Author Note: Well, this is it dudes. The final instalment of the trilogy. I had a blast writing about the displaced turtles and I hope you enjoyed reading it too. My thanks, as ever, go to everyone who read, everyone who reviewed and everyone who gave me the incentive to keep up with this. I'll still be writing, although in the nrmal TMNT universe.
Three weeks later...
Leonardo stopped and looked over the water. This was the place where they had committed their final act for the Foot clan, using the Sword of Tengu to locate a suit of the strange metal it had been made of, a suit that seemingly had been of little use to the alien before he had been dispatched with the same sword. Leo's shoulder ached, but it was alright – it was the kind of ache that said the wound was healing, that he had exerted it and if there was nothing more than an ache there, he could think himself lucky. The wound was still covered with a bandage, but that was more to keep it safe from infection. The sewers weren't the cleanest place in the world and the hole Karai had left with her sword – his sword – had gone right through. She had missed bone, but he had lost plenty of blood and sustained tissue damaged. Still, it was healing rapidly.
His shell however, was another matter. He doubted that would ever heal again.
Behind him, Donatello glanced over the water too. "Seems like it all happened a hundred years ago," he said quietly.
Leo considered this. "Sometimes," he said. "Sometimes it seems like it was yesterday."
Don nodded sombrely. "How's the arm?"
"It's fine…" Leo caught himself, his impatient tone, remembering his vow with himself. He was going to trust his brothers from now on, trust them to know what was best for them and also to know how he was feeling. "It aches a little. But it doesn't bother me."
Don nodded, that half-smile on his face and Leo wondered just how much of his thoughts Donnie knew. The thought wasn't entirely an uneasy one.
"That sword," said Raphael from Leo's right. "Whatever happened to it?"
"Didn't we tell you?" Donnie blinked and realised they probably hadn't. It had been hard enough describing what had happened after Raphael and Splinter had fallen from the window and they had glossed over a lot – told Raph about the death of the Shredder and Karai's actions, but none of them had wanted to get too deep into the reason they hadn't immediately gone after them.
"Don fried all the tech in the Foot Headquarters with it," Leo said. "He's the reason they had to abandon the building."
Raph nodded, thinking for a moment that he'd heard enough, knowing it was hard for his brothers to talk about that night – but he had to know.
"What else happened after we went out of the window?"
Leo shrugged. "Don used the sword, like I said. Damn thing broke into a million pieces. Karai ran off and I went looking for her. And Mikey went after you."
Raph looked over at Mikey, who was silent, teeth showing where the scars pulled the corner of his mouth up. "Thanks bro."
Mikey gave a one-shouldered shrug and said nothing. Raph felt his shoulders slump a little. In the weeks since Karai had been defeated, he had fought to get his life back to normal, but it was hard. He wasn't sure where he fit into the family anymore.
Leo was making a concerted effort to pull himself out of his feelings of failure and spent a lot of time with Splinter, listening to the rat talk about learning to let things go and accepting that perfection could never be achieved. While Leo healed, he had come to realise that he was repeating the same mistakes as when they had left the Foot, trying to control rather than lead. Determined never to become like the Shredder, like in the terrible vision he'd had under the influence of the creature beneath the Volpehart building, he was trying to rebuild his ties with his brothers and accept the rat who would have been their father, had circumstances been different.
Donnie had done all he could to aid Leo's recovery, taking care of bandaging and cleaning it for almost two weeks, when Leo finally told him to go mother someone else. Don had also taken charge of ensuring Splinter was healthy, pronouncing him in good health but weakened from many months of not moving around. He had suggested that Splinter get lots of exercise and Splinter, looking amused, had agreed. He had also taken it on himself to monitor the media frenzy around Karai and what had happened to her.
Mikey had been withdrawn. Not badly hurt in the battle, he had been training but the intensity he used to have seemed gone, spent now there was no Foot to fight against. He was glad to have them gone, but his purpose seemed to have gone along with them. He never gave any sign that he resented Raph, would happily sit with the family as they sat in front of the television or at the table to eat – but he wouldn't speak unless a reply was expected from him and certainly wasn't making the same attempts to change his ways as Leo was.
Raph had tried building his bridges with all of them, with varying levels of success. When they had arrived home to the lair after their fight with Karai, there had been more pressing issues, like helping Leo and Splinter and all of them getting some rest. He himself had slept for almost sixteen hours and when he woke, it had been with a free-floating anxiety that even though the nightmare was over, things were still not right.
The first thing he had done was to ditch the sun and moon daggers. It no longer felt right to be carrying them around when he had used one to sever his brother's arm.
Leo had been the first person he had spoken to, sitting upright on the couch in a slumber. When Raph had woke him to ask him if he wouldn't be more comfortable in bed, Leo had declined because he kept rolling on his wound. And it was Leo who had made the first move, telling Raph that he was sorry he had waited so long to go after Karai, that he hadn't known if Raph was alive or dead.
Donnie had been simpler still. His smart brother was overcome with guilt for never once entertaining the notion that Raph was alive, even after Mikey had seen him. Raph replied that he was pretty surprised to still be alive himself, and that he wouldn't have been had he not been taken by Karai.
Mikey though, Mikey remained an enigma. Even speaking to Mikey then was probably the hardest thing he had ever done in his life, knowing that it was his fault Mike was short an arm. He had given a heartfelt apology, desperate for forgiveness, not knowing what to do or say that would make things any better. Mike had merely told him not to worry about it and walked away. That was somehow worse than if Mikey had yelled or hit him. Since then he had tried in a thousand small ways to bridge the gap between them, without success. It was Mikey who had gone all-out to find him and now he was back, Mike didn't seem to want to know.
Raph gazed back out over the water, remembering how dark it had been the night they had brought the sword here – they had created a power outage all across the neighbourhood, better to work in the darkness – and when he spoke, he didn't realise he had been going to until the words had left his mouth.
"She was going crazy, y'know."
The other three looked at him with matching frowns. "Who?" asked Leo.
"Karai. She was sick with anger when I – while the creature had my mind. She's rant and rave and having me in front of her seemed to make it worse. She planned carefully, everything was in place for the things she wanted to do and we shouldn't have made it out alive. We shouldn't. But those last few days, it was like she was coming unglued. It was the waiting for something to happen. She thought that when Mikey wasn't where we left him, that you'd found him and you two would be coming after her. And she left so many clues about where she was. She didn't know why you didn't come to the building."
There was silence for a moment "We were at the Battle Nexus," said Leo carefully, wondering if Raph blamed them for not coming for him sooner.
"I know. You had to go there, for Mikey. But we didn't at the time. And I think it affected her more than she thought. She didn't know if you'd run or hidden or were waiting – it was the wait that got to her."
"What was the final verdict on her?" asked Leo abruptly, directing the question at Donnie.
Donnie sighed. "They think it was some random burglary, that she was attacked by a robber who used one of the weapons they assumed were decorative to kill her. They figure she was in there alone. No mention of the blood or any signs of the fight, but the Foot might have cleaned up. Anything's possible. As long as they're not looking for anything premeditated, we shouldn't worry too much."
"From the police anyway," said Leo grimly. "The Foot might be looking for retribution still."
"I don't think so," said Mike unexpectedly. "Think about it. They were pawns in all of this. Us versus Shredder and Karai. They cleared out, but they left her there. None of them have even tried to hide her body and lay claim to the money she had. It would have been easy, but it's like they cut all ties. I think they're out of the feud."
"Maybe," said Leo, unconvinced. "But…" He hesitated a moment, not sure if he should say it. "I'm not glad that she's dead. I know what she did to us, but she was my friend for a long time. I just wish she could have let things go, understand that we had to kill Shredder before he killed us, without carrying on some senseless feud. None of this had to happen, but she chose to follow her Master rather than her honour. I guess I can see why and I don't agree, but I still can't be happy that she's dead."
"Karai was..." Raph thought about it. "To me, when we were growing up, Karai was like the big sister we never saw. Us three anyway. We did what we had to do and I'm not glad she's dead – but I'm not sorry either. And the Foot might just be biding their time before they come after us."
"We can be ready if the Foot show up," said Donnie determinedly.
"And there's always trouble in the city," added Raph.
Mikey snorted. "Yeah, in New York, troubles five foot tall, green and bad tempered."
Raph looked over to see Mikey giving him a sideways look. He couldn't help it – his mouth twitched into a grin. "Mikey, was that a joke? From you?"
"I never joke," said Mikey, but the right side of his mouth curved up in the closest he ever got to a smile.
"Ah, you nunchucks-for-brains." Raph put a companiable arm around Mikey and for a second regretted it – but then Mikey returned the gesture with his good arm slung over Raph's shoulder.
Leo looked pleased at the display, but tried to hide it. "I guess it's time we went on home. Who's up for ice-cream on the way?"
"I got a disguise!" Donnie pulled a hat and a lightweight trench coat from the ever-present bag that he was never without anymore, not since it had saved their bacon on so many occasions.
Leo shook his head in disbelief. "One of these days I'm gonna say, 'Who's up for a trip to Hawaii?' and you'll pull a plane out of that thing."
Mikey looked skyward. "Please try that!"
"Two jokes in five minutes?" Leo tried to look serious. "OK, where's Mikey and what have you done with our brother?"
"Oh, ha ha. Listen to the funny mutant." Mike rolled his eyes, but didn't look annoyed.
"I'll call Splinter, see if he wants anything," said Don, pulling a shell-cell out of his bag.
"You taught him how to use that yet?" asked Raph with a smirk. Splinter's lack of technical knowledge was legendary.
"I think we've mastered the art of pressing the right button to receive the call," replied Don, preparing to call the rat.
That was when the shout reached them from the other side of the docks, feminine and scared.
"Help me! Someone help me!"
"Sounds like our cue," said Leo, drawing a katana. "Who's with me?"
"I could always use the workout," said Raph with a grin.
"Helping citizens in need, just the thing to work up an appetite for ice cream!" Donnie put his shell-cell away quickly.
Mikey sighed. "My brothers the jokers. Let's just go rescue the lady."
Blending into the shadows, the four of them ran in the direction of the cry they had just heard, determined to use what they had been taught all their lives for the good of people who needed it rather than themselves. Not quite healed yet but getting there. Not sure of their roles in the world from there on out, but determined to find them.
And all of them knowing that no matter what, they would always be a family.