A/N: Uh, hey. I don't own the Ninja Turtles, but if I had a dollar for every time I wishe I could just hop a plane to the U.S. I'd have enough to buy out Mirage. Then there'd be some CHANGES. Anyways, here's Chapter 1! Enjoy your stay and hey, leave a review on the way out!
"Who else have you told
"How long have you known?" Raph fired the question at Angel without thinking. His brain was in overload. Fucking pregnant. Fucking great.
"A few weeks," she muttered, not looking at him.
"A few weeks? A few weeks?! And ya never thought to tell me till now? Wha- who else have you told?"
"Good," he said, cutting her off. She opened her mouth to speak "No, just listen. Donnie's always said that if for some reason one of us managed to snag a girl, we'd never be able to have kids. Ever. It don't work"—
She gave a snort. Raph fought down a rush of anger. Don was almost never wrong; she had no right to judge him.
"Just – just hear me out okay? He said it was impossible, obviously he made a mistake. But I think maybe … maybe, even if pregnancy is possible – maybe it'll just be a miscarriage."
"So we can just wait it out and no one will have to know?" she said, looking more than a little relieved.
Raph shook his head. Christ, if only it were that simple.
"No? What, are you crazy?"
"No. Just honest."
"Oh, for fuck's sake…" she muttered, gripping her hair and staring at her bare, knobbly knees. Raph got defensive at once.
"We can't just not tell anyone. It ain't right," he said, folding his arms. He was suddenly painfully aware of how Leo-ish he was acting. He quickly unfolded his arms. Not knowing what else to do with them, he let them hang limp, feeling stupid and awkward but determined to stand his ground nonetheless.
Angel buried her face in her hands, shaking her head. "My bro's gonna kill me," she moaned.
"Be thankful you don't live with Leo," Raph muttered. "Look – what I was tryin' to say is this ain't the end of the world. You'll still be able to have a life after all this is over. Just don't worry about it anymore tonight, okay? Go on to bed, get some sleep an' I'll come by in the mornin'. Gotta be here when ya break it to your bro," he said gruffly, trying to make up for what he couldn't say before. In truth, he was aching for sleep himself, and for the moment he wanted nothing more than to collapse on his hammock and forget the whole mess.
She nodded, sniffing. "Okay," she said hoarsely.
He turned, mumbled something along the lines of "see ya in the mornin'", and vanished. It wasn't until much later, as he was standing in the musty elevator, that it occurred to him that maybe he should have tried to comfort her – given her a hug or a pat on the shoulder or something. But then, he didn't think touching her wasn't a very good idea either. What if she had recoiled in disgust? What if she blamed him for bringing this crap upon her head? What if she secretly hated him, and rued the night she had stumbled up to the warehouse and called his name through half-rotted boards?
He knew he was being stupid. He was certain that if she hated him, he'd know about it real quick. Still, he couldn't help feeling like a complete asshole as he padded heavily into the Lair, shoulders sagging as though his exhaustion, guilt and dread were all physical weights. If the feeling in his gut was anything to go by, they were.
He heard a clatter in the kitchen and looked up, suddenly straight-backed and alert. He relaxed visibly when he saw it was only Mike, digging in the refrigerator. Not wanting to talk to anyone at the moment, Raph found himself automatically slipping into stealth-mode, controlling his footfalls and subtly moving closer to the deeper shadows near the outer edge of the Lair.
"Come to me, my pretty," he heard Mike say to himself as he reached right to the back of the fridge and moved his arm around, looking into space with his tongue between his teeth. Plainly, he was going by touch rather than actually looking for whatever took his fancy that night.
Raph probably would have made it to his room without incident if it weren't for that friggin' furball Mike called a pet. It was sitting a few feet from Raph's bedroom door, licking its butt as cats do, but as the exhausted hot-head approached, it looked up. For a couple of seconds, Raph stared at the cat, willing it to be silent and go quietly back to its feline business. The cat stared back, its yellow eyes fixed on Raph, and let out a soft mewl.
Were Raphael a crueller turtle, he would have kicked that cat into the middle of next week.
When her Gramma had passed away in her sleep a year prior, Angel had found herself feeling truly alone and abandoned for the first time. Suddenly her brother was at the helm of the household; suddenly she had to gauge each interaction, each situation she found herself in with him. Was she supposed to look at him as her equal, as she'd always done? Or was he now an authority figure? She had also found herself fully sympathising with Raph about his relationship with Leo. He'd come over and bitch about Leo and she'd vehemently agree, and she'd bitch about her bro in turn and he'd return the favour with interest. It was nice.
April and Casey had become godsends since Gramma had died. One or both of them would drop in at least twice a week, always bringing food no matter how fiercely she and her brother protested. Angel had warmed to April so much so that she had begun to think of her as the big sister she never had. She was ashamed of it, but she loved most of all just to look at April, with her smart clothes and neatly manicured nails, vivid hair all clean and fresh and bouncing, and that understanding smile always gracing her rosy lips. April was gorgeous, and she always made Angel a little nervous with her grace and sharp mind and sweet words.
Angel would never forget the night when, a few weeks after the funeral, April had up and announced "You know what you need? A girl's night! We'll try out hair styles and makeup and gossip and watch cheesy movies, whaddaya say?" And because Angel was feeling too apathetic to refuse, she'd agreed. She'd never had a 'girl's night' before, and April's vivacious excitement had been catchy. In the course of the evening, she had found herself swapping stories with April; funny stories; sad stories; times she'd gotten so mad she'd forgotten who she was and what she was doing; things she'd done with boys, and even things she'd done with girls. She had found herself spilling secrets she hadn't told anyone, ever. She had found that she could trust this clever redhead Casey so adored.
So, after Raphael left her sitting there, feeling more abandoned and alone than ever, she made up her mind. She had the feeling that Raph hadn't wanted her to say anything to anyone until tomorrow, but she didn't care. It was her life, right? This was her problem and her secret too, right? And she had hoped for a little comfort and support from him, and was utterly disappointed. So she was turning to someone else, and if Raph didn't like it, tough. He could take his little orders and shove 'em.
Angel flicked a glance at the front door, then at her brother's bedroom door right beside it. She'd have to be sneaky. She contemplated the window to the fire escape, on the wall opposite the doors. Mind made up, Angel pulled on some wrinkled jeans she'd found on the floor and slipped her feet into her sneakers, not bothering with socks. If April could happily put up with eau de sewer, Angel reasoned, she could put up with a slight case of smelly sneakers. She glanced around her room in search of a bra, and when she couldn't see one, she shrugged and clambered semi-awkwardly out the window and down the fire escape without one. It wasn't like she had all that much to hold up anyway.
Part of the reason that April and Casey dropped by so often was because they only lived a few streets away. Not for the first time, Angel blessed her bro's 'mad house-huntin' skillz' and set off at a brisk pace, aware of but stubbornly ignoring the curious stares of the people she passed, fingering the pocket-knife she still kept in her pocket as a souvenir of her wannabe-gangster days.
When April opened the door to an ungroomed, bra-less and slightly smelly Angel, it was clear that she was wondering what in the world she was doing there, and why she'd chosen to wake April at this ungodly hour. Then she saw the red eyes, runny nose, blotchy cheeks and that desperate expression. Instantly, Angel found herself being quietly ushered inside and upstairs, but she didn't miss the way April glanced around the street before closing and locking and then double dead-bolting the door; nor did she fail to notice the way the elder made sure her alarm was on and functioning on the way back upstairs.
Holy shit, Angel thought, she probably thinks I've just been jumped or something.
"What's up, Angel? You okay?" she whispered, and Angel realised that Casey must be here, asleep, or else April wouldn't bother keeping quiet.
"I … I'm not sure actually," Angel said as April indicated that she should sit on the couch. More tears – God, would they ever stop? – leaked out before she could try to control them. She took a few breaths while April started moving around the kitchen. It took a few moments for Angel to realise that she was making tea. While she was busy, Angel took the opportunity to swipe a Kleenex from the box on the coffee table and wipe her face and nose. She shoved the used tissue in her pocket and accepted a mug steaming with an herby, delicate smelling brew.
"Spearmint, camomile, lemongrass, sencha," April recited in response to her questioning look. "Calming. So, what's going on, kiddo?"
Angel looked in her mug, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. Now that the moment had come to tell April, she wasn't sure how to say it. If it had been bad telling Raph, it was so much worse telling April. She was beginning to regret her rash decision to come here, to her surrogate big sis. She felt April's soft hand sliding across her back and around her shoulder.
Stillness. April was holding her breath without realising. The whole room seemed to be holding its breath. Angel herself breathed deep, let it out in a shuddering sigh, and took another deep breath, a great, painful lump gathering in her throat.
"'m pregnant," Angel managed to choke out, "with Raph … Raph's"—
Angel broke off into quiet, barely controlled sobs while she felt April's arms encase her tightly. She tried not to spill her tea on April's satin robe.
April was in a mild state of panic. Angel had obviously come to her for help, but for the life of her she couldn't think of a single thing to say beyond 'Wow, that's awful!' She could say that she was here for Angel, but that was too much like stating the obvious. She could tell Angel that everything was going to be okay, but that was a lie.
Part of April wanted to tell Angel how disappointed she was, but that wouldn't help the situation.
It was then that April remembered the books. Two very recent, hard cover reference books on infants and pregnancy, lying on the closet floor of the bedroom, where they couldn't accuse her with their shiny covers and smiling moms-to-be plastered everywhere on the glossy pages. Casey's mother had given them to April as a present, but any idiot knew she was dropping hints at wanting grandchildren. April was young, beautiful, and was in no way open to the idea of having kids just yet, thank you very much, Mrs. Jones.
"Hey," she said softly, pulling away a little so she could look at Angel. "I have a couple of books on babies and pregnancy if you want to take a look…?"
Angel nodded mutely and April pulled her in for one last squeeze before rising gently and padding into the bedroom. She slipped through the door, grateful that it had been left ajar as the knob made a lot of noise.
April saw with a shock that the bed was empty, as was the corner where the golf bag had lain. Casey was gone.
Mike flicked a glance at his precious kitty, ready to spew forth a stream of baby-talk – and then he saw Raph, looking like hell and clearly trying not to be seen sneaking back into his room.
Ha! Mike thought. Nuthin' gets by the Mikester!
But he played it cool, raising an eye ridge. In truth, he was puzzled. Raph had turned in at his usual time, around eleven. He couldn't have been out long enough to have gotten into any real trouble – it wasn't much later than midnight. So what was with the sneaking?
"Heya, Raph. Where've you been?" he asked, feeling a surge of triumph as his three fingered hand closed around his prize. Victory! he cried inwardly, dragging out the jar of mayonnaise.
Raph was frozen, looking like a rabbit caught in a spotlight, or something to that effect. The thought of comparing Raph to something cute and furry caused a little tremor of silent, suppressed laughter to pass through Mike. Just a little one.
"None a' yer business," came the stiff reply, as Raph ceased all attempts to make it to his room peacefully and wisely opted to enter the kitchen and hunt up some grub himself.
"Au contraire, my brother," Mike said, now brandishing a spoon in Raph's direction. "When you show up in the middle of the night lookin' like crap, I think it is my business." He took a spoonful of mayo and ate it straight from the jar. "And on a school night, too!" he added with a grin, having successfully filled his terrible joke quota for the evening.
Raph was giving him a look that was partly his usual pissy self when someone dared question his wily nocturnal ways, and part disgust at what he plainly thought were bizarre and disturbing eating habits. Mike didn't care – as far as he was concerned, it was a scientifically proven fact that mayonnaise was best consumed fresh out of the jar.
Raph, meanwhile, was crossing abruptly to the cabinets and pulling out a bowl, before hunting through the pantries, clearly trying to find some kind of snackage he could grab and make a quick getaway with.
"Ya wouldn't understand, Mikey," he said quietly.
Mike felt an unwelcome flare of irritation. He suddenly hated the old saying 'ignorance is bliss.' True as it may sometimes be, it led people to believe that the vice versa was also true; that bliss was ignorance. It was a mistake his brothers were making more and more often these days, and frankly Mike was getting sick of it.
"Try me, bro."
Raph stared at Mike. He had never consciously thought his little brother was stupid or ignorant, but it was plain to him that Mike thought he did. That hurt more than he wanted to admit. Jesus, he'd just wanted some food.
He knew that he could just grab his snack and go, and tell Mike tomorrow, when he could say it once in front of everyone and get it over with in one go. Saying it out loud himself would seal it, make it final, make it the truth. That was something he could put off forever. And if he told Mike – big-hearted, grinning Mike – then Mike would want to take some of the weight, and that was impossible. This shit was Raph's to deal with and Raph's alone. And he knew that from Mike there would be no judgement, no harsh stares and long-winded lectures about honour and respect and the 'warrior's way,' which certainly didn't include having drunken sex and getting chicks pregnant. Mike would be sympathetic and helpful and understanding, and just the thought of that was too much. It was more than Raph felt he deserved, to have a brother like Mike.
Yes, he could just leave. But Mike was still giving him that intense look, and Raph couldn't ignore it. He suddenly realized that Mike knew – he just knew Raph wasn't going to tell him jack shit.
"It ain't like I don't wanna tell ya," Raph said heavily – talking had suddenly become extremely difficult. "It's more like … I can't."
"Don't gimme that crap," Mike said, keeping his voice low so that he wouldn't wake the rest of the family. "There isn't anything in this whole world you haven't been able to tell me." Raph was grateful that his hunt for food gave him a perfectly valid excuse to not meet his brother's eyes.
"Trust me Mike, ya really don't wanna know." Raph said, discovering some Doritos jammed at the back of the cupboard – it was obvious that someone, most likely Leo, had tried to hide them away behind the rice crackers and the huge, bulk-buy bag of tea leaves. The crackers and tea were like a silent lecture, their presence reminding him what he should and should not be eating.
Trust Leo Raph thought, a wry smirk on his face. That's the last time I let him unpack the groceries.
He poured some into his bowl and shoved the near-empty bag back into the cupboard, right at the front in a show of defiance. If Leo's pantry stacking said 'eat right', Raph's plainly said 'fuck off.'
He turned and made to leave the kitchen, but found Mike blocking his path. Unable to shove him out of the way without spilling his chips, Raph huffed in impatience.
"You'll know soon enough. You'll just have to wait 'til I tell everyone. But I ain't talkin' 'til I've had some sleep. Move, Michelangelo."
Mike was shaking his head. Raph was starting to actually get pissed off with his little brother. Wasn't it enough that he'd be hearing everything the very next day? What the hell was he trying to prove, anyway?
"Raph, look at yourself. You look like you've been through hell tonight."
"And ya can hear all the hot goss tomorrow, Mike. Since when did you start actin' like Leo?"
"Dude, what does it matter either way? If I'm gonna know tomorrow anyway, you might as well tell me now," Mike argued.
"You might as well get fu—"
He broke off, hearing the hissing, scraping sound of the lair door opening. He whirled to face it, and was abruptly knocked back onto his shell by a roaring mass, sending the wind straight from his lungs and the bowl clattering to the floor. Doritos scattered everywhere while Mike let out a cry and instantly moved to pull Raphael's assailant off him, managing to catch the attacker around the chest and pull him back a little. But the crazed man on top of Raph was hell bent on doing as much damage as possible, kicking out at Raph with his heavy boots and ferociously trying to break out of Mike's hold, unconcerned with the youngest turtle's pleas.
Raph's lungs started working again, and dimly his brain caught up with eyes. He was staring up into the raging form of Casey Jones.
Cyclone Casey hits! Batten down the hatches! Leave a review! ... yeah I'll stop whoring for crit now.