo down on impact, and he and Mikey couldn't help but smile while tears welled up in their own eyes again, half in relief just to be home and back around family again.
Turning for a moment, Raph called, "Master Splinter!"
"My sons?" Master Splinter inquired, already hurrying from the dojo. He had been informed of the situation when Raph and Donnie came back to the lair, and was waiting in deep worry, as well.
Mikey perked up from the group hug, and suddenly looking distressed again, held his arms out to their father. "Dad," he choked out.
Leo hurried him over to Splinter, the others following behind, where he took him out of Leo's arms and held his youngest son in a tight embrace. Mikey buried his face in his father's soft, warm shoulder, crying again.
"Oh, do not fear, my little Michelangelo. Everything will be alright, do not worry."
The other three stood watching their dad rock their youngest brother, feeling a strange mix of exhaustion, stress and relief. Leo turned around and threw his arms over Raph's shoulders, leaning against him in exhausted defeat. Somewhat startled and uncomfortable at first, Raph realized his older brother's emotional, rattled and spent state, and that he was falling back on him now. He put his hands on Leo's shell in comfort before Donnie hugged the two of them, and he wrapped one arm around Donnie as well. He was sure the two of them were crying, so he hoped they didn't mind that he was, too.
The next few hours were spent wrapping up what needed to be done and resting emotionally. Donnie put the mutagen away in his lab, where before it had been hastily laid on the floor in the lair, declaring the large supply would be a big help to create more retromutagen, and spent the rest of the time tending to Mikey's ankle while the others helped. Mikey's suspicions were confirmed when Donnie said it was broken, and he did what he could to amend it, saying he was lucky the swelling hadn't made it impossible yet - though, being as swollen as it was, Mikey was amazed.
After splinting and gently wrapping the injury up and giving him some medicine he would have to take for a while, Mikey was "released from the hospital" and they moved him to the couch – they didn't have any crutches at hand, so while he couldn't walk he'd have to lay down or be carried – so they could start preparing for a movie. By the time they were done tending to his ankle, it was late – and the brothers figured, after a day like this, the best way to wind down and relax was to put on a good movie. Master Splinter made more than what he was sure was an ample supply of popcorn for his sons, just to be safe, while the others got drinks and scavenged to find every pillow and blanket in the lair that they could.
Splinter walked into the living room to his sons with his sandwich so they could start, finding them grouped together on the couch, surrounded by pillows and covered in blankets, barricading the youngest in the middle and huddled in closely in what could've easily been a group hug if they weren't paying more attention their popcorn and the TV. Smiling, Splinter's worries melted away as he spent the movie focusing more on his sandwich and contemplating the close bond of his sons, reflecting on how quickly they had called to arms when their youngest went missing and how much they loved one another, until the couch broke out into barking laughter and cries of disgust when Raph farted under the blankets.
He snickered, watching them fan the blankets to get rid of the smell and berating Raph for intentionally being guy-ish at the gooey love scene in the movie that they all disliked, who, despite the criticism, apparently had no regrets from his laughter.
All the same, it warmed Splinter's heart most to see them being themselves, fearlessly open with each other, as usual. The tight bond his sons shared never ceased to baffle him, and surely, he couldn't be more proud them. After all, at the end of the day, when the bickering was done and the movie was over and the popcorn or the pizza had been eaten, he could still find them curled up on the couch together, smiles making clear statements on their sleeping faces.
"Let us always meet each other with smiles, for the smile is the beginning of love."
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