Happy New Year everyone! Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday!
And well, to start off the new year, another chapter of Cardinal points for all of my lovely readers!:D
I'd like to give a giant thank you to Marie Allen for speed beta reading this chapter for me!:)
I'd also like to thank, ImpartingAbyss, Lauraliath, Marie Allen, Leather Leaf, Kimmie98, Cocoagurl, flamedragon242, rinpup14, Diana Fay, Sleeping Seeker and Trunksymia for your wonderful reviews!
Leonardo made his way back to the Brownstone with Elizabeth in his arms. And with each step he took, it felt as if his feet were growing heavier and heavier. He wished he could just turn around and run, or perhaps hit some sort of massive re-do button.
He wanted to make everything right with Catherine, but the problem was, he didn't know how. He wanted to call April and get her advice, but the problem was, even if he did, he would probably ignore it and mess everything up again anyway.
After all, on April's advice he had gone to Catherine's house to ask for forgiveness for invading her privacy, and instead, he had stood there and watched helplessly as Catherine was manhandled by Stuart. Then, instead of comforting her after the traumatic event, he had tried –unsuccessfully- to lecture her on the danger she had put herself and her sister in, and after that debacle, he had allowed Catherine to convince him to chase after Elizabeth instead of staying with her.
He felt unequal to the task of righting the wrongs he had committed and the black ball of heavy dread that had taken up residence in his stomach only became bigger and heavier the closer to the Brownstone he got.
Having arrived at his destination, he slowly walked up the wide stone steps to the door, jostling Elizabeth enough that her eyes slowly fluttered open and she made a mumbled slur of words that might have been, 'Are we home already?'
He gently set her down on the stoop and she fumbled in her pocket for her keys before she gave up and tried the door, which was unlocked.
Containing a growl of irritation and a flash of anger over this, he pushed opened the door and helped Elizabeth over the threshold.
"It's okay, Blue. This isn't the first time I've stumbled home drunk. I can handle it from here, and you can go handle my sister." She paused and then chuckled at the accidental innuendo, dropping her coat and boots at the front door before turning and slowly and unsteadily making her way up the staircase to the second floor.
Leonardo swallowed roughly, turning his attention towards the back of the house and to the kitchen. He wasn't sure if Catherine had already gone to bed or if she was still awake. He couldn't see her in the kitchen, but that didn't mean she wasn't there as some of the kitchen was hidden from his view.
Stalling, he picked up Elizabeth's boots and placed them in the closet along with her coat. His eyes scanned the foyer and he couldn't believe that only an hour ago this room had been at the center of a tense and violent standoff.
Closing the closet he kept his own jacket on, but removed his boots, placing the bag containing Raphael's sheets beside them. He bit his lip, wracked with doubt and indecision. He always had a plan; a strategy of execution whereby he was able to formulate and reject variables and outcomes and choose the best course of action. And yet, at the moment, he was coming up empty. He had no plan and no idea how to proceed.
Sighing he pulled his shoulders back, bracing himself for what would no doubt be another battle of wills, though this time, it was a battle he had every intention of winning.
Taking a few steps towards the kitchen, he felt his steps falter and cease as wave after wave of realization hit him. He closed his eyes and repressed a groan of disbelief.
His words and his actions came back to haunt him as his knees grew weak, and he had to clutch at the wall to support himself. He felt as if he was physically about to become ill.
On the night he had met both Catherine and Elizabeth he had broken and stolen the statue of Bastet; the only object Catherine had left of the life she had had before her parents were murdered, and before it was all taken away from her. He had given Catherine her statue back, but the damage had been done, and then Raphael had further damaged the sentimentally priceless object.
Guilt clawed even more heavily at him and then overwhelmed him at the remembrance of his words to Catherine tonight. He had asked her if she was insane, to which she had replied 'it depends on who you ask.' Believing the quip to be facetious or sarcastic he had paid it no mind, but he should have, because she had answered his question as if he were seriously asking about her state of mind, as opposed to just venting his anger and frustration upon what he believed to be a hazardous undertaking.
After the tragedies that had befallen both sisters, Catherine's sanity had been questioned and found to be wanting. She had been placed in a facility that probably held nothing but painful memories for her, and he had unthinkingly brought those memories back and shoved them brutally into her face.
It was no wonder that she had wished him gone from her presence. Her sanity was no doubt a sore spot for her. But truthfully, he didn't believe her to be insane, and he did not believe she ever was. Though, with the trauma she had suffered, he had no doubt that none could blame her if she had experienced a mental break of sorts.
But he did reluctantly acknowledge that her mind didn't seem to function along normal lines either. And Elizabeth believed that whatever had been done to Catherine, whatever she had experienced at the facility she had been placed in, had changed her.
A quiet chord of a note of music travelled to his ears and brought him tumbling back into the present. Pushing himself away from the wall he walked down the hall towards the kitchen, but instead of continuing on towards the back of the house, he turned left down a short hallway and paused in the large open doorway of the library/study.
It was a room he normally did not venture into, as neither of the women seemed to spend any time in there, at least, not when he and his brothers were around.
He wanted to stride up to Catherine, and fall down on his knees in supplication for the wrongs he had committed against her, but found his feet had frozen to the floor. He wasn't sure if his apology would even be welcome.
Another lonely note was struck, echoing through the silence and he suddenly felt as if he needed to fill it. He also did not wish to startle her at his sudden intrusion, though she had to know that he was still in the house. He and Elizabeth had not hid their presence when they had walked in.
"I didn't know you played," he observed in a soft voice as he looked at Catherine who sat behind a beautifully lacquered and polished black grand piano. She did not look up upon his entrance. Her head downcast to look upon her hands which were spread out across the ivory coloured keys.
Swallowing, he took another few tentative steps into the room.
Still she did not look up, but she answered his remark by playing a quick rolling tune that sounded familiar to him.
"It's 'Chopsticks,'" she offered, still not lifting her chin, eyes remaining downcast and in shadow. "Every six year old with a keyboard can play it. I may even be able to offer up a very poorly played rendition of 'Twinkle, Twinkle.' So to answer your observation, no, I can't actually play. I can't sing either, so don't ask. When it comes to music, it utterly eludes me. I have zero musical talent whatsoever and half the time music is nothing but background noise to me that I can't hear. But it doesn't mean I still don't enjoy listening to it," she offered quietly. "This piano is beautiful and I do wish I could play it, but I know that some things are not meant to be," she finished softly, her words containing a hint of melancholy beneath what he interpreted as forced humour.
However, this last sentence seemed to contain a double meaning that had Leonardo's heart twisting painfully in his chest. His breath caught in his throat and he felt as if someone had punched him in the gut.
He already knew he had lost her, but he hadn't known it would physically hurt him to acknowledge this fact.
She looked up at him then, and he was unable to read her expression. But surprisingly, it didn't feel as cold and intimidating as it had been a little over an hour ago.
He had expected a battle of wills and a heavy icy anger surrounding her, but instead, he felt her calm, open and warm gaze fall upon him.
"Do you play?" she asked curiously as she stood.
Surprised by the question he answered a negative. Music was something he and his brothers were only passive participants in.
Catherine chuckled and lightly dragged her fingers across the polished lacquered surface of the piano as she walked towards him. "I truthfully prefer the sound of a harpsichord. I know they sound kind of tinny, but I don't know, the sound appeals to me. And the violin, I like how it has the ability to be so beautifully haunting and sad one minute, and so energetic and full of life the next."
Leonardo was only able to offer up an uneasy half smile, caught off-balance by the inane conversation they were engaged in at the moment.
"Thank you, for bringing El back home in one piece. I really appreciate that."
The topic broached he latched onto it with a firm grip. "I shouldn't have left you." He tried to keep any emotion from his voice except apology and regret; only it seemed as if his voice had decided to betray him. It cracked, filling with deep sorrow, painful lament and something akin to pity.
Catherine tipped her head to the side and studied him. "El told you everything, didn't she?" Catherine asked cautiously.
Not able to find his voice, choked as it was with grief, he nodded his head, unsure of her reaction.
She let out a slow breath and nodded. "Well, I suppose it is to be expected. 'The truth will out,' I believe the expression goes. And truthfully, it isn't like we were hiding it." She turned away from him and walked over to an imposing, dark wooden desk that sat on the far side of the room. It was ornately carved and looked to be an old, showing wear in places, though still beautiful.
His eyes quickly darted around the room, scanning the dark shelves and falling upon a chess board which looked to be in the middle of a game. Turning his attention back to Catherine she leaned up against the desk and then slid onto it so that she was perched upon the glossy surface.
Approaching her cautiously he waited for her to say something, though she seemed to be waiting for him to speak. He took another glance around the room and found it to be beautifully appointed, the furniture aptly chosen and arranged, but noticed that there was nothing that would give anyone any indication of the personality of the person who lived in the house.
"Why is there nothing of you in this house?" he asked, because the thought slipped through his head and landed upon his tongue; as if he suddenly –like Elizabeth- needed to fill the silence that had descended upon the room.
"Why would there be anything of mine in here?" she asked, clearly puzzled by his question.
It was his turn to be puzzled. "Because you live here," he pointed out.
She frowned in thought. "I do live here, but this isn't my home," she answered simply.
Leonardo didn't know how to respond to Catherine's words. He wasn't sure what her emotional state was, and truthfully, he felt a little lost. He knew that this conversation wasn't going how he had thought it would, and even though he hadn't actually had a plan or direction for their conversation, he knew that this wasn't a direction that he would have foreseen.
Catherine gave a smirk and an unladylike snort. "This isn't my house, Leonardo. I live here, I sleep here, but I don't pay rent and I have no lease on this place. At any moment my uncle could decide that he wants his townhouse back, now that all of the renovations have been completed. I know he feels some sort of…obligatory guilt associated with the way his father treated my mother, but his feelings may change, or he may believe that he has satisfied his obligation to us and ask us to leave. I have offered to pay rent, but my uncle won't take it, and says we are welcome to stay as long as we want. But I can't honestly say how long that will be. I have a job that I love and good friends," she gave him a warm smile that did something to his heart, "so I have no intention of going anywhere, but still, at the end of the day…this isn't my home."
"Where is home?" he asked softly, much struck by her words.
"I don't know," she said her eyes drifting to the window. "I'm still looking for it."
He strode up to her forcing her to look up at him, her eyes widening with surprise at the intensity of the look he gave her.
"I'm sorry, for everything; for all of the ways that I have wronged you."
"Wronged me?" she asked slowly.
"I shouldn't have broken Bastet and taken her. I shouldn't have mistrusted you and gone through your personal belongings. I should have tried harder to protect you. I shouldn't have run out on you to chase Elizabeth and left you to deal with what had happened on your own. And I should not have questioned your sanity. I am so sorry and I can understand if you are angry, and no doubt feel betrayed by me. I would understand completely if you did not wish to ever have anything to do with me or my family again."
Catherine blinked at him, apparently a little overwhelmed by his apology. "Leonardo..." she blew out a breath and turned her face away. "Do you trust me?" she asked him seriously, turning her head back to face him again.
Her words were unexpected, but he took a moment to think on his answer before giving it.
"Yes," he stated, knowing the words to be true.
She studied his face intently and nodded. "Okay," she answered and began to slide off the desk as if their conversation was finished.
He stopped her by placing his hands upon the desk on either side of her body. "What do you mean, 'okay'?" he asked in confusion, feeling as if he had missed something and that she was intentionally ignoring the issues he had placed before her; and this angered him slightly.
"Leonardo, I'm not angry with you. Trust me, if I was angry, you would know. You gave Bastet back and-"
"I didn't know what she meant to you, and I broke her," he insisted fervently.
"Well, I believe Raphael had a hand in that as well, even though you took the blame, but…" she bit her lip as if choosing her words carefully, or perhaps for greatest effect. "If you had not broken and taken Bastet, you would not have returned her to me, and then I would never have seen you again or met your brothers. Call it fate, destiny or kismet, sometimes things happen for a reason, Leonardo. So, I can't be sorry for you breaking Bastet," she said sincerely.
Her words shook him, because they were true, but still…
"And the glued on bits gives her a worn, but rather elegant antique air I think," she added with a smile.
"I don't understand," he said, shaking his head back and forth. "How can you not be angry with me? I broke into your house and-"
"Leonardo, enough," she said waving away his concern. "I can't be angry with you for trying to protect your family. I might not have liked it, but I can understand it. And from now on, if something concerns you, just talk to me about it first, okay?"
He nodded numbly, but still, there were his actions of this evening that he was accountable for. "I should have been able to protect you. I shouldn't have left-"
"You did exactly what I asked you to do; protect my sister," Catherine interrupted, a hint of steel and irritation filling her voice. "As for apparently abandoning me, I asked you to go after my sister. I couldn't and she needed you more than I did." Catherine shifted her gaze away and looked to the side. "I won't lie and tell you that I was fine or that I wasn't upset, because the truth is, I was. I knew the plan would work and I had accounted for all of the variables, but this didn't mean I wasn't terrified, or that I wasn't drowning in a flood of horrible memories. But it didn't matter." She finally looked back at him, spine stiff, words firm. "Whatever I had to go through, it was worth it, because my sister needed my help and that monster needed to be put away." She let out a sigh, looking away again. "I made you go after my sister because she would have done something reckless. She needed to talk and vent to someone who wasn't me. And she needed the comfort. I don't like being comforted, I'm not used to it. I prefer to just deal with things on my own." She finally looked back at him. "It's not personal Leonardo, I just don't like to fall apart in front of others. It makes me feel weak and out of control, a sentiment I am sure we both share," she pointed out wryly. "As for my sanity, well…'we're all a little mad here'," she said with a half-smile.
He looked at her in with incredulity. He wasn't sure if she was joking or if she was serious.
"It's from Alice in Wonderland," she informed him easily. "And I love how you threw all of your brothers under the bus along with yourself."
Distracted, he protested, "I didn't-" he began but she cut him off.
"You totally did. You 'messed up'," her words were accompanied by air quotes, "but you seem to think I would lump your brothers in with you. I could just cut you out and keep your brothers, they are much less trouble." she teased. "Well…except Raphael of course," she laughed.
He searched her eyes trying to find something to grasp onto; some small hint of her true inner feelings, but only found humour and mischief.
"So we're…good?" he asked cautiously.
"That depends," she answered, "were we bad?" she asked curiously.
It was at that point that he gave up. The conversation they were having was so logical and rational, that it actually felt illogical and completely irrational. He knew that his brain would begin to hurt if he thought about it any harder, and he knew he would get nowhere if he attempted to argue with her further.
He then realized that her face was so close to his own and she was looking up at him with a warm smile. So he did something that was completely unlike him. He brought his hands up from where they had been resting upon the desk, cupped her cheeks, leaned down, and kissed her.
Her lips were warm and responded beneath his. His heart began to pound, his blood singing sweetly as it rushed through his veins.
He pulled away and Catherine gave him a slow smile.
Feeling embarrassment flood his cheeks he gave a nervous smile and backed away. "I-I should go," he stammered, suddenly shy.
Turning he rushed from the room and practically ran down the hallway, skidding to a halt at the front door. He leaned over sliding his boots on and fumbled for the bag that contained Raphael's sheets. A pair of socked feet appeared in his line of sight and he took in a deep breath, slowly straightening and following the bag that was lifted up in front of him.
"I'll give you a call tomorrow, okay?" Catherine asked him.
He gave a smile. "Yeah," he said in response.
She handed him his bag with Raphael's sheets and he thanked her, turning and opening the door, letting himself out. He paused, looking at her over his shoulder. "We all care about you and your sister...I care about you, both of you, and I couldn't bear it if something ever happened to either of you. You two aren't alone anymore."
Catherine searched his face and gave a nod of understanding. "Thank you, Leonardo. Goodnight," she said softly and he gave her a wave before she closed the door, the sound of a lock sliding into place behind him. Breathing out a sigh of relief he made his way home.
But the closer and closer he got to the lair, the less and less contented he felt. He realized that Catherine had managed to manipulate their conversation in such a way that she had side-stepped, avoided and downplayed all of his concerns. It didn't matter that she was alright with the decisions he had made, he wasn't. She had given him his forgiveness, but he felt uneasy about accepting it.
And the more he thought about everything, the more he felt as if Catherine had somehow shut him out. It was as if she was now keeping him at arm's length and not letting him in; her easy smile hiding her true feelings.
She had brushed off all of his concerns and did not broach or elaborate on the topic of her past; her parents' murder, or her stay in the institution.
With a heavy sigh, he pulled up the heavy iron sewer grate and slipped beneath the city streets, pulling the cover closed behind him.
Catherine placed her back against the heavy wooden door and let out a steadying breath. She had regained her composure before Elizabeth and Leonardo had returned, but she had been oddly touched by Leonardo's parting words and had felt the sting of fresh tears pierce her eyes.
It had been a long time since she had ever really felt alone. She had aunts, uncles and cousins. She had family, she had friends, but she had to admit to herself that sometimes, it still felt as if she and her sister were slightly disconnected from the rest of the world. It was as if there was just the two of them, drifting from place to place searching for something; though what that something was she wasn't sure. Perhaps it was as she had said, that she and her sister were still looking for home, someplace where they belonged; a connection to something other than each other.
She took in another steadying breath, the air pulled in through her nose, out through her mouth, and past her freshly kissed lips.
Reaching up, she brushed her fingers across her lips, still warm from Leonardo's unexpected kiss. The kiss had been warm, comforting and pleasant, better than their last one.
Pushing away from the door she made her way up the stairs to the second floor, ignoring the small voice in the back of her mind whispering to her that Raphael's kiss, filled with raw want and need, had lit her blood aflame and filled her with a craving that could only be satisfied by him.
She argued with the voice that she had believed that she had been kissing Leonardo, and the second accidental brushing of lips between her and Raphael -the spark that had passed between them- was most likely a result of static electricity.
Her inner voice then whispered tauntingly that when she had realized she was kissing Raphael and not Leonardo, that she hadn't cared. She had in fact wanted to continue the passionate kiss that had filled her veins with pulsing desire, and if Raphael hadn't pulled away and begun his tirade, she would have pulled him back to her and devoured his mouth with her own.
As for the static electricity theory for the second accidental brushing of lips, she didn't need her inner voice scoffing at her to know that the excuse was ridiculous.
And still she ruthlessly ignored inner her voice and attempted to silence it.
Catherine couldn't claim to be able to understand what was going on in Raphael's mind, or why his feelings for her seemed to have apparently undergone a complete reversal, but the fact remained that hers had not.
Raphael was childish, arrogant, quick to anger, difficult, domineering, stubborn, moody, temperamental, charming, funny, sweet...wait...What?
She frowned as she stopped, her foot placed on the last step, hand still resting upon the railing.
She contemplated the positive attributes that had managed to slip in with Raphael's extensive list of faults. She reviewed them and knew them to be true. Raphael had his bad qualities, he could be aggressive, confrontational and argumentative, but this didn't mean that he didn't have admirable qualities as well.
Ever since their not-date, Catherine had to admit that she had seen a side of Raphael that he normally didn't show her; usually because he was too busy trying to push her away by making her angry, uncomfortable or starting a fight. And even the night she had made him dinner he had been pleasant; for a few moments at least. And it wasn't as if she had ever believed that Raphael had no redeeming virtues.
No one was without their good and bad qualities. She had her own weighty list of hang ups, and even Leonardo had his share of faults. He could be paranoid, stubborn, overprotective, overbearing, overreaching, arrogant and demanding. But he had his good qualities as well. He was sweet, thoughtful, caring, selfless and considerate.
She and Leonardo had their own connection. They shared many of the same interests and they enjoyed each other's company. Raphael could barely stand to be in the same room as her, and she just seemed to anger him constantly, no matter what she said or did. And besides this, Raphael was brash, obnoxious, loud, and-
-set your blood on fire, her inner voice purred.
She ignored her inner voice.
Leonardo's kisses were tender and sweet, but she believed that they would become passionate and ignite a blaze within her.
Whatever weird spark there was between her and Raphael, it was just some sort of aberration; an anomaly of circumstance. She had no interest in the hot-headed turtle.
Sure you don't, her inner voice argued smugly.
-tempting, her inner voice whispered seductively.
"-dangerous," she ground out firmly.
To your heart.
"No," she denied and shook her head back and forth. It was then she realized that she had begun to talk to herself out loud.
Taking the last step and placing her foot upon the landing, she strove to push all thoughts of Raphael from her mind.
She and Leonardo were good. They made sense. And they were finally moving in a forward direction. She was happy with that.
Ignoring any more pithy comments from her inner voice, she turned and opened the door to her bedroom; the light from the hall falling across the room illuminating the form of her sister curled up on Catherine's bed.
Quickly shutting off the light in the hall she remained in the doorway and looked at Elizabeth, not displeased to have her company tonight; even though her sister tended to take up most of the bed and steal all of the covers.
It was comforting to know that her sister was right there within reach. She could have lost her sister today to a madman who believed that he had the upper hand -that he controlled the situation- and she had worked tirelessly to prove him to be so very wrong.
At ten-years-old she had experienced first-hand what it was like to be and completely and utterly powerless. She had no more been able to prevent her parent's murder than have a say in her future. She had been like a stray leaf caught within the clutches of a capricious and cruel wind.
Drifting on the ill-fated wind she had become emotionally detached from everything around her. The only thing she had allowed herself to still care about was her sister.
And then, within the harsh, grey confines of the 'crisis center,' without friends, family or a single person to trust, she had discovered that she could take power, gain power, because information and knowledge was powerful.
Within the center everything appeared orderly and controlled; the needs of the patients their greatest concern. But the reality was so very different. It wasn't that the care workers didn't try or didn't care. There were those who really did and tried to help and made a difference. But underneath it all, when the lights were turned out in the patients' bedrooms, when they were grouped together during free time, and when they were walking the halls, violence, theft and intimidation ruled with an iron fist.
Release from the center had been her highest priority and survival her second. She had always been quiet, observant, logical, and had a calm, controlled temperament. And she had learned to use these traits to her advantage. She organized her room with military precision. If anything was gone or had been moved, she knew it immediately and was then able to figure out who the thief or thieves were. She watched the faces of the other patients, searching for signs of impending violence before it happened. She hid her own thoughts and emotions from others and learned to read the expressions of others and anticipated their actions before they had even begun them.
She had negotiated the underbelly of the institution and was able to manipulate it to her advantage, being released from the facility far sooner than had been initially recommended.
Her sister believed that she had changed while in the center, and maybe she had. She had been told enough times that she was broken, and eventually, she believed it. And if she was broken, well, she could accept that. She was overly observant, painfully organized, and still hid her emotions, but that was just a part of who she was now; it was probably who she had been, but perhaps it had gone unnoticed because it had been to a lesser degree.
Regardless, she had dealt with her past, and then left it behind her. To move forward she had to leave the ghosts and nightmares of the past where they belonged; in the past.
This didn't mean that the horrors of her past didn't try to rear their ugly heads every now and then; rattling the cage she had locked them away in. But she only stared at them from the other side of the bars, watching them gnash their teeth in frustration and rake their claws across the ground in fury when the bars did not bend or break.
The nightmares only had the power to hurt you if you let them.
Elizabeth rolled over and mumbled something in her sleep, disturbing Catherine's dark ruminations.
Slowly, Catherine made her way to the bathroom, gently closing the door and turning on the light. She removed her clothes and slipped into her pajamas; exhaustion from the night's events gripping her mind as well as her body.
Turning off the light, she opened the door and shuffled into bed, pulling the covers out from her sister's cocooned body and wrapping them tightly around her own.
"He won't be in jail long," Elizabeth's groggy voice broke the stillness of the night.
"I know," Catherine agreed. "But don't worry, El, get some sleep. He won't ever bother you again," she assured her sister.
"Promise?" Elizabeth asked, sounding more like a child than the grown woman she was.
"I promise," she reassured Elizabeth before rolling over, closing her eyes, and falling into a deep sleep.
Raphael strode into the living room, wondering where the hell everyone had gone. He knew Leonardo was supposed to be at April's, but he didn't know where his two younger brothers had disappeared to.
Grumbling under his breath, he made his way to the couch and flopped down upon the worn upholstery, picking up the remote and turning on the TV.
The news was on and he was about to flip the channel, hoping there was a hockey game on, when an image caught his attention. His mind couldn't seem to catch up to what his eyes were seeing, which appeared to be Catherine being manhandled by a guy with a gun.
On his feet, his heart lodged in his throat, the adrenalin pounding through his veins, he recognized the foyer of the Brownstone, and not even paying attention to what the news anchor was saying, ran from the living room intent on ripping limb from limb, the man who dared to touch Catherine.
Raphael could barely even breathe. The sound of his feet pounding upon the bricks of the lair as he headed towards the garage echoing around him. His vision was nothing but a red haze of fury, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a silent snarl of rage.
Slamming right into Michelangelo as his brother exited the garage, Raphael righted himself and glared at his baby brother as Donatello walked out a moment later.
"What's the rush, Raph?" Michelangelo asked catching his own balance and rubbing the side of his head gently with his hand.
"Catherine's in trouble," was his terse reply as he brushed past his two younger brothers.
"Hold up, Raph." Donatello said as he reached out and snagged his arm, pulling him to a stop.
Raphael rounded on his younger brother, hand raised into a threatening fist. He was agitated, angry and if he was being truthful with himself, terrified. Each moment he wasted here with his brothers was another moment of Catherine at the hands of that animal.
"Whoa, Raph. Hey, calm down, Cat's fine...well...fine-ish," Michelangelo attempted to reassure him.
"I just saw-" he argued, but Donatello cut him off.
"Easy, Raph, that footage was from about an hour ago. The guy who was threatening Catherine and Elizabeth was just arrested."
He stared at his younger brother dumbfounded.
"I know it looks bad, but don't worry," Michelangelo began, "Leo was there."
Raphael's eyes narrowed into deadly slits of rage and Michelangelo swallowed loudly, taking a nervous step back.
"Then if Leo was there, why the hell was Catherine tossed around like a rag doll? And why, if Leo was there, was there enough of this guy left to actually arrest?" he asked very slowly and very evenly.
Donatello and Michelangelo shared a quick look and Donatello carefully began speaking, telling him of Catherine's plan and the video recording that Donatello had streamed live all over the city.
By the end of the recital Donatello's words had gotten softer, and less sure of themselves. His eyes continuously darted towards Michelangelo as if looking for support, and not finding any, finally stammered to a halt.
Raphael wasn't sure who he was angrier with at the moment, the human who had assaulted Catherine, his younger brothers for helping Catherine with her plan, Catherine for coming up with the insane plan, or Leonardo for not doing a better job of keeping Catherine safe. His anger circled around and around before it finally settled upon the target he would most easily be able to vent his fury on.
"Raph…" Michelangelo began hesitantly and the look he gave his baby brother silenced him. Raphael cracked his knuckles together and took a threatening step forward.
Michelangelo gave a squeak of fear and bolted. Raphael slid his gaze to his other brother.
"Show me the footage you got, Donny," Raphael ordered.
After watching the footage a few times he didn't feel much better, in fact his anger only increased. No matter how many times Donatello reassured him that both women were in no danger, all he could see was the human with the gun, grabbing Catherine by the throat and throwing her across the room.
Half an hour later he still felt his anger, seething and boiling just below the surface of his apparent calm.
His two younger brothers had wisely removed themselves from his presence, and for this he was grateful. He felt as if he had to enact some sort of violence and did not wish it to fall upon Michelangelo or Donatello. He didn't blame them for agreeing to Catherine's infuriatingly dangerous plan. He knew that all Catherine would have to do was smile that sweet, warm smile that she so easily gave to his other brothers, and they would have caved to her every whim.
But Leonardo should have stopped it, and if he couldn't, he should have done a hell of a lot more than just stand back and watch.
Pulled from these thoughts as Leonardo strolled from the entrance of the lair and through the living room, Raphael unfolded himself from the couch and stood. His body shook with repressed fury, which was focused squarely upon his older brother.
Leonardo's gaze shifted towards Raphael as he emerged from the darkened living room.
"Raph?" Leonardo questioned before leaping back and out of the way of Raphael's white knuckled fist as it missed its mark and flew past Leonardo's jaw.
"You son of a BITCH!" Raphael snarled, acid dripping from his lips as he charged his older brother, his other fist connecting with Leonardo's upraised forearm as he blocked Raphael's attack.
"Raphael!" Leonardo snapped tersely and the arrogant tone of his brother's voice only infuriated him more.
"You should have been protecting her!" Raphael accused as he confronted his brother.
Leonardo's eyes widened with understanding and then he retreated a few steps, face growing grim. "I was," Leonardo defended, voice filled with regret.
His brother's words only infuriated him more. How dare his brother try to defend his actions, or rather, his blatant inaction.
Pulling his sais from his belt he faced off against his older brother.
Leonardo took another step back. "I'm not going to fight you, Raph."
"Then you're gonna be in a world of hurt if you don't defend yourself!" Raphael warned.
"You don't understand, I-" Leonardo was cut off by Raphael's next strike, which Leonardo again managed to avoid.
After a few more attacks one finally struck home, Raphael's fist breaking through his brother's defences and striking his left shoulder.
His older brother angrily pulled his katana blades from his back and they began to circle each other.
"You're a coward," Raphael growled viciously, pulling out the lowest blow he could think of.
Leonardo paled and gritted his teeth angrily at Raphael's words. "I protected her!"
"The hell you did!" Raphael yelled lunging at his brother, his sai lashing out but caught by his brother's blade. Raphael pushed in close so that he was beak to beak with his brother.
"I swear to you, Raph, I was protecting Elizabeth, keeping her safe," Leonardo insisted.
"Elizabeth?" Raphael growled in confusion. "Elizabeth wasn't the one who had a hand around her throat. That bastard coulda broken Catherine's neck or choked the life out of her, and instead of helping her, you just stood there and did nothing!" Raphael pushed his brother away with his last words and quickly spun, levelling a spin kick at his brother's head.
The heel of his boot connected with Leonardo's jaw sending him flying backwards. His brother slowly stood, wiping the blood from his split lip away with the back of his hand.
Leonardo's eyes narrowed and darkened with anger. "There was a gun aimed at me and Elizabeth, and I wasn't about to move and risk him shooting anyone in that room!" he fumed, punctuating each of his words with a swift, precise, attack.
"An empty gun," Raphael taunted.
"I didn't know it was empty!" Leonardo protested. "I would have done anything in my power to stop Catherine from having to suffer one moment at the hands of that monster, but I didn't dare move!"
Raphael blocked each of his brother's strikes, but as his brother's fury grew, Raphael began to have difficulty holding off each subsequent attack.
"I know I should have done something, but I couldn't!" Leonardo continued furiously.
Raphael felt his eyes widen as his own anger banked under his brother's sudden and vicious assault. Gritting his teeth together he battled to gain ground against his brother, whose anger had grown to the point where he was walking along the edge; and Raphael couldn't help but want to push Leonardo off it.
"You could have, but you didn't," Raphael goaded, playing off his brother's own insecurities as well as Raphael's own opinion of the situation. "You know I'm right. You've already ran it all through that head of yours; everything you could have done, but didn't."
"You weren't THERE!" Leonardo shouted back, holding onto his temper by the thinnest of threads.
"If I had been, I woulda made sure they were both safe! I woulda made sure Catherine wasn't assaulted. And I sure as hell wouldn't have let that piece of shit walk out of that door without a scratch. You messed up and failed Catherine."
"NO!" Leonardo shouted in denial. "I had to make a decision-"
"Which was stand there and do nothing," Raphael interrupted acidly.
"I'm not going to stand here and fight with you, Raphael. You weren't there," Leonardo stated firmly. "Maybe I did make the wrong decision, but it is the one I stand by; the one that Catherine wanted."
"And I call bullshit!" Raphael snarled. "If she wanted you to protect her sister, then fine! But if she's convinced you that she wasn't scared or was fine with everything that happened, then she's one hell of a liar, 'cause I can tell you right now that she was terrified."
"I know she was!" Leonardo shot back, face filling with guilt.
"You didn't have a clue!" Raphael accused, lunging at his brother. Their weapons locked, the echo of steel against steel reverberating around them. "Because if you knew how scared she was, then you woulda done something. You woulda tried to help her," Raphael growled lowly. "But you didn't!" Raphael shouted pushing his brother back.
"I-" Leonardo's words were cut off as Raphael's fist drove itself into Leonardo's gut. There was a loud whoosh of air and Leonardo stumbled back.
His fury renewed in the face of his brother's excuses, Raphael relentlessly pursued Leonardo who desperately defended himself, his brother's own frustration and anger growing until Raphael was put on the defensive.
Leonardo's fist slipped past Raphael's defences and connected with his jaw.
Stunned by the force of the blow, Raphael was unable to move as quickly as he needed to in order to block his brother's snap kick, aimed squarely at the center of his plastron.
A blur of purple and olive green caught his eye as Donatello barreled into Leonardo, pushing him away and unbalancing him so that Leonardo crashed to the floor.
"Leo! What are you doing!?" Donatello's voice was raised in panic.
Leonardo, panting with exertion, visibly paled as he realized what he had been about to do.
Donatello turned to Raphael, his face full of worry and fear which only cause Raphael's anger to burn even more brightly.
"Raph, are you okay?" Donatello asked gently, approaching him and reaching out towards Raphael's plastron.
Raphael pulled his lips away from his teeth in a snarl and batted away his brother's hand. "Leave me the hell alone, Donny."
"What do you two think you are doing?!" Donatello asked, anger replacing his concern. "Raph, you can't-"
Raphael's fury boiled over and he interrupted his brother's reprimand. "I'm fine!" he bit out angrily. "Stay the fuck outta my business, and stay the hell away from me, Donny," he snapped, turning on his heel and making his way to the garage.
"Raph!" Leonardo yelled, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have-"
"Fuck you, Leo." Raphael shot back furiously, not sure if he was angrier over the events of the evening, or the fact that his brothers still treated him as if he was a piece of fragile glass that had been broken and glued back together, but was still too delicate to touch.
He was the one that his brothers now protected. The one who they forced to wear the protective vest Donatello had designed to take a blow or impact so his plastron didn't have to. And if he were honest with himself, he had a fear of fighting without the damn thing. He hated the fucking vest as much as he needed it.
And he had forgotten. His mind had been filled with nothing but the quick flash of terror that had entered and vanished from Catherine's eyes so quickly he could almost have believed that he had imagined it, but he hadn't. And that flash of emotion twisted his heart into knots and made him burn with helplessness over not having been there to protect her. And so intent had he been on punishing Leonardo for not preventing Catherine from being hurt; so intent was he on taking out his frustrations on his older brother, that he had forgotten that he was a liability.
If Raphael had been there, if he had been in the same position as Leonardo had been in, he wouldn't have been able to do a damn thing differently. In fact, if Raphael had been there, someone probably would have been hurt or killed, and this fact made him feel both furious and sick to his stomach.
Studiously ignoring the reason why he felt so protective of Catherine, and why he was so angry with both his brother and himself, he strode into the garage, threw his leg over his bike, and slammed his helmet onto his head. Michelangelo came running up to him, but Raphael started his bike, revving the engine to drown out his baby brother's words. He popped the clutch and twisted the throttle, peeling out from the garage in a plume of grey smoke, and the smell of burning rubber.
Awwhhh poor Raphie:(
Hope everyone enjoyed! And the next chapter will be a Cat/Raph chapter:)