Nightmare Slayer

"Geez, Michelangelo, why are you in such a good mood this morning?" Don asked as he watched his orange banded brother bounce around the kitchen.

Mikey turned from pouring himself a glass of orange juice and waved his hands in the air, nearly sloshing the juice over the sides. "Dude, I had a truly bogus nightmare last night," he answered.

Leo and Raph both looked up from the breakfast table at that admission, and then over at each other. Raph shrugged.

"Maybe he's really lost it this time," Raph said.

"No, seriously," Mikey said as he swung into the empty chair between Leo and Don. "It was the worst nightmare I've had in like, months."

He took a swig of his juice and smiled around the table at his brothers.

"Mikey, that's not possible," Don explained gently. "We never heard a sound last night."

It was true. The night had been completely peaceful; even Don had slept through it and he was almost as light a sleeper as Leo.

The fact was, when Mikey had a nightmare, he tended to scream the roof down. They all had nightmares from time to time; they had seen and been through too much in their young lives to not have a bad dream or two. It was just that Mikey was extremely vocal about his.

His nightmares always woke the entire household and one of them, usually Leo, had to spend the remainder of the night in Mikey's bed in order for the youngest to go back to sleep.

The morning after always found a subdued and skittish Michelangelo; certainly not the sunny, bouncing Turtle who sat at the table happily sipping his beverage.

"Why don't you tell us about it?" Leo asked, hoping to clear up the mystery.

Mikey settled into his seat, shifting a little closer to Leo. "Well," Mikey's voice dropped a bit, lending a shadowy atmosphere to his story, "I was walking through the tunnels on my way home. It was really, really dark and like, super quiet. Except for the drip, you know?"

His brothers nodded in encouragement. Water runoff from the streets would sometimes result in a constant, mind numbing drip that could be heard when everything else quieted. None of them liked the sound; it was too much like the sound poison falling from fangs or blood running onto the floor made.

"Yeah," Mikey breathed out, his eyes getting big. "So I started walking faster, even though the floor sorta had this kinda rolling feel to it and I couldn't really see where I was going. And then I started to feel like something was following me and I heard this noise like skin being dragged over concrete. By then I decided the best idea was to run for it."

Raph passed a hand over the back of his neck. This was starting to sound a lot like his nightmare about giant beetles chasing him through pitch black caves.

"Well I don't mind telling you I was relieved when I saw the door to the lair in front of me," he said. "I was reaching for the pipe handle when – AAAAHHH!"

His scream made Raph and Don jump in their seats.

"Fuck!" Raph burst out, wiping crushed toast from his lap. "Damn it, Mikey, what did ya' do that for?"

"'Cause dude, that's how I felt when this giant creature jumped up in front of me and blocked the door," Mikey told him, his blue eyes bright. "It was almost totally bald with this big egg shaped head and crooked eyes and a lopsided mouth full of teeth and hairy hands and…and…"

"Mikey, please," Don interrupted him. "What happened?"

Mikey smiled brightly. "Leo came out of the tunnel behind me, walked straight up to the creature and punched him right in the face. His head cracked and he just disintegrated into dust on the floor in front of us."

The expression on his face as he looked at his oldest brother and leader was part awe, part hero worship. "You saved me dude."

Leo blinked, taken by surprise. That it was all simply a dream didn't seem to matter to Mikey, and suddenly, that part didn't matter to Leo either.

A small, warm spot in his chest started to grow and he sat up straighter. What his brother had just relayed to them was his complete, overwhelming trust in Leonardo. Trust that he would always be there when needed, that he would always know what to do and that he would always be brave enough and strong enough to do it.

Looking at his siblings gathered around the table, Leo was proud to have earned that kind of trust.

He was also extremely determined to hang onto it forever.