"The Monsters Come at Night"
By Donny's Boy
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the plot relating to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I am making no money from this story. I mean no harm.
Author's Notes: This is in response to a Stealthy Stories challenge from Tewi to write about Leo having a nightmare. It is set in the 2003 cartoon universe.
Raph has nightmares about bugs. From time to time, Mikey dreams about being lost and wandering countless empty, lonely hallways. Don doesn't talk about his nightmares, for the most part, but sometimes he wakes up crying and yelling for Master Splinter.
As for me … it may sound pedestrian, but I have nightmares about monsters.
The screaming echoes inside my head, echoes endlessly. But it's not my screaming. It's his. But not his screaming either, not quite. No, not quite. The screams aren't human. They are barely even earthly.
Jerking awake, I sit up and listen to the faint echoes. The sound of screams mixes with the sound of my blood rushing through my ears. For a few moments I can't tell the difference, what's real and what's just the nightmare. I feel my finger twitch. Involuntary. But still. My finger twitches, as though it's trying to fire a gun.
I never remember the part about firing the gun, after I wake up. I only remember the screams. But my hands remember, and my finger twitches.
Over and over and over. I shot him. I pulled the trigger, and I shot him.
My stomach lurches.
Trembling, sweating, I stumble from bed. My feet carry me of their own volition. I remember. Not from the dream—from the dream itself I only remember the screaming—but the memories come from a living, wakeful nightmare. My finger twitches, and my arm aches from the phantom pain of a strong recoil. I feel sick. I am sick.
But even as upset as I am, I am still ninja. My instincts override everything else, and he doesn't wake up when I slip into his room. He doesn't wake up as I approach his bed. He doesn't wake up as I kneel down, staring at him. He doesn't wake up until I reach out and gently touch his face with the hand that pulled the trigger.
He rolls over. Slowly cracks open one eye. "Leo?"
He isn't screaming. Quietly, I tell him—command him—to say my name again, just so that I can hear his voice form words and not screams.
"Leo." His voice is soft and sleepy. He isn't screaming. "Leo, did you have that nightmare again?"
His eyes are fully open now. They look at me with brotherly concern.
There isn't even a hint of red in them.
As he moves over, making room, I slip into the bed beside him. He speaks to me, gentle and low, still not screaming, and I let my hands run over his plastron. My fingers slowly search for each and every dent where a dart sunk in. He allows it. I don't think he understands. I don't think he even remembers.
But that isn't a problem. I remember for the both of us.
"Leo, it's okay," he murmurs reflexively. "Everything's okay."
It's not okay. I can still hear him screaming. If I close my eyes, I can see him stumble and fall. He lies there, on a dirty metal floor in a secret base, and he looks dead.
My finger still twitches. He squirms a little under my touch. It must tickle.
"Go back to sleep, Leo." He puts his arms around me, holding me close. "I'm right here."
Over and over and over. I shot him. I pulled the trigger, and I shot him. And as he came barreling down on me, as I stood there, absolutely certain that I was about to die … as I stood there, not even recognizing anything but a monster in front of me … for a passing fraction of a second ... in that moment, I had wished that it wasn't a tranquilizer gun in my hands.
"Calm down, Leo. It's okay."
It's not okay. In that moment, I had wanted a real gun.
"I'm right here," he promises, rubbing gentle circles on my shell. He is always so gentle. I hate him for it. I don't deserve his gentleness.
And it's not okay. It's not okay. In that moment, I had wanted him dead.
Still trembling, I bury my face into the familiar warmth of my brother's neck. "You don't understand, Donny. It's not okay. It's not."
Though it's admittedly cliché, I have nightmares about monsters. But unlike zombies, vampires, or werewolves, my monsters are real.