This fic takes place in between chapters six and seven of "Mourning".
Raph opened his eyes and was met with pitch blackness. He tried to move his arms but was unable to. He looked down and realized that they had been heavily chained to the ground. No matter how hard he tried, he could not break the chains.
He looked back up and saw Mikey kneeling in front of him and bound in chains, as well. The Super Shredder stood over him end raised his blades, preparing to strike.
Raph knew all too well what was going to happen to next. "No!" he screamed and effortlessly pulled on the chains.
Mikey only smiled at him lovingly. "I love..."
Saki slashed Mikey across the face.
"NO!" He frantically fought against his chains, ignoring the blood that was oozing down his arms. But he could only watch helplessly as the Shredder continued his assault on Mikey.
Why was this happening all over again?
Blood splattered everywhere as the monstrous mutant slashed his little brother again and again and again. Mikey grunted and groaned, slowing dying in front of Raph.
No. No more. I can't bear to look.
He looked away, but he could not block out the sounds that Mikey made in his final moments.
A voice in his head taunted him...
This is all your fault...
Yes...You were the reason he ran off...If it weren't for you, he wouldn't have been captured by the Shredder...and he'd still be alive...
Upon hearing Mikey's voice, Raph lifted his head. Mikey, now bleeding heavily and covered in scars, stood over him. Some of his blood trickled down onto Raph's face. His disfigured and scarred face had a scowl, and his once bright blue eyes were now dull and lifeless.
"You told me to grow up, but how can I...if I'm dead?"
Raph felt his heart being ripped in half, and his eyes burned with tears. "I'm so sorry," he choked. "I know this was all my fault, and I'll never forgive myself." He bowed his head and a tear slid down his cheek, merging with Mikey's blood.
Mikey's cold expression did not even soften. "You want to make it up to me?"
"Yes," Raph whispered. "More than anything."
The chains suddenly disappeared and a sai dropped out of the sky, landing with a clank in front of Raph.
"Make yourself feel the same pain I did," Mikey coldly said.
Raph stared at the sai on the ground, then back up at Mikey. "You...you want me to cut myself with this?"
"I...I can't. That's crazy!"
Mikey furrowed his brow. "If you don't," his voice filled with venom, "then I'll hate you, Raph."
Mikey had never once told his brothers that he hated them. It just wasn't in his nature to feel that way about anyone. But Raph often wondered if it would get to the point where he'd go too far and cause Mikey to finally snap. There was only so much that a person could take, after all. And the thought of Mikey, of all people, saying that he hated him...
"No!" Raph sobbed. "Please! Please, don't say that, Mikey! Don't say that you hate me!"
"Then do it," Mikey growled.
Raph looked back down at the sai and shakily picked it up. He gulped and aimed it at his left cheek. He couldn't move his arm and continued to breathe heavily through his nose.
"What are you waiting for?" he heard Mikey chuckle darkly. "I took Shredder's blows like a man. You can't even prick yourself with a sai. And to think that I once looked up to you."
Raph took a deep breath and applied a little more pressure, a tiny red dot forming on his cheek...
"RAPH! DON'T DO IT!"
He felt someone grab his wrist and jerk the sai away from his face. He lifted his head and saw another Mikey standing next to him, only he looked completely normal, not a single scar on his body. He still had his bright orange mask on and his eyes were still full of life.
Raph could only stare and stutter. "M-Mikey...? But...who...?"
Normal Mikey suddenly charged at Scarred Mikey and shoved him hard, causing him to fall to the ground. "You stay away from my brother!" he shouted.
Scarred Mikey smiled cruelly as he got back up. "You can't protect him from me." As soon as he said those words, his body was consumed by a black fog.
What's going on?
Mikey stood protectively in front of Raph, pulling out his nunchucks.
After the fog lifted, they saw a tall shadowy figure with glowing white eyes and razor sharp teeth snarling at them. He pointed a clawed finger at Raph.
"Only he can defeat me...but I have become too strong for him to overcome...and every day I am getting stronger..."
That voice...it was the same voice from earlier, the one that taunted him and made him feel even worse about his failure to save Mikey.
"Raph will defeat you!" Mikey retorted. "He just needs a little push." He then turned back to Raph and helped him to his feet. "What do you say we turn on the lights, bro? It's a little dark in here, don't you think?"
Before Raph could ask him any questions, Mikey did a clap and the lights instantly turned on, revealing that they were in Raph's bedroom. The shadow creature was nowhere in sight.
"Wait, we were in my bedroom the entire time?" Raph asked, confused.
Mikey looked around him and shrugged. "Guess so, dude."
"But how's that even possible?"
"Beats me. It's your mind, Raph."
Raph instantly remembered that shortly after Casey arrived and asked him to come back to New York, he became so troubled in his mind and spirit that he resorted to meditation.
"So we're in my head right now," Raph reached out and lightly touched Mikey's freckled cheek. "But...is it really you, Mikey? Not one of those...things from earlier?"
Mikey smiled gently and covered Raph's hand with his own. "Yeah, bro. It's really me."
Raph looked at him skeptically and removed his hand. "Prove it."
"Um," Mikey rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "How about you ask me a question that only I'd know? No, wait, that wouldn't prove anything, 'cause we're in your head, and I could be, uh, what did Donnie call it? Oh, yeah, figment of your imagination, and so of course I'd know the answer, but maybe if you'd ask a question that not even you'd know the answer to but I would...no. Darn it! That wouldn't help, either! 'Cause then how would you know if I'm telling the truth? Okay, okay, how about this: you ask me a question that..."
Raph smirked at him and chuckled. "It is you, Mikey." His eyes then brimmed with tears. "It's you," his voice quivered.
Mikey smiled and nodded. "Yeah."
Raph bit his lower lip and wrapped his arms around his little brother. "It's you," he choked out, the hot tears finally running free and dripping onto Mikey's shoulders. "I've missed you so much, Little Brother. We've all missed you. You have no idea what it was like after you died. It was like we were living in a nightmare." He sniffled and buried his wet face in Mikey's shoulder. "I mean, I don't know if Leo and Donnie have already moved on, and I thought I did, but...I don't know, Mikey."
Mikey gently pulled away from Raph's embrace and patted his shoulder. "I know what will cheer you up, dude!" he exclaimed with a grin.
The large tray of steaming hot pizza slid across the table to where Raph sat. They were now in their old kitchen. He looked up at the family's chef with a raised invisible eyebrow. "Pizza? How's that gonna cheer me up? Besides, it's not even real. Just a creation of my mind."
"That's true," Mikey took a seat next to his brother. "But it's not just any imaginary pizza...it's Michelangelo's Super Awesome Radical Special Amazing Imaginary Pizza!"
"...Wow, that's a mouthful."
"And I added a secret ingredient that will make you feel a whole lot better."
Raph rolled his eyes. "What is it, love?"
"Uh, no," Mikey said with an unamused expression on his face. "You know I put love in all of my dishes, Raph. This new ingredient is special."
"Well, what is it?"
"I told you, it's a secret."
Raph looked back down at the pizza and picked up a slice. It smelled good, so it would probably taste good, too...even though it wasn't real. He took the first bite. Mmmm...it was good. He then proceeded to eat the rest of the slice and move on to the next.
Soon the entire tray was clear with only a few crumbs left, and strangely enough, Raph didn't even feel full.
Raph started to lick his fingers, but when he noticed that Mikey was still watching him, he immediately stopped and a blush appeared on his cheeks. Mikey only giggled.
Raph cleared his throat and wiped his mouth with a napkin. "So, um, what was that shadow thing from earlier?"
Mikey's smile turned into a frown and his expression became somber. "It was your Guilt, bro."
"Yeah, and it got bigger and stronger over the years. You need to overcome your Guilt, Raph, or it'll destroy your soul. And even I can't defeat it for you, as much as I really want to. You gotta do it, yourself."
"So you're asking me to forgive myself?" Raph chuckled bitterly and rubbed his temples. "I don't think I can, Little Brother. Not after what happened to you."
"Raph," Mikey softly spoke and placed his hand over Raph's. "Listen, it wasn't your fault, okay? It was mine. I ran off like a little baby and caused us all to be caught by the Shredder."
"Yeah, but, you wouldn't have run away if weren't for me!" Raph retorted. "I've kept hurting you because I'm a horrible person!"
Mikey grabbed Raph's cheeks and forced him to look at him. "Hamato Raphael, you are NOT a horrible person," Mikey said in a serious tone. "You're the best brother in the world. Sure, you're not perfect, but no one is, especially not me. And I know you feel guilty about what you said to me before I ran off, but I want you to know..." Mikey smiled lovingly at him, closed his eyes, and gently pressed his forehead against Raph's.
"I forgive you, Raphie."
Raphie. Mikey hadn't called him by that name since they were toddlers. Hearing his old nickname made his heart feel warm, and he felt the tears building up.
"I don't deserve your forgiveness," he whispered.
"Well, you have it anyway," Mikey pulled away and chuckled. "Besides, you can't take it back, 'cause you ate it already."
Raph looked at Mikey like he was completely nuts. "What...?"
"That was my secret ingredient for the pizza, bro: a touch of forgiveness."
The hothead stared at Mikey for a moment, before he burst out laughing. Mikey joined in, their laughter filling the empty kitchen.
Raph sat next to Mikey's bed, his little brother lying in it and reading a comic book. For a while, the brothers remained silent, enjoying each other's company. Raph fiddled with Mikey's Unicorn Man. He chuckled to himself, remembering the time he accidentally stabbed the action figure with his sai during the Squirrelanoids incident.
"You need to go back to New York, Raph," Mikey broke the silence but his eyes were still glued to the comic. "You're not the only one who needs forgiveness."
Raph sighed and continued to play with Unicorn Man. "I know, Mikey. But...it's one thing to forgive myself. To forgive Master Splinter for choosing you...well, that's another."
"It killed him inside, bro. Casey didn't tell you this, but he actually tried to kill himself more than once."
Raph stared at Mikey with wide emerald eyes. Master Splinter? The strongest person he knew...attempting suicide?
Mikey continued to speak. "It breaks my heart to see Master Splinter so broken and inconsolable. I assured him that he had my forgiveness. But it's not enough. He needs your forgiveness, too. And Donnie's. And especially Leo's."
"Mikey, I don't even know where they are."
Mikey put down his comic book and jumped off the bed. He searched for something underneath it, and he pulled out a tin box.
"Master Splinter's still in the lair along with Karai," Mikey took off the lid and inside were old photographs of him and his family. "Donnie works for this company called Morp Enterprises. But he's like a robot, now. Always working and fixing things, never having fun or spending time with friends." Mikey's blue eyes brimmed with tears. "Leo's even worse."
He handed Raph a photograph. The red masked ninja Turtle took it and realized that it was a photo of him and his brothers. Donnie had faded a bit and Raph could see right through him, like he was some kind of ghost. But he almost couldn't find Leo until Mikey pointed to the very faint blue blur next to Donnie. He was practically invisible. Only Raph and Mikey remained solid in the picture.
"His hate is destroying his soul," Mikey softly said. "He's taking his anger out on criminals in New York, and he's not throwing them in jail, Raph. He's murdering them."
Raph shook his head in disbelief and denial. Murder? No. Not Leo. The same guy who idolized Captain Ryan and wanted to grow up to be just like him. The same guy who always strived to do the right and noble thing and encouraged us to do the same. No. That can't be our Leo. No way.
Mikey must've read his thoughts. "I know it's hard to believe, but it's the truth. Leo's so angry and lost, and if the police don't kill him first..." He paused and looked down at his feet.
"Wait, Mikey," Raph said nervously. "Are you saying that...that Leo is planning to kill himself?"
Mikey nodded and a tear slid down his cheek.
That did it.
"All right, Mikey," Raph got up on his feet and a determined look appeared on his face. "I'll go back to New York."
He started to head for the door, but then he stopped and looked back at Mikey, who was still sitting on the floor with the photos.
"Wait, if I go back," Raph swallowed around a lump in his throat, "then I won't see you again."
Mikey smiled and stood back up, walking to where Raph stood. "Raph, that's not true. 'Cause you can always come visit me here."
"Here? In my mind?"
"Yep. Just because I'm dead doesn't mean that I'm really gone. There's a difference, you know. All you have to do is come and knock on my door, and I'll always answer. That's a promise, bro."
Mikey then pointed his finger at Raph's forehead. "I'll be right here," he said in an E.T. voice.
Raph chuckled and shook his head. Then he grabbed Mikey in a tight hug, fiddling with the short ends of his orange mask. "I'll do my best, Little brother."
"I have faith in you, bro," Mikey pulled away and gently kissed Raph's left eye. "Tell everyone I send my love."
"Will do," Raph went back to the door and turned the handle. Outside the bedroom was complete darkness, but in the far distance was a bright light. He turned to look at Mikey more time. His little brother smiled and gave him a thumbs up, encouraging him to go on. Raph proceeded to walk through the door and into the dark tunnel.
About halfway there he felt someone grab him by the shoulders and jerk him away from the light. He turned and saw Guilt looming over him. His white eyes glared down into his green ones.
"Where do you think you're going?" it said with a growl. "You don't honestly think that you can save them, do you? You couldn't even save Mikey...You're no hero...You're a failure...a piece of garbage..." It dug its claws into Raph's shoulders, causing him to flinch.
But Raph wouldn't back down. He slapped Guilt's hands away and glared up at the creature. "You won't win this battle!" he shouted before he pulled back a clenched fist. "Because I'm...STRONGER THAN YOU!" He punched Guilt right in the gut, causing it to scream in pain and dissipate.
With his Guilt defeated, Raph ran toward the light more determined and confident than ever...
Raph opened his right eye and fould himself back in the treehouse, kneeling in his usual meditation position on the floor.
He was forty-six years old again, and he still had the same scars on his arms and the same eyepatch over his left eye.
Reaching up to touch his eyepatch, Raph could still feel the gentle brush of Mikey's lips.
He closed his right eye and smiled to himself.
Thank you, Mikey.
So this is a Christmas gift to all of my wonderful readers and followers!
Merry Christmas! :D
Note: I've been looking up songs and found some that I thought fitted the characters perfectly (regarding the "Mourning" storyline).
Leo: My Own Prison by Creed
Donnie: I Am Machine by Three Days Grace
Raph: My Immortal by Evanescence
Mikey: The Light by Disturbed