MOURNING LIGHT

NOTE
I decided to repost this (in the same way that I posted Father's Sons: with links to "mature" scenes) because it had a very short life on ff.net (was done away with when they got rid of the NC stuff) and if you want to read the SEQUEL to this, reading the original makes it better. So those of you who've read, it hasn't changed any. Those of you who haven't, hope you enjoy! ;)

(Kinda long, but please read it. It's important.)
I'm perfectly aware that I'm going to step on some toes with this portrayal of Michaelangelo. And I feel I owe you readers a bit of an explanation. So allow me to explain.
I studied the first movie to get the history for this character. And upon doing so, I realized that I didn't have a whole lot to work with. I could not believe how insignificant and insecure Mike was in that movie. Really he seemed to have no purpose other than it was his weapon that got caught on the ladder at the end. There was no development of his character, and by the end of the movie, I was seriously considering if he could even hold his own in a fight if his brothers weren't there. A weak character (like Donny) is fine... I can work with that. But Michaelangelo seriously gave me the impression that he was an 8 year old. The biggest problem was probably that his only display of sexuality is a crush on April that's likened to a child who's in love with their elementary school teacher.
I don't like to rely on widely accepted "facts" about the characters if they can't be backed up by the original (ie-Mike is sensitive, smarter than he acts, etc.). I believe that somewhere along the line, the fans themselves evolved Michaelangelo into that sensitive character we now accept him as. But there's never been a piece (at least that I've found) that EXPLAINED that evolution. How did it happen? What changed him from a child into a child-like, fun-loving adult? This is the story of that evolution.
So as far as Michaelangelo's personality goes, this piece takes place about two years after where the FIRST movie left off. (I didn't even WATCH the second one to prepare for this piece, so there's no reference to it). Yes, I know this idea is extreme. But just trust me. Because if you know me, you know I DO understand these guys and I don't take them out of character just for the hell of it. So flame if you must, but be on the lookout for a thesis paper on "The Psychology of Michaelangelo" in your e-mail inbox. (No joke, I DID profile him that intensely.)
All other characters, and the background events of this story are based on the cartoon series. It wasn't SUPPOSED to be that way... it's just that I happened to get ahold of a bunch of the episodes and have since DROWNED myself in them. LOL One thing though. It's very hard for me to swallow the widely accepted fact that the turtles were 15 in those cartoons. I consider them more along the lines of 12 or 13. This is important because in this story, they're 17. But the mentality is SIGNIFICANTLY older than their characters in the cartoons. In other words, I aged them by about 5 years. Along the same lines, please note that Splinter, as in the cartoons, formerly WAS Hamato Yoshi, not his pet.
Have I confused you yet? LOL
Lotsa Japanese in here. No you don't all need to run and get your dictionaries. LOL "{This means it's in Japanese.}" and "This means it's in English." Okay? Enjoy.

CHAPTER 1

Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real

There's something inside me that pulls beneath the surface
Consuming, confusing
This lack of self control I fear is never ending
Controlling, I can't seem

To find myself again
My walls are closing in
(Without a sense of confidence and I'm convinced
That it's just too much pressure to take)
I've felt this way before
So insecure

Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real

Discomfort, endlessly has pulled itself upon me
Distracting, reacting
Against my will I stand beside my own reflection
It's haunting how I can't seem...

To find myself again
My walls are closing in
(Without a sense of confidence and I'm convinced
That it's just too much pressure to take)
I've felt this way before
So insecure

Crawling in my skin
These wounds they will not heal
Fear is how I fall
Confusing what is real

-Linkin Park
"Crawling"

MICHAELANGELO:

"Mike, get your lazy ass up out of bed and get in here and eat something."

I grabbed my headphones, glancing over to make sure the door was locked before I pressed play on the portable CD player. The sounds of Metallica drowned him out. But I could still hear the pounding on the door. "Michaelangelo!"

I stared up at the ceiling, my mind wandering over nothing in particular. The room was dark and quiet. I hadn't bothered to light a candle and the lightbulb was burned out. Hadn't felt like changing it yet. "Mike, I'm gonna break this damn door down if you don't answer me."

Frustrated, I sat bolt upright, yanking the headphones off my ears. "What the hell do you want, Raph?"

"Get out here and eat or I'm gonna force-feed you," he threatened.

I glared at the door. "I'm not hungry."

"Yeah, I know. Get out here."

Anger and indignation welled up inside of me. But if Raph was at my door, that meant Leonardo wasn't here. And I knew without Leo to hold him back, he would make good on that force-feeding threat. I clenched my teeth. God, I hated him sometimes. I stood up and threw the door open, slamming it against the wall. "You have no right to..."

"Move it," he pointed. "Now."

I glared at him, defiant. "No."

"That wasn't a request," he informed me. "Get moving or I'll kick your ass and then you'll go."

I studied his expression. He wasn't mad. He was just being Raph. But I was furious. I hated that he could treat me like this. "Well, I guess you're just gonna have to kick my ass then, Raph, because I..."

I saw a shadow move out of the corner of my eye and stopped. I looked away. "What is the problem?"

"No problem, sensei," Raphael answered. "Mike was just getting ready to go eat something. Right?"

It was more a threat than a question. He had a death grip on my shoulder. I cringed. "Michaelangelo?" Splinter questioned calmly.

"Yeah," I relented. I didn't have the strength or will to fight with Master Splinter. "I'm going."

RAPHAEL:

He didn't really eat. No more than he usually did, anyway. We had to fight with him every time we wanted him to eat a meal. And I could only watch over him for so long before he'd get up and throw the rest of his food away. At that point, I knew there was nothing I could do. But it worried me. In the past three months, he'd probably dropped fifty pounds. He was like a walking skeleton.

"Mike?" I asked, sitting backwards in the chair across from him. "Is there anything I can...?"

"Where's Leo and Don?" he interrupted, staring down at the bowl of cereal in front of him. He was playing in it, but I don't think the spoon had been in his mouth for the past five minutes.

"Don's in the training room. I think Leo's topside, but I'm not sure."

He nodded slowly. It was obvious that he wasn't interested in the answer. He'd just wanted to shut me up before I finished that sentence. I sighed and looked away. Leo walked into the room, back from wherever he'd been. A look of surprise flickered across his face. "Hey, Mike. How are you?"

Michaelangelo shrugged, said nothing, and stared intently at the bowl in front of him. Leo turned his attention to me. "Did you catch the news this morning?" he asked.

I grinned. "Since when am I out of bed at six in the morning?"

He shrugged. "I was just wondering." He walked over to the cabinet and filled a glass with water. "There was a string of robberies last night and I was wondering if they were saying anything more about it this morning."

Michaelangelo stood up. I considered fighting with him, but decided against it. I let him leave. Leo glanced at him as he retreated back to his room. Then he downed the rest of the water and set the empty glass on the counter. "Donatello's in the training room?" he guessed.

"Yeah."

He walked past me, hitting my shoulder as he left the room. I turned my eyes to the half-empty bowl still on the table and sighed.

SPLINTER:

I breathed deep, taking in everything around me. Exhaling slowly, I allowed it all to melt into blackness. I could feel something was wrong. The silence was uneasy. I felt myself drawn away, and allowed it. It had been years since I had felt such a strong beckoning. Someone was seeking... no, not me... But it might have been me, in another life.

I felt the slow, steady breaths carry me away and surrendered to nothingness. "Yoshi..."

The name startled me. It was as clear as if it had been spoken to me audibly. But it was not audible. It came from a shadow. A shadow swirled in darkness. "{Who is there?}" I spoke in Japanese, well aware of the implication the name carried.

"{It is...}"

His voice faded. I could not hear him. Calmly, I focused my energies on the dark voice. "{State your name,}" I ordered calmly. "{Why do you seek me?}"

"{You may not remember me. I am Tang Shiro. I seek your help.}"

My mind flashed back to years in Japan, to summers spent in another life, another incarnation. I knew the name, but I could not envision the face. "{Are you he whom I seek?}" he continued.

"{I am Hamato Yoshi,}" I confirmed. The words sounded strange to me, as if it were a lie. But it was not a lie. That was, in fact, my given name.

"{I fear I am being foolish for trying to contact you in this way,}" he informed. "{But I have searched for you, and I have been unable to find you through any other method.}"

"{Why do you seek me?}"

There was a pause. "{Do you know who I am?}" he questioned. "{Do you remember?}"

"{I recall your name,}" I replied. Tang Shiro had been my student when I was shido shin of the foot clan. That, of course, was before Shredder had destroyed the clan, and forever disgraced my name. As I considered the memories, my mind formed a picture, and I visualized the man. He had been one of my late students, and had only learned with me for two years. But in that time, he had proven himself very capable and ambitious. I knew of several attempts he had made at contacting me, after I had fled to the states. But I never responded, for fear of the repercussions his involvement with me could have.

"{You still have not answered me,}" I reminded him. "{What do you require that only I can provide?}"

He hesitated for a moment longer. "{You are the only man I know who lives still in the states. And I have a request to make of you.}"

"{What is that?}"

"{My life is in danger. And I fear for the lives of my children. I have mistakes in my business dealings, but my children should not have to pay for my errors.}"

I said nothing, considering his words.

"{My daughter has just turned seventeen,}" he continued after a brief pause. "{My son is twenty years of age. I fear for their lives, friend.}"

I again said nothing, considering his request. "{I do not wish to burden you,}" he apologized. "{I only hope that you could help them to establish themselves in the states. They will work hard. You need not support them.}"

I was silent for a moment longer, unsure of my reply. I was uncertain of how the turtles would react to this. I was sure of one thing, though. Raphael would not be happy. "{Tell me, Tang-san. Is this a final request? Or will they one day be able to return home?}"

"{If they return, it will be of their own accord,}" he whispered. I could feel the rush of sadness wash over me.

I breathed deep, considering many thoughts at once. Finally, I nodded. "{Send them, Tang-san. I will care for them.}"

RAPHAEL:

"Master Splinter, no disrespect intended, but are you insane?"

"Sit down, Raph," Leo warned. "There's no need to be rash about this."

I glared at him and turned back to Splinter. "Sensei, they're expecting an apartment and jobs and all the other things that come with being an American in New York," I continued, somewhat bitterly. "How do you think they're gonna react to the truth?"

"If their lives are in danger, Raphael, it's better than the alternative," Donatello informed.

"Is it?" I challenged.

"This is not a matter of debate," Splinter informed. "They will arrive in a matter of hours and you will treat them with courtesy and respect."

"Hai, sensei," Leonardo agreed.

I could've hit him. I really wanted to. Just to shut him up for five minutes! I grit my teeth and considered my options. I didn't want to fight with Master Splinter. For one thing, I knew I wouldn't win. But this was a bad idea. Why couldn't he see that? "I'm telling you Splinter, this is gonna cause problems," I informed, looking away. The gesture was relenting, the words were not.

"Problems between who, Raphael?" he questioned calmly, although I'm sure he knew what kinds of problems I was referring to. These teenagers didn't know what they were getting themselves into, and I was sure they wouldn't like it when they figured out. And there was no way I was going to cater to the wants and needs of two spoiled children who wanted to sit around and whine about their problems. I had enough of my own to deal with. If it came to that, there were going to be major issues.

"You don't even know these kids. And I'm not babysitting..."

"If I'm understanding this correctly," Don interrupted, "these 'kids' are older than us."

"Does that really have anything to do with it?" I challenged.

"Well, the term 'babysitting' implies..."

"I'm not going to be looking out for them," I corrected, glaring at him. "That better for ya?"

"What are their names?" Leonardo asked. This discussion was no longer an issue for him. Sensei's words were golden in his eyes. "And where are we meeting them?"

"They are named Rei and Yukio," Splinter informed. "You will meet them inside of Vinny's Pizza Place, at midnight."

Michaelangelo flinched, but kept his eyes down. I was well aware of the implication, and the face that he hadn't said a word through all of this. "They know to use the back door?" Donatello asked.

"Hai."

I considered that for a moment. We had used Vinny's as a meeting place several times. Usually with people who didn't know what to expect. We were welcome there, even without disguises. That was a result of one particularly observant chef who happened to notice that we really weren't human underneath the costumes. Amazing what one could see if they actually cared. News of our frequent visits did good for their business, since we were sort of an urban legend anyhow. Of course, being who and what we were, we usually only visited after hours, and always through the back door. Sure, rumors of our existence were all over the news. And we sometimes had no choice but to make public appearances. But we were ninjas. And we were mutants. That was reason enough to stay out of sight if at all possible.

I sighed. "Let me just say one more time," I mumbled, rubbing my forehead. I had a headache. "I don't think this is a good idea."

SPLINTER:

I could feel the alert presence, though it was only four o'clock in the morning. I rose slowly and walked to the door, my mind ahead of my body in identifying the spirit. The living room was empty, as I had expected. No sound came from any room. I paused, and considered my intuition. Then I headed toward the dojo.

I watched silently as Michaelangelo ran his fingers lightly over the long blade of a katana. A haze of uncertainty rested on him, as if it were a dense fog. He hung his head for a moment, and took in a deep breath. A quiet sob escaped his lips.

"Michaelangelo?"

He spun, startled, and knocked over the weapon rack. It hit the floor with a loud clang, an alarm in the middle of the silent night. He gasped as his eyes darted between it and me. "{Are you alright, my student?}"

In the dim light from a candle on the floor, he looked to be shaking. "Hai, sensei," he bowed, the nervousness clearly evident in his voice. "{Did I wake you?}"

His eyes remained downcast even as he straightened again. "Iie," I assured him. "{I was already awake.}"

"{Is something bothering you?}"

"{No. But perhaps I ought to ask the same of you.}" I spoke slowly and gently, not wanting to raise his defenses. "{You have been mourning for many months now, my son.}"

He shifted nervously. "{I'm sorry.}"

I sighed deeply. "{I do not seek an apology, Michaelangelo. I seek your recovery. But I cannot help you if you will make no effort to help yourself.}"

A hardened look crossed his face. "{I know, Master.}"

I sighed again. "{You know, yes. But I fear you do not understand.}"

There was a long silence. "{May I leave?}" he finally asked. It strongly resembled a plea.

I nodded. "Hai, Michaelangelo. Oyasumi."

He bowed slightly and left the room, passing me. I hung my own head, and stared down at the faded blue mat.