He woke up in a bed of flowers.
Until recently, Michelangelo hadn't had much experience with nature. Living in a sewer in one of the biggest metropolises in the world did that. In New York, it was more common to see a lamppost than a tree or a flower. Usually, Mikey didn't mind. It was hard to miss something he'd never experienced. But after spending so much time up in Northampton, a place with large forests and fresh grass…well, nature had become less abstract.
Mikey loved the sewers he really did. The city was the ideal place for an extrovert such as himself. But after living in the open for just a little bit, he couldn't help but think about how much he missed looking at fresh flowers.
The flowers he found himself surrounded in weren't the same flowers he saw up at Northampton. At April's place, daises, marigolds and dandelions flourished. There was no sign of those flowers here. Instead, he found himself in a bed of lilies, the type he'd only seen in photos of Splinter's old home in Japan. They were a multitude of colors, white, pink and purple. All looked to be in fine shape, not a single petal dented. Whoever took care of this garden did so with precision.
It wasn't just the flowers that were in order. The cherry blossom trees that were scattered throughout the garden were well trimmed. Their small flowers lingered on the path through the place, almost covering up the dirt. The fence that surrounded the garden had a fresh coat of paint.
Mikey sat up, brushing off dirt off his knees. He didn't remember how he got here, in this land of greenery and life. Last thing he remembered was going toe to toe with some Foot underground. Running towards Raph. A small twinge of pain in his neck. And then…nothing.
"Huh," Mikey said, running his fingers through the flowers. He made sure to be gentle. Last thing he wanted was to wreck the place. It was too beautiful. After playing with a few of the petals, he got to his feet. He swayed a bit at the movement, it was like he was still asleep, but he managed to keep upright. He looked around for his brothers. "Leo? Don? Raph?"
"Michelangelo." That wasn't one of his brother's. Couldn't be. The voice was too feminine, too soft. Couldn't be April either; this women's voice had an accent that sounded distinctly like that of Master Splinter's. On instinct, he reached for his chucks only to find them missing. That wasn't good. He glanced down at the ground, double-checking he hadn't dropped them. No dice. They weren't anywhere in sight. Mikey tangled his fingers together and closed his eyes. They had to be somewhere. He just had to remember. Behind him, the women chuckled.
"You are so much like Yoshi. He used to do that all the time when he misplaced things."
That caught Mikey's attention. He turned so fast that he almost lost his balance. Standing on the path was a women, no older than 30, dressed in a pretty white blouse and jeans. Her hair was long and black, tucked behind her ears. A white lily was tucked in her hair. Mikey knew that type of flower; it was Splinter's favorite.
"You know Master Splinter?" The women smiled at him.
"Quite well, actually. We've known each other since we were children. It's nice to see so much of him lingers in his sons."
Mikey stared at the women. She looked familiar, so familiar, like he'd seen her many times before. Like he knew her name. But he couldn't remember it. It lingered on the tip of his tongue and the edge of his memory, just out of reach. He wanted to ask her what her name was, just to give himself a hint, but he couldn't make himself say the words. Like something was holding him back. So he settled on something else.
"How'd I get here?"
The women walked forward into the flowerbed. She took care not to step on any of them. The type of balance she exerted could only be from some serious training. She stopped a few feet in front of Mikey. "You got yourself in trouble by being a little too brave for your own good." She stopped, searching for words. Why, Mikey had no idea. "Something tried to drag you off, so I stepped in. Brought you here, so it can't get to you. At least, not right away. "
"Oh." That explained absolutely nothing. Mikey thought over her words for a little bit before his eyes opened wide. "Wait," he said, voice laced with panic. "Are my brother's alright?"
The women's eyes softened. "They're fine, thanks to your actions. They're plenty worried about you, but they will be fine."
"Well, then I better get back to let them know I'm fine!" Mikey turned, looking for an exit to the garden. There was none. In fact, the fence seemed to stretch up so high that he knew he'd never manage to climb it.
"I'm afraid that they have to come and get you." The women was closer to him now. Her expression reminded him of Donnie's when he was patching them up. Same eyes. "But they'll be here soon, I'm sure. Until then," she placed her hand on Mikey's shoulder. "Why don't you tell me about them."
Mikey hesitated. Glanced towards the fence. His brothers must be really worried. The grip on his shoulder tightened, not in a harmful way, just to provide support. He turned back to the women.
"I have tea," she offered.
And well, how was he supposed to say no to that?
They were losing him. The lair was thirty minutes away and they were going to lose him, because a lucky dart, and some toxic poison and they couldn't do this. Not ever. Not for any of them. But especially not for Mikey.
Mikey's breath hitched. Struggled to escape his lungs. Like he was choking.
They ran faster than they all thought possible.
"And Leo just freezes right there on the spot and says "this isn't what it looks like." We thought Sensei was going to kill us!"
The women laughed. They managed to take a seat in the center of the garden, where there was a small table and a couple of chairs. Mikey had been regaling her with stories of his family for the last fifteen minutes, making sure to add in large hand gestures and sound effects. The women seemed to enjoy the effort he was putting into it, and encouraged him to keep talking.
"Your brothers sound wonderful," she said. Mikey nodded rapidly, then took another sip of his tea. It was pretty good, infused with just the right about of sweetness. It reminded him of Sensei's. He even remembered to lift up his pinky finger like Leo taught him (though the women had laughed when he tried out the gesture).
"So," Mikey said, placing his cup back on the table. "What's your family like?"
The women's grin faded, replaced by an expression that could only be described as somber. She tucked back one of the loose strands of her hair. He had upset her. One massive misstep to Team Mikey.
"I'm sorry," Mikey said holding up his hands, waving them back and forth. "I didn't mean to be rude."
"No, no, it's fine," the women said. She reached out for the teapot and poured herself some. "I just haven't seen my family in a long time, that's all."
"Oh." Mikey tried to picture himself away from his family for a long time. To be on his own, like the women before him. It hurt to think about. "You gotta miss them."
"I do." There was a long period of silence before she spoke again. "I have a husband and five children. A daughter and four sons." She took a sip of her tea before setting it back on the table. "I haven't seen my daughter since she was a baby. And I've never met my any of sons."
Mikey felt his heart drop. She'd never met them at all? How was that even possible? It felt like someone was pulling at his arm. He had to help somehow. Mikey got out of his chair and walked over to her side of the table. He reached forward and pulled her into a hug. The women, after a second, hugged back. Hard. Like she never wanted to let go. After what seemed like an hour, she let him go. Her eyes were a little wet. "That's terrible. Can't you visit?" Mikey asked.
"Sadly that's not an option." A small smile appeared back on the women's face. "But thankfully, their father sends me word of them often."
"And what's the word?" The feeling of something pulling at his arm was getting stronger, but he ignored it.
"Well, they're all strong in their own ways" she women said, thoughtful. "My daughter is troubled, and stubborn, but her heart is in the right place. And my eldest son is very responsible, but he tends to take himself too seriously."
Mikey felt a grin spread across his face. Sounded like Leo.
"My middle children, well, they're both passionate, though about different things. One loves his family dearly, incredibly dearly, though he lets his emotions get a little out of control sometimes. But he cares deeply for those who are in trouble. And my other son, well he's a genius. Reserved, and a little down on himself, but incredibly smart and considerate."
Mikey felt his smile slip off his face. Images of Donnie and Raph flashed in his find with each description. And didn't her daughter sound a lot like Karai? He felt something pull on his arm again, but he ignored it. This was important. Focus, Mikey, focus. "And the youngest?"
The women stood up. Placed both of her hands on Mikey's shoulders. "He's very silly. And sometimes he's a little too childish for his own good. But he has a huge heart. Big enough to care deeply about a strange women he's never met." She leaned forward and planted a light kiss on Mikey's forehead. Like a mother would. The lily fell out of her hair. And the truth that had been eluding Mikey since he woke up hit him all at once.
The lily. The smile. The garden that looked like that from Splinter's pictures. It all made sense. His mouth open slightly and he looked up towards the woman. She let him go and took a step back.
"It was lovely to meet you my son."
There was another tug at Mikey's arm, harsher than the rest. Mikey found himself tumbling forward. The last thing he saw was Tang Shen's wistful face.
He almost lost a son tonight.
It was all Splinter could think about, looking down at his sleeping child. Mikey was fast out, understandable after his ordeal. When his son's brought Mikey in, sobbing as they carried their fallen sibling, Splinter almost thought he was too late. Because there was no way his son could be that still and live. When he administered the antidote to the poison, he thought it wouldn't work. That he was too late. That he'd be forced to bury a child. But then Mikey breathed, breathed without any struggle, and for the first time in years, Splinter openly sobbed in front of his sons.
Said sons were curled up in front of their brother, passed out as well. All of them had refused to leave after what happened, determined to stick near him. Like they were trying to make up for failing him earlier. Or they were afraid he'd be gone when they woke. Donnie had his hand wrapped around Mikey's wrist, checking to make sure his brother still had a pulse. A doctor even when asleep.
Splinter walked into his room, not bothering to shut the door behind him. He wouldn't be here long. He planed on sleeping next to his sons as well, just in case.
He approached the small shrine with the picture of himself, Miwa and his wife. His wonderful, wonderful, wife. Took a bow. Let one tear escape.
"Thank you for giving him back."