The Thing

A/N: I'm replacing the chapter and correcting all of the mistakes I did, and improving it on the way, so it's MUCH better than the first version.

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   The sleeping city of New York was a lot quieter at night than ever in the day. Citizens went about their business as usual, living normal lives. Well, this was an unusual, quiet night, though those who were up did not notice.

   Down below the content people, in an abandoned sub way station, four turtles slept quietly. Their Master, Splinter, meditated in his room before retreating to his bed for a well-earned rest. He had been watching his sons spar most of the day, and trying to tear two certain sons apart had been hard once they forgot it was practice. He was glad his other two sons were there to help pull them apart. Splinter had been exhausted by the end of the day.

   Their whole lair was quiet and only some noise often sounded. Michelangelo groaned as he turned over in his bed, hugging his teddy bear. Above him, on the top bunk, Raphael rarely uttered soft grunts as he slept, fighting whatever dream he was having. In the next compartment of the train, Donatello's finger flexed slightly as they ran over an imaginary keyboard, and above him Leo slept, the quietest of the lot. Not making a sound, the perfect brother slept on in pleasant dreams, not even a stir. Their home was dark and quiet and nothing except the turtles, their Master and a few sewer rats moved. That was then.

   The door Donnie had fitted onto their second exit was slowly pushed open, without a sound. A large shadow, moving just as soundlessly, crept in with eerie movements for something its size. It moved fluidly, but yet slowly, as though careful. It trod cautiously, but the air about it gave off the feeling it didn't need to be cautious; nothing could harm this thing. It appeared to be exploring, seeing new ground. The only sounds it made now were quiet, rough sliding noises of its long, almost dinosaur-like tail on the floor as it was dragged behind; and the muffled-like sounds of long, dangerous claws tapping on the shag rug when it planted one of its great, powerful, clawed-hands down. The shadow melted into the blackness that hid the walls, and the sounds of its claws clicking sharply on the hard floor stopped. No one would have seen it if they had been looking; it blended in expertly. No one would have seen it, that was, until it opened its glowing orange eyes.

   It narrowed its eyes, and, with its head bent lower, it stalked its way over to a train car door; its four clawed hands tapping quietly again; its muscular shoulder blades moved under the skin as the arms moved in rhythm with each other, pulling the hide taut; and its tail raised off the floor to give it total silence. It reached the sliding door, and examined the weakness of the wood, looking up to the top, then slowly dropping its head to the floor, glowing eyes skimming over the edge of the door, as though seeing one for the first time, and trying to figure out how to get by it. The door was open a small gap, perhaps a couple of inches. The shadow imitated a statue, standing so still it didn't appear to be anything BUT a shadow; it seemed to be thinking.

    It unfroze by reaching out very slowly with its large head to press it softly against the door; then it turned its head sideways slightly, and butted the edge of the open door gently with its nose. The door moved a few centimeters, making the quietest noise as it rubbed against the runners the door was in to allow it to slide. The shadow stepped one front paw forward with no noise, and butted the door again, more forcefully. The door rolled back even further, hitting the stopper and bouncing back an inch or two. With the doorway cleared, the shadow elevated its body higher from the floor as though giving a stretch; but it wasn't stretching, it was examining the small room. It was in Mikey and Raph's bedroom.

   It moved further into the room, its eyes were locked on the lower bunk. It could smell such strong scents from somewhere in here. It crept even further up to the lower bed; its eyes glowed eerily, and evilly in the dark. The figure under the covers was almost like a shadow itself. Dark details of a plastron and a darkly skinned torso and head were what it could see, whereas normal eyesight would have only seen a sleeping shadow, half under black blankets. Saliva slid its way down long, sharp fangs, and splattered onto Mikey's plastron as it lent over him, regarding him with glowing orange eyes.

   The turtle frowned in his sleep, uttering the quietest grunt of a second's troubled dream, before turning his head and continuing a dream.

   The shadow withdrew its head slowly. It seemed confused for a second. It could not sense anything from this bunk, but yet it could see it. But scents from something else drove the slight confusion from its mind, and grew larger as it stood on its powerful, muscular hind legs, stretching to see the top bunk. At its full height it towered over Raph, who slept on like his brother, frowning identical to Mikey's.

    It leaned in closer, smelling a strong sent of power; but it also smelt something just as strong that it didn't need: Anger.

   The shadow lowered its head, and with its front clawed-hands it grabbed the edge of the mattress to steady itself. It narrowed its eyes as it studied the being whose sheets had been thrown back to his feet. The shadow leaned down, and as it had done with the door, very gently butted its muzzle against the sleeping turtle's forehead, causing it to rock once in the groove of the pillow.

   Raph grunted uncomfortably in his sleep, and rolled his head. His lips parted and he let out a moan concealed in his breath. He rolled his head again, this time his arm, which had been laid under the pillow at the side of his head, flailed and fell across his plastron.

   The shadow opened its wide mouth and tilted its head every so slightly, as though trying to understand this behavior of this creature.

   Raph inhaled quickly, his brow and eye ridges twitching. He was having a nightmare. His jerky reactions caused him to slice the top of his hand on the very point of one of the shadows dangerous fangs, causing a nasty wound that sprayed blood about when he flailed his arm again.

   The touch of flesh whipped across a fang made the shadow rear back in startled alarm, but the smell of blood pulled it forward, eyes radiating fiercely as it stared down at Raph. It leant less than a few inches closer, overpowered by the smell of blood, desperate to taste it . . . But Raph's violent nightmare caused him to toss his entire body over on the bed, and his other, uninjured arm came smack down on the shadows nose, and it recoiled its head with an angry breathed hiss; mouth wide. It let go of the mattress with one hand, brought it back, and slashed Raph's shoulder and upper arm. It immediately started to seep blood through four straight, deep gashes.

   The turtle shot up in bed, gasping in pain. But a mighty knock from the clawed hand again to his head caused the turtle to be rammed against the wall. His head made a muffled bang on the wall, and he fell onto his stomach on the pillows which had been unsettled, where he stayed, unmoving.

   On the opposite side of the wall, Leo's head jerked slightly, and he groaned softly.

   The shadow froze in its position with one clawed hand raised, listening for sounds of any more movement. There were none, and it allowed itself to breath properly after it sensed Leo fall back into total unconsciousness. It looked back down at the turtle below him. The sheets around him had started to darken, soaked in a red substance.

   The shadow dropped down onto all fours with a small thud. It bushed its four claws across the soft floor, wiping off the excess liquid on it; liquid it had left in the wounds of the turtle it had just knocked out. The monster shadow glanced at the bottom bunk again, before turning and creeping out of the room. Its tail swayed slightly as its body moved in pace with its steps, and it knocked softly onto Raph and Mikey's sliding door, making it bounce back onto the stopper. The shadow lowered its head as it turned its head back and glanced at the door. Finding nothing to be wary of it continued to the next door, which was only a few meters away in the next car. This door was a sliding one too, but it was closed more than the other. It was only an inch open.

   The shadow lowered its head a few centimeters from the surface of the door, and studied the gap. It took a step back on its four feet and lifted one of it front ones. It inserted one, long, sharp claw in the gap, hooking the edge of the door in the curve of its claw, and tugged experimentally to the right. The door rolled away from the wall edge slowly, and the shadow put its hand down and used its head to open it properly. It stood in the doorway, inhaling the different scents.

   It stalked up to the bottom bunk, and muzzled the sleeping turtle's head, taking in the strong smells. This turtle held intelligence beyond anything the shadow had smelt before from any other beings. Intelligence like its own . . .  Intelligence was bad if it was against the shadow, and until it knew otherwise, this turtle was against him. The shadow sniffed deeply, smelling for any other dangerous qualities this turtle had. But as it inhaled, it caught a scent of something very strong, and turned its nose away from Donnie. It stood up on its hind legs again to see the top bunk properly (not that it needed to stand, it could reach the top bunk on all fours). It now leaned over Leo. The smell of power from this turtle was incredibly strong, because it held qualities two of the others had: Determination, strength, intelligence (though nothing close to the turtle on the bottom bunk), courage, and others the shadow sensed. How long had it waited for something strong enough to satisfy its hunger for physical power? It was leaning over its well-waited meal, and it couldn't wait any longer. Blinded by hunger and animal greed, it went against orders and raised its mighty claws, aiming for the head. One quick, powerful swipe should do it. The claws extended a centimeter more as they were brought back . . .

   Master Splinter's eyes snapped open, wide in fear. He sensed the danger before it could happen. The rat rushed into the main area, and, not even stopping to wonder how he knew it, turned on the TV full blast.

   The shadow froze for a split second, and then roared throatily. It hated loud noises, and the turtles were stirring, awakening by the sound. The shadow's eyes snapped closed, and screwed up. It dropped back onto all fours heavily bounded out of the room with powerful, speedy leaps, uttering a high-pitched, inhuman scream against the sound of the blasting TV. As it ran into the main area where the TV was, it arched its neck much like a horse, and snarled, scrunching its nose up.

   Splinter's eyes widened and his mouth fell open in shock at what he saw, illuminated by the poor TV light. The shadow ran to the door it had entered through, and disappeared. The pounding of its feet were gone.

   Mikey woke suddenly with a groan, refusing to open his eyes. What's that noise? I'll kill Leo if he tried to wake us up early again! But a glance at his surroundings told him that it was still nighttime. Nevertheless, he went to see what all the racket was. Climbing out of bed he jogged into the main area. He met Leo, Donnie and Splinter. His two brothers were looking confused and sleepy, just how he felt; but he realized it wasn't Leo who had caused the noise, which had now been turned down. It was then he noticed something wet on his plastron. He put his hand there and found a sticky, salivary substance. Was I drooling in the night?

   "What is it Master Splinter?" Leo asked as soon as Mikey walked in. Splinter was looking wide-eyed and shocked.

   "Danger." He breathed, narrowing his eyes and replaying the sight of that creature appearing from his son's bedroom and disappearing into the rest of the sewers. "I sensed danger. Leonardo, are you alright?"

   Leo frowned. "Yeah, Master. I'm fine. What's all this about?"

   "Something was in here. I sensed it. It was in yours and Donatello's room." Splinter looked at them all. "Where is Raphael?"

   Mikey looked behind him and shrugged. "I thought he would have been in here. He could still be asleep."

   Leo didn't think so; Raph maybe be hard to wake up, but it wasn't JUST the TV that awakened them, it was the feeling of an evil presence. He ran into Mikey and Raph's room. At first it looked like there was nobody on his bed, but Leo stepped onto Mikey's and lifted himself up. He gasped. There was blood everywhere and his brother was slumped over his pillows on his stomach.

   Donnie joined him and gasped in shock as well.

   "Let's get him down and into my lab." Donnie reached over and together he and Leo carefully lifted Raph off the bed. Leo took his brother and carried him into Donnie's lab while Donnie rushed ahead, pulling out things from his cabinets that would help. He laid blankets in the cot he used for unconscious brothers. Leo laid his brother down and stepped back as Donnie examined the wounds, and started to patch him back up.

   Donnie frowned as he noticed something strange in his brother's wounds. He gathered a sample of what looked like thick, sticky liquid. It was a slimy yellow-green color.

   Splinter watched his sons work, and noticed the worried expression on Leo's face. His son always fought with Raph; real or spar. But no matter how many times they did, Leo would always look out for Raph. Leo was their leader and the big brother of the group. Splinter respected his son for that.

   Donnie finished bandaging his brother up and told the rest of them that it looked as though Raph had been knocked out. They all turned to look at their Master, as he was the only one that had a glimpse of the creature.

   "What exactly did you see, Sensei?" Leo asked the question which was playing in all of his brother's minds. Judging by the marks on Raph, he was attacked by a very big beast.

   Splinter sighed and closed his eyes as if trying to remember. "It was merely a shadow, my son. I saw only a shadow pass through the room. But it was big, and as we have already guessed, dangerous." His sons looked at him fearfully. Mikey's eyes were large under his bandana. Leo was in thought and Donnie was glancing at the substance he had taken from Raph's wounds.

   "I say we look around the perimeter of the lair, and then lock our doors, or someone should keep a watch out." Leo took charge of his brothers as his duty as leader requested him to do so. Splinter agreed with his son, admiring his son's quick thinking.

   "I could keep a watch." Donnie said, knowing he would be unable to go back to sleep and from the looks of Mikey knew he couldn't either. "I can check out what this substance is at the same time."

   "I could help." Mikey spoke up." I really don't think I could get back to sleep anyway."

   Leo nodded. "I'll scout out and see if everything's alright."

   "No need, Leonardo." Splinter said. "The creature is far away I feel. It was too shocked by the noise to stay around. But I want you all to be on your guards. This creature is unknown to me and is highly dangerous. I fear it is intelligent and that is why it did not kill Raphael tonight... It needed him in some way."

   Silence fell into the room as they realized what their Master had said. This creature was indeed dangerous and if their Master almost feared it, then they certainly did. So Leonardo hit they hay, along with Splinter, who was actually meditating, too awake to sleep. Mikey and Donnie stayed up, working on the substance.

   "Did you feel or  . . . hear anything when you were asleep?" Mikey asked his brother, who was pouring over the keyboard.

   "I can't remember." Donnie said, staring at the screen. His dreams were forgotten when he woke, so if he heard anything when he was half asleep wouldn't have remained in his memory either.

   Mikey frowned. "I think I heard something." Donnie turned to look at him and Mikey continued. "It sounded like a gasp and then, I think, a thud, as though something hit something else... You don't think I heard that thing knock Raph out, do ya?"

   Donnie stopped his finger work over the keyboard and thought. "I think possibly you did, Mikey. The gasp could have been Raph when the creature slashed him, I'm sure he would have to have been awake for the thing to have knock him out."

   Mikey nodded, feeling guilty and scared that he could not have helped his brother, and that the thing, whatever it was, had been in his room, with him and Raph. That thought made him shudder and caused Donnie to give him a funny look.

   Leo tossed in bed, trying to get back to sleep. But he couldn't. He was too worried about his brother, lying unconscious and the thought of a creature, which made even Master Splinter nervous, running around in the sewers with them. Images of a terrible face-less beast filled his head, and he wondered why HE was getting the run-away imagination when he didn't know he had one. Finally he got up and went into Donnie's lab.

   Donnie and Mikey looked up as their brother in blue joined them, knowing right away that he couldn't sleep like them.

   "Couldn't sleep?" Donnie asked, returning to his computer.

   Leo shook his head and sat down on the cot where Raph lay. "Nah. Not surprising, eh?" He chuckled.

   Donnie and Mikey stared at the computer, while Leo moved Raph's feet for room to sit down. Donnie, clicking and typing, found what he was looking for. He frowned.

   "Hey guys," he said, "I found out what this stuff is... Or I found out as much as I could. After analyzing this stuff with the new computer equipment I made, I connected to a database on the net with tons of info. So, according to this, the substance has traces of venom used by deadly snakes to weaken their prey; quite a large percent as well. It doesn't work right away but it draws out the victims energy slowly so that the snake can take it on easily and eat it." He looked at his brothers, who looked as confused as he did.

   "You mean that thing was a giant snake?!" Mikey exclaimed, straightening up from bending to look at the computer screen.

   "Well it can't be a snake 'cause it struck Raph with claws, which had to be on hands or paws." Leo pointed out. Then he frowned. "Unless it was a mutant or something like that."

   "Oh, I thought us mutants get along together." Mikey said sarcastically, and sounding a lot like Raph, which was definitely not Mikey. He realized this. "Or maybe it don't know it's a mutant."

   "Well, the other percentage from the venom is something I'm not quite sure of," Donnie said. "It COULD have been a mutant. It might have known we were too and didn't attack all of us, as it would have needed our energy to help it stay alive. It wouldn't be able to live off small things like sewer rats because they're too small and hardly enough for what it needs. According to this sample, the large percent is a mix of snake species so it probably had a difficult system to satisfy and needs our high energy to keep healthy." They all raised their eye ridges. "And by the way, Mikey," Donnie added." We didn't get along with Tokka and Rahzah, did we?"

   Mikey shrugged and allowed himself a small smile. Donnie went back to his computer and Leo got off the edge of the cot and joined them.

   "So this thing is poisoning our brother?" He asked, wanting to know.

   "Yes." Donnie nodded. "It must have given Raph the venom instead of killing him because it obviously felt some powerful energy in him or something that it might need in the time it thinks Raph is dieing. So I think we need to keep a close eye on him; that thing might be as well."

   They all shuddered. They had faced many things that they didn't like, but for some reason this one seemed more frightening than the rest. Perhaps because it hides in shadows and not even Master Splinter knew what it was or what it looked like; and that Master Splinter had called it "intelligent". After a little more talk and searching on the computer, Leo ordered Mikey and Donnie to get some rest and that he would watch out for the rest of the night. They didn't want to leave him; after all, it had been him in danger when Splinter had awoken them.

   The rest of the night passed uneventful but Leo still kept his ears pricked for any sounds. But there were none. Not even the sounds of their usual pal sewer rats that scuttled about. They must have sensed the creature's presence and hidden.

   Finally the sun came up in the world above and the sounds of traffic on the road announced that day had arrived. The sounds comforted Leo, and he gratefully sighed, glad that night was over.

   Mikey came into the main area, rubbing his eyes against the strong lights Leo had just put on. He made his way over to the kitchen area, which was just a few cupboards, a counter and a fridge. He started to make breakfast.

   "Mornin' Leo." Mikey said cheerfully. His happy mood always put Leo in one. He greeted Mikey the same and looked up as Donnie came in.

   "Hey Donnie," Leo said. "Have some tea?" He held a cup out for his brother, who took it.

   "Thanks." Donnie said as he gulped it down. "You know, I was thinking last night of what I could treat Raph's wounds with, and realized we didn't have what he needed in the medic cupboard, so I'll have to ask April to get us some from the shop. Or I could go myself, I'm just money-less at the minute."

   Leo nodded grimly and they all looked up as they heard a moan from Donnie's lab.

   "Raph's up, better go see how he feels." Donnie left his empty cup and walked into his lab, Leo and Mikey followed.

   They walked in to find Raph sat up on the table, rubbing his head and examining his bandaged shoulder and arm.

   "Hey Raph!" Mikey greeted, again in that cheerfully voice that made them surprised when Raph didn't smile, but then, they shouldn't be surprised since it was Raph.

   Raph looked up at them. His frown turned to an alarmed face. "You guys, there something here! It attacked me - man was it ugly!" He made to go to the door. "Gotta tell Splinter!"

   Leo and Donnie pushed their brother back onto the table.

   "We know, Raph. It's alright we already know about it." Donnie said, watching his brother look at them with a frown. It was then that they explained everything about last night to him.

   "Oh, I know what that drool was on me now!" Mikey suddenly said. They looked at him. "The thing musta drooled on me at some point, I found it on me last night."

   "Did ya wash it off?" Donnie asked.

   Mikey nodded a strong affirmative. "Sure did."

   Raph looked at Donnie. "You mean this thing is a giant snake? And it's poisoning me?"

   Donnie tilted his head. "Well, it looks to be a cross between different species of snakes and something else, but we don't really know because we didn't see it and it had to of had an arm or claw or something otherwise how would it have bin able to knock you out and scar you like that?"

   Raph seemed to shudder. "Well you didn't see it, but I did."

   Donnie raised his eye ridges slightly and looked at Leo, then back at Raph. "You did? What'd it look like?"

   Raph frowned at the floor. "Well, it was too dark for details but it was ugly, trust me."

   "Raph just tell us, we need to know." Leo demanded, crossing his arms.

   Raph glared at his brother. He hated it when Leo thought he could take charge. But a glance from Donnie told him he should say something.

   Still scowling at Leo, Raph looked at Donnie. "It was huge and a kinda dark greeny brown color, but I'm not sure, it was dark – it could have just been black. The fangs on it were enormous and from what I could see, it had little eyes, but hey, I didn't hold it still so I could look, I could only see glints." He looked at all of his brothers. "I told you I didn't see much, I only had time to gasp before the thing hit me." Next to him, Mikey shuddered.

   "So it did hit you?" Donnie asked. "What... On purpose?"

   "Of course it hit me on purpose - I think I hit IT!" Raph growled.

   "You hit it?" Leo uncrossed his arms and frowned, glancing at Donnie. "Well that would explain why it attacked him at all. If you had time to hit it why didn't you call out?"

   Raph looked a little embarrassed, but his anger remained angry. "I was... I was having a nightmare and I accidentally whacked it when I was thrashing around, okay!?"

   "What did it hit you with? A paw? Hand? Fang?" Donnie questioned further.

   "Geeze what is this? Twenty-questions-to-ask-Raph day?! I dunno, okay? It just hit me. I think it was a clawed hand or something, I just saw the flash of something sharp and then I was out." Raph sat back, arms folded, which told his brothers that if any more questions were asked then they would find themselves trying to ask them through fat lips. But he winced and unfolded his arms as burning pain seared through him when he applied pressure to his wound.

   Donnie started backing out with Leo. "I think we should leave Raph for a little rest, now. Coming Leo, Mikey?" They walked out the room; aware Raph was glaring daggers at them.

   Once in the main area, and having closed the door to Donnie's room, Leo turned around to look at them both.

   "So, Donnie, you think you could get the medicine for Raph?" Leo asked.

   "Sure, just need some money and I'll go today." Donnie nodded to Leo.

   "Mikey, you think you could keep an eye on Raph?" Leo now turned to his brother in orange.

   "Sure thing, bro." Mikey held up his thumb. He looked at Donnie when his brother suddenly put a hand on his arm.

   "I checked on Raph's progress a minute ago, and noticed his energy level wasn't as high as it should be, it was lower. So, Mikey, just don't get him to do anything that'll cause him to use too much strength. I want to check it out later, I don't think the results of that sample told us everything." They all looked at him, then automatically looked back as the door just in case.

   "Okay, so Donnie'll go get the things-" Leo began.

   "Actually I could get April to buy them and pay her back, it would be easier." Donnie interrupted.

   Leo nodded. "And Mikey, you just keep Raph entertained, put a movie on or something, but, Mikey," Leo looked serious. "Don't go outside of the lair." His brother nodded to him, and was then asked what he was going to do. "I'll be out looking over the perimeter. If this thing is still lurking around then we ought to know, and I might be able to communicate with it as Master Splinter seems to think it might be intelligent... Or put it out of action enough for us to find out exactly what this thing is."

   So it was agreed. Donnie got his medical equipment out, ready for April to bring down the medicine, who he was going to phone later; Mikey went back into Donnie's lab with Donnie and asked Raph what movie he wanted to watch; And Leo made to go out and check their home sewers for safety, but before he could -

   "Leonardo." A voice called from behind him and he turned from the door he was about to exit out of.

   "Yes Master Splinter?" Leo said.

   "Come into my room, my son. I want a word." Splinter retreated back to his room, Leo following, wondering why his Master had called him back.

   Inside his Sensei's room, Leo sat himself down in front of his Master, who had taken a seat on the bed. The room was lit by soft candlelight, but it was far from creepy. It was very comfortably.

   Splinter did not speak straight away, but waited for a few seconds as he caught Leo's full attention.

   "I want you to be careful, my son. "Splinter began. "I feel this is a more dangerous, intelligent being than we think it to be. Also, I think you have been missing something while worrying for your brother, Raphael."

   Leo frowned. "What do you mean?"

   Splinter did not answer the question straight away. "Why do you think I sensed danger after the creature had attacked Raphael? Why did it not kill him straight away and continue into your rooms?"

   Leo frowned even more. "Well, Raph wasn't really in danger of being killed because the creature didn't attack him by purposely, Raph struck at it first which is why it slashed him. Obviously it wanted to scout about and see what else it could find. But don't worry Master, Raph will be fine and I have Mikey watching out for him, the creature will not come back for him I feel-"

   "That is where you are missing something out, my son. Yes, Raphael was injured then, but he was not the one in danger . . . It is you who were in danger. The creature was about to kill you straight there; that was what I sensed. You were the one in serious danger, my son."

   Leo took in this new information, running it through his mind. Splinter watched him think, and knew now that his son was going to be extra careful.

   "I don't understand," Leo said at last. "This thing could have killed us all last night and . . . only went for me?"

   Splinter leaned forward. "There are many questions but answers unknown. Go with care, Leonardo, and do not forget to remember about your own well being as well as your brothers'."

   Leo stared into his face, and then bowed to his Master and left the room. Splinter stared at the door a long time after he had left, pondering many questions. Finally he decided to search his answers through meditation.

   Leo walked past his brother Donnie, on his way to the door, who was just dialing a number. No doubt April's to see if she could fetch the things Donnie wanted her to. He had a list ready to tell her of what he needed.

   In Donnie's lab, Mikey was doing his best to make up excuses to Raph to keep him in the safety of Donnie's lab. Raph seemed uncomfortable as though sensing something his brother couldn't. Mikey could almost see his mind working. His brother did look a little paler than usual.

   "Come on, Raph, there's a good bit coming up right inna minute." Mikey tried to get his brother's attention back to the TV.

   Raph shifted position on the cot laid out in a duvet for his comfort. It wasn't working. That wasn't all what he felt uncomfortable for: He felt something was going to happen . . . Something not nice.

   "Mikey, I can't concentrate on the stupid box. Something's not right. Something's gonna happen that's not good, I can feel it."

   Mikey looked at his brother. "You're freaking dude! There's nothing to worry about."

   Raph stood up suddenly, making Mikey stand up too, ready to grab his brother if he tried to barge out. For the first time Mikey felt strong enough to actually hold Raph back; but maybe that was because Raph wasn't up to full strength. In fact, as Mikey saw, his brother seemed to be getting weaker, but so slowly he wasn't sure.

   "Where's Leo?" Raph demanded.

  Mikey bit his lip. Unfortunately Raph saw his pause and rushed over to the door, but Mikey caught his arm and for the first time Raph was pulled back by his brother; and he actually felt like, if this should turn into a pull-Raph-this-way and a lemme-go-that-way game, then he wouldn't win. Raph didn't like it.

   "Where is Leo, Mikey?" Raph's every syllable rang out with a message that said 'if you don't tell me then you won't be able to tell anybody anything for an entire month'. Mikey knew when to answer his brother, whether he was stronger or not.

   "He's gone to check the perimeter." Mikey said, tensing for when Raph should make for the door again.

   Raph froze when he heard Mikey's words. "Don't he know what he's doing?! That thing is dangerous! We have to get him back!" Raph felt like he knew all about this beast. He made to go to the door, but again, Mikey stopped him.

   "Leo is capable on his own, Raph. Anyway, Master Splinter said that it was long gone yesterday." Mikey tried to hold him back with reassuring words. They didn't seem to be having an effect.

   "No Mikey! You don't know that. It could have come back." Mikey had never seen Raph like this before. Maybe that venom was having an effect on him, but Mikey doubted that as this seemed like the same Raph. Still, it wasn't Raph-like. His brother continued: "You don't know what it looked like Mikey; I saw it and it was huge . . . Okay, so maybe I didn't describe it exactly as I saw it but I didn't want to then. It was hideous, Mikey. I felt it glow with evil, I thought when I saw it, I could actually feel its power force." He paused, realizing how much fear he was letting escape into his tone. It wasn't like him and he didn't want to do it, but he admitted he was afraid for Leo. He looked back at Mikey. "It was . . . grinning, Mikey. Not a silly grin or a - or a laughable grin; but an evil grin." Even though Raph was being serious, Mikey couldn't help being reminded of the time when they were young and Raph liked to scare Mikey with horror tales. Mikey looked into his brother's eyes which always hid the real emotion. Only now they weren't hiding anything.

   "I can't believe you let Leo deal with that thing on his own," Raph muttered darkly. With that he flung Mikey off him and stormed into the main area.

   Donnie was just coming in from having checked his list was right, and saw his two brothers, one looked crossed between outraged and desperate; the other looked absolutely shocked and fearful as he watched his other brother. When Mikey saw Donnie, he made communication through eyes that told Donnie exactly what happened.

   "Raph..." Donnie started, but stopped as a scream cut through the lair. They instantly knew who it was and all cried "April!" Before running to the sound of the scream. They ran through the sewers with absolutely no idea where she was.

   They ran down another sewer before another scream had them turn back around and run down a similar sewer tunnel. They rounded the corner and found April getting up from the floor and rushing over to them, blood smeared one side of her face and arm. She ran into Donnie, grabbing him around the neck and turned, panicked, and pointed back where she had come from.

   "THERE! THERE! A THING! OH, HELP!" She shrieked at the top of her voice. Donnie was able to calm her down and steered her away from the tunnel. Mikey scanned the dark shadows for the creature as he protected Donnie and April's backs. Raph backed up, following them. He did not face the right way until he was round the corner, feeling the very eyes of the beast upon him.

   Back in the den, April was feeling faint and very shocked. Donnie laid her on the couch but she sat up, still rambling on about the thing that attacked her. Mikey sat beside her and cupped her hands in his. Raph stood in front of them.

   "It just attacked from no where. "April shook her head in shock. "It was huge but I didn't see it properly." Donnie came in a few moments later and started to clean April up. She took off her backpack and realized she was missing something.

   "What's wrong?" Donnie asked as he watched her start to search her pockets and the floor.

   "I lost something. Some bandages and the medicine you asked me to bring." She stopped and slumped her shoulders. "I bet that thing's tearing them up right now . . . What is it? Please tell me it's just a large dog."

   Donnie looked to his other brothers and sat down on her other side. He started to tell April about the night when Raph was attacked and why Splinter turned the TV on so it wouldn't kill Leo. On hearing his name, April searched for him among the mess of their home sewer.

   "Where is Leo?" She asked.

   "He, um, went to check the perimeter to make sure it was safe and to make sure, um, that thing was gone." He went silent.

   Raph turned and headed to the door.

   "Where are you going?" Donnie stood up, staring after his brother.

   "To find my brother." Raph said shortly. He turned back round to go out the door but Donnie had rushed up to him and had stopped him.

   "You can't. That creature has tabbed you and it's not safe for you to be out there. Leo IS capable. Me and Mikey will go out instead." Donnie said, looking back at Mikey's surprised face, which quickly disappeared.

   Raph looked from Donnie to Mikey. "You think I can't take care of myself?"

   Donnie chose his words carefully. "I didn't say that. Just that this thing has poisoned you and you might just suddenly collapse or something. Me and Mikey are going and you can stay here to look after April." Donnie knew he had got it now. Raph was always the one to want to look after April in difficult times, but what would his brother do now that he, Donnie, was making the orders. It had annoyed Raph when Leo did it.

   This really frustrated Raph now. He wanted to do both: look after April and look for Leo. It really got him that Donnie thought he was weak.

   Mikey was looking from his brother in red to his brother in purple. He wasn't mad Donnie was suggesting what they do. In fact he thought it was sensible of Donnie in Leo's absence. Unfortunately Raph didn't think so. Mikey could tell.

   Donnie took the opportunity that Raph was quiet to pull him back to the couch, but Raph snapped out of his surprised, angry gaze and wrenched himself from Donnie's grasp. It was then Raph suddenly clutched his shoulder and fell to his knees, teeth gritted in pain.

   "Raph are you okay?" Donnie quickly crouched next to his brother, a hand on his other shoulder

   "Gugh, fine!" Raph growled, head falling to one side with his eyes screwed shut. He stood up unsteadily. Donny followed.

   "Raph – you have to stay here," Donnie tried to reason with him, hand still on his shoulder.

   Raph threw it off. "No, I'm fine –I'm gonna get Leo."

   Donnie knew his brother didn't look at all well. So he grabbed Raph's arm and dragged him over to his lab door.

   "Raph, you'll have to stay here," Don said.

   Raph pulled his arm from Donnie's grasp and grabbed his shoulder again. "No Donnie – agh!" He was hit by another surge of pain through his shoulder, and he was momentarily paralyzed. Donnie took this opportunity to grab both of his brother's arms and push him back through his lab door. By this time Raph had now regained his limbs and was about to push past Donnie, but his brother quickly grabbed the keys off the worktop near the doorway and slammed the door on Raph's face. He locked the door.

   "Don't let him out, okay?" Donnie said to April as he walked past her and dropped the keys on the couch next to her. "Don't worry, Master Splinter is here so you're not on your own." Banging came from Donnie's lab, which sounded as though Raph had got over his shock. Donnie turned his back on the banging and walked over to where a surprised Mikey had jumped to his feet. "We won't be long." He and Mikey disappeared through the door.

   April stared and the door they had taken and then at the keys on the cushion next to her. That was the first time Donnie has ever done anything like that. She thought. The banging had stopped and she could hear a muffled moan and an angry howl that was Raph. She sighed. Whatever this thing was, this creature, it had them all worrying and acting odd. She knew Splinter was in the next room so she wasn't on her own, but she somehow felt alone and afraid, and it didn't feel right because this was like a second home to her. But she felt she was being... watched.

~

(A/N: A while ago I drew a picture of what I imagined The Thing to look like, if you want, take a look at this web page on my side7 account: www.side7.com/cgi-bin/S7SDB/DisplayImg.pl?INO=252070