I Let Go(#8)
TMNT 2k3: Mikey and Leo, Raph, and Don
Disclaimer: I honestly don't own turtles. I've never even had one before. I've had it rough. (Jk, please no triggers)
It wasn't often Mikey got angry. It wasn't often he fought with anyone in the Lair truthfully. Mikey was peaceful; he was annoying as shell, yes. But he never did harmful pranks and we couldn't ever get Mikey, no matter how hard we tried. Irked? Yes. Annoyed? Yes. Bored? Defiantly.
But never angry.
"Well you know what Leo? It's fine. Whatever. I. Don't. Care. Ban me from the team!"
"See, there you go! You NEVER listen! I said, 'temporarily off', not banned! You're always twisting words."
"Sure, now I'm the one twisting words."
"You know, I'm kind of glad you're no longer on our team! Maybe you should stay off."
"Fine then. I will. If I'm that useless to you guys, fine!" And the argument had ended, just like that. Mikey never got mad. And the fire in his eyes had scared all of us, even Raph.
We ended up going on patrol, but all of us were guilty. When we came back after a pretty empty patrol, we couldn't find our baby brother.
"Mike! Listen Mike, we're sorry, 'kay?" Raph was going nearly hysterical as we searched the sewers. We had all ganged up on him at first. Saying he was becoming a danger to us and he needed to change and grow up. But then, Mikey got frustrated and started fighting back; this led to a faceoff between him and Leo. And after Mikey basically told us that he felt useless, he ran to his room and we still left for patrol. As if we didn't even care. I would've ran off too.
"Michelangelo! If you don't show yourself now, you're permanently off the team! Do you understand!" Leo's yells were cold and harsh.
"What tha shell Leo?" Raph's growl made me step back a bit. Raph had whipped around to face Leo, pushing Leo into the sewer wall.
"He needs to learn the consequences of his actions Raph." Leo's voice however, held no fear. It was still harsh and cold just like it had been when we first found Mikey missing. He'd been angry and yelled throughout the lair; I didn't think Leo would be pissed off. Normally, he'd be worried. All I knew, was that I agreed with Raph. Leo's harshness was going too far. He needed to stop as this was what drove Mikey away in the first place.
"This is why Mike's gone! Yer aren't even worried! How can ya call yerself a leader if ya don't even care about ya team? Let alone a brotha." Raph's voice went from loud, to utterly low but meaningful.
"First, he isn't on this team anymore. Second, stop. He's acting like a brat. He needs to understand that we aren't going to baby him anymore. He's 16 for god's sake. He needs to learn to grow up." Leo's voice was still flat.
Leo pushed Raph and went walking back towards the lair. "I'm not giving him the joy he wants by chasing him around. He wants to leave, let him. I don't care."
It was dead silence after that. Raph then growled; jolting me, and then punched the wall behind him.
"Ya believe 'im Don? Whadda we do? Jus' forget Mikey fuckin' exists!? He's such a fuckin' asshole!" Raph cursed and continued to rave until I stopped him.
"Raph," I put a hand on his shoulder, "Calm down. Yelling isn't going to find our baby brother. Let's search topside; he obviously isn't down here."
That seemed to calm him down a bit and together we went to the nearest manhole cover.
We searched for hours, but we couldn't find him. We finally decided to go home and try again the next day. The sun was coming out.
I was wandering the rooftops by the dock when I first heard him. He was a kid, maybe 10 or 11 years old, crying in the alleyway below. Some kids were beating up on him! I jumped down and that's how we met.
"Kid? You okay? No bad injuries right?" Mikey kept to the dark shadow of the alleyway.
"Y-yeah. Just bumps and bruises. N-no! Wait don't go! Who are you?!" The kid yelled when he saw the shadow moving backwards.
"Sorry kid; you're not allowed to see me. You…won't like my looks." Mikey's heart said to show the kid. He sounded so desperate to know who his savior was.
"I don't care! Kids at school call me ugly all the time! I hate hypocrites so I don't care what you look like! Please show me." He pleaded. Mikey couldn't see how the kid was considered ugly. He had light brown hair and emerald eyes, how was that ugly? The kid even had freckles and a (dorable) cute face. Mikey thought the kid was pretty good looking, probably grow up to be a handsome man.
"Kid, I think your definition and mine of 'ugly' are different."
So, later that night, he revealed himself to the kid. The kid's name was Brandon and Mikey found himself getting attached. He found out the kid was just like him; he liked comics, old school horror flicks, pizza, junk food, pretty much identical to him. It also surprised him when the kid called his freakish appearance "cool". He found out the kid had lost his mother and father in a car wreck two years ago and was sent to live with his two older brothers here in New York. The kid had been wandering around at night because he felt his brothers hated him, and Mikey could relate.
Together, the two talked and talked all night. Eventually, Mikey realized he had to get the kid back home and watched him from the rooftops to insure he would be safe. At last, Mikey sat on the fire escape by his room's window and got to say goodbye. But that is far from the end. Mikey found himself growing close to Brandon, like a little brother. And the kid looked up to him, almost like he did to his own older brothers; this was something that Mikey hadn't experienced since Cody.
"Hey Bran! Brought you some new comics I thought you'd like." That's pretty much what happened after the fight with Leo. He went out, bought some comics, and decided to visit Brandon. It was something normal for them.
"Cool! Ohmygoshthisisthenewestissueofjusticeforcewe'veGOTtoreaditohmylord!" The kid was like him; his mouth could run for miles. It made Mikey smile fondly. And the two pseudo brothers continued their night, Mikey losing track of time. Finally, the topic got the idea of their brothers…
"My brothers are so mean. All they do is push me around." Brandon ranted to Mikey. Mikey nodded and then looked up from his spot on the floor besides the kid's bed, where Brandon laid on his back, a comic on his stomach.
"What happened today?" Mikey asked.
"They yelled at me because I'm, ahem, not taking school seriously. They kept lecturing. They're not my parents! No matter how hard they wanna try! Now, they're out because one has a date and the other is partying. And they say, I'M not taking school seriously. They should try taking life seriously." The kid huffed but Mikey saw tears in his eyes.
"They're not my dad. They're not my mom either." He kid's voice cracked.
"Kid," Mikey began, he got up and sat on his bed. He ruffled Brandon's hair, "I know. I feel that way sometimes too. My brothers, in fact, just yelled my head off about not being responsible." He shared sadly.
"It makes me feel useless. Ya know? Like I'm not good enough, and they don't even own me anyways!" The kid now had tears streaming down his face.
"I know. But your brothers, they just want you to have good grades. Don't be a drop out, okay?"
"You too?!" The kid's eyes were full of betrayal.
"Brandon, your brothers just want what's best for you. I do too. Don't let them make you feel useless, because you. Are. Not." Mikey's voice, for once, was dead serious. "But you still need to get good grades and stuff. That way, you can prove to them you're not useless. Get it?" Mikey's voice became soft as he stared at the now-sat up child. Mikey sighed when Brandon nodded and brushed a bang from his face.
"Sometimes, I feel like they hate me. Not at times like this, but… when they point out every single flaw I have. Like they're perfect." This struck a nerve in Mikey. He found tears in his eyes making his throat sting and his vision become blurry.
"K-kid." His cracked for a minute. He cleared his throat and continued, "Trust me. I know. But no one's perfect. Even your brothers know that. They just won't admit it. Big brothers are pig-headed." This made Brandon give a watery laugh and Mikey smirked despite his slowly drying tears.
After they both cheered up, Mikey decided to let the kid rest since it was a school night. On the way back to the lair, he thought about his own words.
'…no one's perfect. Even your brothers know that. They just won't admit it.'
'…your brothers just want what's best for you…'
Mikey let a tear slip as he replaced the manhole cover and began his walk through the sewers.
As Mikey entered the lair, he frowned when he heard voices in the kitchen.
"I'm tellin' ya! Somethin' happen' ta him. Leo, ya can't seriously say ya don't care!"
"I do care Raph! Is that what you want to hear? Then fine, I DO care about him! That's why I yelled at him! I want him to know he's going to get himself or one of us hurt one day! He needs to face the truth! And I'm not the only one to yell at him!"
"Ya was tha only one who drove 'im away." Raph's voice was soft and saddened. Also, full of hurt and pain.
"And Leo, did you really have to tell him all that stuff? I mean, you basically made him feel like he was useless. Expendable. How would you feel if we told you, "All you do if goof off and screw things up. It's time you were off the team for a while."? Cause Mikey's probably feeling twice as hard of what you'd feel." Don's voice was bitter and eerily calm.
Mikey took a step forward to hear even more when he accidentally stepping onto the creaky part of the sewer floor, over-usage and water worn.
"Mikey?" As before Mikey knew what was happening, he was being hugged by Raph and Don. Raph was hugging like he wouldn't let go and Don was hugging him like this was the last time he'd ever see him again.
Leo still stood like a statue, leaning against the wall behind them with his arms crossed.
Raph, who'd barley just let go after a couple of minutes, slapped Mikey harshly in the back of the head.
"What were ya thinking?! We thought someone had took ya!" But despite the harshness, his voice was quiet and his eyes had tears.
'Raphie's crying? Oh man, I messed up. Again.' Mikey thought guiltily.
Raph took a step back and Don did as well. Mikey could now see Don's eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying.
"We- we were so worried baby brother. Never do that again." Don said, his voice flooded with relieve. Raph took this as his que to punch Mikey in the arm and give a small smile.
Don completely checked Mikey and then decided they'd better talk about what'd happen as a family. Leo included. They couldn't just ignore this problem.
But it was obvious that there was still plenty of tension between Mikey and Leo, and even Raph.
"So, where did you go?" Don was the first to break the tension, or at least he hoped. Instead, he just built the pressure on Mikey.
"No where. Just, wandering around." He lied smoothly. The same lie he'd used for a while now.
"Uh-huh. Sure Michelangelo, another excuse." Leo said, rolling his eyes. "What were you honestly doing?"
"Like. I. Said. Wandering around." Mikey kept his composure.
"Michelangelo, if you think I'm going to-"
"You know what Leo? I don't care what you think! I don't! I'm not changing, I'm not letting go of who I am! Not for you I'm not. I can't let go. And if you think I'm going care what you think or want, let alone change for you, you're wrong. I'm not letting go." Mikey snarled. Don got ready to interfere if needed since Mikey thought it was smart to get only centimeters from Leo's beak. Raph was already standing, getting ready to hold Mikey or Leo back if needed.
"Mikey. It's not me that you should change for. It's this team, and you won't admit that you put everyone in danger. You can't face reality." Leo spat.
Mikey went to walk away again, but before even Raph or Don could stop him, "See? There you go again. Running from reality. Because you can't handle it when someone tells you something real. The truth." This made Mikey stop in his tracks. He felt tears rushing down his face, leading to Raph looking ready to kill Leo and Don grabbing Raph's shoulder.
"Okay, can you three calm down! Leo, quit it okay?! Stop degrading our own brother! And Mikey, just… don't go again. Please, my heart can't take it again." Don said clear and full of leadership.
"Fine. I'm going to my room." Mikey announced angrily. But it was really sadness that came out towards the end of his sentence.
Afterwards, Don pushed Raph towards the dojo to work out his anger before he could beat the crap out of Leo.
Leo sat there for a hour in total before sighing and getting up, making his way towards Mikey's room.
He'd been acting like a jerk, yes. He'll admit, he went too far. He just wanted his baby brother to grow up before something happened to him or the others.
"Mike." Leo said gently, knocking on the door.
"Go. Away." Was grinded out behind the door.
"No. I won't. I'll sit out here for days, months, years. I want to apologize and I won't leave until I do."
"I'm going to fix what I did wrong Mikey. And even if you don't want to hear it, at least let me in so I can talk, if even to myself." He said quietly.
That made Mikey unlock the door but nothing else. No opening the door or saying to come in.
Leo took the silent invitation and came inside.
"Mikey… look, do you know why I'm so harsh? Especially on you?" He began, not really knowing where to start.
"No." Was the single reply he got. Mikey told himself at first not to even look at Leo once he came in, but he was too curious to hold a grudge. His heart was burning because of that question, why did Leo hate him?
"Because, I care. I care about the others. I care about you. If you're goofing off, you're not only endangering the others, but yourself. And I can't lose any of you. Do you understand? I told you before; We're all that we have. If one of us goes down, we all go down. And I can't lose one of you guys because we're all that we have, all that I have. And I took out the pain and fear I felt on you because I thought giving you 'tough love' would set you straight. Make you focus during fights and battles. Make you- "
"Better?" Mikey's voice wasn't bitter or angry. Just calm and honestly curious.
"No. Not better. Just more focused."
"Better. I know I'm useless Leo. You showed me the truth today and you're right; I've got to face the truth. Learn and grow up. Maybe I can let go." Mikey's voice was calm still, but an eerie calm. The kind of calm that told Leo he had broken something, something he can't fix or replace.
He broke something in his little brother's heart.
And something in his own heart broke when his baby brother flashed a smile. A broken smile
"I got the memo bro. Thanks. I'll get better, don't worry! And I know you love us, knew it for a long time. Goodnight!" Mikey faked a smile, obviously, and shoved Leo out the door, and before Leo could tell his brother different, he locked the door. Leo could tell he just broke something. He sighed and realized he'd bring this whole situation up to Sensei tomorrow since he came back from a spiritual trip tomorrow.
But no one noticed said broken brother sneaking out of his room and heading topside. But Leo also didn't know just how much Mikey had broken over the years. Mikey recalled all the taunts and the times everyone had hinted his uselessness and pointed out briefly how much a burden he was. He thought about how he'd end up killing all his brothers one day.
So, for Mikey, tomorrow never came.