A Cold Night

Mikey flopped on the couch and curled up in the corner with a happy little sigh. He had the lair to himself for once, and was determined to enjoy the quiet. Up on the surface, icicles hung from the eaves of the buildings and the winter wind hissed through them like cold breath through jagged teeth; but in the lair, Donny's heating and air circulation system kept the echoing Y'lyntean chamber comfortable.

He propped his notebook against his knees and flipped to his sketches of Turtle Titan, gazing at the drawings with a critical eye. The cape definitely added flair, but not much functionality. He could give it some pockets, but weighing down the cape might affect his balance, not to mention critically impairing his panache. But Turtle Titan didn't carry nunchucks...so maybe designing some kind of utility belt? Mikey stuck out his tongue and twirled his pencil between his fingers, preparing to up the awesome of Turtle Titan's costume by at least 28%.

The door at the end of the room hissed open. Mikey's head snapped up at the unexpected disturbance. "Oh, hey, Leo! I thought you'd be back a while ago. Did you stop off at April's, or - " But his smile vanished as his brother stepped into the light. Leo was shaking, hunched nearly double, and he stumbled as his feet scuffed against the floor. "Whoa, dude…!" Mikey tossed his notebook aside and vaulted over the back of the couch, hurrying to his side. "What's wrong?"

Leo looked up at him dizzily. "C-cold."

Mikey took Leo by the arm but yanked his hand back with a startled yelp. "Geez! You're a block of ice!" He took hold of his brother again - ready for the shock this time, he didn't flinch - and guided him over to the couch. "What happened?"

"F-foot pinned me d-down," Leo stammered. "Didn't know I w-was there, b-but...I couldn't g-get away." He dropped onto the cushions and curled into a ball, shivering so violently that the entire couch shook.

"Holy shell…" Mikey decided not to try and make sense of Leo's hazy explanation. He tugged the blanket off the back of the couch and draped it around Leo's shoulders, but his worried frown only deepened as he watched his brother huddle beneath the fleece. This was more than simply being out in the cold too long. He sprinted away and returned a moment later with the thermometer. He nudged Leo with the back of his hand. "Here."

Leo blinked at him in confusion but took the thermometer without protest, even though his teeth chattered against the plastic. Mikey did a double-take at the digital display when it beeped. "Ninety-six!? Geez, bro! How long were you out there?" Leo didn't answer; just pulled the blanket more tightly around himself and shuddered. Mikey took a steadying breath as he gathered his thoughts. "Okay, just...just stay put." He jumped over the couch again and darted to Leo's room to haul the quilt off the bed. He tarried just long enough to dig out one of the knit caps and oversized hooded sweatshirts they kept for when they needed to blend in up on the surface, then bundled everything into his arms and hurried back to the living room.

Leo flinched when Mikey started to pull the blanket away. "It's okay, Leo. I'll give it back in just a second," Mikey promised. He put the hat on Leo's head, then carefully manipulated the stiff, shaking limbs to maneuver his brother into the sweatshirt. He pulled the hood up over the knit cap, then wrapped the blanket around Leo again and draped the quilt on top. "Phase one complete, bro," he said, giving the bundle of blankets and clothes a pat. "Be right back with phase two."

He headed to the kitchen - jogging this time, not the frantic sprinting of before - and put the kettle on the stove. He fidgeted impatiently while he waited for the water to boil, shifting from foot to foot, and pacing between the stove and the kitchen door to sneak glances at Leo. Although it felt like it took about a hundred years, it was only a few minutes before the kettle whistled, and a few moments more for the tea to steep. Mikey poured it into a thick-walled mug and took it out to Leo. "Phase two, as promised," he said.

The pained, distant look in Leo's eyes faded a bit as he took the mug in both hands. His shivering threatened to slosh the steaming tea over the rim, but Mikey layered his hands over his brother's to steady them. Leo's ice-block hands gradually thawed, heated from both sides by the warm ceramic and his brother's palms.

Mikey let go when he was sure Leo wasn't going to spill the tea. "And now...phase three!" he said cheerfully. "I'm not as good a furnace as Raphie is, but turt-sicles can't be choosers." He peeled back the layers of quilt and blanket and climbed inside next to Leo, tucking the covers snugly around them both. To his surprise, Leo immediately curled up against him. "Guess you really are cold," Mikey said, stating the obvious and keeping his tone light to hide his concern. Leo still trembled, and felt cold to the touch even through the thick sweatshirt. Mikey wrapped his arms around his brother to share as much of his own body heat as he could.

It took a while, but as Leo leaned against him and slowly sipped his tea, the spasmodic shivering lessened into an occasional tremor. Mikey ducked his head in an attempt to see his face. "You feeling better?" he asked.

Leo nodded. "Thanks."

Mikey wiggled his arms free from the blankets without uncovering Leo. He took the empty mug and set it aside, and leaned down to retrieve his discarded notebook and pencil from the floor. "I was in the middle of some important design work when you made your dramatic entrance. Is it okay with you if I get back to it? You can still snuggle." Leo let out a snort, but didn't lift his head from where it rested against Mikey's shoulder. Mikey thumbed through the pages until he found his place again.

Leo sat beside him in silence for a moment before asking, "Where is everyone?"

"Raph and Donny were fiddling with the Battle Shell but they decided they needed some part or other and they headed out to the junkyard. Sensei is at April's. You know she's the only one who will watch his soap operas with him without making fun of them." He gave Leo a playful little nudge. "And someone whose name rhymes with...uh - " He paused a moment, grappling for a rhyme and coming up blank. " - Schleonardo decided that even though there's a polar vortex circling overhead, it was still a good night to go for a training run." He glanced at Leo out of the corner of his eye. "Speaking of which, now that you're feeling up to talking, you mind 'splainin' exactly what happened tonight?"

"I was out for a training run," Leo said. "I wasn't planning on being gone long, and it's really not that bad once you get moving." He ignored Mikey's skeptical scoff and kept going. "Anyway, like I said - a Foot patrol must've spotted me, because next thing I know, about a dozen of them were following behind. I thought I could shake them by ducking inside an empty water tower, but I made a mistake because some of them stuck around. Guess they wanted to see if I'd circle back. I tried to wait them out, but by the time I realized they weren't going away, I was so cold I couldn't move right. Knew I couldn't sneak away without attracting attention and I'd never be able to outrun them. Couldn't use my shell cell or they'd hear me; one of them was right outside. So I just waited until they were gone."

Mikey gave a sympathetic shiver. He could imagine exactly what it had been like inside the empty tower: out of the wind, but the air still as cold as a freezer; Leo trying to stay still and quiet as the sweat from his run dried and froze on his body. "Sorry, bro."

Neither brother spoke again for a while, the soft scrape of Mikey's pencil the only sound. Mikey could tell that Leo was watching him draw. He squelched the self-consciousness that plucked at him, forcing himself to concentrate on Turtle Titan's new utility belt. He'd really only be able to put useful pouches on the front half...unless he somehow made the belt loose enough to rotate at will? But that might not be the best plan. It wouldn't do for Turtle Titan to lose his pants in the middle of a fight. Not that he wore pants, but it was the principle of the thing.

"How important is the glove?" Leo asked drowsily.

"Uh - what?" Mikey twitched a little at the unexpected question.

"The one that Turtle Titan wears on his left hand," Leo replied. "If you're looking for places to store weapons, you could have a flat pouch strapped to his arm instead of that loose glove. Would be a place he could keep spare shuriken. If he really needs the glove for his grapple, he could wear a more fitted glove with a shorter cuff."

Mikey raised his brow ridges. "That's not a bad idea! I will take it into consideration." He grinned. "Or maybe I'll let you design Tortoise Boy's costume. Turtle Titan's sidekick needs to have a certain flair and Raph hasn't shown much enthusiasm when I ask him for input."

Leo's laugh and dry comment, "I can't imagine why," sounded nearly like his normal self, and the last of Mikey's concern for his half-frozen brother melted away. "You know," Leo went on, leaning a little closer as his interest in the design process grew, "a bandoleer would work too, if you want extra pouch space."

"Ooh! Now that is a good idea, bro!" Mikey began outlining a diagonal strap across Turtle Titan's shell. "After all, what's good enough for Chewbacca is good enough for me! Er, I mean, for the Turtle Titan."

Leo was quiet for so long after the exchange that Mikey wondered if he'd fallen asleep, but then he gave a little sigh and nudged his head against Mikey's shoulder. "I'm glad you were home tonight," he said quietly.

Mikey smiled. "Me too. Just - do me a favor, okay? The next time you decide to frolic in a polar vortex, at least consider wearing a hat or something?"

Leo huffed a laugh and tucked himself more comfortably against his side. "It's a deal."