Mikey's blue eyes were round and confused, not quite scared as Leo approached him slowly but still uneasy as Leo knelt down an arm's length away.
"Hi," Leo said softly, sliding his katanas into their sheaths at his back and smiling warmly. "Do you know who I am?"
The smaller turtle leaned forward an inch or two, maybe reacting to some familiarity of Leo's voice, or maybe just to the kindness in it. But his answer was a no, his head turning slowly. Leo's heart ached so badly he thought it might really have started to break, but he didn't allow his smile to waver.
"My name's Leonardo. You can call me Leo, if you want. I'm a turtle like you."
He offered his hands, and watched Mikey's eyes drop to follow them. After a few seconds, Mikey's hands came out, too, and he stared at his fingers like he was seeing them for the first time. Leo refused to let his arms shake, staying still and strong as his baby brother reached out slowly, slowly, inch by inch, to put his hands in Leo's.
Something bright was filling his eyes, and he glanced up at Leo's face again with the beginnings of a smile tugging at his mouth. Leo's own smile pulled wider.
"See? You and I are the same. You have a mask just like mine, too."
Promptly, one of Mikey's hands drifted to his face to see if this was true, and he looked so delighted, looking at Leo; sitting there in the dark by himself with nothing in the world, not even a name, suddenly he had a species, and a mask, and a friend.
Leo stomped back a swell of anguish and rage, and scooted an inch or so closer.
"There are two more turtles here," he said, soothing. "Is it okay if they come over?"
Mikey's nod came quickly, the insatiable curiosity he was born with still thriving somewhere behind muddy, drugged incoherence. Leo glanced over his shoulder at the looming darkness behind him and gave a subtle jerk of his shoulder that had two shadows detaching from the wall and making their way over. Leo could feel Mikey tense, and turned back to him quickly.
"They have masks, too," he said, daring to reach up and put a hand on Mikey's head. Mikey blinked twice, but relaxed despite himself, and Leo heard the others stop short just behind him. "Their names are Donatello and Raphael." Leo took a deep breath and bet everything on one chance in a thousand. "They're our brothers."
That got him a quick tilt of the head, Mikey's eyes bright and searching. They darted past Leo's face to two points above and behind him, then down to their hands again.
Please, Leo prayed, and someone must have been listening, because Mikey's fingers tightened around his, and his face was soft and hoping when he looked up again.
"I'm Mikey," he whispered, like a question, and Leo's heart soared so fast he was seeing stars. Feeling like he'd be sick or pass out from sheer relief, he pulled Mikey closer by their linked hands, until he could let them go and wrap his arms around Mikey's little shoulders instead. Folding him close the way he did after victories and nightmares, a perfect fit the way only little brothers were.
It only took a few seconds for Mikey to hug back, and shuffle closer, and start crying into the crook of Leo's neck; crying the way children did, when they thought their hearts were breaking and they needed someone older and wiser to make it better.
"There's nothing," Leo heard him sob wetly, and he could imagine the rage in Raphael's green eyes and the grief in Donnie's, but he didn't turn to see. Instead he bundled Mikey up even tighter, pressed his cheek to the top of Mikey's head, and murmured low and sure,
"There's us. There's always us."
They sat in the dark for close to an hour; Raph and Donatello had to reassure themselves, had to touch Mikey's face and arms, had to make sure there was at least a flicker of recognition and love in those wide blue eyes when he saw their faces. But Leo was the one who carried him home, piggy-back style with his youngest brother's arms strung tight around his neck and shoulders.
And it was Leo who said, as easily as 'good-morning,' "We're going to burn them to the ground."
Donatello and Raphael only nodded without missing a beat, and sank back into the dark. The news the following night would have something to say about arson and the destruction of the empty research facility on the edge of the city. There would probably be something there, too, about the bodies recovered, the lives lost. What a tragedy, what a crime.
"The fire looked great," Raph said over a quiet dinner two nights later, and Leo toasted him with a can of Crush.
Over the next week, Mikey discovered a passion for cooking and comic books, fell in love with the cat he found in the freezer, and proved once and for all that he would always be a hurricane force with his nunchucks. Sometimes they would find him looking lost and sad in a room he didn't recognize, but more often he found them, beaming fit to burst and crowing something like, "I know this song!"
Donnie said the drugs used on him were experimental, and the notes those scientists took were written in code without a cipher. "But given his progress, he should be back to himself within the next few months." The mechanic smiled when Mikey giggled at the TV across the room, a knee-jerk reaction. "We just have to be patient. There might be things he never remembers, but we can give him back everything he ever had. He'll be okay."
"He is okay," Raph corrected dangerously, moving away to step down into the pit and take a seat next to Mikey's beanbag. Donnie only shrugged, canting a what-can-you-do look Leo's way, and tossed his clipboard carefully into an empty chair as he hopped down, too; leaving Leo to look over his small family with a love he thought could burn through worlds if he let it try.
"Leo?" Mikey piped up, looking back and up at him. "Are you gonna watch, too? This is your favorite."
There was pride and certainty shining in his face at the small victory, the memory of Leo's favorite episode a bright and important thing. Leo found himself moving before he made the conscious decision to, joining their cluster by the television and thinking he might never want to be anywhere else again.
"And- hey, Leo? Guys? Thank you, for finding me." Mikey smiled down at his knees, at Donnie's hand brushing his and Raph's foot propped up on his leg, at Leo; and Leo knew exactly what he meant when he added, "Even though it's taking a while."
And for the first time since Mikey's disappearance almost a month ago, Leo gave a voice to the bottomless determination in his head and in his heart that had kept him going, kept his family going- when there were no leads and no clues and no singsong voice to greet them in the mornings;
"We'll find you, Mikey. We'll look forever."