Author's Note - My second story, already!

This one is darker than Alienation. A lot darker, a lot more hurt, and a ton more comfort. Go ahead and assume every bad thing but death will happen here, though most of the focus is on recovery. Again, no OCs, no girlfriends, no other mutants. My bad guy in this has a familiar name, but I'm doing an AU take on Bishop. I'm doing the mad-scientist angle without the whole long-lived alien aspect.

I think you'll hate him either way. Hope so, at least.

I'd also like to say a quick but heartfelt thanks to everyone who read and reviewed Alienation. It meant a LOT for me to know you enjoyed it. Helped me get it written as fast as I did. If you wanna keep it up, I wouldn't argue.

Now! Here's a prologue and I'll see you all tomorrow for chapter one!


They had given up.

Leo knew it, like a cold weight in his empty gut. His brothers were without hope, and he had none left to loan them. If Bishop returned they would talk. They would talk, sing, do anything the man asked for. Anything.

They were defeated. And in the end it wasn't threats or violence. It wasn't their missing brother or fear of what was happening to him.

In the end, it was the silence that defeated them.

Leonardo couldn't muster the energy to voice the thoughts out loud, which in itself was a black and bitter irony. Now that they were willing to speak, they couldn't. Not even to each other. They didn't have the strength.

Besides, after weeks of silence, what was there to say?

They just sat, staring with blank eyes across the small room.

Leo's gaze took in both Mike and Don, but he didn't really see them anymore. He couldn't. He couldn't let himself see the light gone from Mike's eyes, or the harrowed circles Bishop had put there. He couldn't see the blank, thoughtless expression on Don's face, so completely alien and unwelcome.

He figured his own utter mute helplessness wasn't something they focused on much either.

They were done in by the cold, pulsing silence. Abandoned to it. No longer hungry, no longer scared or tense or anything. They were done. Lost.

Leo no longer had any hope that anyone would find them there and lead them back.

It was six days since their captors last paid them a visit. Six days since they last ate. Six days of nothing. Of wondering. Fear.

Three days since the water ran out. Fear had spiked into terror then, but terror faded into hopelessness fast and hard.

Had Bishop left them to die? It seemed that way. Maybe he'd given up his project. Maybe he was found out and had to escape. Maybe something new caught his eye and he simply forgot about them.

Since it hurt to even think about Raph, Leo didn't anymore. Six days since their last meal, but how many since Raph had been taken that last time? How long had they been there? None of them counted anymore.

Two days since Leo's stomach last growled. Yesterday he'd felt a burn, like acid in his gut eating away at him, but today even that was gone. He knew in his mind that it took longer than six days to starve, but he almost wanted to believe the end would be soon.

He wanted to die with his brothers. That was the one dignity they had been granted.

All but one.

Hopelessness. He felt heavy and limp with it.

He was ready to die. Sad that he wouldn't know where Raph had been taken, and that he wouldn't see Splinter again, or April…or even Casey. But he was ready.

And so, of course, once the vow was made and the words were thought, they were made moot.

For the first time in six days, the door opened.

The door opened.

Leo had told himself it was all he was waiting for to turn hopelessness back to hope.

But it didn't feel like hope. It felt like nothing.

He couldn't muster the will to look at whoever came in. Not even when a familiar voice broke the silence that had become home to three brothers.

"Leonardo?"