Don't you do it Leo. Don't you dare.
I can see the anguish in his eyes through the thick glass as he stands there, stripped of his weapons, watching the three of us. We're trapped – all of us in reality, Leo included. Trapped like rats you might say, although I think Splinter might object to the phrase.
We were outnumbered, we knew it going in But hell, we've been outnumbered before and those morons couldn't fight like we could. But we walked right into the trap they'd set for us. In a confined room, the exits were sealed and then they pumped gas through the vents, not caring about their own guys. And as it turns out, it was just knockout gas. Even the headache's fading.
They could have killed us right then, while we were all out of it. Instead, they stuck the three of us in these – I suppose they're cells. Thick glass for all four walls. I know how thick it is. I tried to bust through it, but nothing doing. Too goddamn tough to break with bare fists. Believe me, I tried. The locks are outside, obviously, but even they look hellish complicated. Perhaps Donnie could work them out if we were on the outside. But we ain't, are we?
Don't you do it Leo.
Mikey's in the room beside mine, gazing at Leo anxiously. When he woke up, he tried to stop me from doing myself an injury trying to break the glass, but the glass is so thick that I couldn't hear him and I don't know that he could hear me – and I don't know that he could have cajoled me out of that rage anyway. Donnie's in the room beyond that. He's looking in Leo's general direction from what I can see, looks like he's frowning. I can relate.
I can't hear them at all. But I can hear Leo. Maybe some kind of intercom system? Does it even matter?
And of course, I can hear the happy asshole he's talking to.
The bastard's had it in for Leo ever since the last time we fought. It was Leo then, the one who caused his downfall. And it's Leo now. Leo, who he's had it in for ever since. But breaking his body isn't enough for this guy. He wants to break Leo's mind... to break his heart.
Trouble is, he might be succeeding.
"Choose," the guy says, like Leo's picking a meal and we're the menu. "One of your brothers stays with me. The others are free to go. Which among them is expendable?"
I can see Leo looking around, judging his chances if he starts a fight. They ain't good. Armed idiots everywhere. Us, trapped in these glass prisons with their coded locks. Even if Leo managed to take them down, I don't think he could get us out. Don could get us out – but I don't think he could take them down.
"I choose myself," says Leo firmly, crossing his arms defiantly. I mouth a curse at him through the glass. If anyone stays, it should be me. I don't know what they're planning – but it won't be pretty. I can take it. I can cope. I want to be the one left behind.
Not them. Not any of them.
That would cut me deeper than any torture they can devise ever could.
"Not an option," the bastard says and now he's smirking. So help me God, give me five minutes alone with that guy – shit, who needs five minutes? Give me one minute and I'll make him hurt in ways he never dreamed. "I don't want you. I want one of these three. So pick one. Which one of them gets to spend the rest of his life in these walls? It's going to be quite a short life I assure you – but filled with activity. He certainly won't be bored."
Leo clenches his fists and I can see the anger coursing through him. See it? Hell, I'm sharing it.
"Why does it matter to you which of us it is?" His voice is quiet, but I can hear it well enough. "Why not just let me stay in their places?"
We don't leave our brothers behind. Ever. No matter who was left behind, we'd be back to free them. But without Leo...
If Leo were to stay here and let us leave – well, that would just screw us up. Leo comes up with the plans. Leo knows how to strategise, how to plan. Donnie couldn't think in the same military way that Leo can, wouldn't know how to plot the subtle way of getting in, doing maximum damage in minimum time and fading away. Mikey can do distraction and fading away with the best of them, but he has no sense of following through, can't see anything long term. And me – I'd just go through the front door and start breaking heads. We need Leo. Without him, any plans for a breakout would fail.
I don't have the time to curse him again. Our captor interrupts before I can shout, always assuming he can hear me – I don't know if he can.
"I don't want you. I want one of those three, I don't care which. Pick whichever one is expendable. And be quick. Or else I may just keep them all."
Slowly, Leo raises his head, looks at us all slowly through the glass. As if he's memorising our faces. I can see the look in his eyes – pleading with us to understand.
Pick me! I mouth through the glass. I couldn't cope with Donnie or Mikey left behind. I just couldn't. I'd rather let them do what they want to me than let anything happen to them...
Leo meets my eyes.
I look at him through the glass, repeating the message. Pick me! Leave me here!
I know he can understand. I know he knows what I'm telling him. So why is he looking so guilty?
He lowers his eyes, looking at the floor. And then he says something. Something I can't hear. He's so quiet. And that's how I know he just chose.
Smiling, that – cretin – walks to the door of Donatello's prison, punching in the number and letting him free. Don walks out like he's in a dream, shooting anxious looks at Leo.
Then he walks up to Mike's jail and I breath a sigh of relief. They'll get out of here and find some way to break me out. In the meantime, I can hang on. I can hold on...
And then he passes by Mike's cell and unlocks mine.
Leo chose Mikey. He left Mikey behind.
I'm going to kill him.
I storm out and throw the door open, about to throw a punch. The armed idiots raise their guns, not too dumb to realise the prisoner is in a real bad mood.
"Leo. You shit. Why?"
I throw the punch hard and Leo catches my fist, his eyes meeting mine. I hesitate. He's trying to tell me something. Something he can't say out loud, not here in front of our enemies. Something important.
This isn't over, I say with my own gaze.
Damn right, he seems to reply. Trust me.
"My men shall escort you off the premises."
I want to kill that – that bastard. That asshole. He has my baby brother and we're going to leave him alone...
Forget that bastard. I hate myself.
I glance to one side. Mikey's eyes are wide. He's trying hard not to be sad, afraid, to feel betrayed – but I know him. Leo's choice just stabbed him through the heart, doing more damage than the katana ever could.
And Leo knows it. I can tell in the way his shoulders sag, the way he almost drags himself from the area with the glass prisons.
Away from Mike.
I lose sight of him as we walk away, down a long corridor and I hope my trust in Fearless Leader hasn't been misplaced. Mike is our heart, our laughter, our joy. Without Mike – there's nothing to remind us that the world is a magical place, that happiness exists. My best friend, the one who calms me down (or makes me madder), the one guy who always makes my life seem so much better.
You better have a plan Leo. You just better.
Leo looks at me sideways and I allow the smallest of grins to cross my beak. Our weapons are gone, we're outnumbered, they've tricked us before. But so what?
I know why Leo made the choice he did. Not because he loves Mike less. It's that big-brother instinct kicking in. He needs Donnie to get Mike out of the prison. I'm stronger than Mike, but Mike's faster. He chose as he did because he was being protective.
We're turtles. We don't leave our brothers behind.
Leo spins around, so fast that most people would never have suspected that this guy, looking so broken a moment before, would attempt to try something. The guys raise their guns – but Don and I have already leapt out of the way, unarmed but with fifteen years of ninjitsu to back us up.
We don't leave our brother behind.
And now the fight is on. All of us leave. Or none of us do.
We don't leave our brother behind. Ever.