The credits rolled on the old black and white film, and then the network cut to commercial. Donatello blinked at the sudden brightness of color after watching the graytones for hours. "Well…that was an interesting movie."
His only reply was a yawn. He looked to his left on the couch to find Michelangelo slumped in his seat, his head resting on his arm as he slouched over the couch arm. "Yeah, interestingly boring," he held up the remote control and changed channels.
It was Christmas time, which meant the networks were playing the traditional movies like very year; Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, Miracle on 34th Street, and today's delight, It's a Wonderful Life. Donnie looked about. Leonardo had not even opted to watch the movie, and Raphael had abandoned them partway through.
"I dunno, Mikey," Donnie stood and stretched from sitting down so long. "It raises a lot of questions. I mean, how do you think we'd fare if you'd never been born?"
"You guys would be bored," Mikey said simply. He grinned.
"True, but don't you think we could somehow adapt? I mean if you were never here, our sociological variables would certainly not be the same, and we'd most definitely be different than how we are…"
Donnie sighed and sat back down. Mikey had landed on an infomercial about microwave egg cookers. "Well, what about if you died?"
Mikey looked up, his attention finally off the television. He thought, then laughed. "Okay, Donnie, no more serious movies for you. Mr. Morbid!" He made a cuckoo motion towards his head, circling his finger around his ear.
"I'm serious, Mikey. Have you never thought about it?"
His younger brother shrugged. "Not really."
"I've got better things to think about! Like, for one, how I'd really like some eggs right about now."
"What? Don't tell me that you've ever really thought about it."
Donnie blinked. "Well, no…I haven't."
Mikey grinned and stood. "See, I knew you weren't morbid!" He leapt over the back of the couch and made for the kitchen.
"Where are you going?" Donnie asked, not really caring. His thoughts were on Mikey's question, and the fact that he really had never thought about what would happen if he were never born…or if he died. i They wouldn't even have electricity, that's for sure... /i
"Makin' omlettes! Want one?"
"No…" Donnie stood and looked around uneasily. Leonardo walked by upstairs, rubbing a towel from his head, fresh from a shower. Raphael was out of sight. Master Splinter sat at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper with warm tea in front of him. It was quiet in their home tonight.
He went down to the kitchen area and looked over at Master Splinter, then at Mikey as he tried to juggle a carton of eggs, a tub of butter, some cheese singles, English muffins, and salsa at once. A little worried noise made its way out of Donnie.
"Is something wrong, my son?"
Donnie looked at his father again. "I don't know."
Splinter's large, wise eyes looked up, meeting with Donnie's. The rat smiled a bit. Through the years, getting this one to open up was the hardest. With Leonardo, it was easy to understand how he felt and what he needed, because the eldest turtle had his ways of either just telling the truth, or letting the truth be known through his actions.
Michelangelo just plain told everyone what he wanted. And made sure he got it.
Raphael let others know through his reactions. Sometimes his outrages were merely cries for attention.
All his life he seemed reluctant to speak his troubles. Splinter knew this was not because he was always content; it was because he did not want to burden anyone with what was troubling him. Most times when asking him what was wrong, the turtle either shrugged and gave a small smile before going back to whatever it was that he was doing – which he was often doing alone – or just said, "I don't know."
And then refused to talk about it or give any more inkling that there was ever an issue.
"My son, if you wish to speak in private," Splinter set down his newspaper. He raised a brow in question.
Donnie shrugged. "It's nothing, sensei…I'm…I'm just being silly." And there it was. The small assuring smile, sealing the matter away.
Splinter picked up the paper again and regarded his son once more. "Of course, Donatello. But if you feel you need to talk with me, I am right here."
Donnie argued with himself mentally. Was it really that important? This unease? This strange…impending sense of doom? He didn't think this actually upset him that much, but now that Master Splinter had taken attention to it, perhaps it was. He opened his mouth to speak…but the only sound that came was the sound of an egg splattering on the kitchen floor.
Splinter looked over at Mikey and groaned before turning back to his paper.
"Oops," Mikey set down his supplies and grinned sheepishly.
"Donatello, please make sure your brother does not burn down the lair," Splinter said.
"Hey, I'm the only one around here with any real culinary abilities," Mikey said, pointing a spatula at them. "And in all my years, I've yet to burn anything… i Donnie /i . Does burnt mac n' cheese ring a bell?"
Donnie sighed. He went to the kitchen, fished a rag out of the sink, and set to cleaning the egg mess. "At least I have enough grace to not waste food on the kitchen floor."
"Dude, thirty second rule."
"Mikey, you don't even want to i know /i what sort of things live on this floor," Donnie rinsed the egg mess into the sink as the sound of butter frying in the pan filled the lair.
"Yeah, yeah, hey Leo! Want an omelet?"
Leo's voice came muffled from his room. "What kind?"
Donnie rolled his eyes.
"Heh, uh, salsa, cheese, with some English muffins on top?"
It was silent for a second. "No thanks, Mikey."
Mikey turned to Splinter. "Sensei?" He was met with a simple wave of dismissal. "Awesome! More for me!"
A beeping broke the pace of the room. Donnie pulled his shell cell from his belt. "It must be Raph," he answered it. "Hello?"
Silence, and then the line went dead.
"Heh, wrong number?"
"Not quite," Donnie pressed a few buttons. "Huh…yeah, that was Raph, but why did he just call and hang up?" He looked at Mikey, then at Splinter.
"Because he didn't want to be heard," Leonardo said from above, near his room. They looked up as he leapt to the first level of the layer.
"Wait, don't say anything," Mikey said, shutting off the flame on the pan and setting it to a cold burner. He drew his face into a serious, Leo impersonation. "Raph's gotten himself into trouble again, I just know it!"
Leo raised a brow and turned to Donnie. "Can you track it?"
"Of course," Donnie smirked. "He's at a construction site not far from Casey's house."
"Wait, wait!" Mikey went up to them. "I got it again! Figures! Those two are i always /i getting into trouble! And it's always up to us to save their shells!" He grinned.
"Stop being so annoying," Leo said.
"Wow, you almost sounded like Raph there! It's like we all switched bodies! Oooooh!"
Donnie flicked his younger brother near his ear, producing a yelp. "C'mon guys, let's go…well…what Mikey said."
"Be careful, my sons," Splinter said as they neared the stone elevator that led to the warehouse.
"We will," Leo said, opening the door.
"Yeah, we're not Raph!"
The door sealed shut.
Raphael growled as he watched the scene unfold below him. He was standing on a roof adjacent to what looked like a kid's recreational center, with basketball courts on one side of the center and a swimming pool on the other. The main building was sequestered off, and the center had been closed for renovations. Scaffolding encased the old, worn down brick building, and the pool side of the building was hidden behind tarps due to the outer wall being demolished and the insides being gutted. A cherry picker sat nearby a pallet of scaffolding poles.
Near the cherry picker, waiting somewhat impatiently, was Dragon Face.
Raph knew that where there was one Purple Dragon, there were others waiting nearby, either waiting in case trouble happened as a deal was made, or in a get away car. This one wasn't the leader, but he was more high profile than the rest of the goons belonging to the gang.
Which meant something important was happening.
He frowned down at the dirty snow that had been left here and there to melt away. His breath clouded before him. He had not intended on spending all night waiting for his brothers on a rooftop, and the sweatsuit and scarf he wore provided nominal protection.
"About time," Raph hissed as the forms of his three brothers landed soundlessly behind him. They too were somewhat bundled up, with only their eyes peeking from behind their beanies and scarves. "Check it out; the retard scouts are out sellin' cookies."
"Or drugs," Donnie hissed.
"Or guns," Leo concluded.
They waited for it.
"I dunno guys," Mikey said finally. They looked at him, ready for whatever quip would spill out. "What? I was just gonna say, I got a bad feeling about this."
Donnie frowned. "I agree with Mikey."
"What? Are you scared?" Raph asked.
"Wait," Leo hissed, stopping his brother as he leapt to the edge of the roof. "Let's think this out a bit. I want to see who he's meeting."
Dragon Face frowned and lit a cigarette. If there was one thing he hated, it was being treated like dirt. He didn't like it from his ma, or his pa, or his sisters. Every where he went, someone had something to say.
And then one day, he thought he finally had the chance to come out on top and earn some respect. The Shredder had been defeated…or so they had thought. He went to take the leadership of the Purple Dragons…but had been beaten to a pulp by the enormous Hun. Now, if he wanted to ever be leader, he needed to pretend to like following Hun's orders.
Which also meant he was the one picked to stand there, waiting. In his jacket pocket was a baggie of white powder. Talcum powder mixed with chili pepper powder. Purple Dragons had stopped dealing and pick pocketing ages ago, moving onto bigger and better things, like weapons dealing.
But the enemies of the Purple Dragons didn't know that.
A figure approached the fence of the rec yard and climbed over it, then ran past the pool over to Dragon Face by the cherry picker. "Took you long enough," Dragon Face hissed.
"They made me wait until they were all here!"
"Where are they?"
"Nine o' clock, on the roof," the kid held out his hand with a wad full of money. "Hurry up, I don't wanna be here when they come!"
"Yeah, yeah," Dragon Face held out the baggy. "You got till the count of five to get outta here, kid, because if this don't go down right, you're endin' up in juvi. Go! Run!"
"Yep, they're dealing," Donnie said, lowering his night vision binoculars. "And to a kid, too."
"I thought the Purple Dragons didn't bother with this kind of stuff anymore," Leo said.
"I dunno, rulin' New York has always been their priority," Mikey said. He shivered from the cold. "I guess that means starting young with their royal subjects."
"Did ya hear what they said?" Raph asked.
"Raph and I will get Dragon Face," Leo said. "You two get the kid. Quickly!"
The others nodded, and then they leapt out into the shadows.
The kid ran past the pool, but stopped as a form dashed through the darkness between the high dive and the fence. "Uh…" He stepped back, then turned to run the other way, and ran right into something. He fell to the ground and looked up. "Oh my God!"
Mikey grabbed up the kid and set him on his feet, but held him firmly. "No, oh my i turtle! /i "
The kid slammed his foot into Mikey's shin, getting loose and ducking past him, heading back towards the cherry picker. He halted in his tracks as he saw two more large turtles closing in on Dragon Face.
"Don't run, kid," Donnie said. The kid turned around in horror. "Just hand over whatever it is you have."
"Dude, let's get him and go," Mikey hissed. He pointed as more gang members vaulted over the fence, running towards them and towards Dragon Face, who was busy trying to run away from Leo and Raph.
The kid threw the bag of powder at Donnie. It exploded in his eyes. "Oh great!" He backed up and tried to wave away the billow of whiteness around him. "It smells like baby diaper!"
"And Mexican food!"
"Gaaah! It burns!"
Leo frowned as Dragon Face swung at him with a bat. Raph was busy fending off the new arrivals, which were armed with guns. A few bullets flew by, but he heard groans and grunts as the gang members met the wrath of his brother.
He heard the engine of the cherry picker start up, and turned to see a gang member turning it towards Raph. The machine barreled down at the turtle, who leapt out of the way as it crashed into the scaffold.
The gang member gave a cry of fright as the scaffold teetered. A scaffold pipe caught on the tarp of the building as it began to sway. He turned the cherry picker around, then found himself face to face with red and green.
With one hit, he was unconscious.
"Heh heh," Raph leapt off the cherry picker to attend to another punk. "Sucker."
Mikey leapt as bullets came flying his way. "Whoa!" He ran over to Donnie, who crouched by the pool, feeling for the edge. "Donnie! What are you doing!"
"I gotta wash this stuff out of my eyes!"
"Well hurry up! Three big, bad, and uglies are comin' our way!"
The scaffold behind them groaned, slipping on the tarp. No one seemed to notice until it came crashing down, slamming into the cherry picker. The driver pitched forward, unconscious, his foot hitting the gas. It swiveled and slammed into the pallet of scaffold poles, dragging a bit of scaffold and tarp with it, lurching towards the pool.
Leo's fist slammed into Dragon Face's face, rendering him finally unconscious. He looked over to see the cherry picker, dragging tarp and scaffold and pushing the pallet, as it lurched towards his brothers. Mikey stood fending off three gun toting goons. His chucks soon knocked them soundly unconscious. Donnie…
Donnie knelt at the edge of the pool, rubbing his face with water.
"Donnie?" Leo ran towards them. "Mikey! Get Donnie!"
"Huh wha?" Mikey looked up, then over at Donnie. He leapt for his brother as the pallet of poles became untied and crashed down on them, sending them, the poles, and scaffold bits into the water.
"No!" Leo leapt onto the cherry picker and kicked the unconscious gang member out, halting it. It began to drag, however, with the pull of the scaffold and tarp in the water. With one slice of his katana the tarp, which was attached to the scaffold that was in the water, was free, but it began sliding into the water also. "Raph! Donnie and Mikey are down there!"
Raph was already on his way, socking the last two goons out of the way before diving into the pool.
Below, Donnie could feel the weight of the pallet, scaffold, and poles on his legs and he lay flat on his shell at the bottom of the pool. The coldness of the water was biting; he could scarcely remove his mind from the needle like sensation prickling his skin. Mikey was also there, kicking away poles, but when he removed some, more came sliding down.
Donnie shook his head and pointed. They both looked to see the tarp coming down into the pool. Mikey looked at him with newfound fear and began tugging at the pallet, bubbles erupting from his mouth.
The last thing they needed was to wrestle that thing under the water.
Leo reached into the pool and grabbed up the tarp. It was already half sunk, and was heavy from the water on it, and was still caught in the scaffold. He tugged it back, pulling as hard as he could…
It slowly began to budge, bringing up a bit of the scaffold….
Raph kicked aside the tarp, pushing it aside as much as he could. It began to lift, along with part of the scaffold. The water was dark, and he could barely see anything, but he could hear a struggle below. He swam towards it, moving between the poles of the scaffold.
There…the form of someone…
He reached out and grabbed his arm and began pulling up…
"Nooo!" Leo cried as the tarp began slipping. The scaffold groaned, and he could hear metal slamming into metal and concrete below. "Please, please don't do this!"
Suddenly Mikey jerked away. His younger brother's arms reached for him, but Donnie couldn't grab ahold. He reached, trying his best to remove the weight from his legs…the pallet moved a bit…
Donnie grabbed for Mikey's hands, then cried out as Mikey was pulled away.
The scaffold came crumbling down, blotting out all light with the tarp.