Silence

I own nothing.

"Definitely pneumonia," Donatello hissed as he hooked the stethoscope around his neck and felt the glands in my neck, "It's mild and Leo has been treating it from the beginning it looks like, but Mikey's fever has me worried. How did you know what the diagnosis was, Leo?"

Leo didn't answer as Raph snarled in the background. My oldest brother bent and lifted me in his arms and walked out of the room without a sound as the rest of our family scrambled after him.

I whimpered as I was laid in another bed and opened my eyes to see that Leo had brought me to our makeshift infirmary in Donnie's lab. The trip here had been hard on me and I panted as the rest of our family entered the lab while Leo tucked me under the fresh bedding.

"Cocky Bastard," Raph gritted out as Leo stroked my cheek to soothe me without looking up at anyone.

"At least he's basically giving me permission to treat Mikey now," Donnie grumbled as he pinched at my skin lightly, "Fever is causing dehydration despite all of the water Leo's been pouring down our bro's throat."

Donnie immediately went to work to ease an IV line into my hand as Leo turned my head so I couldn't watch the needle be inserted. I hated needles! I closed my eyes and drifted back to sleep with Leo holding one of my hands in his. I must have slept for a long time because I woke with Leo wrapped around me sound asleep, but he startled awake the minute I shifted slightly. He gave me a quiet sign as I heard someone approaching the bed.

"Child, you are awake," Master Splinter softly greeted as I looked up at him, "Michelangelo, I need you to tell me how you feel."

I did feel a little better, but instead of answering, I snuggled closer to Leo and remained silent.

"My son, if you need an apology in order to speak to me, then you have it wholeheartedly," Sensei continued as Leo stroked my arm, "I was out of sorts and acted inappropriately and I hurt you enough that you ran away. I take full responsibility for my actions and cannot tell you how sorry I am for accusing you of being irresponsible and telling untruths. I was wrong."

I wanted to say something since Father sounded so sincere, but I kept my tongue and allowed Leo to lean me up so I could drink some water. I nearly grinned when I heard the small grumble of "stubborn" that Sensei let slip before he calmed himself.

"Anything?" Donnie asked Father as he came into the room when Leo was settling me back down on my pillow.

Master Splinter shook his head and Donnie sighed as he began to examine me once again. Leo patted my hand and rose and walked past Raph to exit the lab.

"I'm goin' ta kill him. I swear ta God," Raph snarled as he stomped up to my bed, "Don't let Fearless control ya, Mikey. Ya can talk ta us if ya want."

I blinked up at my amber-eyed brother and closed my eyes as Raph cursed. It kind of felt good to see how out of sorts my silence was making everybody. Teach you to yell at me, Meanies.

"Eat this, Mikey," Donnie instructed as I opened my eyes to see that he had crushed up more antibiotic pills in some applesauce which was the only way I could get the stuff down thank you very much.

I obediently opened my mouth and allowed him to spoon the applesauce into my mouth in three, separate spoonfuls as I swallowed painfully. I hated sore throats. I shivered and closed my eyes again as I felt Raph tucking the blankets tighter around me as he continued to grouse under his breath.

"What is Leo doing?" Donnie asked as I felt him place a cool cloth on my forehead as Raph's footsteps walked to the door.

"Looks like he's heatin' some more soup for Mikey," Raph reported.

"Good," Donnie breathed as he sighed and leaned back as a thrill ran through me at the prospect of food, "Mikey needs to eat something to fight the infection. We have also got to figure out a way to get the two to start speaking with us again."

"Perhaps the two of you need to apologize to your little brother as I have," Master Splinter suggested, "Leonardo's protective instincts are in full use right now and if he hears your apologies maybe he will forgive us our transgressions."

I didn't hear my brother's responses because I drifted before I was gently shaken awake. I looked up at Leo as he supported my torso while he piled some pillow up for me to be able to lean against the wall before settling me down and holding a spoon to my lips that I gratefully sipped. Donnie, Raph, and Sensei watched as Leo fed me as much soup as I was able to eat before assisting me with drinking the medicated tea.

"Mikey, I want to apologize for yelling at you," Donnie began from behind Leo's back as my oldest brother helped me lay back down, "I'm so sorry for acting like a real butt towards you and making you say you hated us."

I nearly snorted at the word "butt;" however, Leo's twinkling eyes warned me to keep silent and I remained passive.

"Me too, Mikey," Raph added, "I'm real sorry, Kid. We really care for ya and acted like total asses. I hope ya can forgive us because it hurt ta hear ya use tha word 'hate.' That word don't sound right comin' from your mouth, Bro."

Again, I stayed silent except for the coughing fit that left me breathless. Leo leaned me up and patted my shell until I could breathe easier again as our family panicked behind us. My older brother realized that sitting up was helping my breathing so he rocked me gently as I fell back to sleep.

Time passed, and my fever eventually broke, but I was weak and unable to get around on my own yet. Leo had allowed Donnie to treat me until I was past any danger point and then he removed me from the lab and took care of me by himself in his room. Donnie and Raph became permanent fixtures in Leo's broken doorframe. Leo and I had officially not spoken one word in front of our family in three weeks. In fact, the lair was always unnaturally quiet these days except for the occasional sounds from the television.

Donnie begged, Raph threatened, and Master Splinter calmly wheedled, but Leo and I spoke not a word or even acknowledged our other family members. Raph began to test the waters to see if he could break Leo. Our red-masked brother cursed like a salty-sea sailor, blew up over the least little things, refused to go to practice sometimes, and began to break curfew by staying out late into the night. Leo remained silent and would simply sit with me on the couch watching television as Raph fumed around us.

Master Splinter tried next by insisting that Leo join in training sessions again. Leo would create a pallet for me to lie on in the dojo and go through perfectly executed katas while ignoring the lessons that Sensei was teaching. It was kind of funny to watch our usually unflappable Father get red underneath his fur and have to turn away when Leo ignored his orders. This family drama was getting really interesting.

Donnie grew withdrawn and sad. He had stopped begging and tried to do little things to show that he was sorry. First, he repaired Leo's door. Then he refurbished a recliner that allowed me to stay in the living room longer since I could lay back and still be able to watch television or nap. If I shivered a blanket would appear. A cup of Leo's favorite tea would be set beside him. The newest issues of my comic books would show up in Leo's room and the list went on and on.

Finally, one evening Raph left the lair and refused to come home even when Donnie got him on the phone. Leo said nothing and simply lay awake as I slept against his chest. The next morning my eldest brother carried me back out to the living room early and he and I watched television while I leaned against him with a blanket over my legs. Raph burst into the lair door and he and Donnie argued loudly as Master Splinter tried to intervene.

"What do ya think about that, Fearless?" Raph growled as he came and blocked the television, "I was out all night! Ya goin' ta lecture me? Tell me that rules are set up ta protect me? Screw ya! I don't care!"

Leo simply stared though him and Raph stomped away with a curse before stomping back up and kneeling down before us.

"Say somethin'!" he begged as he grabbed Leo's shoulders and shook him, "Tell me whatever ya got ta, but stop with tha silent treatment. Yell at me! Tell me I was stupid for stayin' out all night! Ya too, Mikey! Talk ta us!"

"Please?" Donnie joined in as he squatted next to me and took my hand, "Speak, Mikey. Tell us how we hurt you and that we were wrong. Chirp, bark, squeal, squeak, yell, scream, anything. Our family is falling apart because we were stupid. Leo was right to keep us away from you, Bro, we don't deserve a brother like you if we hurt you so badly that you ran away from us."

I gulped when tears started down Donnie's cheeks and he wiped them away as Master Splinter nodded sadly to Leo and I as our father looked shaken and worn.

"God, Leo," Raph whispered as he hung his head, "I've wanted ya ta shut up my whole life and now I'd give anythin' for a single lecture. Tell me I'm a hothead that needs ta control my temper. Tell me that I need ta be more focused. Say somethin', Fearless! I don't want tha last words I hear from ya two be that ya have disowned us as family and that Mikey hates us."

I smiled when Leo's head fell back and he burst into laughter as the rest of our family looked flabbergasted. I giggled as Leo had tears running down his face as he cackled in glee while he held his stomach and shook on the couch. Donnie fell back on his bottom as Raph looked at Leo horrified.

"You…and lectures…can't believe…never thought happen!" Leo snorted as he rolled in glee, "Raph…you…Donnie and Sensei."

I grinned as my other two brothers turned to look at me in confusion. Finally! The stand-off was over.

"It's okay, Donnie and Raph," I whispered as my purple-masked brother tearfully crawled up on the couch beside me and I allowed him to pull me in a hug as Raph yanked playfully on my mask ties, "I forgive you. You too, Father."

"Thank, God," Donnie sobbed into my shoulder as Master Splinter placed his hand on my shoulder, "I'm so sorry, Mikey."

"So ya two have been playin' us?" Raph hissed as Leo got his laughter under control.

"No," Leo denied as he narrowed his eyes, "I was angry as shell at you three. Would it surprise you to know that I may have a temper worse than yours, Raphael?"

Raph blinked at our older brother as Leo yanked him up on the couch arm next to us and smiled up at him. I could tell Raph was a little unsure, but he smirked down at Leo before grinning over at me.

"I've just learned how to control the anger thanks to Master Splinter," Leo sighed as he reached over and wiped Donnie's tears away, "I just didn't have the energy to try anymore when Mikey was discovered in the condition he was in."

"Leonardo, you have shown the three of us great disrespect," Father advised before frowning when Leo shook his head.

"I am sorry to say, but you are wrong, Sensei," my blue-masked brother denied, "I have noticed a pattern of blame that has been writhing through our family for years. 'Mikey's fault for being the baby.' 'Donnie's fault for being too studious.' 'Raph's fault for being the hothead.' 'Leo's fault for being too uptight.' 'Master Splinter's fault for being too old-fashioned.' This family has put themselves into boxes and lashes out at one another without thought or feelings anymore for the other person. We nearly lost Mikey because of this blame game, Father, and I snapped. I was done. It is hard to try and protect a family that is ripping itself apart from the inside."

"So you shut down and shut us out," Master Splinter nearly groaned as he pulled up a chair and sat down.

"Yes," Leo admitted, "Do you know what it felt like to see my baby brother nearly frozen to death all because the ones who should have been caring for him turned on him like a bunch of sharks? Then to top everything off he winds up sick because of nearly freezing to death. My temper got the better of me so I took my baby brother and decided to shield him from the rest of you."

"Ya told Don and I that we didn't have tha right ta call Mikey our brother," Raph accused before freezing when Leo took his hand and squeezed it soothingly.

"By that point, I wanted to prove a point," Leo offered as Raph frowned, "I wanted everyone to realize just how blessed we were to have one another."

We all looked at one another and sighed. Leo was right. Donnie squeezed me closer as Raph pulled his hand gently away from Leo, but leaned against our older brother's shoulder as if he needed to reassure himself that Leo was still there.

"I hoped that maybe I could help the family pull back together even if I had to be the common enemy," my older brother added, "What started as a temper tantrum on my part became a quest to try and repair the damage to the family. I was the one who told Mikey to not say a word to anyone."

"And it was really, really hard," I grinned out as everyone nodded in understanding at how much I enjoyed talking, "I wanted to say so much because first I was angry at you and then I felt bad for you and then I just wanted to be able to talk like we used to talk. I've missed the fun we used to have as a family. All the fun times together have just gone away and when you guys yelled at me, I wanted to go away and be someone else. I even choose a new name and everything."

"You guys are going to love this one," Leo chuckled out with a raised eye ridge as Donnie and Raph looked curiously between the two of us, "Mikey yakked my ear off when we were alone and he finally felt better."

"I was going to be 'Bruce Kick-ya-shell,'" I chirped as everyone laughed and Raph leaned over Leo to give me a gentle noogie, "I was going to be the lone turtle in the night."

"Never happen," Raph huffed, "Ya a part of our team so ya ain't a lone turtle. I'm sorry, Bro, for bein' mean ta ya not only tha day that ya ran away, but all tha other times that ya didn't deserve my anger."

"Me too, Mikey," Donnie hiccupped, "I've not been a very good brother or friend to you lately."

"And I have placed myself too much on a pedestal of great wisdom to realize that I too make mistakes," Father offered as he leaned down and nuzzled me, "You are my wild Michelangelo, but you have never been a liar and I had no right of accusing you of being one. Do you forgive me, Child?"

"Always," I beamed out as I took one hand from each of my brothers and Sensei to hold, "I got over being mad like forever ago."

"I am sorry for losing my temper," Leo admitted before startling when Father leaned down and nuzzled him gently as well.

"Only a great leader can stand strong against one's he loves to continue to protect," Master Splinter instructed, "It took great bravery on your part to continue to make your point. I am a ninja master and yet I could not break your will, Leonardo. I am impressed."

Leo grinned before jerking in surprise and a little pain when our father slapped him in the back of the head.

"Do not put us through that again, my son," Sensei continued as Raph, Donnie, and I giggled, "We will all work harder at being more understanding of one another. The blaming must end and I am glad you brought this to our attention. We need to stop hurting one another and we will begin steps to work on this starting now."

"Why did you slap Leo?" I asked feeling a little protective of my big brother as I pulled Leo into a hug and kissed his boo-boo even as Leo blushed at my actions.

"Because you and Leo scared me," Father admitted as he stroked a cheeks on each one of us, "I felt like I was losing my family one by one. I should have realized that you had an ulterior motive, Leonardo. You have placed this family back on a path of mending our differences and you also taught us a second lesson. Sometimes silence is not golden. Thank you for all you have done, my son."

Leo blushed darker as Donnie and I beamed at him. Raph growled and noogied Leo's head hard even as our oldest brother laughed as he squinted one eye closed.

"Group hug!" I squealed as I yanked on each of my brother's hands.

It felt good to get cuddles from everyone and I even saw Raph and Leo smile softly at one another for just a second. This whole episode had started with a freezing room, but now it was ending with a pretty warm one as we all chattered happily together like we used to do when we were younger. I was so glad that the silence had finally been broken.

The end.