By Aubretia Lycania
Description: Splinter has still not returned, and a murder in the sewers related to the mysterious Karai drags the turtles back into the world of the Foot. Sequel to What Cannot be Fixed.
Author's Note: This IS the sequel to What Cannot Be Fixed, so if you haven't read that then please back-peddle and do so before you move onto this, as you will be confused for the exposition and beginning sequences of this text. This story will have a lot more action and the presence of more characters than the turtles, unlike its predecessor. Let me just say that I despise making original characters, but the OC I'm creating is a necessity for the plot I wish to work with, and it is a dichotomy that's not coming out of nowhere. I have it here because, as always, I love to delve into characterization—and sometimes I need props. I am also writing this story assuming the chronology of the films but using character development seen in the 2003 cartoon series when it comes to Karai—i.e. the guys have just met her, do not yet know her relation to Shredder, etc. I'm using this to go back to basics on Karai, minus the alien stuff. And keep your eye out for other familiar characters! Please, please read and review, as feedback is always helpful and this story deals with action, which isn't my strongest area. And so you know, this story will, like the one before it, reference the Raphael movie prequel comic from the notes of writer director Kevin Munroe as part of the continuity of the TMNT film. I more or less summarized it in the epilogue of the last story, so you shouldn't be too lost. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: If I owned these turtles, I would not need scholarships. They are like my big brothers, and I give full credit to Eastman and Laird and all their little helpers along the way. I just borrow them.
Of Honor and Innocence
Raphael had typically viewed life with his brothers as a very long, sometimes boring, and particularly non-blood-spattered battle. Creating relationships to him meant a kind of struggle, and given the amount of fighting that permeated his life, he knew he couldn't be far from the truth.
It was a struggle with Michelangelo: they were both the younger brothers, and Mikey had always been the baby; that meant he got away with whatever the hell he wanted, including inciting his older brother to anger before promptly getting him into trouble. This necessitated a kind of larger struggle now that they had to relate to each other on an older plane, because how can one possibly see someone who spent so much time being the baby as an equal? This was the battle. But Michelangelo was indefatigable and Raphael was tough; they managed. It took being unconscious for several days to see his little brother act like an adult (in coming to his rescue, no less), but it happened. Perhaps grudgingly, but on some level Raphael supposed he liked it.
It was an even greater struggle with Donatello. They were very close in age, and could easily exchange roles given situation. At home, when Leo wasn't around, Donnie was in charge; if they had to go into battle without the eldest, Raphael would take the lead. One would think a kind of passing the baton, a kind of healthy, communicative partnership existed in this, but quite the opposite was true—they spent a year and a half doing little else but yelling at one another or saying nothing at all. But Donatello was patient, and Raphael was tough; they managed. It took Donatello very nearly killing Raphael and quite a bit of compromise to do this, but it happened. They were two very different people; had they not been brothers, they were not the type to be friends. But there was a sense of completion in this—a good fit. Raphael found comfort in his brother's stolid scholarship; Donatello found comfort in Raphael's slate-faced belligerence that promised to protect him, no matter what the threat.
Life with Leonardo—and life dealing with his absence—was the war of Raphael's life. Battles with his other brothers only served to prepare him for what he found in his eldest brother. He knew that if he had an afterlife, and if it was anything like No Exit or On a Pale Horse or anything else equally morbid that Raphael enjoyed filling his head with, it would be locked in a room with Leonardo for all eternity, dealing with a conflict that could never be resolved. It was ancient. It was primordial, their war, sometimes almost Cain and Abel in nature, and not because they were polar opposites, foils, or anything else so dramatic. Raphael had never understood before his sixteenth year, but knew now, and it was his first step down the long road of a consciousness he had not before known. Leonardo was himself. They were brothers, angry, and mirrors of one another's conflicts. Such a thing could never resolve itself, because neither could truly accept what they saw in that cracked, distorted funhouse mirror. Perhaps it was only cracked when Leonardo looked; Raphael knew that if one side had to be the more twisted, it lay with him. He found himself feeling a kind of fury that his brother had to look into that reflection and see such a profound darkness, to see the spider web that led often back to him, the brotherly partnership through the unilluminated tracks and turns of the city above. Harlem above. He found himself trapped on this road in an unlikely pairing, handcuffed to the person he hated most in world. Leonardo. Himself.
Raphael sat and looked around at the crowded warehouse where he and his best friend Casey kept shop. It was meditative, very different from where his brothers would choose to find inner peace, yet fundamentally the same. It was dark, and dirty, and quiet. It held a bunch of objects that people needed in some form or another, in this case to move around; they were things that Raphael could touch, and change, and fix, and control, and give back, good as new. He could polish them, make them beautiful, take pride in his work. He could get covered in axle grease and learn even more about classic bikes, and feel Mikey's eyes on him, thinking he was the coolest thing since sliced pizza. Being cool is a necessity for an older brother who doesn't have the luxury of being the eldest. If that included acting like he didn't give a flying rat's ass about anyone when he really worried about his family 24/7, then that was the price of cool.
He looked at the still bike in front of him—the Nightwatcher bike, which he had gained from a man named David Merryweather, now dead to the violence of Harlem. It seemed his life too had ground to a halt, with only his brothers and the day-to-day—like so many other people, he supposed—to give it meaning. Raphael remembered when his life had been so before he had ever heard of April O'Neil, of the Foot, of the Shredder, or triceratons or utroms or Max Winters. He had been fourteen then, and he had never known what it was to be one with his brothers, to help people, to do right. Now he knew it all, and he missed it. But such was being—for the most part—normal. Except normal people don't have to remember the experience of being heroes.
Yet Leo said he could feel something coming, something uneasy, something under his skin, a creeping sensation of suspicion, that all was too quiet. Leo had the restlessness of the traveled in him; his life had made him a gypsy. Raphael understood this feeling; his life as a vigilante had half-infused him with the vagabond, afraid to return to an empty home. And while their brothers appeared content, both had the itch in their veins; Donatello stared at his screens a bit too wishfully, and Michelangelo scoured the news, hoping for some hint that something called for them, called for the atom to become whole again, for their individual lives to fuse once more. Leo could feel it coming. Raphael felt only the empty warehouse, focused insanely on the task at hand.
The sirens just outside were too seductive. They were his dark siren song, the thrum of his pulse.