I started this fic literally months ago, but the moment I finished it my computer crashed less than fifteen seconds later and I lost the lot! So I've been trying to recall what I wrote and type it up. It ends very differently to the first draft I did but that's what you get re-writing a bunny.
For those of who who follow what I write, I have three angst fics up, all on different Turtles POV's. This is the fourth. Or what should have been the second. I began writing it before 'Alone'. So ya can guess from who's POV it's written.
The fic was inspired by a paragraph from Dierdre's fic 'Fade', which, if ya haven't read, WHAT YA WAITING FOR! Go check it! It's actually nothing like 'Fade' (or at least, I don't think so) but it made me ask the questions which led to this bunny. So I owe major thanks to D-Chan!
I'd also like to give thanks to everyone who reviewed 'One Moment'. It's a fic I was really unsure of, until Askre beta'd for me. Damn, if only more boring days at work could lead to such bunnies!
Oh, nearly forgot!
I do not in any way, shape or form own TMNT. I am merely using the characters to fulfil my own ideas. AND this fic has character death, angst, violence and blood in it. Don't read f ya don't like that kinda thing. As ever, reviews good or bad are appreciated.
I buried a katana in my brothers throat yesterday.
Not that the katana is my weapon of choice, but my own weapon has no blade and they were just lying there next to him, so I put them to good use. Our brothers watched me. I hated them a little. Why did I have to do the deed? Why not one of them? But there's no real answer to that. I got there first and that's all there is to it.
It all seems so pointless. So trivial. Hardly anyone even knew he was alive and even less people care that he's dead. My brothers are trying to cope in their own ways, there are a lot of tears back at the lair. Master Splinter seemed to age right before our eyes when he heard the news. And me. . .
I haven't shed a tear. Haven't cried, haven't bemoaned my brothers fate. I just feel numb. I killed him. Me. I always hated hurting people, I've even been known to be careful of not injuring the Dragons too much on occasion - but murdering my brother? No problems there. Just picked up the katana, whispered goodbye and stabbed.
I just don't understand what went wrong. We've faced worse odds and more experienced fighters before and I don't know how one guy could get the drop on him like that. But he did and there's nothing I can do to change it, even if I knew what happened. I can still see the way the knife stuck out of his trachea, the look of shock on his face, mirroring my own and that of our brothers.
At least the guy who did that to him suffered a similar fate. Raph made sure of that. Guy didn't suffer nearly enough in my opinion. We three are the ones suffering and the guy who did it is at peace, unless there's some kind of hellfire-and-brimstone afterlife, which I devoutly hope there is and this guy has his own spot in the ninth level.
I knew as soon as I looked at my brother that he couldn't be saved. There was too much blood, too much damage and he was in a lot of pain. I did what I had to do. I know he would have wanted me to do what I did. He would have done the same thing for me. But the guilt, the shame, the sorrow - it's the main reason I'm glad it was me who killed him and not one of my brothers. If one of them had been forced to do what I did, their guilt would be too much for them to take. They're both the types to let their emotions get the better of them. Me, I'm more likely to detach. I bury those feelings, compartmentalise them and put on a poker face to the world. It might seem cold to others, but it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. I can shut it out, pretend I'm not hurting, soldier on, but my brothers – they would have taken a header off the building on which I currently sit.
Not that I haven't thought about it. Jumping off the building I mean. Just lean forward and let gravity take over, try to land on my head so that my brain splatters across the tarmac, losing the part of me that can't stop remembering how my brother looked just before I murdered him.
But that would be cowardly. My brother would never do something like that. Even if he did what I was forced to do last night, he would never run out on us, leave us to our pain. He wouldn't do what I'm thinking of and leave our brothers to deal with the loss of two brothers instead of one. He would understand that I had to do what I did. And he would know how it made me feel.
My living brothers are probably looking for me by now. Maybe they're afraid of what I might do on my own. I know I would be if our roles were reversed. They needn't worry. I'm not going to do it. Not tonight at least. Because this is one of those forever things. I know I'm gonna feel this way for the rest of my life. I might wake up next week or next month or next year and decide I can't live with what I did to him anymore and then I'll be back up here. I deserve to feel this way for the rest of my life. I killed him. I knew I was going to, I planned to do it, I knew he couldn't stop me and that my brothers wouldn't and I killed him.
I don't want to be found right now. I know they'll be afraid for me and I'm sorry, but I need to be alone for a while, to think about the brother that I lost. That I murdered.
Now I think about it, he sacrificed a lot to keep us safe. I guess I always knew it but never really thought about it all that much. It was just the way things were. When we were little, he was the one who always trained extra-hard and listened to Master Splinter's lessons so he could be better able to keep us safe. When we got older it was him who stopped us from killing each other when we fought or stopped us killing ourselves through doing something stupid. We could afford to do dumb things because we always had him there to watch our backs, and he could never afford to because he was looking after us. He gave up his fun, his free time, just to make sure we were safe. He must have felt bad sometimes when we rolled our eyes and muttered about how he was 'spoiling our fun' but he never showed it, never complained.
I wish I could have told him some of this stuff when he was alive. Before I killed him. I'd tell him that he didn't need to feel responsible for us all the time, he didn't have to give up everything for us, that we appreciated what he did for us, that we loved him. That I loved him.
Now it's too late.
I hear a noise behind me and turn my head. One of my living brothers stands behind me, the tails of his headband flapping in the breeze. He wears an expression I rarely see on his face, solemn, his usual smile nowhere. I hate that he has to look like that, that I was responsible for making him so sad.
He approaches me and rests a hand on my shell. "Come on Donnie. Let's go home."
I sigh and stand up, working the pins and needles out of my legs. I've been sitting in the same position for too long. Rather than swan-dive off the building, I follow my brother down to street level, using the fire escape and getting there safely, letting him raise a manhole to get us into the sewers. We climb down the ladder, me manoeuvring the cover back on before I make my way down the ladder. My brother waits for me at the bottom, the look on his face still sad. I can't stand to see him like that. It's even worse that it's all my fault, the way he looks right now. When he looks at me, I can't meet his eyes. I stare at my feet instead.
"Donnie. . ." His voice is pleading. "Don't blame yourself. You had to do it."
I want to smirk. Did I say I had a poker face? Guess my opinion of myself is too high. Or maybe my brother is more astute than I give him credit for sometimes.
"You can't shut yourself off like this," he continues and I realise with alarm that he's about to start crying. I don't know that I can comfort him. I can't even make myself feel better. "We have to stick together, we have to. . . we have to. . ."
Yeah, he's crying. He covers his face with a hand and I hesitate. I want to do something, but the guilt over what I did stands in the way. Wouldn't it be hypocritical of me to give him solace when I was the one who caused his misery? How can I tell him everything was going to be alright when nothing is going to be alright ever again?
But I can't stand to see him like this.
Tentatively, I go to him and put my arm over his shoulder, drawing him closer. He responds by throwing both of his arms around my neck and wailing. I feel my own lip begin to tremble and I bite it. I can't break down, not now, not when he needs me.
"It's not your fault Don," he says when the tears have died down somewhat. "You do know that, don't you?"
"Of course," I say but my voice doesn't sound convincing even to myself. He draws back, swiping at his eyes and glaring at me.
"Well OK, maybe I do blame myself a little."
The accusing look on his face gets to me and I snap. "I killed him! I stabbed him through the throat and he's dead and I did that! Me! It's my fault that he's dead because I. . .I murdered him."
"No," he says quietly. "You – euthanised him. Is that the right word? He was dying and he was in pain. You did the right thing. Don't ever think that you killed him. It was that creep that did that. You helped him."
"I. . ." Oh no, I can feel tears threatening. I still haven't cried over what happened. Nor had I slept. Or eaten. I'm tired, confused, my heart is heavy and my brother is dead. Suddenly, I find myself thinking of the time he saved me from drowning. And I repaid him by killing him. . .
I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the image. "I should have tried to save him. I didn't even try. Maybe he would have been OK, maybe if I'd made a compress and we got him back to the lair and I could have stitched him up and then maybe. . ."
"He wasn't going to live," he replies, maddeningly rational. If he yelled at me, hated me, I'd feel he understood more what a terrible thing I'd done. Instead, this forgiveness that I didn't deserve. "He was choking on his own blood, he couldn't breathe, there was. . ."
"I know what was happening to him!" My yell takes us both by surprise. A sudden bolt of anger toward him courses through me and I take a step forward, clenching my fists. I had no idea how I was going to react. I so rarely lose my temper, it's kinda frightening when I do. "I was right there and I was the one who put the katana through his neck and I could see he wasn't going to make it and that's why I did it!"
My brother doesn't seem perturbed by the outburst, giving me a sorrowful look instead. "I know Don. I understand."
Yeah, he did. I could see it. He knew that I had to do it and forgave me for it. So why didn't I understand? Why couldn't I forgive myself?
That's the thought that breaks the floodgates. He approaches me as I feel a couple of tears escape my eyes and he just about gets hold of me before I experience a complete emotional breakdown and the strength leaves my legs. Dimly, I'm aware that he's supporting me, making me sit on the ledge in the sewer tunnel and maybe later I might be grossed out by the gunk and germs I'm sitting in but right now I couldn't care less. I can see images in front of my closed eyes, a confusing jumble in no chronological order.
Aged 14, sparring. . .
Aged 6, arguing over a toy. . .
Aged 12, laughing over a prank we played on our brothers. . .
Aged maybe 3, sharing a chocolate milkshake. . .
Aged 8, in serious discussion over a comic book. . .
I see these things and realise, really acknowledge, that my brother is dead. There will be no more sparring, chocolate milkshake, serious discussion, laughter. He isn't coming back.
It takes me maybe five minutes before I can raise my head and give my brother a watery smile. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." He gives me a grin in return, a ghost of his old grin but it's a start. "I'm just glad you can – accept it." He grows serious. "I'm sorry it was you Don, but at the same time at least you know where to hit. I would have made a complete hash of it."
"Oh bro. . ." I reach for him again. "I killed him. . . "
"NO!" my brother insists before letting me sniffle into his shoulder again."You helped him."
"And now there's only the four of us. . ."
"We're not going to just forget him," he insists. "And you know that Leo would thank you for it. And that we do too."
I give him a confused look.
"I – I would hate to see him in that much pain and know he wasn't going to pull through."
"But I. . . ."
"And you know something else? He was going to die and if you'd tried to keep him alive, you'd still be here, blaming yourself, because you couldn't save him. The only difference is, he would have suffered more. You're not to blame."
I let myself start sobbing again, but I know what my brother says is the truth. I was acting on instinct when I did it. The scientific part of my mind took over but that doesn't mean I didn't act out of love.
"I didn't want to!"
My brother pats my shell. "I know Don. I know."
And that's how our last surviving brother finds us a few minutes later. Me crying like I deserve the luxury of grief and him hugging me, trying to make me feel better.
"Ah, Don. . ."
I glance up at him. I never heard him approach. Well, he's a ninja and I'm wailing. What else can you expect?
One thing I don't expect is forgiveness. From one, perhaps. But both? Never.
Instead, our brother approaches and puts one arm around each of us.
"Don't blame yourself," he says to me quietly. "You did what you had to do."
Those words sustain me a little as I finally get a hold of myself and we make our way back to the lair, back to what remains of our family. My brothers might not blame me. My father may not blame me. Leo may not blame me.
But I'm always going to blame myself. Always.
I'm sorry Leo. . .