Here's the end of this two-shot guys. Hope you like it and thanks for all of the support. :-)
Being rescued never crossed Raphael's mind.
Never did he even let those kinds of impossibilities even plague his dreams with unnecessary hope. He had accepted the circumstance of being stuck in this perpetual purgatory of this God-forsaken place.
Every day since he first opened his eyes in the small stone and metal cell - it was the same repeating hell like some kind of demented merry-go-round. Each bitterly cold morning, he woke up with frigid skin and an empty stomach, not even being able to become fully conscious of his surroundings before two brutes drug him out to fight various humans, mutants, and monsters. The only prize or consolation for winning was just the sheer opportunity of being able to breath and survive for one more night where he collapsed to a dead sleep until the whole sick process repeated itself again first thing in the morning.
The longer the fights went on and as the opponents only became more difficult was when Raphael came to the bitter realization that he was surely going to die in this hellhole. The only thing keeping him going was his bullheaded stubbornness but he didn't anticipate his will alone to keep him alive for much longer. The one fatal blow would come soon - but he never expected for it go happen like this. Instead of a worthy opponent to use superior strength and skill to defeat him and ultimately end his life - it was being forced to fight Mikey that finally broke his will to survive.
The sheer unfathomable terror that struck his heart - of going against his beloved youngest brother while looking upon the hundreds of snarling mutant faces that surrounded them screamed for blood and death. It broke him - when nothing ever did that before. It was then he gave up and knew going on was pointless. It was that split second he knew he'd rather die than face going into the horrors tomorrow was going to hold. The feeling was overwhelming - to rather die than ever face a brother like that again. Limping heavily back into the cell - blood dripping from numerous new wounds and old ones opening up - he had already decided that he was going to lay down, fall asleep, and hopefully with the amount of blood loss - never wake up to this hellish existence again.
As he made his way to his dirty and battered mat on the floor, there she was. The only beacon of light in the whole damn place. His legs gave out from under him - the pressure from facing his brother was the one thing that finally fractured his seemingly unbreakable will. In an instant after his knees hit the ground, she had thrown herself in front of him and wrapped her arms around his neck, steadying his trembling body before he could fall forward.
Raph first instinct was to push her away.
He wanted to fight - wanted to pull out of her grasp so she would allow him to die. To fall asleep and never wake up to another day. She didn't let go and instead tapped into her psychic abilities against his internal protests. He stayed completely still as she witnessed what happened out on the battlefield. He felt her tremble like a leaf as she relived the gut-wrenching terror and trembled at what he went through. She pulled away slightly just moments later, her eyes catching the wound that ravaged his left bicep. Raphael admitted to himself that fighting was no use at this point and with a slight nod of his head, she was taking the mask off his eyes - shedding the last piece of dignity away and leaving him desperately hollow.
April was gentle - her feather-light touches against his skin as she applied his mask to stanch the bleeding would. When she was finished, Raphael fully expected her to pull away, but that wasn't what occured - instead her arms wrapped around his neck a second time. Raphael couldn't help but tense at the open affection and strove to put up his walls, but when he felt water drops falling on top of his head just moments later - they instantly collapsed. Surrounded by her warmth and comforting embrace was when he realized he needed that hug more than he'd ever admit.
April was crying.
She was broken too.
Feeling the warmth she was exhuming - the comfort he hadn't not known for far too long - He knew he couldn't do that to her. He couldn't allow himself the opportunity to just give up and die with her to wake up the next morning to find his unresponsive corpse. He knew it would break her - so giving up wasn't an option anymore. Because he knew giving up wasn't who he was, so why would he change that now? As much as he wanted to lay down and die instead of facing the horrors tomorrow held - he wouldn't allow it - not until every single person who put them through this purgatory hell paid with their very lives.
Against everything in his crumbling machismo that told him not to - he hugged her back.
"We're going to get out of here." she said in a raspy sob against the side of his head. He closed his eyes against the warm breath and clenched his jaw tightly.
She was right.
It was another week until the unthinkable had happened. In the near dawn hours with the groaning of metal and splintering of wood, an explosion shook their small cell, dust erupted from all angles and when it finally settled, Slash stood at the door. With only a nod of the massive mutant's head, he was gone.
Without a word, Raph ran toward the new opening in their cell. His heart soaring and stomach in his throat when he saw his father and allies fighting off the guards. He was about to run out and join them in the fight - but something didn't feel right.
Raphael quickly looked back where April had been sleeping and realized she hadn't so much as twitched. Being the light sleeper she was, it seemed damn-near impossible that she could sleep through that explosion. Sprinting over to her still form, he saw that her eyes were slightly open - she blinked, but the glazed over look remained and it appeared as if she was staring off at something in the far distance. Not wanting to completely freak out just yet, Raphael just slowly knelled next to her, one hand running gently along her back while the other brushed some of her dirty hair out of her face, which he noticed was damp with sweat.
"Hey, April. Are you okay?" Raph asked softly, making sure that she saw him in her line of sight.
Her eyebrows furrowed and she blinked multiple times before turning her head and eyes clearing up slightly to finally meet his. "I'm fine..." she said in a rasp before she began pushing his plastron lazily with clammy fingers.
"Fuckin' liar." He growled before lifting her up to her weak protests.
"Really, Raph... I'm f-fine. Let me down." April muttered sleepily as she weakly wiggled to get free.
"Like hell, O'Neil." He muttered before tightening his hold around her before running through the door. While there was still a slight dust still hanging in the air, he noticed the littered bodies of enemy mutants surrounding them, the blood tacky underneath Raph's unwrapped feet. He wished it had been him - wished he had been the one to bring a painful end to their pathetic lives one by one. But he felt April shudder. He looked over at her, so tiny in his grasp, curled up in his arms and he knew now wasn't the time. Her eyes barely opened and met his. The normally bright blue was slightly dull but instead of worrying, he just gave her a tight smile.
"Let's get you out of here." he said in a murmur of comfort before running out of their hellish prison without ever looking back.
It was hours before they got back to what was left of the lair. Certain things were destroyed or missing, but thankfully, there was still the essentials. They all knew staying here wasn't the best idea but they had no other options right now but would make plans to go elsewhere in a weeks time. After the massive loss taken by the Shredder and Kraang as well as their allies, they knew they had some time before any of them came knocking on their door.
The turtles were not completely unscathed but most of them were still in relatively good health considering the circumstances of their captivity. While still bleeding a lot from previous wounds, all Raphael could think about was April, who had not woken up except for those few moments since their quick departure from their own personal hellhole just hours before. But with Leatherhead, Donnie, and Splinter there to help, he knew April was in good hands and would get the help she desperately needed.
As Raphael waited for her to wake up, he just sat on what was left of their couch. His arms pressed heavily on his knees as he stared at the floor. His eyes roving over the lair, it occurred to him that he never expected to see these surroundings again. Never imagined the opportunity of just sitting on this couch would occur. His eyes closed against the wave of relief that poured through his body.
It was over.
It was finally over.
He wasn't going to lie though - he was worried sick that Mikey would never be the same after what his little brother was forced to do during their fight...
Before Donnie left to help April, Donnie had taken a quick moment to re-patch up the wound Raphael was still recovering from. As his purple-banded brother removed his blood-drenched mask from his arm, he removed the scabbing that stuck to the cloth, re-opening the bloody gash. Neither of them knowing Mikey stood close by, the two were surprised when they heard Mikey break down into great heaving sobs upon seeing the wound he'd given his older brother. Raph instantly wanted to go to him once Donnie placed a new gauze around his bicep. As worried as Raphael had been about April, he knew his little brother needed him more at the moment.
In an instant, he'd draped his arms around Michelangelo's thinning frame. They'd all lost weight from malnutrition and the hardcore exertion they all had to display in order to survive. It seemed that Mikey was hit with it the hardest. His face was no longer holding onto it's baby fat. It had thinned out as much as the rest of his body.
Along with his youthful plump, Mikey's jovial nature and care-free attitude seemed to be stripped from him as well, leaving only a shell of his former self. Unlike Raphael who had April, Casey and Donnie were thrown together (where they hopefully settled their differences), Leo was alone, but he'd always been someone who strives in that environment - Mikey wasn't for fortunate. He was left completely alone and he nearly fell apart. It angered Raphael greatly that the youngest brother had no one to lean upon in their time in captivity. It showed in his continence and attitude that it effected Michelangelo deeper than Raphael wanted to admit. He wasn't sure if his youngest brother would ever be the same.
But Raphael would be damned if he didn't try and do everything in his power to bring him back to his former self.
They spoke. The seriousness of the conversation and what Mikey had to endure hurt Raph to the depths of his soul but he persevered, he listened, consoled when necessary, and just held his small brother against him as much as possible. Raphael would have happily given up his life if it meant Mikey didn't have to face the horrors of captivity alone. As the hours passed, it seemed as if not all hope was lost. He caught Mikey's eyes sparkling and smiling that sneaky smile that made everyone who saw it knew he was planning some diabolical prank. Not only that, but he even started craving his weird pizza combos.
"Hey, Raph." a voice to his right suddenly broke through his thoughts.
Raph opened his eyes and drew his attention to the voice. He watched in silence at Michelangelo sat next to him, the dip of his weight pressing him deeper into the couch cushion. There were a few chip crumbs on the corners of the orange-banded turtle's mouth as he smiled widely at his red-banded brother.
"Hey, Mike. Having a pre-pizza snack?" Raph replied, a soft smile immediately tipping up the corners of his lips as he reached over and gently brushed the stray crumbs away.
"You know it!" Mikey laughed, smiling cheekily before lifting his hand and rubbing it over the surface area of his face to make sure there wasn't more food remnants attached somewhere.
Raph couldn't help but reach over and give his youngest brother a soft noogie of affection as the youngest screamed gleefully at the action. Raph dropped his arm around Mikey's shoulder and smiled warmly at the freckled turtle's expression.
Raphael was just so relieved Mikey was better.
"Ready for the pizza, bro?" Raph asked, his arms still around Mikey's shoulders.
"YES!" he screamed, his arms pumping to the ceiling.
Raph, wanting to see his littlest brother gain some of his weight back and fast, so he decided to indulge him in his latest idea of bubble-gum, cheddar cheese crackers, and jalapeno pepperoni pizza fantasy.
When Casey returned with the weird pizza just moments later, Mikey nearly tackled the gangly human teen to the ground in order to get to the steaming concoction, it all seemed to be back to a semblance of normality.
During dinner, there was warm conversation, smiles, and laughter - but soon Raphael noticed the missing halo of red-hair among their group sitting in the shambled remains of their living room.
Raphael still couldn't put his finger on why he was beginning to have all of these new found feelings toward the redhead. But he drew it up to the conclusion that when you're stuck with someone and having to survive over long periods of time with only their presence and support, you grow fond and come to depend on that person even without you noticing it. She had been hurt too, so combined with that knowledge, he told himself that thinking about her to this excess was a good excuse as any.
"Just a fever from an infection. We caught it early so she'll be fine soon."
Donatello had said earlier much to his relief.
...but that had been hours ago and she still had yet to wake up but Donnie said it was normal and the medicine he was giving her was working. Instead of dwelling on it too much, Raph swallowed down the anxiety and instead enjoyed his family he'd been separated from far too long.
April could wait for now.
Dinner came and went. Everyone was exhausted but being finally free made them want to stay up and enjoy it. While still far from normal, it was still achingly familiar as they all crowded into the living room in front of their television. Two movies later, everyone but one person was snoring on the pile of blankets, pillows, and beanbags strewn about the floor. Raphael smiled as he arose to his feet. He looked at his family and felt a warmth spread through his chest at how lucky he was - he knew he'd never take a single one for granted ever again because he was so close to losing them all.
Raph walked quietly over to the rooms down the hall. Getting closer to the lab, he quietly opened the door and into April's room. He wasn't exactly sure why he wanted to see her before everyone else tomorrow, but even he had to admit that something between them changed in that cell. Before any of this happened, Raph and April weren't exactly known to hang out one on one - especially with Donnie and Casey's constant hovering - it kinda made it damned near impossible to catch her alone with anyone. He knew he still considered her a good friend and he'd never admit it, but he did enjoy her company. But that was as far as it went - but now, everything had changed.
He was grateful a small lamp had been left on as he walked further into the room. Raphael quietly pulled up a chair before he sat down next to her bed. He looked around the small room, noticed an iv hooked up to her arm with what he thought was just stuff to keep her hydrated and probably some pain meds. As Raph's eyes roved over April, he saw that her hair was loose and her face had gained some of it's color back. She had been so pale and Donnie had said it was an infected wound that went untreated that made her deathly sick and if they hadn't been saved that day, she most likely would have died from infection and high fever.
Raph tensed thinking about Donnie's words and found his hand instinctively reaching out and grasping hers. Green eyes roved over her unresponsive face before he looked down at where their hands were joined. He instantly took note of the contrast of her warm porcelain skin against his cool emerald green as well as the enormous size difference. He never noticed how her hands were just so freakin' tiny. He felt a chuckle leave his throat on its own accord for the first time in God knows how long.
For a long while, nothing but the sound of her soft breaths kept him company in the quiet room and Raphael found his mind absentmindedly wandering to those long hellish months. He poured over every battle, every injury, every taunting word - but soon he began to focus on the moments in-between. The conversations him and April had to pass the time on days no one came to get them. Sharing small meals they'd been given while learning things about her, stuff they had in common, it was like meeting her again for the first time. But this time, as April, not as Don and Casey's love interest. He learned about her past, her passions, and what she wanted to be when she grew up. He also found himself reluctantly giving up details of his own life. Things he enjoyed, bands he listened to and realized him and April had the same taste in music. He smiled at that particular memory when they both realized they had the same favorite song. He grasped her hand in his and came to the realization that getting to better know this amazing girl was worth every second spent there in that hell.
Raphael wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there. All he knew was the panic that struck his heart when her small hand gently began grasping his back. His eyes flew to her face where her eyes were opened sleepily.
"Hey..." she said weakly, her voice nothing more than a raspy whisper
"Hey." he replied, and without even thinking, his hand was lifting and he found his fingers brushed her hair away from her face. Her eyes closed at his gentle touch as a smile turned upward along the corners of her lips. After he seemingly noticed what he had done, he pulled back and rested his hand back on the bed.
"Thanks. I need to cut them soon so I'll be able to see where I'm going." she said breathlessly.
"Yeah, you do. Want me to get the weed whacker?" he said, remembering their teasing banter that kept them in high spirits.
"Sure - as long as you'll get the floor waxer for your shiny dome while you're at it." she muttered and he couldn't help the laugh that escaped from his throat.
April's light breathy laugh stopped after a moment before she turned her head slightly and looked at him seriously for a moment. Raph's smile fell softly under her intense scrutiny as her eyes scanned over his face.
"You should really laugh more. I like hearing it." she said and Raph wondered if the medication Donnie gave her was making her more than a little loopy.
"You okay?" he asked seriously, his brows furrowed.
April laughed softly, her head resting deeper against the pillows as she adjusted her position slightly. "I'm fine, Raph - and I'm serious..." she muttered softly, the hand that was still wrapped in his own, grasped his more tightly. "I love it when you laugh... Makes everything feel right with the world."
"What in the hell did Donnie give you?" Raph grumbled, squinting his eyes and trying to decipher the words on the iv bag hanging on the metal pole.
April just laughed breathily and rested her free hand on his forearm when a second later later, his eyes met hers again. "He didn't give me anything. If he did, it wore off by now - I dunno, I'm - I'm just happy." she said with a genuine smile, looking unflinching up into his face.
"Nah. I'm pretty sure he gave you industrial strength crazy serum or something." he said, allowing a smirk to appear on his face as he still was trying to understand why she kept touching him.
"We got out, Raph. When I thought for certain we were never gonna leave that place alive... Ya know, I'm... I'm happy - happy that it was you I was with in there. You really kept me going."
"Yeah. Same here." he said before his brain realized it, making him inwardly panic onto where the hell that came from and why his brain didn't filter those words before they left his mouth.
Raphael didn't panic long when he noticed her eyelids closing halfway before she jerked them open again. He smiled softly at her attempt to ward off sleep. Not caring about putting up a tough front for this girl anymore, he cupped her cheek, his thumb brushing along her dusting of freckles affectionately. Her face pressed more heavily against his palm and they just enjoyed this moment of solitude. Neither knew what this new comradorie meant in the long run.
All they knew is neither would be the same ever again.
"You need to get some sleep." Raph said seriously a moment later, his voice breaking the spell that seemed to overtake both of them.
"Yes, sir..." she replied before meeting his gaze. It was only a moment later when she shocked him by moving her face in his hand and warmly kissing his palm.
While Raph wanted nothing more than pull his hand away like his old instincts told him to, he didn't. Instead he stood up from the chair, brushed a few hairs from her forehead before softly kissing the place his thumb just brushed.
"Definitely crazy..." he whispered near her face and she laughed breathlessly before he quietly pulled away.
Raphael softly squeezed their joined hands one more time before walking away from the bed.
After switching off the dim light, he stood dumbstruck by the doorway a moment. April was curled up in the bed and already seemed to be fast asleep. He couldn't help the small smile that appeared on his face before he closed the door and left her to get much needed rest. While unsure of what these new feelings were, he knew that he and April now had all the time in the world to figure it out.