Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)
Word Count: 2776
Series: Done as part of LiveJounal's Fanfic100 Community, prompt #38: Touch
Notes: Tales place directly after Season 4, Episode 5, "I, Monster".
They're everywhere. They're on me, crawling over my shell, hundreds of thousands of sharp little nails digging into my skin, wiry, raspy fur that smells like rotting sewage filling my nose and mouth and making me gag.
"NO!" I bolted upright in bed, choking back the urge to scream. Sweat is streaming down my face, I can feel it literally dripping off me onto the bed. My heart is racing, and no matter how hard I try, it's like I can't suck in enough air to breathe right. I can hear my own pained gasps; they get faster, even though I try to slow them down, but – there! In the corner, in the shadows...
No. NO. It's a dream. It's just a dream. It's not real, they're not here, they're not eating my skin, I'm safe at home. Take that thought and run with Mikey, we can do this!
What the SHELL? Shocked by the sound of a voice so close, I can't help but jump slightly as I turn around to see--
"NO!" I can't help it – I scream, panicked, at the sight of the hated face, and I backpedal, scrambling back against slippery sheets, damp with sweat, until my shell hits the headboard. "No, get away!"
Terror floods my mind and even though I know I'll never hear the end of it if anyone finds out, a sob manages to slip past my chattering teeth. Wrapping my arms around my head – a vague attempt to ward off evil, I guess – I sit there, chanting, "Go away, go away," until I finally hear the sound of footsteps – nails, nails scratching the cement floor of my room, get out, go AWAY – backing off slowly.
"Master Splinter, what's wrong?"
Voices clamoring for attention, familiar voices at that. I finally bring one arm down and peer nervously out at the door, just as Donnie's voice – and his words – actually hit me.
"Oh, shell," I muttered, and dove back behind my arm. Fear was beating feet pretty fast, but right on its heels was embarrassment.
I didn't. I so totally didn't scream like a girl when I saw Master Splinter's face. I refuse to admit it. I'm the master at living in denial, yep, that's me.
I didn't scream at Master Splinter, I didn't panic over a bad dream even though it was of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad kind, I did not get seen by my bros acting like a two-year old in a thunderstorm, and --
-- Donnie is not sitting on my bed., moving my arm away from my face so he can get a good look at the crying mutant.
I think I said this already, but, oh, shell.
"I suppose it'd be asking too much to get you to drop this and go away right now, huh?" I knew it was a dumb question, but hey, hope springs infernal or whatever. Actually, when it comes to me, that makes more sense. "Nothing to see here, move along please."
"Can it, chowder-head."
Buzzaah? I snap my head up. Raph is leaning against the door, arms folded, one leg crossed. I suppose he thinks he looks cool. I hope he realizes I patented that look. And oh yes, this deserves another--
"Oh, she--" Hey, Donnie! I don't invade your personal space like that!
"Stop saying that." Donnie moved his hand from my mouth. I should have licked it. Teach him to try and shut me up. "Mikey, what happened? We all heard you screaming."
"Widdle Mikey have hisself a nightmare?" Raph said, mocking me, and you know, if I didn't know my bro as well as I do, I'd be pretty cheesed right about now. But even though he's bein' all flip and stuff, I can see him watching me pretty closely. His voice gave it away too – I have devoted years of highly detailed and dedicated study to Raph's vocal tones. It always helps to know just how close to the edge of shoving me through a wall or drowning me in the toilet he is. This tone isn't sarcastic so much as it is worried.
Awww, he cares about me. If I wasn't still freaked out over a stupid dream, I'd be having a good time getting him to admit he's worried. It happens so rarely, you've got to jump on these opportunities as they rise, you know.
"You're shaking like a leaf," Donnie said, and I blink, looking down. Well, whaddaya know? My arms have goosebumps all over them and my hands are wrapped so tight around my blanket I'm surprised the fabric hasn't given yet.
Whoops. I think I'm taking too long in answering. Raph's dropped the sarcasm and is taking a step towards me. Donnie's still watching me like I'm about to bolt or something.
"Tell us Mikey," came a third voice from my other side. I can't help it; I yelped, flinging myself into Donnie's arms. When the heck did Leo get there? I mean, I know he's the grand high, Number One Student, all that and a bag of cheesy poofs, but come on. This is ridiculous.
This is also not good. They're all so serious-looking, like something bad's going down, and last I heard, nightmares are not the worst things in the world. Comparatively, you know? I mean, if I had to choose between a dream about all those filthy little...and the reality, well, I'll take the dream, thanks ever so.
"It was just a dream, guys." My mouth opens, words come out, magically soothing everyone, making them all laugh and go back to their own beds. Yes, and next, I'm going to pull a winged monkey out of my shell. Please stand by. "I dreamed Casey got evicted and had to move in with us." I shudder dramatically, which helps cover up the real shiver that runs through me at the same time. "Stuff of horror movies, I'm telling you. He tried to COOK." I look up at Donnie – uh oh. He's frowning at me. Ditto Leo. Raph's eyes are narrowed – eeep. See, that expression? That goes with Tone Number 26 – the one he uses just before he smacks me upside the head. "What?"
"Mikey, you screamed at Master Splinter when he tried to see if you were okay." Much to my dismay, Donnie's hands are tightening around my wrists. See, tightening grips make it difficult for me to shimmy out of his reach and make a break for it. Not that I'd be going far with Raph guarding the door, but one should always think on the positive side of things. "When I came in here, you were almost crying in terror, trying to get away from him."
"I was not crying!" I snap. The very idea! My room, my reality, remember? That was sweat and only sweat on my face. Do they not understand the rules of brotherhood? I could have sworn there was one that read, Thou Shalt Not Call Attention to the Brother Caught Crying, Dancing With The Mop, Being Punished, Lip Syncing or Playing House With Highly Collectible and Pose-able Action Figures.
"Mikey, we're not going to laugh at you," Donnie says softly. A snort escapes me, and my eyes shoot to Raph automatically. He scowls at me, genuine anger – hrm, no, that's hurt, whoops – on his face. Donnie gets my attention though, with his next words. "Was it the rats from today?"
I opened my mouth to protest, but that word brings the whole nightmare back in all its Technicolor glory and suddenly, the words die in my throat, coming out as a strangled sounding, 'hrk.'
"Is that what this is about?" Raph sound surprised. "Geez, Mikey, we all had to fight those things today. What's the big deal? You've seen rats before – we live in a sewer!"
Remind me to short-sheet Raph's bed. Or to leave something sweet and sticky on the floor under his bed to attract a whole bunch of new friends for the guy, of the multi-legged variety.
"He had Mikey tied up," Leo snaps back, and then he's in front of me, gripping my shoulders, forcing me to look at him. "What happened between you and that guy before you escaped?" His face, always so tense and full of anger lately, is focused on me, demanding to know the details.
And suddenly the humor seems to leave Raph, and his eyes are now slits of white. His voice is a soft but threatening growl. "What'd he do to you, Mikey?"
Oh, swell. Now they're all worked up and the reality is...I'm a big wimp. I was tied up, yeah, but I managed to get away and nothing really bad happened, so to speak. But...no. "Nothing."
"Why on earth would you attempt to protect that maniac?" Donnie's forehead is all bunched and wrinkly, the way it gets when he's trying to solve the big puzzle. I hate to inform him, there is no big puzzle here.
"I'm not protecting him. He tied me up, the rats came after me, they.. I got free and I came to find you guys where the same thing happened again." I yawn, loudly, hoping they'll take the hint, but no such luck. Raph gives up on the door-watching and he's braced against the foot of my bed, cocking his head at me. Leo's still giving me the, 'I am Leader, hear me roar' look and Donnie's got a death grip on my poor abused wrist.
"What happened before you got free?"
I love my brother, but man, that whole, 'catching everything' deal of his? So gotta go. "Noth--"
"Say that again, Mikey, and I'm gonna use you for target practice tomorrow."
He's not kidding. None of them are. And none of them will leave until I tell them everything, and you know, as much as I want to get ticked off...I can't help but admit that if the situations were reversed, I'd be just as stubborn. And a part of me is really, really glad my bros are in here with me, worrying. It's...nice.
"Really," I said softly. "I mean, it wasn't fun, but it wasn't a huge deal. I was out cold for most of it. I woke up to see this freaky guy growling and threatening me, and then the shadows started moving. Glowing red eyes. Lots of them. Hundreds of rats, all heading for me." I swallow hard. "My feet were chained down, and my hands too, but when they got too close, I snapped the metal. My wrists were still tied but I managed to get the board I was strapped to free. I could hear them jumping on it, like furry raindrops with scratchy nails and all of them chittering and growling and snapping. Even when I got free, they kept landing on me – one nearly slipped inside my shell and I could feel its nails scratching against my neck. I'd rip 'em off and two more would take it's place. One bit my foot and I just panicked and started running."
Donnie immediately starts checking my neck, and then my foot, muttering under his breath as he sees the tiny teeth marks. "Raph, get the first aid kit."
He disappears and I keep talking, twisting my blanket around and around. "Then I found you guys and it happened all over again, but it wasn't so bad, you know? At least this time, I wasn't alone, and there was light coming in from the top of the building." I shudder again, unable to stifle it, and repeat my last words, almost under my breath. "I wasn't alone."
If there's one thing I truly hate and fear most in this world, it's being alone. This is not a secret in our family; it's a well known fact in the family history. Whenever I'm alone in the lair, I have to have the TV's going, music on, something, anything to drown out the silence.
I'm staring at my feet, in particular the one Donnie's glaring and poking at. Raph comes back with the kit and hands it over silently. Donnie takes out a disinfectant wipe and starts swabbing the little bite marks, cleaning them out. For a brief second, I consider reminding Donnie that I'd taken a shower the instant we'd gotten home, but then I clamp my beak shut again. It's more of that...niceness.
I like being taken care of. I try to avoid it most of the time, because usually it only happens when I'm hurt, or sick, and those are not fun times, but this is different. Each touch of the wipe is replacing the memory of nasty little teeth with a new one of being comforted. Leo's arm is a big helper too, wrapped around my neck, one hand squeezing my shoulder. It's such a change from the way he's been acting recently. Raph's not touching me physically, but his eyes are just about burning an angry hole right through me. It's cool, because I know that anger is not aimed at me. For once. Odd.
"Why didn't you want to tell us?" Leo's voice is soft in my ear, like he's trying to keep me from getting upset again.
I shrug. "I dunno. You all went through the same thing, and none of you are acting like a baby."
He bumps me gently. "It wasn't the same thing," he says sternly, and I catch a glimpse of my normal older brother, the one he used to be before he became Raph's angry twin. "You're allowed to be upset."
"I'm not!" Geeze, why can't they let this drop already?
"Uh, Master Splinter?" Raph pokes my foot, looking at me pointedly, and I slap my hand to my face as I remember. Heh, yeah. That was why.
"Yes, 'oh, shell' indeed." Donnie finishes cleaning all the little puncture wounds in my skin. "What are you going to do?"
I start to push back the blankets. "I need to apologize--"
"No, you do not." Master Splinter steps into my room, and he's smiling at me, that gentle one he uses when one of us is upset. Well. I suppose this does qualify.
"Master." I push Donnie away, duck out from under Leo's arm and get out of bed, moving towards him. I need to apologize – there's no excuse for what I did. I mean, I yelled at Master Splinter! That's gotta be a punishable offense of at least fifty flips!
Standing in front of him, I bow my head. "Master, I'm sorry."
I look up to see his face just as his arms go around me. "My son," he says quietly. "I was worried when you would not let me help you. You were frightened and I added to your fear."
"Master, there was no way you could have--"
"You all told me what happened today." He smiled at me. "And you, my son, gentle spirit that you posses, I should have known what shape your dreams would take."
I don't know what to say. Well, I know one thing, at least. "I'm sorry," I said again, a little desperately – I mean, I'm not being punished and Splinter's apologizing to me. This is a little more than I had planned on. Apologizing is like my fail-safe backup plan. "Master?"
He chuckles lightly, and suddenly the world rights itself again. The fear is gone, washed away by the light in my room and the people in it. "Can you sleep now, my son?"
"Um, yeah." Sheepish, thy name is Mikey. "Yeah, no problemo."
He rubs my shoulder, gripping it once, and I can feel the strength there, the warmth, and it's nothing like the touch of cold, sharp little claws. "Good night, Michaelangelo."
"Good night, Master."
He leaves, and I turn to see Leo on the floor in a meditative pose. Donnie's sitting at my desk, flipping through a book I didn't know I had. "Um, guys?"
Raph grabs me by the arm and drags me to the bed. "Come on, baby brat. I don't get my eight hours and I'm cranky all day," he tells me, daring me to comment. He drops on to the bed, and stretches out. Hesitantly, I curl up next to him, and he wraps an arm around my shoulder, anchoring me to the real world. Donnie reaches out with his bo and turns off the big light, leaving the desk lamp on for him to read by. He never did need much sleep.
I should be protesting this. I should, but...I'm really glad they're staying.
I'm one lucky dude, you know?
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