Disclaimer: Don't own TMNT. Yeah, yeah, you've probably heard it before.
"OW!!! Damn it!" I curse. The shock that pulsed from the damaged circuit board lying on the workbench caught me off guard and left my right hand tingling.
Hmph. Some ninja I was, I thought, letting a little electronic piece of hardware get the better of me. Those words had been sprawled across my consciousness for days now. Some ninja I was. Those haunting words tortured me, and I was letting them, because I deserved every shred of guilt and pain that came with them. After all, I had killed him, hadn't I? Yes. I was the one who had gotten my brother killed, and all because I was a failure as a ninja.
I flip through the text on the table, searching frantically for the directions I needed. I find the page I am looking for. It displays a blown up view of the miniscule circuits and their proper arrangements. I pick up one of the many miniature screwdrivers littering the table and begin my attempt to reestablish the perfect order that was necessary to get the board operational.
"Hey," Came a voice from the doorway. I turn to see him standing there, my older brother with his red bandana lying limply across his right shoulder. His muscles, usually taught and ready to explode with energy, were relaxed now, leaving his arms to dangle at his sides almost as dead and lifeless as his bandana. His face is somber and limp too. There is no joy in it. No excitement or happiness. Just limp. It would have reminded me of my dead brother except that his eyes were red. Red from crying for so long that they were raw from his rubbing. Not cold and empty, and terrifyingly white, like his were. "Ya gonna come outta there today, bro?"
I turn back to the circuit board under my hands. "I'm busy," I say ignoring his pleading look. It is not fixed yet. I still had a lot of work to do before I could make this work. It had to be perfect. Perfect just for him.
"Ya've been at this fer days now, man," he says, his voice full of concern. Concern that I did not deserve. He should not be concerned for the person who murdered his brother. No. How dare he even think that?
"It isn't done yet," I reply. The screwdriver in my hand, I scan the tiny fibers and wires meshed together on the appliance, searching for the right place for the end of the screwdriver to go, the light from a small overhead lamp my only assistant on my quest. My noble quest to fix this for my brother, and that was going to fix everything.
"Ya can't fix that, bro. I smashed it too good."
How typical. My brother says some glaringly obvious remark or what he thinks is offhanded in his own vain little attempt at comfort. My god he sucked at it. In his grief over our brother's death he had gone into a fit and broken our entertainment system. I could only watch him as he flung ever more things at the many TV screens we had. Afterwards, I knew someone had to fix those, so that is what I am doing now. Of course, my oaf of a big brother thinks I can not. He does not know me very well, does he?
I can not help myself, and so I smirk slightly. "Of course you smashed it good, Raphael. That's your expertise, isn't it? You're the expert at smashing things until they're unrecognizable. There's no way that you could have a useful skill or anything like that." Perfect. Worded beautifully. That was certain to set him off. I deserved a good beating from him instead of his misplaced botched attempt at comfort.
And indeed it did set him off. I feel the heat he releases as his muscles tighten to their usual strength. I wait. He does a good job of holding himself back for once, but the rage within him quickly takes over. After three seconds I hear it. "Ya little shit…" And he springs at me. I hear him leap.
But my blow never comes. I turn and see him. There he is, my protector of a brother, thinking he is doing the right thing. He holds Raphael at bay begging him to calm down. Leonardo; selfless, patient, noble, and always able to come in at the wrong time. I scowl and turned back to the table. I flinch as my unruly hands brush a live wire and I get shocked, again.
Leo apparently does a good job of calming Raph down, because I start hearing deep steady breaths from my rage ridden brother. When he finishes, I feel them turn to me. I feel their eyes burrowing trough my carapace. I do not have to see them to recognize that look. It is the same one they have had on their faces for the past five days, ever since I came home, a limp body sprawled across my useless arms.
I jab the screwdriver deep within the wires, digging frantically to find that screw I have to remove. My frenzied jabbing hits something and I hear a light pop as some hidden, ambiguous metal prong snaps. I let out a stream of some of my favorite curses.
"Hey," Leo says. He rests a hand on my shoulder but I brush it off and continue my work. "I can fix it," I tell them.
"No, you can't," Leo says pulling me away from my task. He spins me around in my perch on that swivel stool. I'm stopped, staring straight into his eyes. His eyes are serious, but I can see the frantic worry buried in the back ground of his irises. I return his stare with my blank one. "You can't fix this," he gestures to the workbench littered with my other projects. The ones I had to get to yet. The ones that would take me just as long, if not longer to complete. "No one could fix any of these. They're beyond repair."
I stare at the broken TVs and shattered game system. "No," I whisper loud enough that they can both hear. "It has to be like he is still here. Before I got him killed."
"Bro, it wasn't you," Raph tries at comforting me again, maybe a little better this time. "Ya Couldn' ta known the foot woulda been there."
"No!?" I scream, rising from my stool. "I was the one who had to get the new system right away. I was the one who couldn't wait until the next day. I pressured him to go. It's my fault."
Raphael looks at me. The pity in his eyes makes me want to throw up. "He wanted ta go too, ya know," he says. "He always liked stuff like that."
I glare at him. Was he insane? Why was he not blaming me? Why were they both acting so sickeningly nice? I hang my head. "He would have waited. He could have waited, wanted to wait. But I made him go. I made him go there that night."
My vision blurs and I come back to that night I lost him. We ran across the rooftops until we got to the electronics store, and there was the Foot, robbing the bank across the street. We thought we could handle them, since there were only a few of them after all. We could have easily taken them on.
How did we not see the trap? How were we so blind? Only three Foot ninjas? And robbing a bank in the middle of the city? We got there and took out the robbers and then the hidden ones jumped out. There were not many, but it was enough. I knocked out the first few, but more took there place. I smiled at them and laughed. I knew they would not be able to handle us. Seven on two, and the two was winning.
And then I got careless. I always get careless, because I do not pay attention. Some ninja I was. That's where those words first started attacking me.
I happened to be positioned over one of the ninjas I thought was unconscious. I barely noticed it. Their underhanded tactics always got to me. He was feigning being knocked out, and when I loomed over him, he reached up and caught my legs, and I fell backwards landing hard on my shell. I stared up in horror as three ninjas stood over me, their blades pointed straight at my plastron. They began to plummet, and I shut my eyes unable to watch my final moments.
I heard it clear as the honking of a passing semi. I heard that sickening crack as the blades connected with a shell and continued through the softer vulnerable tissue. I heard as they tore organs apart and pierced blood vessels. I heard it all in that second.
But I felt no pain.
I felt nothing at that moment, and I heard nothing shortly after. For once in all of New York, I would have sworn not a single sound was made, otherwise I know I would have heard it.
And then, finally, a sense is triggered. I light tingling feeling appeared on my chest. It felt cool and wet, and it was soon followed by another, and then another. They are coming faster now, and I open my eyes to see what is tingling.
I was met with those dark brown eyes my brother had. He was hovering over me, strain evident in his eyes, and concern. "Are…you okay?" he asked, and then I knew the concern was for me. All I could do was nod slightly, and as I did, I caught a glimpse of my brother's torso. Three long katana were protruding barely half an inch from his plastron. He had been impaled clean through, and now his blood was falling on my sensitive chest. I looked back up at him with shocked disbelief flooding my eyes. All I saw was that caring stare of his. His eyes welled with tears, but not from pain. "I-I'm glad," he stammers, and to my horror, the tears are from relief and disappointment. Disappointment in himself and not me, because the next thing he said shook me to my core. "And…I-I'm sorry," and he lets out a soft moan as he collapses on top of me, lifeless.
The ninjas remove their weapons from my brother, but I did not even notice. I did not even notice the ends of the blade pierce me when my brother fell. All I could do was stare up at the place my brother's face used to be. A Foot soldier steps into my field of vision, but I was looking through him. I was looking at the stars. No. That was not right. I was looking beyond the stars. I was searching for my brother.
The grip on my weapon tightened and I barely noticed the pin-pricks of the slivers from the wooden haft piercing my hand. I barely noticed that I sat up, my brother sliding down across my legs. Looking back, I don't think those ninjas even noticed when I caught the blade of the one who was going to finish me off. I looked up at him. I looked at the face of my brother's killer and all I felt was hatred filling me and boiling over and into the enemy.
I could not help myself. I was blind with my rage at the ones who had done it. My brothers never did believe me when I told them how I mutilated the bodies of our brother's killers in my fury. They could never imagine their happy and jubilant little brother going mad and killing seven men. They later had to go see the scene themselves.
I'm on my knees in the lab, sobbing softly into my brother's knee pad, my arms useless at my sides. I can not even comfort myself, god damn it. How were my brothers going to help me? Only one brother could help me then, and now he was gone.
All thanks to me.
I push off of Leo and he stumbles backwards caught by Raph just before he hits the floor, but I am paying them no mind. My attention focuses back on my task, and I jab the screwdriver back into the wire jungle. It is not working, so I come at it from a different angle. I try another. And then another.
I can't take it anymore. I let out the bellow that has been welling up inside of me for too long. I throw the useless screwdriver at the well and it clatters lightly to the floor. Then I pick up the circuit board and fling it towards the opposite wall. It crashes much more noisily as it shatters into a thousand pieces. The same thousand pieces I had spent the last five sleepless nights fitting together in their amazing jigsaw puzzle complexity.
But I'm not done. Not yet. I start picking up other things at random and throwing them every where; cracked framing, a half a CD, broken glass, it all goes everywhere. My brothers are ducking and dodging my onslaught. Looking back I must have looked a lot like Raph right then. Actually, I think Raph did say I looked like him a few days later.
I am out of breath and out of things to throw. My hands are bloody and dripping from numerous cuts across my palms. I sink to my knees and look over to the one thing I had built right, the simple memorial in the corner. Surprisingly, I had left it unscathed in my madness.
It was the first thing I had done after the funeral. The first thing I had fixed. It was supposed to be perfect, but something always seemed to be missing from it. His weapon rested there, surrounded by some of his favorite things. It stood as the memorial to my brother. The perfect shrine to his memory, except it wasn't right. It was still incomplete, and I had to complete it. I had to fix it for the rest of my family.
Two bodies kneel down beside me. From my right, Raphael slings an arm across my shoulders and stares hard at the shrine I made. On my left, Leo bows low, his palms on the ground and his head an inch above it. His eyes are closed in silent prayer. He sits up and all three of us sit there and stare at my shrine, the only sound in the room my muffled sobs echoing everywhere.
I give in. I turn to Raph and bury my head into his shoulder, sobbing freely now. He holds my lightly. I never knew Raph could be so gentle. I never knew.
Leo rubs my shell. "Stop this charade, okay?" He says to me. "It's not helping you. You're lying to yourself, and we need you back with us."
I break free from Raph's grip and turn to him, grief and anger filling the tears in my eyes. "He was the only thing that kept us together, Leo. He was the one who kept us healthy. He was to one we could rely on. Who do we rely on now?"
I'm screaming in Leo's face now. I raise my hand, preparing to slug him across his beak, but a firm hand grips my wrist above my head. I turn and see Raph holding me. His eyes full of understanding sympathy. "We can still rely on each othah, bro," he says, and then he hugs me. "I'm not lettin' ya hurt yerself anymore."
I can't make a sound. I'm too shocked and out of words, so I just accept his arms around me. My sobs die down to mild hiccups.
I look around me, and for the first time, I really see the damage I have caused. The lab is trashed with tiny pieces of metal, plastic a glass on almost every inch of the floor. The circuit board is trashed. If I could have before, I never will be able to fix it now.
I look closely at the base of one wall where something catches my eye. I break free from Raph again and crawl over to it. The glass and metal tears up my knees and legs, but I ignore the pain. I reach the wall and stare down. I pick up the tiny plastic and metal object and hold it up to that little lamp on the desk to inspect it.
Among my sobs, sad laughter escapes my throat. I notice my brother's expressions shift to serious concern at the new sound, and I look at them. I hold it up to their eyes so they can see what I see. They now see the hilarious and ironic prize in my hands. "This is a Philips screwdriver," I say defeated. "The book said I should use a flat head."
Leo shuffles over to me. He is much more mindful of the sharp debris. When he gets to me, he takes the screwdriver from my hand and places it gently on the workbench. He returns his gaze to me. His mouth is shut flat and his eyes bore into me with their pitying seriousness. "It's time," he says, and I hang my head. He reaches up and unties the knot of the purple mask across my head and I feel the tear stained fabric peel away from my red eyes. He stands up and works his way over to my shrine and ties it to the top end of the long wooden shaft located there. Stepping back, it looks perfect at the top, not like it did on me. Now the shrine is perfect. That was what it was missing. I can't believe how stupid I am for not thinking that. I finally realize that I could not fix it. I could not make my brother still be here with us.
I can only stare at it while Leo looks down and says to me, "Stop trying to take the place of the brother we lost."
I stare hard at the purple cloth. My lips quiver quietly as I barely manage to eek out the three words I have said so much to that same shrine. Except now the shrine is finished, and now I knew, sadly, that he could finally hear it.
A/N - So this was my first fanfic ever, so I would really appreciate some reviews and criticism about it, particularly criticism if you have any. I'm interested to know if the ending was too obvious, as I toyed with the idea of not even having the flashback in there. Oh well. Thanks for reading.