The wind howled through the buildings of the dark, frigid city. Car horns and revving engines echoed through the blackness, being carried by the strong swirling gusts of air. The moon struggled to escape from the suffocating clouds that surrounded it, managing a few choked rays of light highlighting the scantily populated streets below. Giggles erupted as a group of young women rushed down the street, their coats hugged tightly to them as they moved to the next club. A man carried his sleeping child in his arm as he used the other to signal for a cab to get to his warm, safe apartment. A couple huddled together under the dim light of a flickering street lamp, baring the cold for a few extra minutes to share a quick, loving kiss.
No one took notice of the quiet being perched on the edge of the tall stone giant around them, the wind whipping his long bandana tails haphazardly as he watched the activity of the city dwellers below. His legs hung loosely over the edge of the cold stone, swinging back and forth, his toes wiggling lightly as the breeze cut through them. He heard another girly giggle from the group of young women below and a soft smile crossed his lips. New York was truly the city that never sleeps.
He could hear the soft drone of his brothers' voices behind him, but he could not make out what they discussed over the roaring wind. He crossed his arms unconsciously around his body and rubbed his chilled arms lightly, trying to bring a little warmth to his body and protect his green skin from the cold chill. He let his eyes wander once again to the ever moving street below, letting out a soft sigh.
"Hey, daydreamer!" A voice shouted over the wind. "You gonna come home with us or become a turtle popsicle?"
He turned his head and met the eyes of his three brothers, each standing next to the other with mirrored looks of amusement playing on their features. He blushed slightly. Apparently they had been trying to get his attention for a while. He smiled and lifted his body without a word from the edge of the building and made his way over to where they stood. He felt an arm, as cold as his own, drape lightly over his shoulders.
"Everything O.K. Mike?" His eldest brother asked. "You've been awful quiet for the past few minutes." Mikey couldn't help but smile at his brother's concern. So Leo like, always worried about his little sibs.
"Everything is awesome, bro." he answered lightly, his eyes picking up flecks of moonlight as they reached the gaze of his oldest brother. "Just freezing my tail off! Are we done up here or what?"
He heard Leo laugh softly, almost inaudibly as the wind whipped past their bodies, causing Mikey to visibly shiver. "Yeah, it's been a very quiet patrol. No reason to make ourselves freeze any longer."
"It's about time," his grouchy brother said from his right. "I'll be lucky if I can feel my toes tomorrow!"
"Quit being over dramatic, Raph." His purple banded brother said, shaking his head. "You'll be able to feel your toes just fine once we get ourselves warmed up."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Mikey suddenly exclaimed, jumping back and forth in a futile attempt to create body heat, his teeth chattering loudly. "I can feel my brain rattling in my head!"
"Yeah…what little brain you have." Raph scoffed.
"Ouch, dude." Mikey responded, hearing his other two brothers snicker softly at the comment. "At least my brain isn't filled with meat!" He let out a yelp as a hand connected lightly with the back of his head.
The four turtles made their way across the roof and quickly down the side of the building, hiding their mutated bodies deep within the shadows. Each pair of feet made no noise as they landed softly on the cold concrete below. Mikey allowed himself a moment to blow some air through his cupped hands, trying to regain some warmth as he watched his oldest brother grip the edge of the sewer lid and lift it, motioning for each to enter. Mikey made the first move, eager to get himself out of the brutal wind.
The quiet night was suddenly disturbed by the wail of a nearby alarm, causing each of the four to freeze. Mikey watched as all of his older brothers around him tensed at the automated cry for help. As quickly as the sound began, it ended, leaving nothing but the ghost of an echo that was quickly cut off by the whistling wind. Mikey looked to his eldest brother, awaiting instruction for their next move.
He was always impressed by the way that Leonardo's face never changed, though a million thoughts flowed through his head in a single second. His face was expressionless, his eyes narrowed. No one spoke, allowing their eldest brother to think of a plan. It was what he did best. Mikey watched his brother's impassive face.
"Let's go." Was all that was said. The lid was dropped lightly back over the hole that lead to their underground home. Mikey glanced quickly at the now closed entrance with a hint of longing as another gust of wind hit his body, but turned quickly and followed his other three brothers down the dark alleyway toward the direction of the alarm.
He followed behind Donatello as they scaled the nearest building, preferring a bird's eye view of the happenings below. His fingers felt like ice as they gripped the cold steel of the fire escape and he hoped silently that this building was not very tall. When he reached the top, he already could see his eldest two brothers peering over the side of the roof, watching something that was out of his vision. Mikey quickly made his way over and stood closely to his eldest brother, trying to see what they were watching.
Purple dragons, at least fifteen of them, were quickly robbing the small electronic store below them. Mikey watched quietly as they formed a working line, moving the valuable items from the safety of their warm store front. His eyes suddenly danced. Maybe tonight wouldn't be so boring after all.
"Looks like we didn't get an invite to this party." He spouted, a grin tugging at the side of his mouth. "No manors at all!"
He turned his light brown eyes over to his brother. Again, Leo's face was unreadable, but Mikey knew that he was coming up with a plan, a plan that Mikey knew would work. They almost always did. Beside Leo, Mikey could see Raph's teeth bared slightly as his hand fingered the hilt of his sai in anticipation of battle. Every muscle in his red banded brother's body was drawn tight, ready for action.
"Yeah," Raph growled dangerously. "So I say we crash it." He looked to Leo who nodded silently, but said nothing.
Suddenly Leo signaled, and Mikey's attention was once again drawn to his leader. He pointed for Raphael and Donatello to take the front of the store, while Michalengelo would follow his eldest brother to the back. Mikey grabbed the top of his brother's carapace to signal that he understood.
He quickly followed his brother over the side of the building, staying under the veil of the casting shadows. His brother ahead of him made no sound as he maneuvered expertly through the darkness towards the rear end of the store. There were sudden shouts of alarm as Raphael and Donatello made their moves. A loud crash carried over to Mikey's ears as he continued to follow his leader. He couldn't help but cringe. What a waste of a good T.V.
He almost missed Leo's sudden move as he leapt down to the concrete below, right in front of the back door of the vandalized store. Mikey quickly followed, landing, with slightly less grace to the rough ground. He recovered quickly, grinning sheepishly at his older brother who was shaking his head from the shadows, then quickly melted into the darkness, waiting to strike.
The wait wasn't long. The back door opened with a loud bang and a group of wild eyed gang members rushed out into the black alleyway in hopes of escape from the very angry mutant turtles raging war on the front of the store. Mikey tried to mask a grin. If only they knew what waited for them in the shadows.
One of the members shouted and pointed down the open alleyway. He heard the slapping of the soles of their shoes as they took off down the way, trying to reach the salvation of the open street ahead. Mikey looked over to where Leo was once standing, and was met with empty space.
"Leaving without saying goodbye?"
Mikey's vision whipped around and he saw the shape of his brother drop quickly to the street, blocking the gang member's exit to freedom. Mikey grinned. It was time for action.
"Manors, manors…" Mikey said, stepping out of the shadows, twirling his knunchucks menacingly toward the cowering outlaws in front of him. "Nice masks…" he threw out as he got his first good look at one of the criminals eyeing him in panic. His face was sheltered from the world by a cheesy goblin Halloween mask, probably stolen from the costume store down the street. Mikey shook his head.
Suddenly one of the members lashed out in panic, swinging his metal bat quickly through the air toward Mikey's head. He dodged the attempted blow easily, wrapping his weapons quickly around the bat and pulled it roughly from the man's hands, disarming him. The masked criminal only had a second to register what happened before a swift kick to his stomach knocked him across the alley and into a near by wall. Mikey shot a look toward Leo and saw the guys at his end had engaged in amateur battle with his oldest brother. Mikey grinned as he watched his brother bring the hilt of his sword down to the side of his opponents head.
He was brought back his fight as the whistle of a chain streaking through the air reached his ears and Mikey jumped backward, narrowly escaping the strike of a gang member's weapon. He quickly caught the chain in his thick, cold fingers and pulled the weapon forward, dragging the shocked criminal with it. As the man came within range, Mikey dropped a quick kick, causing the man to fly backward into two of his buddies, bringing all of them roughly to the ground.
He turned and readied himself for another attack, but found none as his eyes darted quickly back and forth. He looked forward and saw his brother standing ahead of him, sheathing his swords and glancing back and forth across the prone bodies in the alley, judging whether there was fear of another threat.
"Easy enough," Mikey said, twirling his weapon nonchalantly in his hand.
"Good work, Mikey." Leo said, the edge of his mouth turned into a grin. "I think you taught them a lesson."
"Yeah, never wear cheesy Halloween masks to a robbery." Mikey joked, grinning back at his brother. "Is it just me, or are criminals getting less and less creative?" He heard Leo chuckle in response and his heart warmed slightly. He loved it when he made his oldest brother laugh. Mikey allowed himself a quick shrug. "Oh well, it'll be awhile before these guys try holding up another store."
"If only," He heard his blue banded sibling mutter sadly as he raked his eyes over the young men at his feet. Mikey's grin slid from his face as he saw the somber change in his brother's attitude. He made a move to say something funny, wanting to bring the smile back to his brother's face, but Leo spoke first. "Let's go find the others."
Mikey nodded and turned his back, ready to enter the store and make his way to the front to make sure his other brother's faired as well as they did. In the corner of his eye, a glint of metal reflecting the glowing light of the moon above drew Mikey's attention and he turned his head toward the glare. A broken T.V. lay discarded on the hard concrete, forgotten about in the quick struggle. Mikey shook his head and bent down to pick it up and return it inside the building. He heard his brother's soft footfalls to his side as he bent over to retrieve the item.
It only took a fraction of a second for Mikey's mind to comprehend that something wasn't right. The sound of metal scraping against stone rang through the dark alleyway, catching Mikey's ears as he knelt by the wall, and he made to turn his body toward the sound.
"Mikey! Look out!" a voice suddenly echoed. The world passed in slow motion as Mikey turned his head and found himself staring down the alley at a masked face soaked in blood, and the barrel of a loaded gun. His heart sped in his chest and he made to move. A shot rang out through the cold night air and Mikey felt something solid connect roughly with his side. He hit the wall with a loud smack, his body exploding with pain. He swallowed hard, trying to keep his eyes open as blackness began to ebb at the edges of his hazy mind. He barely registered the shouts of his approaching brothers, the weight of something heavy on his body, the feeling of liquid trickling down his arm as his world went black...
Mikey shot upright, his body erupted in a cold sweat. His fast, panicked breaths broke through the dark quiet as he tried to calm his swirling mind. His eyes darted back and forth, trying desperately to take in his surroundings. In the glow of soft, filtering light, he could see the outline of a lamp near his head, of a pile of unread comics as they lay a few feet away, of the soft blankets that still covered his trembling form. Mikey took a deep breath. Another nightmare.
He brought a shaking hand up to his face and rubbed his head lightly, his fingers brushing across the soft padding that was wrapped tenderly around his temple. Mikey let his fingers linger on bandage, a single tear beginning to form in his eye as he traced the outline of the white padding. His stomach began to churn and he suddenly felt like he could be sick. Mikey pulled his knees up to his body and hugged them tightly, trying to fight away the remnants of the haunting images of his recent nightmare. A nightmare that, a few nights ago, had only been too real.
He hadn't been able to sleep well since returning from that disastrous patrol. The events of that night still plagued his mind each and every time he closed his eyes in sleep. Mikey sighed tiredly and rubbed his bleary eyes with the bottom of his trembling palm.
"Another bad dream?"
Mikey drew his head up, turning his eyes toward the sound of the soothing voice. His eldest brother sat lightly on the side of his bed, not even making an indent in the mattress, looking at him silently with his compassionate brown eyes. Mikey took a deep breath and drank in the sight of his sibling, reveling in the comfort of his presence.
"Yeah." He murmured, lowering his head back to his knees. "Another bad dream."
He could almost imagine Leo's face turn into a concerned frown as he wearily watched his brother's still form. His oldest brother remained painfully silent, Mikey was unable to even hear his sibling's breaths as he sat with him, deep in thought.
"You need to stop torturing yourself." His voice rang out, frank and certain. "I know you are having nightmares about that night."
Mikey nodded, unable to even try to deny it. His brother was always able to read him like a book. He let out a soft sigh and swallowed hard. "Yeah." He answered, unable to meet his brother's eyes.
He pulled the blankets off of himself in a fluid motion, feeling the crisp sting of cold air hit his exposed green skin. He turned and hung his legs tiredly off the bed, ready to rise. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep again tonight. He looked over to where Leo had been sitting just moments before and found the space empty. Mikey shook his head and couldn't help a small smile at his brother's soundless exit.
He made his way stiffly across the floor and turned the lock on his door, pulling it open and emerging into the quiet hallway of the lair. He turned immediately toward the bathroom, closing the door securely behind him. Turning toward the mirror, he looked at himself, frowning at the deep purple lines forming under his eyes. His eyelids still felt heavy after another night of interrupted sleep, but Mikey knew that he would not be able to rest anymore for now. He turned the knob on the faucet, hearing the familiar squeak as it rotated, allowing water to fall freely from the spout. Mikey let his hands wander under the running water, filling his cupped hands and splashing it on his face, trying to wash away the memories of his horrible nightmares.
He turned the water off and once again met his reflection in the mirror, glancing at a face that had become foreign to him over the past few days. He normally could look into his own reflection and expect to see a smile, as if laughter was just waiting to erupt from his upturned mouth. But Mikey couldn't laugh now. He couldn't even imagine laughing. He didn't know if he would ever laugh again.
Mikey pulled his gaze away from the stranger in the mirror and opened the door, once again entering the cold, empty hallway. He numbly steered his body toward the living room and landed heavily on the couch. He dared a glance toward the empty kitchen, his stomach doing a violent flip at the thought of food. He turned his head back toward the front, allowing his gaze to linger on the black screen of the TV.
He rolled his shoulder painfully, feeling the sore skin stretch with the movement. As the throbbing muscles ebbed at the back of his mind, he was reminded once again of the events of their last patrol a few nights before. He stretched his injured shoulder, trying desperately to mask out the pain.
"You shouldn't do that. You need to rest your arm."
Mikey stiffened at the sound of the gruff spoken words. The voice behind him sounded weakened and exhausted, and Mikey fought the urge to turn his head and meet the gaze of his red banded brother. He didn't want to meet his eyes, he didn't want to see the blame and guilt that Raph constantly harbored in his deep brown orbs. Mikey steeled his gaze and remained silent, allowing his eyes to once again bore into the inanimate black screen of the TV in front of him. Mikey heard Raph shift, as if he was going to try to reach out and touch his shoulder. Mikey stiffened ever so slightly at the expected contact. He could hear his brother's breaths speed up painfully, then a thump as his hand once again fell limply to his side. He heard his brother sigh softly from behind him.
"You need to go get ready. We need to meet up with April soon." His brother muttered. Mikey's eyes narrowed. Oh crap, April's party. Mikey frowned. This had been planned for awhile. He could think of nothing he wanted to do less. He heard another shaky sigh exit Raphael's mouth, and soon after there were soft footsteps as they made their way toward the kitchen. Mikey turned his head slowly and watched his brother's back as he made his way to the cabinets, fishing around for a small bowl.
"Just watch, he'll go straight for the fruit loops…"
Mikey turned and saw Leo sitting next to him with a knowing smile on his face. Mikey found himself grinning at his brother's words and turned his head back to Raph and watched as he bent down and grasped a box from the side of the counter. He allowed and amused giggle escape his throat as he saw the red box of fruit loops carried within his brother's hand over to the bowl. Mikey looked back at Leo, allowing himself a wider grin.
"He's so predictable." Leo said, clearly amused.
"Yeah, like a cheesy comic book." Mikey said, biting his lower lip in an attempt to stifle his small smile.
"But predictable is good." Leo continued, still looking at Mikey with his piercing stare. "You can always count on Raph to pull through for you. His predictability is comforting, it makes him who he is."
The smile that Mikey had allowed himself to harbor slipped quickly from his face, and he scowled. "He didn't come through for us a few nights ago." He muttered. "He didn't get there quick enough." The throbbing pain in Mikey's arm intensified as the conversation turned toward the last patrol. He once again found himself rolling the aching shoulder, trying to be rid of the pain.
"He tried, Mikey." Leo said, his tone turning soft, serious. "He tried to get there in time. I saw him coming as the shot went off. He was only a few seconds too late," Mikey heard Leo let out a sad sigh. "He feels guilty Mikey. If he could take away your pain, I know he would."
"I know." Mikey said. "I know that."
Both of their gazes were drawn back toward the kitchen, and Mikey frowned as he watched Raph sit silently in the kitchen chair. His head was bowed as he absent mindedly twirled his spoon in the untouched bowl of cereal.
"Don't blame him for what went down the other night." Leo said softly. "Raph feels bad about it too. He blames himself, you know?"
"He always does. Kinda like you." Mikey answered, another hollow smile gracing his face.
"Yeah, kinda like me." Leo said, his soft laughter warming Mikey's chilled heart. He found himself chuckling softly as well.
Mikey turned away from his older brother's laughter and sighed softly, trying to stave away the pain in his heart. He closed his eyes gently and made his aching body stand up. If he had to get ready for April's, now would be the time. He steered himself down the hallway and walked tenderly across the chilled floor. He wrapped his arms lightly across him to try and give his body some warmth. It was always cold this time of the year down in the drafty sewers. Though they had heaters spread out in various areas around the lair to keep themselves warm, it never was enough to completely stave off the ever growing cold. Mikey shivered slightly. The past few days seemed even colder than normal.
He continued to walk numbly down the hall that he knew by heart. As he made his way, he stretched out his long arm and allowed his fingers to brush lightly over the hard, chilled stone of the walls, closing his eyes and taking comfort in the solidity of the rough substance beneath his fingers.
As he passed the first door to his right, he heard a soft sound rumble through the crack in the doorway. He stopped and raised his hand, placing it lightly on the door, and pushed gently, wincing as the hinges creaked.
He peered inside and immediately saw the source of the noise. Don was at the desk in his lab, his face lying heavily on his folded arms, a slight trail of drool clinging to his chin as he slept. Mikey felt his stomach do a violent back flip as he watched his purple banded brother sleep in what had to be the most uncomfortable position possible. It was obvious Don never made it to bed last night.
"Stayed up all night with another invention, huh?" Leo voiced from behind him.
"I guess so." Mikey said, his eyes never leaving the sleeping form of his brother.
"He's so smart." Leo said fondly. "I don't know what the team would do without him."
Mikey huffed quietly and once again found himself scowling darkly at Leo's words. "Yeah, he's smart." Mikey muttered softly, lowering his eyes to the floor. "But he couldn't help us much that night. I wish he would have done more." He pushed out, trying to cover up the slight shake in his voice.
He looked over at Leo and once again saw his oldest brother staring at him sadly, as if he was disappointed in what Mikey had said. Mikey looked away, feeling suddenly ashamed of his spoken words, and once again laid eyes on Don's form within the dark lab. He bit his lip roughly.
"Donny is so special, Mike." He heard Leo's voice say. "He acted as best as he could that night. And he got you home safe and sound, didn't he?"
Mikey swallowed hard, but couldn't help but nod in agreement. He knew deep down that neither Donny or Raph were at fault for the events that happened a few nights ago, but he continued to play the what if's in his head each time he thought about their actions. He felt his shoulder ache again, and glared down at his offending appendage, willing it to stop. Mikey sighed and leaned heavily into the door frame, suddenly feeling a need for physical support.
"Mikey," Leo said softly. "Donny has always put his best into everything he does. Don't be angry at him about the other night. He needs you to help keep him on track, and you need him too." Mikey suddenly heard Leo laugh. "I mean, who else is going to fix your video game controllers when you accidently throw them into a wall."
Mikey turned his head to look at Leo and saw the bright dance of light in his eyes. He smiled widely, and heard a small laugh escape his lips as he remembered said incident. More laughter began to escape and Mikey once again leaned into the door frame, trying to support himself as his body was wracked with giggles. He looked over at Leo and met his dancing eyes, which just caused Mikey to laugh even harder. He wiped a small tear from his eye and tried to catch his breath and regain control of himself.
"Mikey?" Don's groggy voice suddenly asked. "What are you laughing at?" Mikey looked up and saw his brother gazing at him blearily, his eyes narrowed in poorly hidden concern. Mikey swallowed back a few more laughs and grinned at his brother who he had accidently awoken.
"Oh, just something that…" and he turned to point at Leo, but Leo had gone. Mikey frowned. "Nothing." He muttered. Don continued to gaze at him, his eyes full of something that Mikey couldn't read. Mikey shifted uncomfortably under Don's intense stare and moved away from the door and continued down the hall.
Mikey forced himself to get himself ready for April's party. He had sat in his room, staring at nothing but the far wall for unmarked time, warring with himself on whether he could make it through a few hours of social time. But in the end, Mikey had chosen to go, if only so he wouldn't disappoint April. A few hours later, he found himself making his way through the dark tunnels of the New York sewers, his brothers and his father walking out in front, leading the way to April's house. Mikey drug his feet as he went, not looking forward to a forced night of socialization. All he wanted to do was sleep without nightmares.
He chanced a glance behind him and saw his oldest brother bringing up the far rear. Leo smiled softly at him, causing Mikey to answer with a small grin himself. Leo would help get him through tonight. Leo always helped Mikey get through everything.
As they got to April's apartment, Don softly rapped on the window, while Raph and Master Splinter stood awkwardly beside him. Mikey stayed behind, standing near the comforting presence of his big brother. It didn't take long for the window to swing open and April to greet them quietly. Mikey followed his family into the apartment.
The room was blanketed in a soft darkness, the only light coming from numerous flickering candles placed strategically around the room. The odor of vanilla met Mikey's nose and he wrinkled it, a soft sadness filling his heart at the scent. He looked around and saw pictures randomly placed around the area, but could not make out what they were of. He frowned. He looked over and saw Don, April and Raph quietly talking a few feet away. Don chanced a concerned glance in Mikey's direction, but he ignored it.
Mikey turned to Leo who once again gave him a silent smile. "Geez, April." Mikey said, trying to make his voice sound chipper. "This is the most morose party I've ever been to."
April and his brothers looked at him silently. Raph's mouth was drawn in a tight, quivering line. Don's was hanging open, as if he couldn't understand what Mikey was talking about. April's was expressionless as she took in Mikey's form. He suddenly felt ridiculous.
"I mean, shouldn't there be music, streamers, food?" He continued, trying to get the prying eyes off of him.
"Mikey." Don suddenly said, his voice cracking. "What do you think we are doing here?"
Mikey stopped, considering the question. "We are at April's, for that party she invited us to." He said, as if it was the most obvious answer in the world.
Mikey watched with confusion as Raph moved his hand and covered his mouth softly, his eyes closing. Splinter emitted a soft noise and sat heavily in a chair at his response, unable to lift his head. Don opened his mouth to speak, but was suddenly unable. Mikey stared at them. What was going on?
"Mikey," April suddenly said, her voice shaking. "Take a look around you."
Mikey stopped and stared. He opened his mouth to say something, but stopped. They were all looking at him like he was crazy. He swallowed and turned around, eyeing the small apartment with his tired gaze. There were the candles. The dim lighting. The pictures. Mikey walked closer and took a look at one of them. It was a framed photo of him and Leo. He remembered this picture. Mikey smiled softly.
He then moved to the next one. Another one of Leo, this time him and Don, covered in grease after he tried to help Don fix the Battle Shell. Mikey remembered that day. Leo was definitely no mechanic, but he certainly tried. It had taken weeks to get the footprint shaped oil stains off the floor.
He moved on and picked up another frame. Leo again. Mikey narrowed his eyes. He moved to another. Leo with Splinter. Another with Leo, at one of his more recent birthdays. One of Leo and him when they were kids. Mikey swallowed. "They are all of Leo." He said softly.
April nodded. "Mikey, this isn't a party." She said. She took a deep breath, and swallowed back a small sob. "It's a memorial." She pushed out.
Mikey opened his mouth in shock, his stomach sinking to the ground. "No." he said softly. "No, it can't be. I mean, Leo's right…" and he turned his eyes to where his big brother had been, only to be met with empty space. He turned around fully, quickly, darting his eyes back and forth, desperately trying to locate his oldest brother who had just been with him a few moments before. Leo was gone.
Mikey felt his body go numb. His head was swimming, his knees went weak. "No…" he managed. His lungs were constricting. He couldn't breath. This wasn't happening. Leo was fine. He was with him all day. This was all just a mistake.
Mikey's shoulder began throbbing violently and he cried out softly, grabbing at his arm, collapsing to the floor as his knees gave out from under him. Don and Raph were at his side in a second. He clenched his eyes together painfully, trying desperately to get air…
Mikey awoke slowly, his head throbbing painfully where it made contact with the thick brick wall. He felt hands on him and a voice entering his mind. He opened his blurry eyes and saw Raph gazing down at him with worry.
"What happened?" he asked softly, but wasn't answered.
"Don, he's awake!" he heard Raph yell. Mikey turned his head to look in Don's direction, and saw him cradling something that was out of Mikey's view. "We need to get them home!"
"Is…is Mike…is he ok?" a soft voice pushed out. Mikey recognized that voice, and suddenly he remembered everything. He was lying in that alleyway, the one with the gang members. Leo had been there with him. There had been a gun shot. He had blacked out…
A gun shot. Mikey suddenly felt himself over, quickly realizing there was no wound on his body. He suddenly felt sick. Leo…
He pushed himself to his knees and crawled over to where Don was kneeled, needing to see what lay within his arms. He heard the sound of Raph's voice behind him calling his name but ignored him as he made his way to Don. He had to see. He had to know.
He made his way around to Don's side and his hand slipped in something wet, causing him to lose his balance and slip, falling heavily to the ground. Mikey ignored the pain and pushed himself back up, balking in fear as he realized his hand had slipped in blood. Blood that wasn't his.
"Leo…" Mikey moaned as he looked up. He saw his oldest brother lying limply in Don's arms, his body covered in blood that was still flowing freely from a deep wound within his chest.
"Mikey," Leo managed, trying to turn his head to meet his youngest brother's eyes. Mikey felt sick. Leo was so pale. He was so pale…
Mikey managed to raise his eyes up to Don's face, which was drawn into a worried frown. Tears were brimming the edges of his eyes. "The bleeding…" he pushed out. "I can't…"
"Donny, we have to get him help!" Mikey heard Raph yell from somewhere near by, but Don didn't move. He continued to press heavily on Leo's wounds. The air was suddenly filled with a wet cough, and Mikey was drawn back to his oldest brother's prone form. Blood began to trickle from the side of his mouth. Mikey felt bile rise in his throat.
"Mikey." Leo tried again, gasping painfully for air. "Are you…ok…?"
Mikey's throat swelled up painfully at his words and he knelt down next to Leo's head, brushing his hand gently over his brother's cold skin. "I'm fine." He managed, his voice becoming shaky. "And you'll be fine too. You'll be fine."
Leo coughed roughly again, more blood running from his mouth. When he regained his breath, he managed a weak smile, reaching a shaky hand out for Mikey's. Mikey took it quickly, holding onto it tightly as tears began to fill his eyes. "I love you." He managed through wet shallow breaths, his voice holding a calm acceptance. "I love all of you."
"No, Leo…" Don moaned and Mikey saw him press harder against the wound in another desperate attempt to stop the bleeding, but Mikey could see in Don's eyes that there was nothing he could do.
"Leo, you have to hold on." Mikey begged. "You can't die. You can't." Tears began to fall more freely as he realized what was happening right in front of him. He felt a presence next to him and saw Raph kneeling down, sobs wracking his body as he grasped for Leo's other hand desperately.
"It's…OK…" Leo breathed quietly. "It's going to…be…OK."
"Leo, no…" Raph sobbed from beside Mikey as he saw Leo's lids become heavier. "We can save you. Just hold on…please…"
"I love you." Leo managed again.
Mikey swallowed hard, grasping Leo's hand harder, trying to give him any strength that he could. He let out a desperate cry. "I love you, too." He cried, burying his face into Leo's cold shoulder. He felt Don hug Leo closer, desperately holding on to what little control he had left.
Mikey laid with his head buried deeply within Leo's shoulder, his eyes shut tight in grief. It wasn't until Leo's hand slowly became limp within his own that Mikey allowed himself to truly cry. He vaguely heard Donny's loud sobs of grief, and Raph's desperate, sorrow filled scream that echoed through the frigid wind. He grasped Leo tighter, not wanting to let go of his brother's chilling body. And he cried. He cried…
Leo was dead. His leader. His big brother. Dead…
Mikey found himself wrapped in the arms of his two big brothers as he sobbed uncontrollably on the floor in April's morose apartment. He could feel the soft paw of his father softly stroking his forehead as he grieved heavily for his loss, his family's loss.
The four remaining members of the family held each other tightly, trying to give the other comfort and support, and each needing it as desperately as the others. But Mikey could do nothing but lay on the floor, gripping his shoulder, the one that was injured by Leo pushing him out of the way of the bullet that took his life. Mikey sobbed wetly, wanting so desperately to hear Leo's voice again.
But it had all been in his head. Leo had never been there. He was alone. Mikey began to sob harder, unable to move, paralyzed in grief as the candles flickered and died one by one around him.
The three remaining brother's stood together, silently upon a New York City roof top. All three leaned on the edge of the roof ledge, looking calmly and quietly over the noisy city. Life never stopped in New York, the city that never sleeps.
Mikey took a deep breath and turned his head to one side, seeing Don looking back at him. He smiled softly, and turned his head to the other side. Raph looked back and gave a small twitch of the mouth in response. Mikey turned his head back forward, feeling the cool wisps of wind play with his bandana tails as he gazed across the expanse of the city. His heart ached violently within his chest and he took a deep breath, trying to still his pain.
It was a year today. One whole year. A whole year since the family was broken violently apart. The pain had begun to ebb, if only slightly, as time went by. It was a long time before the family once again began to function, if how they lived now was even functioning. The family had been forever changed by the events a year ago. But they were still a family, even if now one less.
"Are we ready?" Don asked softly, his voice quivering lightly. Mikey could only nod as he felt a large lump begin to rise in his throat. He watched as Donny walked away from the ledge and picked up a small box, cradling it gently in his hands. Mikey swallowed hard as he watched Don move back to the ledge, box in hand.
Mike heard Don take a deep breath next to him. The three brothers were silent for a long moment, and when Donny finally spoke, his strong voice cut strongly through the cool night air. "He was a ninja, a leader, and a brother. He was trustworthy, honorable, compassionate, and loving." Don's voice shook violently and Mikey heard him swallow roughly. "And the best brother anyone could ask for." Don continued. "We love you Leo. And we miss you…so much."
Mikey's throat constricted painfully at the mention of his oldest brother's name. He gripped the edge of the roof roughly for support and swallowed hard. He managed to reach a hand out and lay it lightly upon Donny's, causing his purple banded brother to turn his head and meet Mikey's eyes, tears streaking down his reddened cheeks. Mikey swallowed once again and turned his head as he heard Raph shift uncomfortably next to him and clear his throat.
"Leo, you were so overprotective." Raph started, trying to keep his voice even. "You were always worried about us, always wanted to keep us safe. You pushed us hard, you never let us settle, and you lead us well." Raph's voice broke and he put his hand up to his eyes to block the tears. "We fought a lot, but I always respected you, always looked up to you." Mikey brushed a tear away from his eye and looked over at his toughest brother's trembling form as he allowed his grief to be displayed. He heard Raph take another deep, shuddering breath. "I love you, Leo." His brother finished roughly.
Raph became silent as his body shook with gentle sobs. Don walked over and put a soft hand on Raph's shoulder for comfort, squeezing tightly. Mikey watched and tried to hold back his own tears. He took a deep breath and once again let his eyes wander over the vast city.
"You saved my life, big bro." He started softly. "And I still can't quite figure out how I'm supposed to continue on without you. You comforted me after nightmares, let me cry on your shoulder when I was sad, took care of me when I was sick, tutored me when I couldn't quite keep up with everyone else." Mikey swallowed back a sob. "I miss you more every day that I wake up and realize that you aren't there. I love you so much, big brother, and someday we will all be together again. I know it. But until then, I will live every day trying to make you proud of me…"
Mikey let his words trail off, his voice failing him as he tried to form words. He felt two strong arms wrap around his shoulders and saw his two other brothers on either side of him, each hugging him with one arm. Mikey sniffled loudly and wiped the tears away from his cold cheeks.
Don took the box that he was cradling so carefully and opened the lid. Each brother took a deep breath and watched as Donny lifted the box into the air, freeing the contents within. The ashes washed out and danced gracefully in the blowing wind as they flew and spread over the city they grew up in. Mikey watched as the remains of his big brother swirled in the cool night breeze until they spread so far they were no longer visible, becoming one with the city around them.
Mikey grabbed hold of both of his remaining brothers as they sobbed softly on one another's shoulders, saying their final goodbyes to their beloved Leonardo.
"Now he will always be able to watch over this city." Donny said softly, gripping Mikey harder as they held each other close.
"And us…" Mikey finished, wiping more of the endless tears from his eyes. Raph pulled away and nodded resolutely. As his brothers let go of their tight embrace and turned to leave, Mikey found himself leaning heavily over the ledge.
"We love you Leo." Mikey shouted over the noisy city. And as the wind whistled by his ears as he walked away, Mikey could swear he heard the words "I love you, too" echo in his head, and he smiled.
"And the shadow of the day,
Will embrace the world in grey,
And the sun,
Will set for you."
I'm still not sure what exactly gave me the idea of writing this story, but something about it made me have to write it.
I hope you enjoyed.