It Had To Be Blue
By Sewer Slider
Disclaimer: I don't own the TMNT or the Purple Dragons. Just the story.
This is my first TMNT fic, so please be nice! Review and let me know what was good, what was bad and what you want to see more of.
It had to be Blue, I thought as I backed up against the wall, raising the crowbar I held in what I hoped was a threatening matter. Of all the turtle-men in the city, it just had to be Blue.
I'd come on the job with some of my fellow Dragons. The Purple Dragons are my family, the only people I can trust, and we needed money. The gang wars that had been dividing the city recently had left a lot of fighting for territory and although we had won much of that, thanks to an uneasy return to our alliance with the Foot, there was still new, hungry gangs turning up, trying to muscle in. We needed more money just to keep hold on what was ours – money for weapons, for members – and of course, there's the status that goes with pulling off the heists that we did. Ripping off a store on any block means that territory belongs to the Purple Dragons and some of the other gangs had tried muscling in on that. Not a wise move.
It was my first job back since I'd been hurt, aside from petty bag snatches, which are more of a way to make sure everyone knows whose turf they're on rather than a way to make much money. The girl who worked in the pawn shop had been 'persuaded' to forget to set the alarm, leaving us able to just spring the locks and the stuff was ours. There was a lot of good stuff there, electronics and jewellery as well as cash in the safe. The owner took cash to the bank only once a week, the day after his day off. We found that out from the girl who worked there, as well as the combination. For a shop with such a high turnover, the security was pitiful, the owner being far too cheap to upgrade.
We had a van parked in the alley beside the store and it took a few trips to haul the stuff on the back. Often, we had been known to snatch stuff out of the back of vans while the driver delivered a single box and they were my favourite jobs – I got off on the danger and excitement. But the arm injury meant I had to go a bit easier. Still, good to get back into practice. The job was going off without a hitch…
"Doing a little late-night shopping?"
…Right up until Blue showed up.
Spike had been put in charge of the job and he dropped what he was carrying straight away. Snarling, he glanced down the alley and saw what I already noticed – there was only one of them this time, almost totally hidden in the shadows although I could just make out the green hue of his skin and the colour of his mask. Even if I couldn't see the mask, I don't think I'll ever forget his voice. Usually they travel in a group of four, although I've no idea how many of them there really are. There might be more but they're the only ones I've seen. They all look pretty much the same whenever I've seen them; their coloured masks the only way to tell them apart. Sometimes you see them with a vigilante guy who was giving us trouble long before he teamed up with them and has given us more since. There have been other combinations of the groups, but it's pretty rare to see just one of them. Normally, the situation would have given me hope – it was way past time that the Dragons earned some payback for what the freaks have done to us in the past and there were seven of us, all armed with some kind of weapon, and only one of him. Should have been easy, right? Ha. Nothing's ever easy when it comes to the freaks. And the fact that it was Blue churned my stomach in a way I couldn't quite fathom; defiance and shame competing for superiority over the bad memories…
Another night, another job, two months ago. Less simple than usual because of the recent influx of rival gangs trying to muscle in on our territory. Usually our weapons of choice were made for fighting up close and personal, crowbars, chains, pipes, whatever came to hand. But some of the other gangs had stepped up the action and Dragon Face had procured a large amount of guns and rifles from who knew where. None of us were forced to carry them, but many people felt safer with them rather than our traditional Dragon weapons. Not me. I didn't like getting the idea of getting a beating or getting shot for that matter, but I had little experience with carrying a gun. I was learning slowly but I had visions of shooting myself in the foot. I opted for a chain, easy to carry on your person and can be used in a variety of ways and situations to cause maximum injury.
We were on edge. Another job three nights before had been interrupted by a rival street gang. The Dragons had come out on top but the cops had shown up and we'd had to leave without the haul. The disrespect was intolerable, causing Dragon Face to yell furiously and set up this other job as soon as he could and making me personally very pleased that Hun hadn't been around much lately.
Everything had been going so well. A warehouse job, nothing difficult, nothing that should have caused us any problems. The haul inside wasn't the point of the exercise though – the location was in an area where we were unlikely to be interrupted by the cops again if the other gang turned up. And we were all REALLY hoping the other gang would turn up.
As it turned out, the other gang didn't turn up. They did a job less than a week later that landed half of them in the slammer, including the ringleaders when the rest of the gang turned informant to get lighter sentences. But we did have company.
"Well well. What have we got here?"
I groaned, pulled out the chain and turned around, knowing what I'd see. The Dragons have taken enough disrespect from the Turtle freaks to recognise their voices when we hear them. All four of them, in fighting stances. Rather than wait for them to do some of those karate moves on us, I decided to run in with my weapon swinging. Several of the other Dragons had the same idea, throwing themselves into the fray and trying to do as much damage as possible. The rest held back, knowing that it might be good strategy to await an opening. Not that we'd ever been given one before.
I whipped the chain around at the nearest freak, the Purple-masked one. He swung his stick around, backing up so I didn't hit him. My chain wrapped around the stick and I realised my mistake just in time to get yanked closer and kicked right in the solar plexus. I flew backward, hitting a wall and cracking my head. Moaning in pain, I rubbed the spot hoping to clear my muzzy thoughts in time to help my friends.
Blinking a couple of times, I could see that the Dragons were getting a beating. Or should I say another beating. Red was growling, tussling with Spike, one of the toughest Dragons there is – but Red shoved him backward, leapt up and kicked him in the face as he tried to attack again. Blue sliced up the weapons of two of the other Dragons at the same time, confusing them and leaving them vulnerable to his follow-up attack. Orange had managed to hook his own weapons, two sticks on a chain in either hand, around the pipes another two Dragons were holding and ducked, causing them to knock their heads together and leaving them down and out. And Purple hadn't even paused for breath after he knocked me flying, taking on three guys and knocking their feet from under them.
I could feel my anger rising. It wasn't as if we were doing anyone any harm after all. These Turtle freaks kept on interfering in our business; no wonder we were getting insulted. They jumped in to our affairs, beat us up and made us lose money. The other gangs were laughing at us because of them. And for what? To play the hero? The people we took from could afford to share with us and it wasn't like we killed anyone, only roughed them up a bit. And the Turtle-men roughed us up even more, so didn't it all work out? We were being victimised by the freaks and no matter what we did, they always seemed to come out on top.
I stood up, grabbed my chain and advanced, hoping maybe this time I could at least hurt one of them before I got tossed into the wall again…
Stupid. Stupid. I'd forgotten all about the recent gang hostilities, this fight being another rehash of all the other times we had fought the freaks, right up to the outcome where they beat us and took off, leaving us without our haul, bruised and beaten. I'd forgotten the Dragons who hung back all had guns instead of the usual array of weapons. I was angry, intent on doing some damage to the nearest freak, which happened to be Red…
The noise took me by surprise. I turned my head to see what was going on, not noticing the freaks all jump into the corners of the warehouse, and still not remembering we were armed…
Blue stepped out of the shadows as the others advanced, this time only me hesitating to leap into battle. The other six went for him, this time at least not carrying guns. Blue didn't even seem to care, slashing at the weapons they were carrying, a series of kicks and punches felling my fellow Dragons without trouble. Less than a minute after the fighting began, the others were lying groaning on the floor.
Blue glanced down at them and sheathed his swords, taking a few steps forward and noticing me backed against the wall, pipe raised in case he came any closer and I might be able to get a few blows in…but I doubted it. Besides, he didn't seem interested in fighting me.
Stopping a few paces from me, he paused and folded his arms. "You came back."
"Y-yeah. So?" Wow, lame. I was trying to sound tough, like a Purple Dragon should, but my voice was that of a scared little kid.
"Why?" He looked genuinely mystified, as far as I could tell from his strange features and the shadowy alleyway.
"The Dragons are my family."
He snorted in contempt. "Yeah, some family."
I wanted to stick up for my family, say something that would erase his impressions of what had happened that night…
It felt like I'd been punched in the arm, really hard. For a moment it was like being back with my parents and my bully of an older brother, hurting me for fun and laughing when I cried. Then I felt something warm running down my hand and trickling on the floor and I had just enough time to look at the place my Dragon tattoo had been before the bullet had sliced through the flesh and fatty tissue and muscle of my arm before my legs gave way and I collapsed to the floor, bleeding like crazy.
Memories of those minutes as I lay bleeding are a haze. I can recall the shots, sounding freakishly loud in the enclosed space, growing lesser as the fighting resumed. I saw nothing of it. My eyes were open but I was staring at a patch of concrete and thinking that this wasn't the way I wanted to die, accidentally shot by one of my own gang. It was a bad joke, cruel irony, pick your metaphor. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I wasn't supposed to die…
I don't know for sure, but I think I blacked out for a moment. The next thing I knew, I was being rolled onto my back. My arm hurt like fire and I would have screamed if I'd been able to.
"…Just a kid…"
"…Die unless we stop the bleeding…"
"…Purple Dragon, I say we let…"
Opening my eyes right then was the hardest thing I've ever done and as soon as I did I wished I hadn't. I could see the silhouette of the Turtle freaks faces above me.
Purple was frowning, looking concerned. "We need to stem the bleeding. Mikey, can you find something?"
"On it!" Orange vanished from my view and I struggled to gather my thoughts.
"Get…don't touch me." It was barely more than a whisper.
"Hush," said Purple absently. Orange reappeared with what looked like Spike's shirt – oh boy, was he ever gonna be pissed if I bled all over it. Didn't seem to bother Purple though, who pressed the shirt to my arm. Instantly the nerve endings sang and I tried to scream, little more than a moan emerging. Suddenly I was desperately thirsty.
Red leant closer. "Shot by one of your own thugs. Guess you feel pretty stupid, huh?"
"Raph, hush up!" Purple increased the pressure on my arm and I gritted my teeth. A tearing sound told me that Spike's shirt was history and Purple tied a torn piece close to my shoulder as a makeshift tourniquet.
Orange had gone missing from my line of sight but I could hear his voice, sounding about a thousand miles away. "Guys, it's the police! Heading this way!"
"Time for us to go," said Blue.
"But…" Purple looked up at Blue. "This wound's gonna bleed out if we go now. They won't get here in time and none of the other Dragons look up to helping."
"You guys go," said Blue, kneeling down next to me. "I'll take care of this until some one gets here."
There was a flurry of protests from the other three.
"I can use the window up there," said Blue. "But all four of us couldn't get out before the cops get here. Keep a lookout."
"If the others come round…" It sounded like Red.
"They won't," said Blue, taking the shirt from Purple and pressing it against my wound with what I thought was way too much pressure. "Go."
And suddenly the other three vanished and I was pretty much alone with Blue.
Closing my eyes again, I wondered what I'd done in a past life to deserve this. The job should have been an easy one, just a distraction to attract a rival gang in an old fashioned street fight. Why the freaks?
"You're gonna be alright," said Blue quietly. "You'll be taken to a hospital and they'll patch you up."
I didn't answer. Hospital sounded good, and to hell with what would happen to me after I was out of danger, assuming I didn't die before I got there. I felt woozy and light-headed and cold, all signs of excessive blood loss and going into shock.
"Why do you do this?"
I opened my eyes again and looked at Blue. "Huh?"
"This." He gestured to the warehouse around him. "Steal, hurt innocent people, get into gang fights. Why do you do it?"
"We need…to get by too. Eat…and live someplace. Need money for that."
"Why this way?"
"Yeah, you've been treated with a lot of respect by the rest of those thugs. And you get loads of respect from the other gangs too." He looked over at something I couldn't see, the door perhaps, or the other Dragons. "This is your chance. You can get away from the Dragons, go home, find a better way of life. I'm sure your parents will be glad to see you. The hospital will call them."
"No…don't send me back…" But I was exhausted by then, my vision filled with black spots and the shadows growing darker. As I succumbed to whatever lay in the dark I saw vaguely the flashing red and blue of squad cars pulling up outside and felt the pressure on my arm mercifully ease as Blue left me alone, to be found by the police…
I hadn't been able to make him understand before and I wasn't sure I could do it now, but this time at least I wasn't bleeding all over the place. "The Dragons are all I have, the only ones who give a shit about me. They always stick up for me."
"Yeah, as long as you're stealing for them."
I scowled. "You just don't get it, do ya?"
"No, I don't get it! You could have gotten away from all this, started fresh. Don't you have family, parents?"
"Then you already have a family, you sure as hell don't need the Dragons."
I snorted, thinking about the people I'd left behind when I left for New York…
In the hospital, doctors trying to find my parents so they could get permission to save my life. Had to do it through fingerprints, I was in no position to tell them anything. Lucky I had a record.
A few days after I was shot, coming around and seeing the last people I wanted to – my mom and dad. Mom looked like she might have been crying. Dad looked like he was just waiting for me to know what he was doing before he killed me.
Police, asking questions about the Dragons. Was I a member? Did I see the vigilantes who caught them, left them to be arrested? What happened that night?
I lied. I told them I'd been sleeping rough, hadn't seen a thing. I woke when I heard the shots, stood up to run and been blasted. They didn't believe me, none of them – I was found inside the warehouse after all – but they could prove nothing, not when the skin on my arm was one long scar, not when my Dragon was all but obliterated. And I was a minor and they had other Dragons in custody. Better to release me to the care of my parents.
The bullet had passed through my arm, deep enough to wound me badly but at least it hadn't shattered bone. It hit me at about the shoulder, travelled down and exited near my elbow. Lots of rehab ahead of me because the muscles were badly damaged .Extensive plastic surgery on the scars some time in the future. More expense for the parents who hadn't seen me for nearly a year.
I was taken home. My old room had been redecorated, typical. Instead of my posters and pictures, there was a fresh coat of paint and an air that screamed 'guest room'. They hadn't expected me to ever come home.
My father berated me a lot. He yelled, cursed, told me how ungrateful I was for the things they had done for me. My mother was her usual silent self, not coming to my defence even once. I was put under virtual house arrest while I waited for my arm to heal. And at night, I sometimes thought back to what Blue had said.
"Why do you do this?"
"You can get away from the Dragons."
There was a lot of pain and a lot of time; time to think about what I really wanted. Life in the suburbs with my hard-faced, demanding parents and still-bullying brother or freedom in New York with people who put food in my mouth and a roof over my head and all they asked in return was the occasional fight or some petty theft. Yeah, I was a criminal but so what? Almost everyone is .They cheat on they're taxes, shoplift, beat up their kids, whatever. It's just a matter of degrees. I wanted to be honest with myself, because no one else was going to be. They were telling me how much better my life would be if I tried to fit in, made the effort, worked hard to be like everyone else.
That wasn't what I wanted. My family – my REAL family – were the people that cared about me. My real family were the Purple Dragons.
My dad re-enrolled me in school, informing me that either he or my mom would drive me there and back each day to make sure I went and that the teachers were all well aware I was trouble. I didn't make it into the first class. We pulled up at a red light and I was out of the car and running before dad even knew what had happened, his wallet swiped while his attention was elsewhere and safe in my pocket. I heard him yell out after me as I fled down the street, knew he was going to drive after me and try to cut me off. Good thing I knew all the shortcuts where the cars couldn't go. I had after all lived there all my life.
I ducked into an alley, raced over the road at the other end and through a parking lot. I slowed down when I was sure I'd lost dad and made my way to an apartment where I knew I could swap the credit cards in my fathers wallet for a lift a few towns away. The ride away from home that second time was both excitement and torture. I knew I was going to be home soon, back with the Dragons and I could get a new tattoo on the undamaged arm. But the car was about a hundred years old and I felt every jolt, my wound beginning to throb the further away we got, the scars never to be repaired by the plastic surgery I'd been told I needed. I was also terrified that any moment we would be caught by the police (bad) or my father (worse).
I wasn't caught. I bought a bus ticket when I was dropped off, bought some food and picked another pocket. I was on the bus for New York in no time. And I've been here ever since. The Dragons welcomed me back with open arms, Dragon Face commenting that I was a tough S.O.B. for not giving them up to the cops and even Hun seeming to approve of me. Suddenly I was higher in the pecking order than I thought I'd ever be, the Dragons were proud of me and I'd taken the initiative, coming home when I could have stayed hidden. My family was proud of me. It felt good.
I hardly thought of what Blue said to me at all…
"I told you already, the Dragons are my family. My parents don't want me – the Dragons do. I owe my loyalty to them. I need them." I had no idea why I was trying to explain to Blue. He would never understand. To him, the world was black and white and we were the bad guys, although what was so good about him beating us up I don't know.
"You don't need people like that. They're using you to get what they want." Blue stopped, shrugged. "I know how it is to argue with your family, but sometimes you just have to let it go. You might regret it."
"I haven't argued with my family," I said. "Not my real family."
"You call this family? Whatever." Blue turned his back on me and walked away. I'd been expecting him to beat me up when he couldn't talk me into agreeing to leave New York and the Dragons. I remembered the pipe I still had clutched in my hand, so tightly that my knuckles had turned white and the muscles of my damaged arm were beginning to complain. I considered taking a couple of steps forward and whacking him over the back of the head with it – then I just dropped it. I doubted that I would be able to land the thing before he had it out of my hands and me out cold just like the others. Besides, I owed him one. He had saved my life after all.
"Smart move," he said without turning around, obviously hearing the pipe hit the ground.
"I owed you," I replied. "But this doesn't change anything."
"I didn't think it would," he said dryly. "Next time you Dragons try anything like this, we'll take you down."
He jumped onto a dumpster, then a fire escape, blending with the shadows until he was invisible. I thought I saw something move on the roof, but it might only have been my imagination.
There were sirens in the distance.
Hoping we had enough time to make a getaway with our freedom, if not the merchandise we came for, I did the rounds of the others, trying to bring them to consciousness. And I thought about what Blue had said, about taking us down the next time we tried something. Dragon Face was gonna be mad about this latest failure. When he felt he'd been affronted, he'd set up another job as soon as possible.
I might be running into Blue sooner than he thought. And this time, I wasn't going to hold back. Next time, the Dragons were gonna win one.