Please continue to abstain from litigation. The TMNT and supporting characters are CopyRight of Mirage Studios.

Donatello dropped the last wrench into his toolbox. Light filled the lair and the generator purred like a giant kitten. "It's even got an auto-kill switch for when the city's power comes back. We don't have to waste gas powering the lair ourselves and we don't have to turn the power off to know if the city's been fixed!" He looked up sharply from his triumph as the lid over the ladder scraped back. Don frowned and checked his watch. "High time! What'd you jokers do! Watch a football game with Casey?"

Mike came down from the ladder with a sheepish grin. "Ah..." he looked to Raph as he rubbed at the back of his neck. His family instantly knew Mike had messed up something. Leonardo just waited on the opposite side of the generator from Donatello. If it were important, Mike would not keep it hidden.

Raphael did not make eye contact with Michaelangelo. He drew a deep breath; ready to tell them about the kidnapping when he pulled up short. "WAAAAAAAAAiiiitaminute! Why the FUCK is there light in here! We didn't getcher parts, Don. And the surface's still dark!"

A bolt on the side of the generator suddenly fascinated Donatello.

Michaelangelo blinked and looked around as it dawned on him that Raphael was correct. Leo raised a brow and cleared his throat. "Why are you back without the parts," the eldest wondered in attempt to distract them both and steer the conversation back to whatever had Mike on edge.

Raphael glared at Don and then at Leonardo for trying to derail him. "Cause shit don't happen like in fairy tales, Leo. Real life got in the fuckin' way." Raph would not be put off, stalking closer to Donatello and the generator. "You didn't need that shit did you!"

Don's head snapped up, meeting Raphael's eyes. He equivocated as best he could. "Yes, I did--just not to make the generator. I found the right parts for that here." Don made it sound perfectly reasonable, but the excuse would never hold water with Raphael. Donatello hoped his tone and logic were enough to stem the on-coming argument.

Leonardo nodded at Donatello's response and crossed his arms as he asked, "So...where are the things?" He put the pieces together slowly. Something had happened that either injured Mike or broke something or some one important and caused the pair of them to return home far later than anticipated without the parts.

Raph threw up his hands, still focused on Donatello. "I DON'T BELIEVE THIS! Mike almost LOST HIS FUCKIN' TOE over those parts an' you don' even need'em!"

Donatello's attention jumped from his angry brother to the one that had been strangely silent. Mike stood by the ladder. The area had poor lighting, so Donatello left his spot by the running generator and walked right past Raphael without acknowledging him. His errand had not been intended to get his brothers into danger--just out of his hair--so to speak. If Michaelangelo sustained injury on this foolish errand he sent them on, there would be nothing Raphael could say to make Donatello feel guiltier.

Leonardo looked quite interested in things now. He quickly followed Donatello up the stairwell that separated the entryway from the open space of the living room. He passed cursory inspection over his youngest brother as he continued questioning Raph. "How'd he almost lose his toe," Leo asked, "What were you two doing?" Leonardo spoke as if Mikey weren't right beside him. It made Raph's blood boil, but getting into an argument with Leo for Mikey really was not the way to prove that Mike thought for himself. Donatello squatted down and studied Mikey's toes.

Raph's gaze would have bored holes in lesser men, but apparently Leonardo did not notice it. Raph spoke slowly, as if explaining the events to a child. "He got a toe caught in some grating. We had a helluva time gettin' it out."

Even with the space of the stairs separating them, Leonardo could feel the weight Raphael's eyes on him. Leo automatically ignored it, but gave no outward hint as to whether or not it phased him. Leonardo counted it as a personal victory whenever he could deflect one of Raphael's tirades without batting an eye. "Grating," he stated aloud. His patient calm and the underlying lecture that accompanied it ate at Raphael's control. "Where were you guys?" Leonardo may have addressed both of them, but he clearly expected the answer from Raphael.

Don piped up as he peered and prodded at Mike's foot. "There's no grating for blocks that's big enough for our toes--certainly none on the way to the junkyard or to Casey's. 'Scuse us, Leo. C'mon Mike." Leonardo stood out of their way and Don led Mike down the stairs past Raphael towards the sofa. Raph gave Don the glare of death as they passed. Don concentrated on judging the range of movement Mike still had in his foot.

Leo frowned; Raphael still had not answered properly. "So where were you, Raphael?"

Raphael opened his mouth to lie, just make up a place, but before he uttered a syllable, Master Splinter caught his eye. Sensei said nothing, merely watched Raphael from his armchair opposite the sofa. Raph closed his mouth and scowled. Don sent Mikey and him topside on a lie and somehow he was the one being interrogated. "We needed cash fer the parts. We headed out ta Queens. It happened around there." Raphael looked at Mike for the first time since had descended the ladder. His little brother hobbled to the sofa, much slower now that he did not have Raph's shoulder for support. Don gestured at the couch, "Sit." He did not pause, but headed right into the lab for a larger first aid kit than what was kept in the dojo.

Mikey winced slightly as he got a good look at his own toe in bright light. He flashed his sensei a strained grin. He felt responsible for his brothers' argument, but did not have the energy to bring their attention down on himself. His injury was childish and his brothers were reacting accordingly. Rather than making him angry, it only served to exhaust him. Acting adult seemed like a never-ending, up-hill march. Demonstrating that adulthood to Leo proved an even more Herculean task. The day Mike acted as rational, as level-headed, and as boring as Leo would be the day that Leo actually treated him like an equal--fat chance of that. Mike wiggled the healthy toes on his other foot at his sensei, and settled into the sofa to weather out the fight.

Raph pulled his attention back to his brother in blue as he descended the stairs and stood opposite Raphael. Leonardo peered pointedly over the back of the couch at the injury before turning back to Raph. Every line of Leonardo's stance said that Raph better have a damn good reason for taking their little brother into Queens. Raph tried again to get his words out. "Minor crisis. Mike got his toe stuck. We got it out. Don'll have ta look at it. But that's not the problem--"

"You took him on the bridge." Leonardo made that a statement, not a question.

Donatello re-entered the room in time to hear Leo's comment. He opened his mouth to remind Leo that Mike thought for himself and was just as adult as the rest of them. Mike could certainly choose whether or not he wanted to go with Raphael anywhere. Raph had not taken Mike across the bridge; Mike went. The glare he received from Raphael, the expression on Leonardo's face, and the tired, resigned Mikey on the sofa convinced him that Mike's self-reliance was a can of worms for a later date.

"Took 'im on the bridge! No Leo, we flew ta Queens from LaGuardia-- Will you LET me finish! S'important!" Leo's eyes narrowed, but did not interrupt again. Gratified that Leo could shut his hole for long enough to listen, Raphael said, "Thank you." The sarcasm dripped from his tone, but before Leo could interrupt again, he continued. "Right near the access roads on the Queens side'a the bridge, I spotted some rich asshole pickin' up whores. "

Don hurried around the sofa, quickly becoming distracted by the deep purple coloring that spread over a quarter of Mike's foot. "What'd you do to get it out of the grate?"

Raph scowled as he was interrupted a second time. He turned to face Don, Mike and his Sensei where they examined the injury in the living room. Splinter dragged the much-abused coffee table over to his son. He indicated that Mike should put his foot up. Mikey frowned a little and spoke to Splinter despite the fact that Donny had asked him the question. "I tried to pull it, but it wouldn't come out. So Raph gave me his lock grease, and with his and my packs I greased it up and it still didn't want to come out." He explained, "Raph was just going to try and force it out easy but someone screamed and Raph ended up jerking it out so he could see what happened."

Raphael followed Mikey's lead, stepping closer to lean on the back of the sofa over Mike's shoulder. He left Leonardo behind him, having dropped their fight momentarily in order to appeal to Splinter's higher authority. "S'right, somebody screamed. Lotsa somebodies screamed. I saw this huge fucker--sorry sensei-- huge guy stuffin' limp crack whores inta his truck. Didn't get a full tag, but some rich ass-- guy is murderin' whores... in Queens... which prolly ain't mucha a newsflash-- but the fact is I saw it an I know a partial tag an' description an' we gotta phone the cops cause me an' mike couldn't keep up with'em--fer obvious reasons." Raph gestured at Mike's foot, all worked up again at the memory of his inability to help.

Splinter nodded in reply to Raphael. It only made sense that they report such an attack to the authorities. He let his silence serve to quiet Raphael's excitement. "Yes. We will do so, my son." His agreement alone cooled Raphael's temper a number of degrees.

"Hai, sensei." Raphael's calm lasted for a heartbeat before Leonardo cleared his throat.

"So are you done now, Raph," Leo asked with a raised brow ridge and a none-too-amused expression, "Or am I interrupting you again by bothering to ask?"

Raphael leveled a flat glare at Leonardo, and crossed his arms over his chest. "Go on Leo. Tell me that witnessin' the abduction or death a' over four women ain't as importan' as me takin' my grown brother--who coulda tol' me ta fuck off at any point-- across a bridge."

Splinter's ears flattened. Raphael was too busy trying to stare down his brother to pay attention to his language. Splinter sighed, waiting to hear Leonardo out. If Leonardo answered Raphael with a remark that satisfied his brother in red, then things would quiet down quickly. If not, Splinter would step in, though he despised doing so. It would either humiliate Raphael or undercut Leonardo's authority. Despite either turn of events, Splinter would not leave them to fight it out alone--not while he still lived and could mediate between them. He continued to listen to them with half an ear as he looked over Mike's toe. Splinter spoke in a quiet voice, letting his two headstrong sons vent while he and Donatello tended Michaelangelo's injury. "Donatello, his toe has been dislocated at this joint." Splinter indicated the most swollen part of the toe. "With the extent of the bruising, he may have torn ligatures. The damage seems to have extended to the underside of the foot as well." Donatello's science knowledge was without peer in the lair, but Splinter was a ninja master and with that came an understanding of a body's limits and stress points. Splinter frowned as he examined the foot. Leonardo and Raphael were still bashing heads.

Leo glared right back at Raphael, preparing himself to keep an even temper. That never really worked where Raph was concerned, but he would try. "I didn't say the trip over the bridge was more important than the safety of those women," the oldest brother explained, "And it's not that that I'm unhappy with! You do not have any sort of magical ability to just know when a bunch of--," Leo paused as he struggled to find a second word for whores that did not sound like 'whores,' "Strangers are in danger. That being said, you endangered Michaelangelo and yourself needlessly," he explained, "What were you doing on your way to Queens when you could have just taken a far less risky trip to the junkyard or Casey's?"

Raphael glowered at his brother. Raph had come home with expensive things before, come through with parts no one else could find, had cash when no one else in the family did. No one asked where he got the money when from time to time he was able to chip in cash to pay April back for luxuries. Of course Mike knew where he got the money. Donatello probably knew as well. Raphael would lay odds that Splinter had figured it out, and he would be damned if Leonardo hadn't at least got a guess. No one bothered him about it--until now. Now it mattered and now he was going have to break the unwritten rule; he would have to 'fess up. Once it was specifically forbidden, it would never happen again--never again, unless he wanted to outright lie to his family. That thought triggered a glare at the back of Donatello's head. In Raph's books lying to your brothers smacked of betrayal. Hiding things was fine, but you didn't lie.

Donatello had settled down on Mike's other side, listening more to Splinter than to his arguing brothers. His own cursory first glance confirmed most of what his sensei had said, but now he turned his attention to Mike's foot and began probing the area. "Let me know if you feel anything grinding, or any nausea as I do this, Mike." Mikey was obviously bothered by the pressure on his bruises, but said nothing. Knowing that none of his brother's bones had been broken, Donatello cleaned the cut across the top of Mike's toe and splinted it, completely oblivious to the new direction of Raphael's displeasure.

Raphael bit back a snarl. "The shit on the list was so fuckin' obscure, we were gonna save time by just gettin' it all from a hardware store. After hours. But we ain't jus' thieves. Me an' Mike were gonna get some money. Thas' why we were in Queens." He hadn't specifically said they were going to risk mugging a drug dealer, but he had no hope that Leo would not force him to say the words.

Leonardo seemed as if he were struggling for how to make his brother understand the root of his concerns. "Look Raphael, don't get me wrong, your methods are good at times," the eldest noted, "But you didn't need to go so far this time. People are far more likely to be packing guns in Queens than anywhere around here, the junkyard or Casey's place."

"We didn' have POWER, an' it gets fuckin' COLD down 'ere! I THOUGHT Don NEEDED the parts!"

Donatello had the grace to blush and duck his head, very firmly involved in his work on mike's foot. He would apologize to Mike in private and offer to fix his playstation. Heck, he would apologize to Raphael as well, but he'd prefer not to eat crow in front of everyone all at once.

Leonardo rubbed at his beak. "And it was very good of you to think of saving us time Raphael..." he said, "But we'd be far better off with all five of us in one piece than we would otherwise and with power."

Raph grinned without a trace of humor. "I thought I didn' have a supernatural sense of when people where gonna get hurt, Leo."

"I never said you did," Leo answered, "It's common sense that going to Queens when you could have just as easily gotten your parts otherwise at less risk, was far more likely to lead someone to injury in some form or another."

Donatello finished wrapping his brother's foot. "Doctor's orders? You sprained it bad. Listen to sensei and don't move it too much." He pulled a deep breath and stood up.

"I THOUGHT it was an EMERGENCY, Leo... QUIT BUSTIN" MY BALLS ABOU--" Raph cut off, eyes on Donatello. "Well?"

Donatello frowned at Raph, but nodded. "Look. I'm sorry I sent you out under the wrong impression. I needed you out of the way, and I didn't want to wait for 10 years while you 'got ready' to leave. So yeah, I lied about the parts. We both know you're not going to quit shouting with Leo until I stand up and take my part of the blame. So yes. I sent you out without good reason. --But if you think this is somehow all my fault?…" Don trailed off. This was way too much confrontation. He had say what needed saying. He was done with Mike's foot. "I'll be in my lab if you guys want me to fix anything else." His unspoken complaint hung in the air as he snatched the first aid kit and stalked off to his lab. The only purpose he served in the family was to repair things, and here he was apologizing to them for needing the quiet to do it.

Leo bit his tongue despite the fact he still had plenty of protests to make. Raphael was not going to compute what he was saying as anything more than "ball busting," and it all seemed pretty useless now. With Don having added his own two cents and leaving, it seemed doubly so. Mike just sat there in the momentarily awkward silence wondering what Don would have said.

Splinter shook his head, and patted Michaelangelo's knee. "Do not bend it, stay off of it. You are excused from full kata, but I expect you to spend a greater amount of time doing sit-ups, floor stretches, and weight training to make up for it." He looked to his other sons.

"Raphael, I understand your disappointment in your brother, and I understand you labored under a false truth. However, understand that Leonardo merely wishes you to retain a sense of danger and weigh your options carefully in the future. We all have faith in you and your training, yet not even a ninja can dodge every bullet." His 'we all' very obviously included Leonardo and served as a very subtle reminder for his son in blue.

Leonardo bowed his head to Splinter quickly. "Thank you master," the oldest son noted, "It's nice to know someone here understands me." Though he wouldn't admit it, the bit directed at him had stung a little. Of course he had faith in Raphael! He needed no reminder! He just worried about him. He could be far too reckless for his own good.

Raph shot Leo a death-ray stare at his martyr routine, but nodded to his sensei. "Gotcha." He turned back to Leo, his tone dry as the Sahara, "Can I go have Don report the dead whores ta the cops now?"

Splinter sighed and shook his head. He knew Raphael understood him. He knew Leonardo understood him. How it was that they refused to understand each other eluded him. He pushed up from his seat beside Michaelangelo's foot on the coffee table and straightened his kimono.

Leonardo shot Raphael a glare right back. "Of course you can," the older answered between his teeth. He was already talking to Raphael's shell as Raph strode off towards Don's lab.

With the ceremony concluded, the candles extinguished and dead woman properly prepared, Marcus J. Luxendorff removed the hood of his wrinkled robe. He turned to his associates; already busy removing their own unholy garments.

"That went well gentlemen. I feel that this one was particularly potent. Clean up in here, and get some coffee. In a half hour, we'll take the 'new girl' downstairs and put her to work."

Mr. Luxendorff's subordinates nodded. The ceremony was exhausting, but only the first half of the job.

The 'new girl' lay staring at the ceiling, skin hardening as though embalmed. Patches of hair sewn into her face obscured her consciousness' view out of her body. She cried out soundlessly in the dark of her dead shell. LET ME OUT! YOU CAN'T KEEP ME IN HERE! YOU BASTARDS! JUST LET ME DIE!

The human men around her could not hear her and if the body twitched from time to time, they were too busy putting away candles to notice.

To Be Continued!








Hello all! Here you go, what you were waiting for. The TURTLES part of the tmnt fanfiction. Heh. This chapter could be rated so much more leniently than the previous one, but I'm afraid that once a fic goes "M" it can't go back. So, tell your friends. Peas and I are writing again! Hope you enjoy it, and don't fret, Leonardo doesn't disrespect Michaelangelo so much as 'have a desperate need to mother somebody.' Mike just fits that category best. Lucky guy, huh?

Heh. Ah well, Thank you for reading! And double thank you to the folks who've RETURNED since this fic went dormant.