First, to my reviewers, thank you, thank you, thank you. Those little words mean the WORLD to me. With school picking back up, it's going to be hard to find motivation to write. Your feedback is the only thing that's going to kick me enough to finish this… (and I have a lot planned, if people keep reading.) So please, to anyone else, please leave a comment as you exit, or at least say hi and tell me about your day! Remember, I give lots of love to people who show me some…
Buslady: Me? Kill Raph? Not now, but maybe later…or maybe not…
GemDrive: Thanks! I loved the Italian Job. Writing Mike has been WAY more fun than I thought it would be – glad to know I've been doing okay.
Sporkey Anonymous: Wow, one for every chapter! I could kiss ya! Yes, Raph and April will always hold a special bond for me like they do for you. Since this story is based off of the first movie, I just couldn't leave it out. Hope that you enjoy this one – I found it really tough to write.
Fallen Hikari: Your review was so appreciated. It really kept me going for this next one, I tried not to disappoint. It's been a while since High School AP English, I'm glad that you think I'm doing okay in that department. My brain has been cluttered with lots of crap since then. As for the realism – that's the main thing I'm striving for. Glad that you feel it. As a final note, Goo Goo Dolls Rock! Ever been to a concert??
Yes, I know, I also forgot a disclaimer. But I'm sure you all know that I don't own. That applies to everything. I do, however, want to make sure that I give credit to Golden Harvet/Mirage for my excerpt taken from TMNT I…and to Linchi, for teaching me the art of the well-placed flashback.
CHAPTER 5: BROKEN
"I'm frightened by what I see
But somehow I know
That there's much more to come
Immobilized by my fear
And soon to be
Blinded by tears"
I did my best to keep my steps steady as I ran down the tunnel, ignoring the pounding between my temples. It was getting worse, which lead me to believe I was going in the right direction. I could hear Donatello's steady breathing beside me as we searched the sewer, his face frozen in silent determination. I didn't tell him how bad the pain was; I couldn't. The last thing that I wanted was him to be worried about me too.
"Hey Leo, hold up a sec," Don huffed, placing his hand across my chest. "Aren't we close to where Raph keeps his bike?"
"Honestly, I'm not sure. I haven't been back there with him in long time," I answered. I suddenly felt bad about my ignorance of my brother's life. Most of the time when he was gone, I had no idea what he was doing. Then again, I supposed it wasn't fully my fault – I was usually the last one he wanted to be around when he was brooding.
Donatello pointed up ahead of us to where the sewer branched into two different tunnels. Both of them still headed in the direction we were going, but at slightly different angles.
"I'm pretty sure it's to the left. I think that's where we should head," he said, looking at me for confirmation.
I nodded. "We should probably be a little quieter too."
"Agreed." Unsheathing his bo, he waited for me to lead the way down the tunnel.
As we continued, I realized that the sound of the thunder and rain was slowly getting louder. Soon, I could barely make out a silvery circle of light, signifying the end of the tunnel. I squinted. There was something there, but it didn't definitely wasn't a motorcycle.
It looked like a body.
"Oh God," Don breathed, breaking into a sprint.
I couldn't move. Every nerve in my body seemed to be firing at the same time. My senses were overloaded, trying to grasp the reality of what was happening. No, not Master Splinter…
It took Donatello's voice to break me from my trance.
"Leo, HELP ME!"
Stifling a cry, I rushed to where Donatello knelt over the motionless body. When I reached him, I saw that it wasn't just Master Splinter. Raphael was there too. The scene made my breath catch in my throat.
Blood was everywhere. The ground, the walls…everything was stained a dark shade of red. Splinter's fur was so matted with it I could hardly tell what color he was anymore.
When I saw his face, I knew instantly that he was dead. His eyes were frozen open in a painful, glazed-over stare. A mixture of blood and mucus ran from his nose, collecting in a pool in his open mouth. His death had been anything but easy. I felt the sting of tears as I realized that his fingers were curled delicately around Raphael's hand, which was stretched through the grate covering the entrance.
My brother was cleaner because of the rain, but hardly better off. He lay on his stomach, face tucked into his elbow, still wearing the leather suit he used to go to the surface. The left side looked slightly shredded, as if he'd rubbed up against something. One of his legs was mangled beyond recognition. I also noticed a gash along the back of his head, still oozing blood down the back of his neck.
He looked dead too.
Donatello quickly searched for a pulse against Master Splinter's throat, but I assumed that he also knew he was already dead. He just didn't want to believe it. His search was brief, and he then turned his attention to the barrier between our fallen family members.
He gave the metal a hard shove, trying to push it open. It groaned against his weight, but the lock held it firmly in place. He shook it again in frustration.
"Dammit! Leo, can you break this?" he asked. I saw the panic in his eyes when he realized he couldn't reach Raphael.
"I'm going to have to."
Donatello backed out of my way. Lifting my katana high above my head, I locked my wrists and put all the strength I had behind my strike. My whole body vibrated as the blade struck the padlock.
The prong bent, but didn't break.
"Ah!" I swung again. And again. I unleashed all of the anguish I was feeling into the blows. My father was dead, and I refused to let my brother die too, if he wasn't already.
Finally, on the fourth try, the lock clattered to the ground. Panting, I reached down and threaded Raphael's arm back through the bars before pushing the door back. I felt the warmth of Master Splinter's blood on my feet as I stepped over him.
Donatello supported Raphael's neck as I turned him over. I did everything that I could to keep his leg still. Afraid that I would see the same look of death in his eyes, it was hard to bring myself to look at his face. But once he was on his back, I saw that he was still breathing.
"He's alive Donnie," I said, relief in my voice. The rain continued to pour, soaking both of us quickly.
"Yeah, but I don't know for how long." He was looking at something over my shoulder. Thinking that whoever had done this might still be here, I whipped my head around to see what it was. There was no one, but the dark outline of something else caught my eye. On the hill, wrapped around a tree, was Raphael's motorcycle. The branches above had kept the rain from washing away the mud that covered the red exterior.
Suddenly, things made a little more sense. The accident certainly explained Raph's injuries, but then again, what about Master Splinter? I still wasn't even sure how he died, all the blood made it difficult to find a wound. Whatever had happened to him, it made me unbelievably angry. This was not how he was supposed to die. I knew he was getting older, and I recognized that he would eventually slip away from us. But we should have all been with him, warm in the lair…
With a chance to say goodbye.
"Com'on, we gotta get him back home." Donatello started to take off his bandana. "Give me yours, I'm going to wrap his leg."
I complied, quickly untying the knot. Don fashioned a makeshift bandage, at least enough to protect the wound until we got home. Or keep it from falling apart.
"Okay, I'll take the front half, you get his legs." I told him. Gingerly, we both lifted our battered brother off of the ground.
Raphael was heavy. It was hard for Donatello and me to just hold him, let alone walk with him. Knowing that we needed to keep him as still as possible made the situation even harder.
"What about Master Splinter?" I asked, wincing as I said his name. His death was beginning to feel more real. Hurt burned in my heart.
"We've gotta leave him. At least for now." Donatello, so strong up until this point, started to cry. The tears streamed down both of his cheeks, mixing with the rain. Still, he kept his voice steady. "Raph's the one that needs us."
I knew Don was right. But it made me sick to think of him out in the middle of the sewer, cold and alone. All I wanted was to be near him, tell him how sorry I was for not getting here sooner.
It took us nearly an hour to get back to the lair. At one point I thought I heard Raphael moan, but his eyes remained closed. Although my muscles were screaming with fatigue, I never asked to rest. I focused deep within myself, whispering silently to Master Splinter to give me the strength to save my brother.
"April!" It was hard to yell, I was so tired.
Instantly she opened the door. We almost knocked her over as we barged through, carrying Raphael to the couch in the middle of the room.
"Jesus, what happened?!" she exclaimed, her eyes wide with shock. She gasped when she got a better look at his leg, blood completely soaked through Leo and my bandanas.
"We don't know," I answered, not wanting to waste the time or the energy explaining any more to her. "Leo, I need a bucket of water and a couple towels."
"April, come with me and help me get the medical supplies out of my room."
She nodded, glancing one last time at Raphael. It was funny, I remembered years ago when he brought her back here, unconscious, and laid her in the exact same place.
"Are you crazy?"
"Yeah Leo, I'm crazy all right," He'd stammered. "I'm looney, okay?"
"Why? Oh, I don't know, thought I'd do a little redecorating. A couple throw pillows, a TV news reporter…what do you think?"
Master Splinter had been surprised to see the woman sprawled across the cushions. "What is the meaning of this?"
Raphael's tone changed instantly from sarcasm to a plea for understanding. "She got jumped in the subway; I had to bring her here." My brother certainly had the damsel in distress act down. Although I didn't know it at the time, he'd brought us home the torch we needed to see us through some of our darkest times.
For once I was actually thankful for Raphael's impulsiveness.
I still kidded April sometimes about how loud she screamed the first time she saw us. She'd kept saying over and over that she was dreaming…
I wished I was dreaming now.
Entering my room, I realized that this was one of those times in my life when I was glad I was so organized. Being the brainy one of the group, the guys seemed to think it was okay to leave the job of "doctor" almost entirely up to me. Hell, what would happen if I ever got hurt? It was scary to think of Michaelangelo trying to put stitches in me.
At any rate, I'd done a fair amount of research at April's place on the internet, at least for the basics. I had packets of information printed for anything from fevers to sprained ankles. We'd even gone so far as to request free samples from a medical supply company, pretending to be a veterinary hospital, in case the need would ever arise for something heavy duty. I had lots of stuff; the problem was going to be knowing how to use it.
"Grab that box of print outs," I told April, pointing underneath my bed. She complied, and I picked up the large first aid kit I had sitting on a shelf. I threw two bags of fluids on top before carrying everything out into the living room. Leo was back already, using a half-wetted towel to clean the gash on Raphael's head.
"He's so cold Don," he said, barely looking up. His hand was resting on Raphael's chest as if he was trying to make sure his heart was still beating.
"I'll grab a blanket," April replied. She set the box down by Leonardo and went to grab a comforter off of one of our beds.
"Hey, April?" I yelled after her. She spun quickly. "Could you call Mike and Casey too?" We needed all the help we could get.
I turned my attention back to Raph. Aside from scratches and bruises, his main problems seemed to be his leg and the slice at the base of his skull. I wondered how hard he hit his head. Didn't he always wear a helmet?
Before I cleaned his wounds, the first thing I wanted to do was set up an IV line. His body temperature made me think he was shocky, and he needed something to replace all of the lost blood. Opening the first aid kit, I searched for a catheter, line of tubing, and a roll of sports tape. I found the box of catheters and realized that they came in all different sizes. 18 gauge, 20 gauge, 22 gauge…shit, I had no idea which one to use. Not having time to mess around, I grabbed the 20, thinking it was best to stay somewhere in the middle.
"Okay Leo, I'm going to need some help with this. Find the packet that talks about putting in catheters."
He seemed confused, looking at the small package I held in my hand.
"It's the needle thing that they use to shoot the fluids into the vein."
"Oh." He flipped through the pages in the box, pulling out a single sheet. "I think this is it."
"Good. Now just talk me through this. Go slow."
Leonardo studied the paper, squinting as he tried to understand. "Um, okay, it says to insert the needle into the vein, and then thread the flexible plastic part forward. You'll know you're in if it slides easily."
I took a deep breath. I had a feeling this was going to make me queasy.
Using my left hand to hold off the vein in his arm, I pushed the needle into his skin. I prayed that I was in the right place. To my relief, the plastic tube covering the needle slid forward without resistance. I pulled the needle out, and blood started to backflow out of the catheter.
Panicking at the sight of the dripping blood, Leonardo searched the instructions wildly for what to do next.
"Uh…shit! Um, uh, twist the hub into the end of it!"
Hub? What was that? I looked back to the opened packet on the floor. There was another piece inside it, a green screw-like object. I twisted it on to the back of the catheter.
The bleeding stopped. Whew. At least I knew what to do from here.
I secured the catheter in place with sports tape and then fetched the coat rack from the other side of the room. The bag of fluids hung easily from one of its braches. Finally, I used the line to connect the two parts. Proud of myself, I watched the liquid travel into Raphael's arm.
April returned, carrying Michaelangelo's blue and red Chicago Cub's comforter. We all teased him about being a Yankee traitor. Especially Raphael. Something told me that when Raph woke up, he'd get some sort of sick pleasure from getting blood on the despised blanket.
April tipped her head to the side, her eyes moving from the fluid bag to Raphael's arm.
"When did you learn how to do that?" she asked, amazed at my ingenuity.
"Huh. You never cease to amaze me, Donatello." She smiled and patted my arm. Leo helped her spread the blanket over him, leaving his left leg uncovered so I could work on cleaning it off. I handed Leonardo some gauze to put over Raph's head.
April sat down on her knees in front of the couch while we attended to our brother. Her head rested against his chest, rising and falling slowly as he breathed. Eyes shut, her lips moved slightly, like she was trying to talk to him as he slept. It wouldn't have surprised me if he heard her.
I'd been sponging off Raph's leg for about fifteen minutes when Casey and Michaelangelo returned to the lair. I could hear them bantering back and forth as they approached, but when they entered the living room their voices stopped suddenly.
"Holy shit. I didn't think it'd be that bad," Casey whispered. He paused. "Not too many people can kick Raph's ass that bad."
Mike looked slightly sick. He walked toward us slowly, gaze locked on Raphael. He stood close to Leonardo, trying to gain some sort of comfort by gripping his forearm. I knew he held Raphael at sort of a God-like status; it frightened him to see his tough older brother looking so fragile.
It was Casey, standing back and watching us gathered in the center of the room, that first noticed that someone was missing.
"Hey Leo…" he hesitated, slightly afraid to ask the rest of his question. We all turned to look at him.