* Warning - this is a continuation directly from where another story left off. If you haven't read Manhunt, then some of the material in the following chapters could go right over your head, though I will do my best to catch everyone up as best as I can. I would still strongly urge you to read Manhunt first, as I feel it lays an important foundation in understanding what is happening now.

I do not own the TMNT, only a small collection of OC's which has been growing through the course of four stories that take place before this one. And Buried will be no exception. Thank you for reading, thank you for reviewing. Your input has more of an impact than you realize...I've changed important aspects of story lines, for no other reason than someone elses' feedback. With no further adieu, let us proceed from where Manhunt left off, six months later.

The familiar musty smell was the first thing to hit his senses, to cause his body to physically recoil in anxiety. But he wasn't actually able to move, much less escape from the constrained position that the chains trapped him in. For a few moments, his breathing slackened, as he couldn't muster the energy to force air to travel through his lungs. Gasping severely, he mentally commanded his chest to rise, to obey his biding. For far too many seconds he could make no head way with it, and felt the sensation that he was beginning to really suffocate.

He had no idea how long he'd been floundering that way, but he was relieved to feel strong arms on his shoulders, lifting, lessening the pressure that had burdened down his chest so hard to begin with. When he opened dark eyes, all sense of relief immediately fled from him. Vale.

He flinched away from the finger that lightly caressed his jaw, but it only made the man's smile beam wider.

"There's really no sense in resisting me you know." The human said, in his maddeningly cool rational fashion. "It's only a matter of time before I have what I want. If you'd only been a little cooperative, I wouldn't have had to break the others so hard. But their blood is on your hands.

Always the 'responsible' one, carrying around the weight of supporting everyone else around you. But you wouldn't save them, even though you could have. Yes, you very well could have."

The man paused in his discourse to fix him with one of those penetrating stares, that was so like and unlike his Sensei's - which also had the power to always see right through him.

"What a pathetic waste." The man sounded somewhat sympathetic. "So much strength, so much potential...paired with so much fear.Yes, you hide it well, have hidden it well I should say. But I see you. I know what lies in the depths of your soul, and it is the very reason that you will always fail."

The man punctuated the last word by ramming a familiar set of prongs into the side of his neck, his skin tingling at the contact point of his weapon.

"Shall we begin again my friend?" Vale asked calmly. "I do grow somewhat weary of these games, but it seems to be the only way that I can force a response out of you, now that the others are gone."

He shut his eyes as if to block the man out, refusing to even acknowledge the human's presence for that moment. He was trying valiantly to stop muscles from involuntarily contracting in anticipation, before Vale had even activated the charge.

"If that's the way you want to play, then you leave me no choice." The smooth cursed voice proclaimed.

He opened his eyes again, just as the human depressed the button. The agonizing torture commenced, as if a lightning bolt was consuming him from the inside out. This was it. The callous man truly didn't intend to let go this time.


Leonardo could hear the reassuring voice, he could even feel the light pressure of a hand squeezing his shoulder - but he couldn't stop shaking.

"Leo." Michelangelo said more firmly, gripping him a little harder at the same time.

Breathing hard, his body suddenly went slack under his brother's touch, even as he struggled to hold back a strangled gasp.

"Leo, breathe. Slow down, and just try to breathe normally, will ya?"

The baby brother has to come comfort the "fearless leader"? What the shell kind of whacked out nut case have I become? Leonardo thought bitterly. Am I actually still afraid of a dead man?

Trying to veil his intense embarrassment, he sat up slightly on the single bed.

"I'm sorry." Leonardo said quietly. "How loud was I?"

"I was passing by from the bathroom, or I might not have heard you at all. Was it--"

"Of course it was." Leonardo snapped, his irritation with himself making him sound harsher than he really wanted to be.

The turtle drew his knees up to his chest on the mattress, rocking slightly for a moment.

"You wanna talk Leo?"

"No, I wanna sleep."

"You weren't the only one down there, if you recall." Mike said softly.

"Do you actually think I could forget?"

"I'm just sayin'...you're not the only one who has to deal with this."

"But I seem to be the one who can't get past it." He said sharply, then meeting Mike's focused blue gaze for the first time. "I'm sorry, I'm just tired. Even from the grave, the man still has power over me."

"No he doesn't Leo, that's the whole point. I'm not even sure he's the one who's really bothering you."

"What are you talking about Mikey?"

"You're too hard on yourself Leo. If you'd ease up, just a little...it would do you a world of good. You don't expect any of us to be perfect, why do you insist on holding that standard over your own head?"

Raphael had been down working in the Lounge for the last hour, and still wasn't satisfied with how his acoustic sounded. The cooler temperatures always made it more difficult to hold a decent tune. He was going through the process of working on a string at a time once more, when his cell phone suddenly rang. He set his guitar aside, smiling when he noticed that it was Greg.

"Hey Heff. Isn't it past your bedtime?" He quipped when he picked it up.

"I don't have a bedtime Raph, and I'm on vacation anyway. It's one of the perks of my partner working security for the Summit in Washington."

"When are she and Vic getting back?"

"Not for another four days. What are you up to tonight, no patrol?"

"I'm just foolin' with my guitar, this seems to be the only time of day that I can actually get real privacy with it. Are you coming over for the game tomorrow?"

"I thought I'd come early, I was hoping we could work out first. Would you mind?"

"Heck no Greg, bring it on. What are you doing with yourself tonight?"

"Nothin', I'm just sort of bored. I was kinda thinking about dropping in on you."

"I'll be calling you Luke Junior next."

"Not even. I do still have some boundaries."

"Geesh, with Kat out of town, Luke's probably bored stiff too."

"I'm pretty sure he's working tonight. I don't know why I even took this vacation, I'm sure they could have found something for me to back someone else up on."

"Everyone needs a break sometimes Heff, you're supposed to be enjoying it. Go out, have a good time, see your friends."

"Raph, ya'll are my friends."

Donatello felt Jenna's fingers lightly stroke his shoulder in the darkness, and he immediately turned in her direction.

"I knew you weren't asleep." He murmured.

"Well, neither are you." She said a little pointedly.

"It's hard to sleep with the most beautiful woman in the world next to you."

Jenna wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him in a soft lingering fashion, that had him immediately chasing her for more. He drew closer to her, cradling one hand under her chin as he met her lips a second time.

Jenna enjoyed the game of pulling away from him, forcing the turtle to actually pursue after her. She acted as if she was getting up from the bed entirely, laughing when the turtle caught her firmly around the waist.

"Where do you think you're going? Get back here."

She pounced towards him, and he allowed the lithe woman to pin him down against the mattress with a grin.

"Now you've caught me, what are you gonna do with me?" He asked impishly.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" She said demurely, her australian lilt adding another dimension of playfulness to her tone.

Jenna leaned over him so that her midnight hair tumbled richly over his face, and he was immersed in her familiar scent. She was kissing him eagerly again, and Donatello rose up slightly off the mattress to meet her, and then to hold her.

It was a very good night.