*I really, REALLY don't recommend ticking Raphael off this badly. He scared me a little...but he kind of had it coming.
The orange-masked turtle bounced on the edge of his seat as he looked forward to an evening of fun at the expense of Greg, where he would proceed to beat the man over and over at Mario Kart. The dude never gives up though, so I have to give him some props.
The four brothers had set off alone that night, which was a rarity nowadays. Everyone else was already on the surface, with the exception of Brandon and Jazz who'd lingered behind, and Jenna who'd decided to go to bed early.
Michelangelo cast a look at his purple-masked brother. Donatello had been more interested in staying with his wife than going along on a "game night", but her insistence coupled with their prodding had managed to get him out of the den. Donny was currently guiding the helm of the Slider, with a relaxed expression that indicated he was glad to be out with them too.
"I bet Bran and Jazz couldn't wait for us to get out the door," Mike joked.
Raphael smirked. "They were a little too eager if you ask me. Newlyweds."
Leonardo made a scoffing sound. "Does anyone blame them? I'm sure they're ready to move out just to get a little more time to themselves."
Mike was mid-snicker when the engine of the Slider unexpectedly died.
"What…?" Donatello instantly leaned over his display, checking instruments for some explanation.
Raphael gave Don a lazy smile. "What's up, Genius? Did ya forget to fill up the tank or something?"
Donny rolled his eyes. "Funny, Raph. The display is completely dark, and I don't have a clue what would cause this. Could one of you grab me a flashlight please?"
Michelangelo felt under the seat for one of his brother's emergency kits, and brought the entire box over to Donny. "Do you think y' can save her, Cap'n?" he asked, adopting a ridiculous accent.
His brother gave him a tolerant smile which faded into something more perplexed. "I checked all of our equipment when we got home from North Carolina. I didn't see anything that would suggest an impending mechanical failure. I don't think the battery could have died on me…"
While Donatello continued mumbling to himself, the Slider started drifting along with the current.
"Do you think I should call, Heff?" Leonardo asked.
"Nah, don't cancel with Greg yet!" Mike protested. "Donny can fix it. Just give 'im a second."
"Holler if you need a hand or something, Bro," Raphael called to the purple-masked turtle.
Don raised a hand to acknowledge Raphael, but didn't respond to him. Mike focused on keeping the beam of the flashlight steady on the spot where his brother was working, at least until another distinctly mechanical sound distracted him.
"Mikey," Don complained when the light wavered.
"Wait," Leo said. "Did you hear—"
The blue-masked turtle didn't have time to finish the question before a strange deluge overtook the Slider from above. Mike automatically dropped into a crouch and tried to protect his head from the unidentified liquid washing over them. When he peeked out from his arms, he could see Donatello buried by the control panel. He was startled by the fluorescent yellow color covering his brother's shell already.
A simultaneous shout from the other end of the Slider made Mike dart to his feet, regardless of the possible consequences of exposing himself further. His mouth dropped at the sight of what appeared to be a waterfall emptying its nonstop flow on his older brothers.
Mike only had seconds to be amazed before the flood caught up with him again, pouring over his head so that he had to quickly shut his eyes. He was feeling a bit shaken by the time the downpour ceased, leaving an incredible display of different colors in its wake. He couldn't help staring at the pools of yellow, white, green, and blue which were just starting to mingle together in the bottom of the Slider, and then wondered what he had to look like.
Mike wiped a hand across his forehead, intrigued by the consistency of the substance, and suddenly recognized the smell. Oh shell, paint? Are you serious?
An angry snarl drew his attention to Raphael, or at least a creature that sounded like him. The older turtles were completely drenched by a purple color so dark that it almost looked black. Leonardo's breathing was rapid as if he was still processing what had happened, but Raphael was cursing.
"DONNY!" The red-masked turtle's voice could have carried for miles.
Donatello gingerly rose, brushing a hand over the white paint that was covering at least half of his face. "What the shell are you yelling at me for? I didn't have anything to DO with this!"
"If this paint doesn't come off your little assistant is gonna disappear!"
"Getting angry with me won't do you any good," Donny muttered, irritated.
Leonardo was futilely rubbing his eyes with dripping hands, and Mike stepped over to give him some help. "Thanks," he said stiffly. "I don't get it. This is major when it comes to pranking. I know Jazz owed you for her hair, Raph—"
"Why do I keep getting flack for something that was an ACCIDENT?"
"And Brandon owed you a little something too, but that doesn't explain why they would go this far," Leo continued.
Mike swallowed. "It…uh…well, Raphy and I might hav—"
"Shut it, Mikey!" Raphael ordered fiercely.
The orange-masked turtle stayed silent. The mood his older brother was in would certainly include tackling if he gave the two of them away. He noticed that Donny was staring up at the tunnel above them with a small sense of awe.
"For that pulley system alone…an electric motor? Jazz must have planned this out thoroughly!" Don proclaimed.
"She didn't do it alone," Raphael said darkly. "They're both gonna pay."
Donatello sighed. "Not until we can get out of here. This shouldn't take long."
Mike's eye-ridges rose. "Why do you say that?"
"Because we were set up, Mikey. Getting stalled right here under their trap wasn't coincidental. She probably installed some kind of kill switch."
"But how would she know when to trigger it?" Leo asked.
"I don't know, Leo. GPS maybe, or even a camera. They missed out on seeing the fruits of their labor, so it makes sense that they could be watching remotely."
Raphael folded his arms as he looked right and left. "If that's true, I hope you punks enjoyed the view, because you're going down next!"
Leonardo exhaled as he sat down on a seat. "Raph, save your breath. There's no point in getting worked up. Maybe you could help Don figure out how to get the Slider running."
Raphael only growled in response, even as Donatello straightened up from the control panel.
"I'm pretty sure I've got it, Leo," Donny said. "One foreign object removed, so let's see if she decided to make this easy on me…" He trailed off when he tried to start the Slider again, and the engine sputtered for a couple of seconds before turning over.
Leonardo nodded gratefully. "Get us home, Donny. I sure hope this stuff is water-based."
Raphael eyed him in annoyance. "You're too calm, Leo."
"Getting ticked isn't going to help," he retorted. "But I am going to demand an explanation."
"Then are you gonna ground 'em and send them to their room, Fearless?" Raphael scoffed. "We have to get them back."
"I never said we wouldn't. We're not ready for a counterstrike yet, Raph. One thing at a time."
"You might not be ready, Leo, but I am. They ain't getting away with this."
Michelangelo looked down at the water flowing beneath the Slider which appeared tempting. His purple-masked brother snatched his wrist as if he knew what he'd been thinking.
"Don't you dare," Donny told him. "The amount of bacteria in that water alone means it isn't worth it."
Mike snorted. "That didn't stop you and Leo before."
Don gave him a cross look. "We couldn't help it, Mike. Well, Leo could have. Anyway, it was an accident and I could have drowned, so that's an unfair example."
He grinned. "I guess you'd better just get us home then."
"Only you could smile after being hit with a prank like that," Donny complained.
Mike shook his head, not speaking his thoughts out loud lest he suffer the wrath of Raphael. Jazz did it. I gotta say, I'm impressed. I'd better keep that to myself, or the other guys might pound me too.
The fifteen minute ride back to the den felt like forever when compared to the rate of the paint drying. The moment the craft stopped, Raphael was the first one to leap off the Slider.
"Bro, take it easy!" Leo called after him. "Don't do anything hasty!"
"Hasty, Leo?" His voice soared. "You're gonna see some haste when we find them!"
"Hurry up, guys," Leonardo urged the younger turtles. "I might need your help to control him."
Mike crept at the back of the line as the red-masked turtle led the way to the door, and opened it with a tremendous bang.
"Jazz? Brandon?" Raphael's voice was dangerously casual. "Come out, come out wherever you are!"
Leonardo entered behind him, reaching for his shoulder. "Raph, don't lose it…"
The living area looked just as dark and undisturbed as they'd left it. Mike lingered for a moment under the door frame, wondering how Raphael would react when he caught sight of the culprits. He was prepared for some serious yelling, but didn't expect to hear another gasp.
Michelangelo heard a scuffle on the other side of the room which was followed by an even louder commotion. Donny was hesitating in front of him, and Mike pushed in from behind him to see what was going on. He was surprised to see Raphael hunched over, furiously rubbing his eyes from some new obstacle in his path.
Leonardo was already pinning the bronze-haired man against the wall with one hand, and extending his other to deter the red-masked turtle.
"He's MINE, Leo!"
Mike was staring the curious scene to try and determine what exactly had just transpired when a hand grazed his shoulder.
"You guys were right on time," Jazz informed him.
He jerked around to chide the woman and was rewarded by a white blur smashing into his face. Mike couldn't deny being surprised, even with everything that had led up to that point. The turtle immediately tasted chocolate and something else that was sickeningly sweet and familiar.
"Oh no you don't!" Donatello's voice rang in his ears, and he heard a small scream from Jazz's direction which was quickly muffled.
Mike wrestled with the sticky remnants clinging to his eyes and he finally recognized the stuff. "Marshmallow fluff?"
He heard Jazz giggle, and Raphael swear.
"Yeah, you'd better hold him down, Leo! Don't let 'im go nowhere!"
The orange-masked turtle laughed loudly when he got a glimpse of Jazz, and realized the woman was covered in one of her own pies. "Nice, Donny. Way to look out!" He gave Donatello a thumbs up and smiled at the sight of Raphael attacking Brandon with the leftovers of his own marshmallow missiles.
Mike continued scraping off the fluff until he hit the chocolate underneath. "What do you call this, Jazz? A s'mores?"
She snickered. "You catch on, just not fast enough! You guys look amazing!"
"Jazz, you'd BETTER stop laughing, 'cause I'm coming after you next!" Raphael called warningly.
His threat had the opposite of his desired effect, only making her laugh harder. The red-masked turtle stalked over to them, striking what might have been a fierce pose if he wasn't colored purple and covered in marshmallow fluff. "What is the deal?" he demanded. "Painting us wasn't enough?"
"Of course not!" she returned. "The s'mores were because you and Mike made fun of me. The paint was to prove that it could be done."
"Prove that what could be done?" Leo's voice rose. "If this was all about Raph and Mike, you've got an awful lot of collateral damage on your hands!"
Jazz shook her head, forcing a straight face. "Leo, Donny, I'm sorry. The challenge specifically entailed nailing all four of you."
Donatello's brow creased. "What challenge?"
Raphael looked away, and Leonardo's dark eyes narrowed.
"Raph? What challenge?" When the blue-masked turtle didn't get an answer, he turned a smoldering look on Jazz. "Explain."
"He and Mike told me that it was impossible for the four of you to be pranked at once. They said it couldn't be done, especially by me."
Donny groaned loudly. "Have you guys learned nothing from having me for a brother? You never tell a techie that they can't do something, and you definitely don't make fun of them! You may as well have called her an idiot to her face!"
"But we didn't—" Mike started.
Don raised a hand to cut him off. "Laughing at her conveyed the same message. Jazz would never have quit until she found a way to strike down all four of us. Next time you want to challenge her, leave me and Leo out of it!"
"Donny?" Jenna's voice suddenly inserted into the conversation. "What's going on?" The raven-haired woman stared around the room with shock. "Crikey. You send me to bed early, and then you go and have a party. Why am I surprised?"
"The only thing you missed was Raph's and Mike's big mouths landing us all in trouble," Donatello said.
Jenna cocked her head as she approached him. "Aw…what'd they do to you, babe?"
"Dropped about twenty gallons of paint on us in the tunnel," Leo remarked evenly, as though that kind of thing happened all the time.
At Jenna's frown, Jazz quickly held up her hands.
"It's washable!" she insisted. "None of the ingredients are any stronger than the stuff in poster paint!"
Raphael grunted, still angry. "That doesn't mean you're off the hook. You're gonna pay big time for this, one way or another."
"Do you honestly think you can scare me after what we lived through this summer?" Jazz shot back.
With the woman's question, Mike suddenly shuddered. It was true that "fear" itself seemed to have a new meaning after the challenges they'd faced.
Raphael's face softened for the first time since the incident started in the tunnel and he exhaled. "Ain't that the truth? I don't think any of the junk we deal with on Earth is gonna seem as hard ever again."
Silence persisted in the atmosphere for several seconds.
"Everything feels a little different," Donny finally said. "Colors, tastes, smells…it's like they're all heightened, and I'm more aware of them than I've ever been. Do you think it's going to wear off?"
"Maybe in time," Leo said. "But other things probably won't ever be the same. I don't think you can go through an experience like we did and not be changed by it."
Brandon flicked off marshmallow fluff that was nearly overtaking his eyes. "Do you guys find yourself wondering how the Nalikjan are doing?"
"I think…" Donny started, and then paused. "I hope Kamryn will be all right. I hope she'll be happy."
"She will be," Raphael said confidently. "Hey, she survived all those years as a slave and an experiment, right? She lived through that battle to tell about it. I think Kamryn will be just fine."
Mike nodded, gazing over his brothers and friends slowly. "We could start our own Fellowship."
"What?" Leonardo was baffled.
"You know, Frodo had the Fellowship to protect him when he had to go on that journey to destroy the One Ring? Most of them didn't get to go with him to Mordor, but they all knew what he was going through. Nobody can really understand what happened on that weird rock outside of the seven of us."
Don smiled, punching his arm affectionately. "I think you're the weird one."
"Nuh uh, Bro, we share that claim to fame. We were all kidnapped by space aliens," Mike replied.
Leonardo smiled. "We all made it home too, and that's what really matters. Whether or not we'll ever be the same, we can still be grateful for that."
Mike raised his hand. "I should start working on a new name for us!"
The groans that met him were expected, relished even. They were home, and for however brief of a moment, everything was right with the world.
*Yes, dear friends, we have reached the end of another story. For those of you who may be disappointed by the non-appearance of the twins, don't be too sad. Christmas is coming...and so is a holiday fic, when I can get around to writing it. I want to thank everyone who was so supportive of this "little" fic of mine. I'm going to follow in the footsteps of others I admire, and give credit where credit is due not just to those who directly impacted the writing of Chosen, but you who encouraged me all along the way.
I have to say thanks first to my two right-hand ladies:
Mary/Mikell - I owe you a lot as a writer, but even more as a friend.
You've been there for me more times than I can count. I appreciate
you...and I'll ALWAYS want you.
Erin - Thanks so much for "lending" Kamryn to me, creating the elohim
language, and listening to me excitedly babble on for several minutes
at a time over snippets of ideas and nonsense.
To my readers and friends:
FoxXxXx/Tonya - For being a good friend, dearly loving my OC's, and
referring me to such awesome music. Thanks for being there for me on
Facebook and encouraging me constantly.
Laughter's Tears - For reading along with me for so many stories now,
and thoroughly entertaining me with stories of your own. Your humor is
a bright spot in my day, but your drama is just as addictive. (Readers,
check out "The Brother Quest" and "Chesspieces".)
Sciencegal/Jessica - For referring to Leo's swords as his babies and
his "precious", and getting a giggle out of his daydreaming "look".
Thanks for encouraging me during a low point in Chosen when I really
needed it. (Readers, check out Hacked!)
Jesy Marylin - For taking this entire journey with me, and for being
the first person to correctly (and confidently!) identify which turtle
was who. Thanks for always patiently waiting for my updates. :)
Timidbookworm - For typing incomprehensible words when under stress,
and being disappointed in the very near deaths of Ghyath and Bahri
under the Ruairi. Thanks for going on the trip with me. (Wanna laugh
hard? Read Plumbing with Explosives.)
D'Fuentes/Kryssy - For the constant entertainment between your jet
packs, Mort adoring King Julien, and the remark about Bahri being a
Century-old virgin. Thanks for being there for me throughout the story,
and encouraging me for choosing to make God a big part of it. (Little
Monsters is a must read :)
Puldoh - For knowing you don't EVER leave one of your own men (or
women) behind, and always being excited for the action.
Mysterious Feathers - For all the PM's and giggling over Raphael
contemplating rainbows and unicorns.
Pottyandweezlbe89 - For being one of the earliest people to take a
guess at the boy's identities, and encouraging me to continue.
Tealana - For being a hungry reader. :)
Radical Criminal - For correctly guessing Don's identity in the first
Dawn - Thanks for taking interest because of Facebook and jumping right
in with both feet.
Sapphire - Begging for an update so you wouldn't go crazy. :)
Sait4soreyes - Thanks for reading, for editing a few stories for me,
and always loving the pivitol moment when the reason for the fic's
title is revealed. You're awesome.
Distracted Student - Thanks for your kind review and enjoying my more
accurate portrayels of the boys. Sorry to have disappointed you with my
early stuff...it took me a while to get a couple of them down.
Boasamishipper - Thanks for all the kind reviews, for loving the
tearful reunion and nailing Luke as overprotective. That he certainly
JesusismySaviour99 - For your funny story about your friend's jealously
of Jenna, and for not wanting me to hurt your Leo. :)
Karlina101 - For the kind reviews, and loving the sweetness.
The White Grim - For calling Chosen one of the best stories you've
read. Thanks for your kindness.
Name goes here - For reading along with me in the hopes of seeing more
turtle tots, and knowing the guys deserve a big family.
M. D, Owens /Mindy - For enjoying the gentle progression and revelation of
all the boy's personalities. (Readers, check out "I remember You")
MelodyWinters/Tammy - Feeling sorry for Don in the Matches, but loving
how he took Threl down with ease. (Love Splinter? Check out Fated
Last but not least, to everyone from the Underground: Ncisduckie,
Shakespeare's Lemonade, Akela Victoire, M Jhuoilly M Bbo, Oldstoneface,
and Dzuljeta. Thanks for reading and reviewing chapters for me. We'll
always have the Insane Aslyum. :)
Thanks everyone. Without feedback, my train gets derailed. It completes
the experience and reminds me that I'm not out on an island by myself.
Until next time... 3