I don't know how Matt Murdock puts up with this shit.
Perched up here on the fire escape outside April and Casey's place I glare at the naked city, because it'll just be a hell of a lot healthier for everyone if I don't look at the moon, and beg it to put it's clothes back on.
It doesn't work. I fell like Ben Braddock. It's terrible.
My ears have stopped hurting as my sensory systems adjusted itself but I really don't want to have to listen to uptown and downtown Manhattan at the same time. Uptown comes in through my left, downtown through my right and I don't want to think about where it's going out. Midtown's a thousand bees trying to commit suicide on a glass ceiling in the undertones of the city. Then there are the scents.
The part of my brain that still interprets colour turns the reality around me into a wannabe Vegas. There still there even when I close my eyes. Sleeps been impossible for nearly three days. I've started having to drug myself at bedtime.
Nothing I haven't done before you understand, I just resent having to.
A car I picked up fifty blocks away but didn't pay too much attention to bursts around the corner beneath me. Wrong gear, too fast, drivers drunk, friends are drunker, awful music on the stereo and someone just threw up on the backseat. Chevrolet Corvette too. Hell of a waste. My toes curl involuntarily around the fire escape grating from the sensory feedback. I still haven't acclimatised to this new muscle system and I have the phantom arthritis to show for it.
Remember how Queen Zenobia in Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger ended up stuck with a seagull foot? Cry me a river.
My name is Donatello, and I'm your basic Teenage Mutant Ninja Werewolf. Which is to say that, basically, my existence is just retardedly difficult. Mostly because my left foot can't decide what it wants to be. It was a paw last night. I've caught lycanthropy, you see, and somewhere out there in the world for People Like Me it's kind of like catching a sexual disease no one really knows about. The worst part is that I'm green. Not my usual tea green either. Lime green. Gack. I look like some Deviantart kids wet dream.
So yeah, I'm sitting on a fire escape in Chelsea thinking about the mindset you have to develop to cope in this kind of environment.
I mean, you'd imagine most people faced with half of a quarter (I'm too bored to do real math right now) of what I've had to deal with since I turned 15 would shut down.
Maybe it's because I'm not human, but you'd also think lying around in the fresh air while the small number of super scientist friends you have sit in the blissful musk of the lab and run blood tests with their super science would be the more practical thing to do.
Professor Honeycutt offered to build a device to block out my hyper senses but if I can't out-meditate this head ache then I don't deserve to call myself Master Splinter's pupil.
I'm out here on the fire escape because the hum of the fridge is keeping me up and even in daylight this would be safe. We learned long ago that no one looks up in this neighbourhood. Makes you think.
And before you ask I'm at April and Casey's and no, they are in absolutely no danger from me. I'm in full control of this.
I never knew being a werewolf would be so boring. It wasn't my first choice to come here, but some part of the new animal I'd become couldn't really take the tunnels. April agreed to take me in provided I didn't shed all over her new furniture.
I smell Raph before I hear him. Even when we don't have to we disperse our weight, keep our foot falls quiet. But his scent screams of old bricks and adrenaline. I've labelled it Industrial Strength in my new sense memory.
He nudges me to move over and I drag my foot along with me as he squeezes
"Hell of a way to spend a Friday night, bro."
I grunt. My vocal cords went three days ago. They've shape shifted into something useless in the bottom of what was my throat.
"Don't got anything else you could be doing?"
"'Least ya ain't moping about it."
I resist the urge to push him off the fire escape and give him a growl to show how much effort it's taking.
"Oh put it away, honey. You'll hurt yourself."
"Found the guy who sicked David Kessler on ya."
What gets my attention is the way he says it. Like he found out what those extra buttons on your keyboard are for.
And how the hell does he know who David Kessler is anyway?
He catches me looking at him without looking at me the way ninjas do. Mike says he's going to teach it to Shadow when she grows up.
"Didn't take much. A coupla dives in Greenwich Village gave him up after I ruined their karaoke night. Some Columbian warlock trying to take over the local crime syndicates usin' a mind controlled ghosts and ghouls instead of Uzis. I beat him up with his own pitchfork and they just…went away basically."
It's weird, but whenever Raph says coupla I translate it in my head as copula, as in the coupla linguae. As in a wishbone, which is separated by the furcula from the--I'll stop now.
I'm thinking this because the that he just told me was…I'd be lying if I said expected, but at the end of the day (night) isn't it always something bizarre like that? Or rather, something that should be bizarre? And isn't because I've fought dinosaurs in space and fought alongside rabbit body guards and made robots out of IKEA furniture.
Don't ask. But it does make something like getting bitten by a werewolf trying to save a chop shop jock seem pretty tame. As in you can fit an explanation onto the end of it. It doesn't take you a week to come off the combat high.
Raph stretches with what little space he has and I try not to give anything away as his BO whiplashes up my nose.
"The guy who in infected you or whatever was a Russian clan member. He had to sneak aboard a freighter that'd get him back to St. Petersburg, but he gave me the number and email address for a Native American healer studying voodoo or whatever in Europe. She's sending some stuff over that's cured a ton of guys like you. Figure it'll speed everything up once it gets here."
I grunt in what he takes for acknowledgement. Fat chance. Leatherhead, Honeycutt, Leo, Splinter…none of them'll let any of that stuff near me until their sure it won't turn me into a turtle eating carrot or something. But it's a solution, reduces this to just a few more weeks reading very carefully in the guest bedroom, controlling my tongue whenever meat is on the table and giving Shadow the ultimate piggy back ride
"An' for the record Leonidas was real sorry about what happened."
I stare at him. My jaw stopped feeling too heavy after the second day but I have to relax my elongated muscles to stop it falling open.
"Yeah, I know. Context an' so on, but 'Lion son' meant it."
I shrug because I don't know what else to do and go back to not really staring at the blues and browns and greens of the forest that is New York. If a forest evolved in a toxic waste dump.
This city is sick, and we're all infected.
I just spent the past few weeks as a werewolf and the only thing that's really phased me through out the entire thing has been how much of a pain in the ass my left foot has been. I should be curled up in a ball somewhere and I have no intention of doing so, but damn it, I should be. The city just keeps throwing more weird stuff at us and we just keep on going because we're almost twice as weird. Leo re-enacts Samurai mythology and Daredevil comics. Mike bounces from urban legend to Neil Gaiman to I don't freaking know. We've all been stricken with random bouts of extestentialisim by the city's little plague pits at one point or another. And the result is we're a little less normal every time something like this gets thrown up all over us. Raph? Raph runs into it every night, and I'm not always sure for what.
And I know exactly why he's sitting here beside me right now, even though it's probably pretty stupid.
He was the first one to find me after I got bitten. That little off hand comment about Leonidas keeps slapping against my brain because what I remember through the poisonous yellow fever dreams is Raph trying to skin the guy before I passed out.
He's probably doing the whole If Only I'd Got There In Time thing. Like I said. Stupid.
"Got somethin' for ya on the way over."
I raise a large eyebrow because I know the opportunity must be utilized to it's full potential every chance I get.
He pulls something out of his belt. I can't see in colour anymore (which isn't the same thing as not having night vision) but I have to give one of those Disney Goofy and Pluto smiles. I bend my head, lowering my ears (can I just ask…what are the point of these things? I mean, I know what their for, but how do you mammals stand them?) and let him tie my bandanna around my reshaped skull.
I think he enlarged the eye holes a little. That was sweet.
He sits back down in his corner, smelling a little relieved, and I consider him for a few seconds, the one person on the planet who hasn't carried out every mock-conversation with questions. One of three people I know who've run across the rooftop roads of this city long enough to take down a warlock or whatever and not blink. Yet knows enough about me to bring one of the few things that can really ground me, even if I never realised it.
Then I extend a paw. I can make a crude fist out of it and the three inch claws retract most of the way so they don't puncture the darker pads of my thumbs. It's annoying that that's the only way I can get them to do it.
Raph stares at me, then grins, extending his own fist.
And so we sit on a fire escape in Chelsea, a pin prick eye in the dirty, diesel oil reeking hurricane of urban mythology that is this city and our lives and pound fists, two maladjusted mutants on the side lines with just enough issues to make one disenfranchised human being. With a really awkward left foot. It is indeed a Kodak moment.
I still want to know how the hell he knows about David Kessler.