A/N: Inspired by the film "Three Days". Although, I never saw how it ends—and I can't find anyone that can tell me!
I am taking more than a few liberties with the order of the brothers. Do I care what's been officially said off the show? Not really. I have little respect for authorial 'canon' outside of their works. If they didn't get it across in the show/book it didn't matter, and I am free to interpret as I will.
So stick that in your pipe and smoke it!
Thanks a bunch to my wonderful beta Amicitia. You were a huge help at getting this story to be much better than my original version.
Disclaimer: All characters, settings, plot devices, and situations that you recognize are not my property. I'm just borrowing them to play with until such a time as I am self-disciplined enough to write my own stuff.
Summary: When one of his brother's is killed in battle, Raph is given a second chance to relive the last week they will spend together. The catch? At the end of that week, his brother still has to die. CGI movie/2k3 series mixed universe.
And I am Not Resigned
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
-- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Dirge Without Music"
Whatever it was that had toppled off the table when he slammed his hand down would probably be expensive to replace, either with actual money or with time spent helping Donnie find the pieces to fix it. Raph knew this, and on some level he inwardly cringed about it, but that sliver of caring was rapidly fading away the longer his twin brother refused to look up and meet his eyes.
Another growl of frustration, and his hands clenched around the table. He would not physically attack one of his brothers. He would not make that mistake again. A raised voice, instead, and blinding fury. "What the shell were you thinking, Don?"
"I was thinking I needed to get out of the lair." Don said. There was, as usual, no matching anger for Raph to attack. Mikey sometimes joked they were one turtle split in two, and that Raph got all the emotions while Don got all the brains. It bothered Raphael that this was probably a nearly accurate assessment. Why couldn't Don just get mad at him, for once? It would almost be a relief.
"But to a concert? There are thousands of people at a rock concert." He gestured around vaguely, trying to express the scale of the problem. Why wasn't Leo in here doing this? Their older brother was surprisingly talented at making you feel guilty about something that seemed like no big deal at the time.
"Hundreds of thousands, probably, and all of them watching the stage while April and I stood in the back." Donnie did glance up then, but only briefly, and Raph couldn't help the feeling that he was being looked down on with that face. "And it wasn't a rock concert, it was country."
Raph hadn't known April, or Donnie for that matter, liked country, but that wasn't really the point here. "You were still out there were you coulda easily been seen, you moron."
A screwdriver clanged down beside Raph's fingers as Don stood up, leaning forward so they were almost beak to beak. "You are such a hypocrite! Don't think I don't know about all those times you and Casey went to bars while Leo was away. Did I ever call YOU on it? No. I assumed you could handle yourself."
"In a bar full of twenty sloshed guys? 'Course I could." Raph closed the distance between them even further, jabbing his brother in the plastron with one finger. "An' I could convince 'em that they're hallucinatin'. But what are the odds you could fight off hundreds of thousands of panicked adults, Brainiac?"
Donatello opened his mouth, seeming to be grasping for a retort, but there wasn't one and Raph knew it. This was probably the single stupidest thing his brilliant twin brother had ever done. And a country concert? At least a rock concert they could pass off with all the other weirdos in costume.
Raph knew he'd probably won another battle, but this didn't make the red-banded turtle feel any better. They'd been fighting like this nearly every day for the last year.
It had all started with Leo's leaving. The first month, his actual training period, Don and Raph had a kind of uneasy truce going. Raph had been a little bitter that Donnie, who was considered the younger of the two of them, had been chosen leader over him, but it hadn't seemed all that important. Leo would be back soon enough.
Then they realized their older brother had more or less fallen off the face of the earth. Leo, his best friend, had abandoned Raph. Had left him behind.
The result had been that Raph had caught himself more often taking his frustrations out on Don. It didn't even really matter if it was his fault or not, because he knew his twin brother wasn't going anywhere.
They had always been together. Master Splinter had once been fond of telling anyone who would listen how the two of them had learned to talk at the same time, walk at the same time, and how you would never have found Raphael without his nearly silent Donatello shadow. This was why Splinter had assigned them the same birthday, and everyone within the family knew them collectively as 'the twins'. They'd even been called that for a long time, until Raph refused to answer to it anymore.
Leo might leave, but Donnie never would. It was safe for him to get mad at Donnie.
It hadn't taken long before Don started pushing back, and only weeks after that they'd taken to avoiding each other rather than fight. This was fine with Raph. Donatello knew him better than anyone, even Leo, and could find and hit the buttons that really hurt.
When Leo had come back, and they'd defeated Winters' monsters, Raph had assumed things would go back to the way they had always been. That wasn't what happened. While Raphael was more than willing to try to be friends again, Don had seemed far less so. He kept locking himself in his lab; refusing Raph's help with the vehicles…he wouldn't even spend any significant length of time in a room with Raphael if he could avoid it.
That was almost worse than Leo's little disappearing act, and Raph had had enough of it. Things had really started escalating this week, when everything Donnie did seemed to make Raphael more and more angry. He knew that Don was just about at his breaking point, as well. This is what Raph wanted, because whatever the fallout might be, anything was better than the treatment he was receiving now.
"I can't believe," Don finally said, sitting back down, "that you have the audacity to think that I'm so stupid that I couldn't hide myself in a packed room."
"I'm not sayin' you're stupid. I'm sayin' you're that bad of a ninja." It was a low blow, and Raph didn't need the fury that suddenly sprang to Don's eyes to tell him that.
Donnie wasn't a good fighter, they all knew that. If he and a moderately trained Foot soldier were put in a blank white space and told to fight, Don would lose. His strength came from making plans and plots involving his opponents' weaknesses and the area around.
If any of them could survive an attack in a stadium of people, it would be Donnie. That didn't make what he'd done any less stupid. He shouldn't have gone with just April. That was ridiculous. How many times in the past month had Raph saved his brother's shell? Ten? At least? He needed back-up in case something went wrong.
There was mutiny lurking just behind Don's eyes, but he never got a chance to put whatever he'd opened his mouth to say into words as Mikey chose that moment to peer around the doorframe. "Hey, dudes, Casey just called. He needs back-up, stat. Some Purple Dragons are closing in on him."
"Idiot," Raph growled, not even sure himself whether he meant Casey or his baby brother. He pointed a finger at Don, and half expected the other turtle to bite it off. "We're not done with this yet, Donnie. Not by a long shot."
Don said nothing; he just reached mechanically for his Bo and his duffle bag full of magic tricks. They left the lab together, meeting Leo and Mikey in the main room. Their leader barely nodded to acknowledge their presence before speeding towards the door.
It took only minutes, ten at most, for them to reach Casey. He must have been running for their lair, hoping to get close enough for them to be able to help him.
He was crouched down on the wide rooftop of a warehouse—one of those long low buildings with lots of roof space. His weapons were all missing, probably lost somewhere on the chase, and there were several dark bruises forming already. Raph growled under his breath as he looked his friend over. Seems like Don wasn't the only one who would need a reminder on taking back-up.
Leo shot ahead, using his sword to block the pipe that had been swung down at their friend as they arrived. "Sorry," the oldest turtle muttered with a cocky grin as his brothers landed behind him, "but if you want to beat Casey for his stupidity, you're just going to have to get in line. We've got first dibs."
"Actually, I think that honor belongs to April," Mikey piped up.
"Guys!" Casey sounded so relieved; Raph thought it was probably somewhat disgusting. Of course, considering that there were probably thirty young thugs on the roof, staring them down, the red-banded turtle thought he could overlook it this one time.
"You okay, Casey?" He heard Don ask as Leo pushed back on the attacker hard enough to send the kid stumbling.
"Yeah, I'm good. I just figured Raph here could use some butt-kicking action since he stopped being my sidekick."
"How many times do I have to tell ya, Case? You'll always be the sidekick." Raph couldn't help the corners of his mouth twitching up into a smile. Leave it to Casey Jones to downplay getting himself in this much trouble. He still sounded winded, and Raph had no doubt at least one of his friend's bones had been broken. He hung out with a pretty rough crowd, and didn't have the benefit of a protective shell.
Raph didn't recognize the leader of the group, some new guy with long blue and purple striped hair. He didn't seem to be in the mood for any more chatting. "Purple Dragons, take down those freaks!"
"He's calling us freaks?" Mikey scoffed, nunchucks already whirling. "This guy needs to check a mirror more often. He's the one with the neon hair."
Raph grunted a little as he blocked one of the thugs, catching the kid's long knife between his Sai. "You're just jealous he has hair, Mike."
"Are you kidding? I've seen how many hours a day Casey wastes taking care of his. I don't have time for that kind of upkeep."
"Hey!" There was the sound of something heavy hitting the pavement, and Raph could only assume his best friend had taken one of these guys down bare-fisted. "The only reason I take any time is 'cause April likes it, and I KNOW you're all jealous of that."
"I hate to interrupt this little party," Raph felt Leo back up so he and his big brother were now standing shell to shell, "but one of these guys has got a gun. I saw it under his coat. Be on your toes."
Raph cursed under his breath, spinning one of his weapons in a free hand. None of them enjoyed going up against an idiot that was packing. It didn't matter how good you were, a bullet was faster, and a bullet big enough and at a close enough range would still slice through their shells easy.
He and Leo sprang apart as some big lug chucked part of the ventilation system at them. How he'd gotten it loose, Raph wasn't sure. But if he could do that, he needed to go down fast. A sharp twist changed his direction so he was running towards the guy. "Alright, ugly. If you wanna dance, I've got a few moves to show you."
It was probably fortunate the guy just swung a meaty fist at Raph's head instead of speaking. If it had made any kind of intelligent noise, the turtle probably would have died of shock. He couldn't help thinking the Purple Dragon looked a lot like 'The Hippo' from one of those kiddie anime shows that Mikey enjoyed watching so much—bare-chested, a small tuft of dark brown hair and almost no teeth behind fat lips and the ugliest double chin Raph had ever seen. The only addition was a dragon tattoo making its way across his—shudder—man boobs.
Raph sprang back in an agile handstand, and heard the roof crack as the guy's fist hit where he'd just been standing. It wouldn't be hard to avoid whatever this guy dished out, he was fat and slow, but neutralizing him would be another game altogether.
Once he'd landed, the teenage turtle shot a quick glance over his shoulder. There were three idiots ganging up on Leo. They probably thought they'd be enough to take his older brother down. Ha! He almost felt bad for their stupidity.
He couldn't hear Casey and Mikey over the wind that had begun blowing its way through the buildings, but he could see their mouths moving and they were still close enough together to be trading jibes. It was obvious his little brother was guarding Casey, which was probably good. Don wasn't too far from them, either, sending guys over the roof one after the other. The fall wasn't enough to kill them, but they would seriously reconsider climbing back up.
They were all far enough away not to get in his way, but close enough he could still help 'em when they needed it. Good.
Another fist was incoming, and Raph simply twisted away. He lashed out with one of his Sai almost on instinct. They weren't sharpened, but that didn't mean he couldn't cut with them when he put enough force behind it.
Meaty, as Raph had decided to call him, didn't seem to like the sight of his own blood much. He paled considerably before letting out a roar and charging at him. Raph simply dropped, fitting under the giant's legs easily. He sprang onto his hands and donkey-kicked backwards at the first available opportunity. Meaty stumbled forward, and then went boneless as his head collided against the edge of something sharp and metal with a very satisfying crack.
"I swear, these guys get dumber every time we fight 'em," Raph muttered, spinning a Sai in one hand. "Hun must be gettin' really desperate."
"Raph! Look out!"
There wasn't time for him to think more than 'Was that Donnie?' before something heavy collided with his side, followed by a crack of thunder from the storm clouds looming overhead. Man, he must be getting slow if Don had time to see a threat before he did! Leo was going to be assigning him extra sessions for a week.
Raph twisted in midair so he landed in a crouch, ready to face whatever it was that had attacked him. Something seemed off though. For as panicked as Don had sounded, that hit had been nothin', and there wasn't anyone trying to take him out before he landed. If they were trying to tackle him before, shouldn't they still be trying? Either they were even stupider than Meaty, or something was off here.
In the almost-darkness, it took Raphael a few moments to process what he was seeing. Some Purple Dragon was standing maybe a half dozen yards away, the large gun in his hand still smoking. There weren't any other attackers between the two of them. Just a figure slumped on the ground that could only be one person.
Raph felt his mouth go dry.
"Donnie!" Mikey's yell of made Raph's heartbeat pick up. Mike was seeing it too.
But that wasn't possible. It couldn't be. Because that would mean that Donnie had been shot, and Raph would never allow that to happen. Not to his twin brother. He had to have hit his head—maybe he'd been knocked out when he'd been hit earlier, and all of this was some twisted reality. Right, that was it. He was really unconscious.
Leo yelled something, probably some form of Don's name, but it was drowned out as thunder really did crash down this time.
Raph couldn't breathe, all of the sudden. It was like his brain had just shut down. Maybe it had. Don was the brains of their little duo after all. Was he going into shock? Raph couldn't remember all the symptoms. Donnie had taught them to him, when they were kids, but every time he tried to grasp the memory it slipped away, more like a dream then a memory.
While the gunman was engaged with a pair of katana, Raph made his way across the roof to his fallen brother. He was probably running, it only made sense, but the distance was closing achingly slowly. He seemed to be moving at the pace of a funeral march instead of the run he knew he had to be doing.
Nothing his senses were telling him seemed to be right. Because they were all telling him that Donnie, his Donnie, had just taken a bullet for him and that was impossible. Not that Don wouldn't do that for him; it just wouldn't happen. Raph trained so he could protect his brothers, and though he'd never say it out loud, Don was the most important one of the three.
Because they were them. They didn't literally make up one person, they were still Raph and Don and nobody else, but when they were kids he'd always thought of himself as 'me-n-Donnie'. And if Don got hurt he would just be 'me' and that wasn't right at all.
If Donnie had gotten hurt, was dying, he'd feel more than numb, he'd have to, because then his soul would be tearing in half, wouldn't it?
His knees did not give out on him as he reached his brother's side, and he knelt down just as silently as he would any other time. His hands were shaking, though, and he couldn't understand why because none of this was actually happening. No way. He was sleeping, unconscious; he had to be because the only way anyone would ever shoot Don would be over his dead body. He always had Don's back. He was his little brother, and it was Raph's job to watch him, it always was, and he hadn't looked away not for one second ever before, and it couldn't be that the one time he decided to blink was the time Don needed him most, it just couldn't.
"Come on, Donnie." It was his voice saying it, his mouth forming the words, but his voice sounded all wrong. Someone else had to be speaking, too; someone who was half-dead themselves from the sound of it. "Don, get up. Open your eyes, come on." His shaking hand seized his brother's shoulder, rolling him onto his shell.
Donnie's eyes were open already, but they weren't focused. They were just staring up at the light show that was going on over their heads, although if he even saw that the older turtle wasn't sure. They were dark and distant, not the way Don's eyes normally were. Normally it was like half of him had gone to wherever it was Don's brain usually resided while half of him stayed in reality. Now all of him just…wasn't there.
"Raphie, do you ever worry that Don's just gonna…disappear one day?"
"What the shell are you talkin' 'bout, Leo? It's not like Don's a ghost, or somethin'."
His eyes trailed down Don's body, and something inside him violently rebelled at what he saw. There was a horrible gaping hole in his brother's plastron, just below where his heart was. No way that would have, in reality, missed something important. If this was real he would have screamed, would have hurt someone, but Don wasn't really dying so it was all right.
"Not like a ghost. Like…like those spots you see when we run under the grates and you happen to look up at the sunshine. There's green dots all over your vision for a while that look like they're really there, but they fade after a while and you realize you were just imagining things the whole time. Like that."
There was blood everywhere, too. Thick corn-syrup and flour dyed red, movie stuff, that stuck to his hands as he tried to cover up the hole on reflex, to his knee pads as it started to leak its way underneath his brother's body.
The blood was pouring out between his fingers thick and fast. "Shell, Don, whatcha do that for?" That wasn't funny, but Raph laughed anyway. It sounded hollow in his ears, echoing off the ever-approaching thunder.
"I don't follow ya. You sayin' we're all imaginin' Don? That's stupid, Leo."
"Not imagining him. I mean that he wasn't ever really meant to be here in the first place, he was supposed to be somewhere else and ended up with us sort of by accident. And, eventually, someone is going to realize that and try and fix it, and Donnie will just…go away."
"I don't know why you'd want to take a bullet for me anyway. I've been a pain in the ass for you lately." Raph felt something wet sliding down his face. Raindrops? He didn't think it was raining.
Don opened his mouth, as if trying to say something. All that came out was a trickle of blood and a wheezy cough. Blood bubbled under Raph's hands from the pressure.
It wasn't rain, it was tears. That was fine. He could cry. It was just a dream, after all. No one else would laugh at him later, they wouldn't know. "I was just mad, Don. Not at you, really, and you're supposed to know that. I'm sorry, though, okay?"
There was no answer. Just brown eyes staring vacantly at nothing as the chest under Raph's hands stopped moving altogether. No more shallow breathing, just a steady stream of thick sticky blood between his fingers.
Someone screamed, and Raphael glanced up to see that one of Leo's strikes had hit home. The guy crumbled like wet paper, his gun skittering along the rooftop.
Raph stared at it. He didn't know what kind it was, but it was large. More than large enough to have bullets that would do some serious damage. Damage that even he couldn't have handled, if he'd taken it straight on.
Something cold started to steal its way through the barrier he'd firmly put in place. Leo had said earlier that someone was packin', and that part hadn't been a dream. The gun, the gun was real…And if the gun was real then someone could have really been trying to shoot him while he was distracted. He'd just taken out one of their largest guys, he'd been an easy target when his shell was turned to the rest of the battle. And wouldn't it be just like Donnie to save him, even though he was still angry about earlier? The feeling of icy drops landing on his face, no longer just tears, came with a realization Raph could not handle.
He was not dreaming.
Reality arrived with the storm, and along with it a wave of red that flooded his vision, staining his eyes with Donnie's blood as he released his brother's limp form. His Don, his better half, was lying murdered in front of him on the rooftop. And somebody was going to pay. These Purple Dragons were going to die, one by one, until somebody found a way to bring him back.