Summary: Goodbyes are never easy but when fate doesn't even give you the chance to say one - it's much worse. April had to learn this first hand when one second of distraction caused Raphael his life. Raphril Week 2015
April and Raphael remained busy finishing up their practice patrol one late night in the rundown area of New York's downtown district.
Raph had taken it upon himself to teach her the art of ninjitsu more seriously, since he was the only one of the turtles to not go easy on her, Splinter thought him perfect for the task.
April squealed in delight before punching him in the arm.
At first, it was difficult reigning in his new student simply because of his lack of patience, which was a necessary teaching skill. It took many months of bumps, bruises, and screams of frustration, but after arduous determination, April had decent knowledge and skill as a kinouichi to hold her own in a fight - even being passed by Splinter to go on nightly patrol.
Raph still had some doubts about allowing her to go on patrol this soon. Even after more than half a year of training alone with her, and as much as she'd improved over that time, they still had fourteen years of experience on her. He didn't think it was unnecessary for her to be out there - not just for her own safety, but with just her presence alone, he knew he and his brothers would easily become distracted by making sure she wasn't being targeted.
April begged him to give her a chance.
Raph, against his better judgment, agreed with a slight nod of his head.
Thankful it was a slow night, Raphael and April went on a practice patrol together - wanting to basically give her a test run to see how she handled situations before allowing her the opportunity to join him on later patrols with his brothers. At first, there was nothing much going on in this usually crime-infested area of the city. There were a couple foot soldiers running rampant and acting strangely, but seemingly, not enough of a cause for alarm and they were gone before April or Raph could make a move, so they had no choice but to let them go for now.
It took another half an hour to find a good test run for April, which happened to be a couple Purple Dragons causing mischief and destroying parts of a public park. Raph reluctantly stood back and allowed April to get in a few good shots before jumping in to help take them down before any could escape. He also allowed her to stop a robbery in progress nearly single handed, but didn't give her a chance to help him take down a few punks bothering an elderly lady walking home from the store. Raph made sure those heartless bastards learned the inside of a rancid meat trash bin very well before he and April took back off into the night.
Currently, Raph walked calmly along April's side as they patrolled the darkened streets and alleyways toward her apartment. She had already removed her black kinouchi outfit she had worn over her regular clothes and hid them in a manhole where she could retrieve at a later date. Last thing she wanted was for her dad to know what she had been doing with her free time.
Brimming with excitement now that the patrol was nearly over, the vibrant redhead's serious facade melted away into high spirits and animated gestures, retelling of the events of the evening in a very energetic fashion, her fists pumping and throwing punches at the appropriate parts.
Raphael couldn't help but smirk at his star student and her obvious happiness. While she was over the top now, during patrol she was all business. Quiet steps and even quieter strikes. She was all ninja, so it didn't really bother him that on the walk home, she'd be overcome with her usual excited nature. April had done better than expected and Raph was pleased that he could be the one to make that possible for her. All the work had paid off and he was happy for her - she'd worked damn hard to get there and she never gave up. As much as he protested training her at first, he realized just how much alike they were - stubborn, fiery, and quick to anger. He understood her frustrations and was able to work through them to make training as successful as possible, and they did it together. He watched her animated face in the dim lights and chuckled softly at her latest tale of victory as they turned a dark corner.
In the following seconds, the whole world shifted and everything fell apart at once.
April was walking backwards as she continued retelling how she kicked one of the robbers in his crotch, and an imitation of his high pitched wail that followed. Not even paying attention to a shadow out of the corner of her eye, thinking it was only caused by their sudden change in direction. Before April took her next breath, Raph suddenly tensed and a glint of metal in one of the dim lights of the alley tore across the air. His sai's quickly flew across the air after them.
A clink next to her feet drew her eyes downward and there was where she saw Raph's sai, in-between the triad of blades were two blocked shurriken that had been aimed directly at her. Every hair on her body stood on end when a sudden cry of agony caught her ears, she threw her head up to see a stray human foot soldier they'd saw earlier. He stood shakily in an adjoining alley before falling to his knees, the glint of Raph's sai embedded deep into his stomach before he collapsed lifelessly to the floor.
April quickly turned her attention back to Raphael and her eyes widened when she took in the scene in front of her. Both of his hands were grasping at his neck, green eyes wide and mouth slightly agape. Confused as to what was happening, she noticed movement near his neck and tensed in horror when the movement turned out to be a thick trickle of dark blood dripping from in-between his shaking fingers.
April let out a breath she didn't know she was holding as she closed the distance between them while watching the flickering emotions on his face in total silence. The complete shock that overtook her made her feel as if she was watching this from a different vantage point. It felt like a surreal dream - time not seeming to effect her as everything seemed to be in slow motion but she still could not move. Her tongue felt like lead and her heart sink into the pit of her stomach as she witnessed Raphael's hands trembling as they lowered from his neck. Expecting to see just a scratch or nick, instead, she found herself being flung back to reality when instantly, a spray of warm gushing blood covered her. The spray of the thick crimson liquid brought her back into her body when she saw the wound - Raph's neck had been torn wide open by a passing shuriken.
Distantly, she heard screaming, the ringing of her ears beginning to wane as she still found herself unable to move. It was only watching Raphael's eyes rolling to the back of his head and his legs gave out from under him when April realized the horrific screams she heard were coming from her own lips. The next instant, she was back in control of her body and running to him as fast as her legs would carry her.
"RAPHAEL!" she screeched, throwing herself to the ground behind his shoulders before he could slam his head onto the cold cement.
April's hands immediately covered the bloody gash along his throat, pressing firmly to stop the uninterrupted flow of red liquid that continued to make it's way through her fingers while still allowing the pressure to not be enough to cut off his air supply. She fought down the rising urge to vomit when she felt a spurt of blood spray against her blood-soaked fingers every time his heart took a beat.
"Raph!" she sobbed breathlessly, pressing her trembling hands more firmly against the open wound. She stared in shock as Raphael's green eyes suddenly opened. Her whole body was shaking as she looked into the muddied green of his normally bright eyes that seemed to be looking straight through her as if searching for the voice he just heard. Never had his eyes been that dull. Seeing him covered in blood and looking at her in this way , just so helpless and hurt, shook her to her core as she still tried to understand what had just happened.
Reality seemed far away and she had been flung into a hellish nightmare.
"You're gonna be okay..." she whispered in the midst of this chaos, his eyes clearing momentarily to look into hers and saw nothing but sheer agony clouding his normally bright irises.
"It's okay... You're going to be just fine..." April whimpered, a grimace taking over her face when her attempt to smile and ease his worry failed.
April suddenly found her vision blurring, the soft trickle of tears descending quickly down her face. She blinked fiercely in order to clear her vision and in the deep recesses of her mind, she knew he desperately needed help...and fast. She wanted to scream and hope for someone to run to their rescue, wanted to call 911 for an ambulance, but came to the sickening realization that it wasn't that simple. The only ones who would willingly help were on the other side of the city waiting for their brother to return from taking her on patrol. April wanted to grab her phone but found her hands wouldn't move because she knew that the second she took the pressure off his wound, nothing was going to stop the bleeding. She pressed firmer against the cut in sick sobering awareness that there was absolutely nothing she could do.
With this thought, she couldn't help but allow the keening wail to leave her throat, her eyes tightly closing and face pressing against the side of his. This was all her fault. If she hadn't been so distracted, Raph wouldn't have been hurt. If she hadn't ignored that shadow in the corner of her eyes, she could have drawn her own weapon and easily blocked the shuriken. But instead, Raph protected her and took down the enemy and protected her without any hesitation, leaving him open to attack and mortally wounded.
In the dark recesses of her mind, she couldn't help but deny this was even happening. It seemed too surreal and unfathomable to be reality...
It couldn't end like this.
Raph was so strong - strongest of all the four turtles. Taking down so many enemies and facing them down with nothing more than a cocky smirk and tilt of his head. There was no way in hell this was actually happening - Resilient, stubborn, determined, strong Raph couldn't be taken out by a lucky shot from some little punk ass foot soldier.
April refused to believe it.
Any minute now, his brothers would be here and he'd be patched right up and to showcase this night, he'd be sporting another scar for his already impressive collection. Breaking her out of her thoughts was a faint gurgling and she looked down at him and realized that he was trying to speak.
"Shh, shh, shh... Raph, Don't talk... Y-You're gonna...gonna be alright... You- You just g-gotta focus on saving your strength, okay?" April mumbled nasally, pushing her own flaring emotions aside for a moment to focus on him. She continued to whisper soft sentiments against the side of his head, tenderly brushing her temple against his in what she hoped was a gesture of comfort.
It went unheard and she couldn't stop her gasp when he began shaking, his eyes suddenly rolled back into his head before his body tensed and trembled uncontrollably, his attempts to take another breath making a horrible rattling sound.
"No, no, no no no no no..." April cried, pressing herself as close as she could to his body in order to keep him still.
April felt her body tense up when she heard him roughly cough, the action making it sickening clear just how bad he had been hurt when she felt a soft breath of air tickle her fingers and a spray of blood leave his lips. She closed her eyes against the feeling, pressing her fingers closer together to tighten her hold over the wound. She whispered soft whispers of comfort against his head, cradling him against her body as his breathing eventually calmed and he started to relax in her arms.
Her eyes opened when she felt a weak tug on her arm and saw his trembling bloody hand softly grasping at her wrist. She took quick notice of his eyes, they were open but weren't focusing on anything. The normally bright green irises was dark, the light in his eyes faded even more. Feeling his calloused hand gripping so frailty on her arm made a whimper escape her raw throat.
"Raph?" April asked softly, noticing his eyes clear slightly before looking at her. "Hey... You're okay... I'm here - I'm right here... Donnie will be here any minute and we'll patch you right up and we could maybe watch a movie...You can get whatever pizza you want too..." April whispered against his face, her tears warm against his skin, as she rocked softly on her heels to try and get his trembling to stop completely.
Staring into those eyes was unsettling for a reason she didn't quite understand. She tried to smile at him to comfort the injured terrapin further, but it turned into a grimace when she noticed his eyes sliding closed. He was still shaking slightly when she suddenly buried her face against his, letting him know she was right there.
"I'm right here, Raph... I'm not going anywhere..." April whispered softly, brushing her temple against his.
A few moments later, his shaking stopped completely and his hand left hers to land on the ground next to him with a barely perceived sound.
April stilled, the relief at feeling him calm down only lasted a moment before she realized just how quiet it had suddenly become. Her hands that clenched around the wound trembled, her fingers pressing deeper waiting for the pulse and heartbeat that had just been there. It was then she noticed his rattling breath had completely ceased and his face that was still leaning against hers felt suddenly chilled.
Letting out a breath she didn't know she had been holding, she pulled her face from his and stared at him. Her eyes scanning over his peaceful face and waited for any movement, for a pulse to rise against her blood-drenched fingertips...
...but none ever came.
Staring at him in sheer disbelief, April felt utter panic bubble to the surface of her chest as she waited in vain for any semblance of life. His eyes were closed, his face and body soaked in splotches and puddles of his own blood and he wasn't moving.
Why wasn't he moving?
Why didn't he just open his eyes and smirk, brushing off this injury like so many before? She felt his blood's wetness on her fingers and the pooling of warmth against her knees, the morbid wound underneath her hands was obviously fatal...but to her, this just couldn't be happening... It wasn't real...
Raphael couldn't be...
"NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!" April cried frantically at the top of her lungs, one of her hands leaving his neck to roughly pat at his face. Praying desperately for a response, for some movement, a sound of a breath - for anything. Her hands were trembling at this point, both being used to furiously shake at his shoulders - hoping that maybe a jolt of movement would get him to stir. Without her support, his head suddenly fell back and the wound he'd received by protecting her made itself dreadfully clear in the alley's dim light caused her blood to run ice cold. April swallowed down the acidic bile that suddenly rose in her throat at seeing just how deeply his neck had been torn open and how mortal this wound really was.
April shook uncontrollably before quickly throwing herself over him, her hands grasping the wound that quickly bled out and abruptly ended his life. Refusing to believe the harsh diagnosis, April pressed her mouth over his, blowing air into his unmoving lungs. But two breaths later, most of the air she had been blowing into his lungs began brushing along her fingertips instead. Slowly removing her bloodied fingertips from around his throat, she stared in horror at his blood that stained her hands. Valiantly fighting against the urge to scream and decided to ignore the reality of the situation that stared her dead in the face, April quickly placed her mouth over his again, blowing lungful after lungful of air into his parted cold lips until she nearly passed out from oxygen deprivation. It took a few minutes, but as time went on without any sort of movement or response, she soon came to the sick realization that it wasn't helping.
April sobbed quietly as she pulled her mouth away from his, opening her blood-shot eyes to take in his unresponsive face and the wet trail of blood dripping from his lips. All she could do was wail helplessly at the unfairness of it all as she wrapped her arms around his neck and thrust her face into the quickly cooling skin of his shoulder.
"P-P-Please... Oh, God, please, R-Raph!... Wake up... Please... Open your eyes!... You just gotta! Please... I- We need you...Y-Y-You can't be d-de..." April muttered, not even able to finish the word, her eyes closing in unimaginable grief against his skin as sobs continued to heave through her shaking frame.
Internally telling herself to wake up, to open her eyes in the reality where this was not happening, where he wasn't dead. She didn't want to part of a world where Raphael simply didn't exist. She screamed and prayed to any God that would listen to her pleas. Desperately begged for herself to wake up and he'd be awake and alive as if nothing had ever happened. But as her sobbing continued, she couldn't help but notice that his skin began growing dull and cold - her fingers she splayed over his heart remained completely and eerily still.
"Please don't take him away from me..." she begged until she felt her own heart splinter and completely shatter in unbearable grief within the confines of her chest.
The resounding scream of overwhelming sorrow hastily erupted from her tender throat and hurled into the night sky with only the dim stars overhead to hear the agony that laced it. Her throat was painful and agonizing as her sobs wracked her body with unbelievable and overwhelming tremors.
...Why did he save her?...
The question as to why Raphael would risk himself with absolutely no hesitation made her chest feel like nothing more than a raw festering wound. His life was far more valuable to this city, to this world, and mostly to his small family that needed him so much. So... Why? Why did he do it?
Her mind tore over the years she'd known him and then - it suddenly all made sense.
It's just who Raphael was - the first one in and last one out.
In any situation, Raph would be sure to take the brunt of the attacks, hold up the back to make sure everyone got out safe before he left. He guarded those he loved with such a fierce passion not caring in the least if it caused him harm. Realizing he'd done it again - but instead of his brothers - it was to protect her and save her even at the loss of his own life broke whatever sanity she had left. The agony rushing through her body was like an uncontrollable fire, scorching everything in its path.
The pain was like nothing she'd ever experienced as she hugged him tightly, clinging to his body and continually begging him to come back even when in the back of her mind, she knew he couldn't hear her anymore. Hopelessly, she continued to speak - sentiments of how much they needed him - how he couldn't go out this way - how empty life would be without him there. It dawned on her just how much they would miss him - and how much she already missed him even if she still didn't fully believe he was actually gone. Her face pressed against his - tears streaming along the curve of his cold cheek and onto the blood stained pavement below her knees.
Her eyes opening to look at his serene face - the million 'what ifs' already staking permanent residence in her mind and realizing the sheer gravity of this loss and what it meant.
Her mind clearly disregarding the pain she was feeling and she found herself forced to picture his brothers - his father - knowing their hotheaded son and brother was dead because of her. Because they had trusted her to hold her own, to not get distracted, to keep vigilant, always watch each others backs...
...and Raphael paid the ultimate price...
April forced her eyes to stare at him - to face the gravity of her mistake. April couldn't stop the tears that continued their tracks down her face as she looked down at Raphael's face. Even with the drying blood splattered along his graying emerald skin, he looked completely peaceful, as if he'd just fallen asleep in her arms.
April couldn't stop the whimper that retched itself from her chest when she wracked her mind for the last time she'd said anything remotely important to him. If she ever even bothered to mutter a quick non-sarcastic 'thank you' for all the time he'd dedicated to teaching her - for being patient even if it wasn't his strong suit. He'd persevered and was willing to do the same exact kata a thousand times over and over again just to make sure she got it right. The dozens of hours they spent together, getting to know him after he'd been a complete enigma to her for so long. To learn of who he was as a friend rather than an outsider looking in. How over the course of their time together, noticing how quickly she began to refer to him as her 'friend' rather than just 'sensei'.
Soft sobs soon transformed into a heart-wrenching howl when she came to the dreadful realization that she'd never see him again. To never again have the chance to see him smile, hear his voice or deep resonating laughter. They'd never have long conversations during meditation and training or even have another silly argument over who got to have the last slice of pizza or cake. She'd never hear his snide comments to Leo and sarcastic remarks to Donnie as well as hushed encouragement to Mikey. She'd never have his soft instructions being told over and over before he got frustrated and just physically adjusted her stance. They'd never sit together and watch bad, cheesy horror flicks over popcorn or get into their day-long epic video game competitions.
April's chest felt like nothing more than a smoldering empty crater as she stared at the lifeless body of this wonderful friend lying so unbelievably still in her arms. How just moments ago, they'd been talking, laughing, fighting side by side. Flashbacks from just that morning, how he'd made her breakfast after training, even when he burned it the sentiment of such an action was not lost on her. She barely remembered their conversation over breakfast; for the life of her, couldn't remember the words he spoke to her. Right now she would eagerly give everything she'd ever owned just to hear them again. But she'd never get that chance...
...because Raph was gone...
He wasn't going to be there tomorrow.
...or ever again...
It dawned on her just how quickly it all had taken place and rapidly fell apart. How life didn't wait - how fate was so unbelievably cruel and didn't allow for long drawn-out goodbyes or even quick farewells. Within a matter of a split second, you could lose those closest to you without rhyme or reason and there wasn't a single damn thing you could do about it.
Blood-stained fingers brushed lazily along cold grayish-green skin; gingerly running along the curve of sharp cheekbones and brushing along closed eyelids that would never open again.
It wasn't fair...
Life went on around them in the sound of distant crowds and traffic just blocks away. The feel of a cooling breeze against her tear-stained face sobered the endless torrent of pain that plagued her very being.
The world should have stopped; should have stood still during this monumental loss of life - but it didn't. To this bustling city that would go about their life as usual would never know the gravity of this loss. A hero from the shadows that they never even knew existed was now gone forever. They wouldn't miss him - they would never know of his dry sarcastic humor, his fierce love of his family, or even his signature cocky smirk and bright green eyes. Life would continue around them as if everything was fine. Even though her world would never be the same without Raphael in it.
In a moment of sheer grief, a high-pitched whimper was thrown into the sky as she collapsed over him. Placed her forehead firmly against his before her eyes closed against the wailing reverberating throughout her aching chest. She couldn't fathom how she'd move on from this loss - or how his father or brother's could.
Picturing a life where Raph wasn't there- a life where there were only three brothers instead of four: Passing by his room and not see him lying on his bed with a magazine in his hand. Knocking on his door to wake him up to train in the morning and receiving nothing but silence in return. Acknowledging there's a cold, empty seat during meals, knowing it would never be filled again. Never to see him sitting on the couch, putting Mikey in a headlock, or watching TV. Nor getting the chance to cheekily climb atop his shell while he did push ups - hearing him grumble about it but still see him smirk at the action. The emptiness overtaking the fact that he was really gone took her breath away.
He really won't be there anymore.
Leo, Donnie, and Mikey wouldn't have him fighting by their side -
Splinter would never get to see his son again...
The pain of having to tell his family what took place. To have to bury someone who was so full of life just didn't seem fair. Raphael was always so animated - always moving, always doing something. Now as he lay so unbelievably still in her arms did it finally sink in that this was reality. This wasn't a dream where she'd wake up and everything would be like it was. The harsh new reality was lying still and cold in her arms.
Raphael was dead.
...and it was all her fault...
"I'm sorry, Raph..." she whispered brokenly, "I'm so sorry..." she pressed her face against his cheek and trembled at just how limp he was in her grasp. The shock of what had occurred ebbed away and all she was left with was nothing but devastating grief and heart-lurching regret as tears continued their unheeded descent down her face.
They found them over an hour later, April was unconscious and curled up against his body, clinging desperately to his frigid corpse. Soft mutterings of "Please come back" and "I'm sorry" still leaving her lips in the dark night surrounding them.