Disclaimer: I do not own the turtles~
Warnings: this is Turtles in the Wild West. there will be religious views, there will be prejudice, there will be emotional conflicts, there will be blood, and gunfights, there will be a lot of stuff in this piece. There will be Turtlecest where that will include sexual relations between the turtles. It's heavy RaphxDon. There will be a lot of triggery things that could happen in this story, so I'm warning you now. Otherwise - I hope you enjoy because I've actually had a lot of fun writing this story.
"The lumber is in the barn. I ordered it last week and Joel dropped it off just this morning. It's perfect timing really. Months ago-"
"Then why were ya beatin' my ass at poker for cash?" Raphael asked as he limped after the priest. He had swapped his holy clothes for some pratical ones that he held up with a modified gun belt that he had made to hold all his tools. It was genius, all the various pockets and loops to hang all the necessary things they would need for the roof. He almost wanted one just for the hell of it.
Donatello smiled, his eyes still red and tired looking, but he had cheered up some and the prospect of getting to work had certainly put him in a right pleasant mood.
"Because I had a generous loan given to the church to pay for the supplies. I was to pay back this loan when the church was able, and the Lord presented me with an opportunity to do just that."
"The bank actually gave ya a loan?" He asked, stepping into the barn after him, closing the door. He expected the wheels above to catch and stick, but the door slid easily shut and he slammed it from the clean glide.
"No." Donatello shook his head, bending down and lifting up a two-by-four slat and hefted it up on his shoulder.
"Well who then?" Raphael hefted one of his own up onto his shoulder and followed the priest, loading up a flatbed wagon with the lumber.
"A generous citizen of the town."
Raphael glared and Donatello simply smiled and walked past him, back to the pile. He had a little hop to his step and Raphael grumbled, his face heating with annoyance. "Oh yeah? Who's this 'generous citizen?'"
He rolled his eyes and hefted the timber. He found a rhythm with the Padre as they worked and sweat gathered quickly on them both. "Seems this Mr. Malone is an aweful righteous fella in town."
The smile that staggered over Donnie's face brought a frown to Raphael's as dark and emotionally raw eyes glazed over and he grunted to hide it as he lifted another bit of wood.
"I'm supposin' he's generous for a reason-"
"No, he isn't. I think he's the one who needs the most help." He turned quickly, his pace increasing. By the time Raph had gotten three layed out on the flatbed, the priest had laid out seven.
He backed off every time he brought it up, like a dog tucking its tail. Talking religion wasn't getting the Padre to talk, it was shutting him up instead Raphael had found over the last few days of staying with the priest. With a huff and hard slap of wood, he turned on the man and scowled. "Well shit, Padre, if you ain't makin' me look like a damn lazy sack of bones. Slow your ass down or I'll force ya down." He glowered, arms folding over his chest.
Donatello blinked at him and Raphael resisted the urge to swallow as his belly flipped. Then Donnie laughed, full and loud and it made him light up like the sun. He decided then and there that that was how the Padre should always look, no more of this sad and polite man who had annoyed the hell out of him on that first day in town. Don was just as much a smartass as he was. They had danced around one another that yesterday, each trying too hard to be respectable, and trying too hard to not get in each others way. Donnie had given up his nice soft bed in favor of sleeping on a cot he kept under the stairs and argued that Raph's body needed the comfort to heal. Raphael hadn't been pleased, but come night, Don had glared at him and ordered him to lie down and Raphael had found himself complying like a dog as the Padre grumbled, harrumphed, and gathered up a few items before he left the room.
It had been his first glimpse at the real Donatello, and Raphael was impressed. More than he was before.
Donatello placed his hands on his hips and smiled, back straight and he looked taller suddenly, like a weight had been lifted from him. "Well then, Mr. Raphael with no last name, get your backside in gear and try and keep up. I'm not going to slow down just because you are jealous a little old priest like me is whoopin' your ass."
Raphael smirked at that, the challenge made his blood sing. "I'll show you who's whoopin' whose ass." He took a step toward him and Donatello puffed up, eyes daring him to do it, his mouth quirked at the corner.
"Father Malone! Father! Come quick! It's Sheriff Jones!" A boy no more than ten years old, raced down the road and nearly tripped over his two oversized feet in his haste.
"Cody?" Donnie said and dropped their banter to jog out to meet him. Raphael saw the Padre's face pale.
The boy gasped for breath, eyes wild. "Doc sent me to get ya!"
Donatello turned and ran down the street - and for some reason, Raphael hadn't thought the priest would be able to run like that - all raw and open desperation.
He limped forward, rubbed at his thigh as he went, and the kid shot him a glare. He glared right back and if the kid were a dog, he would have had every hair on his body bristled up and a snarl on his lips like a rabid beast. "You should get out of town. My Pa says you're a migrant, and migrants ain't nothin' by trouble."
Raphael scowled, "And who's goin' ta help the Padre? Well? I don't see you droppin' by none to help. Don't think you should be runnin' your mouth over matters you don't know nothin' about, kid."
"My mama says he's the best priest this town has ever had! Don't you go talkin' about him like you're friends or somethin' with him!"
"I'm more his friend than you are, squirt. Get out of here." He waved him off and the kid at least had the decency to jump, but then he huffed and marched off.
Raphael shook his head and turned, shuffling toward the hospital. By the time he got there, he was hot and sweatier than before, his leg hurt like a bitch and the towns people crowded outside murmured and hissed at his arrival. He ignored them and ground his teeth to walk up the stairs like normal and stepped into the hospital with a slam of the door to make his point. They could just kiss his ass for all he cared.
The clean smell washed over him. It didn't lessen the heat, but it did seem to absorb the animosity that waited for him. Though it did nothing to stiffle the sobs from that Miss O'Neal lady with her face burried in the sunshine yellow quilt on the bed.
"Out!" LH barked and waved him away from the Sherrif's room.
"Like hell. Ain't goin' nowhere, Doc."
The crocodile hissed in his chest, his parting his lips ever so faintly that his teeth caught the sunlight in a white threat before they snapped together, but he turned back to the bed and threw a bloodied bandage away from him and into a corner where a basket sat.
Inching into the room, Raphael spotted the Padre near the door, holding a bible with his finger hooked to keep his page. He prayed, a soft thing, lips moved and his words a whisper. Raphael reached out and squeezed Donnie's shoulder. His head snapped around, but his features softened, showing his distress from the man lying on the bed, so gaunt and weak.
A ragged gasp tore from the bed and the Doc's patient arched his back, twisting against the forceps that dug into his arm.
"Nurse!" LH barked and two of the three nurses in the room with him immediately took charge and forced the man down onto the bed, and one held his arm steady as he dug into the muscle, snorting in frustration till his eyes brightened and he drew the metal clamp free, a lump of twisted metal pulling free of Sheriff Jones' flesh. He dumped the bullet fragment into a dish with a clink. Just like that, Jones collapsed, panting, and LH proceeded to clean and wrap the wound.
"It's quite alright Miss O'Neal, I got the last of it. I'm certain this time. I believe that was why his fever has refused to break. I'm sorry to have put you through this. It was an error on my part-"
"April!" Jones screamed and jerked upright in bed, eyes wild and nearly white, pupils blown as he searched unseeing, hands searching.
"I'm right here." April shushed him and wiped at her wet cheeks as she reached for him. The moment she touched him, he grabbed at her, pulled her close, panted against her neck, and sweated, but he refused to let her go.
"April..." he chanted and pressed his brow to her shoulder.
LH allowed it, at least until the man's shoulder relaxed and Raphael felt his own relax in the process. He squeezed Donnie's shoulder and the Padre fell back against the wall and released a breath in a grand rush. Limping forward, Raphael helped LH extract Miss O'Neal from the man's grasp and he pushed the man to lie back down in his bed. LH glared at him, but didn't say anything as Jones began to thrash and it was through Raphael's physical strength alone that kept the man down and from flinging the nurses across the room.
"Sheriff!" He snapped and Jones halted, grabbing at Raphael's wrist.
"Keep them safe!" His voice rasped dry and rough like his face, stubbled over and white. "He tried…. That bastard, the big one. Don't let him." His nails dug into his wrist and Raphael squeezed his shoulder in return. The man relaxed minutely, eyes closed. "He tried..."
"Don't worry none, Sheriff, I got your people looked after real good."
"He tried to take her..." he whispered between just them. Raphael frowned, his brows drawn tight. What the hell...
"See if you can't feed him some broth," LH's voice broke into his thoughts as he spoke to his nurses, hands wiped clean on a towel. "Then give him a bit of ether and see if he can get some rest."
"Yes, Doctor." They all curtsied with a slight dip of their knees and then got to work; one carried the basket of bloodied bandages, another headed for the kitchens to wash up and make the soup, and the last politely shooed the audience away.
April refused to leave and Raphael smirked, liking the fiery redhead more and more. If he heard right, that there lady of the east just threatened to wring the neck of any nurse who tried to chase her off. He limped out with Donnie, an unspoken agreement to walk together as they exited the hospital.
The Padre smiled and nodded to the town, his hands shook ever so slightly but he never let it show in his voice. "He's all right – for now at least. He needs all your prayers. His fever still hasn't gone down; and Miss O'Neal, and Doctor Leatherhead, they both need your support, just as we all do during this hard time." He said, jaw tight.
For a second there, Raphael could have sworn he saw the priest flinch.
"We need to focus on us as a whole. It will remind us that we are not alone." He finished, and some of the people looked down and shuffled off, or they nodded, others still glared more at him than listen to the Padre.
Grunting, Raphael reached for the Padre and rubbed his neck as if he were a child. He tugged him after him as they pushed through the people and he focused on trying to walk as smoothly as possible with as slight of a limp as he could. It was strange, his leg hurt, but not enough to justify doing nothing and lazing about all day. It was why he forced his hand and made Donnie let him help move the lumber. In fact, as he thought of the work needed doing on the church; he picked up his pace and made it back to the barn to get right back to hauling the wood onto the flatbed.
Donatello joined him a few minutes later, and he watched him work. Arms folded over his stomach, dark eyes lingered on him, and he dwelled in his head as the present limped past him with load after load.
Dust and sweat coated Raphael's skin in a muddy mess, and it felt good. He always had liked working his body. He had loved working the ranch back home, herding the cattle, hunting now and again for supper, hauling hay and driving the mules as they plowed the half acre his ma liked to keep on as a home garden. He used to chase down his brothers in the summer, pretending to be the big bad wolf; herding his sisters like a sheep dog when they strayed too far chasing fireflies; the whole lot giggling as he shooed them into the house for supper. He frowned and slapped the last of the timber down, his breathing labored, the air thin and dry.
"I should be focusin' on killin' that son-uv-a-bitch."
Donatello remained silent and Raphael felt the unsaid words upon the back of his neck like the desert sun without a hat. He swallowed, cottonmouth and hard. But the Padre didn't say anything, instead, Raphael listened to his quiet footsteps walk toward him, even, calm, like he was approaching a spooked horse – and he supposed wryly he was.
"I have a bath. You should wash up while I get supper fixed up."
Raphael frowned, looking down at him from over his shoulder. Donnie wasn't looking at him, instead he stared out at the late afternoon. It had to only be two, if he was guessing right by the sun. "Naw, we should get this across the street and piled against the church. Best ta get somethin' done today than just twiddlin' our thumbs like dumb shits for the rest of the evenin'." That got a smile out of the priest.
"Swearing in front of a member of the clergy." He shook his head, a twinkle in his eyes. "A complete and utter barbarian you are."
"You got as much holy cloth on ya as a two cent whore." Raphael shot back.
"At least I smell decent enough in my two cent clothing, sweat and all. You smell like the south end side of a northbound ass."
They hitched up a mule the priest kept and they guided the flatbed across the street, and moved it around the back of the church where a stoop would keep the wood dry in case of sudden rain, though Don was skeptical of that. It wasn't the right time of the year for that, he said. Raphael took him he was full of shit. Donnie rolled his eyes.
"This one time, back when Michelangelo and I were just boys, Mikey got it in his head that we should hunt frogs down and eat their legs."
"Frog legs are good." Raphael nodded. He wouldn't mind a stack of them in front of him now that he was thinking of it.
Donnie chuckled. "Well, the thing that Michelangelo forgot was that, one, it had been a dry summer and most of the ponds around here were drying up. The second, frogs can be tricky to catch."
"Ain't so bad, so long as yer quick." He grunted and laid another board down.
"So we went traipsing down to the pond, and Casey wanted to come along, saying Mikey wouldn't catch a damn thing." Donatello chuckled and Raphael smirked, raising a brow. "We get there, and the hole is nothing but mud and a bit of water in the middle. That didn't stop him though, he marched right in there, promptly got stuck up to his knees in mud, and told us it was all part of his plan. He caught a frog alright, but as he was struggling to get his feet out of the mud, the thing shat all over his hand and down his arm."
Raphael barked out a laugh, a grin splitting his face wide. "Damn, he must have stunk ta high heaven and back again."
Donatello grinned, "He did, and denied it all the way back home."
They laughed about it for a few minutes, dragging piece after piece off the flatbed and stacking it against the foundation. The unloading seemed to take far less time than the loading did, and Raphael was just starting to wonder about climbing to the roof to look over the repairs when Donatello stopped him, hands on his hips, chest heaving from his work.
"May I ask you something?"
Raphael frowned, dropping the lumber and clapping his hands together, brushing them off. "Shoot, Padre, you got to ask first?" Donnie smiled and cocked his head, amusement on his face and Raphael smirked, "Donnie." He corrected. "Don't reckon I should be forgettin' yer name this time 'round."
"Well, I was wondering how long you thought you might be staying."
Raphael leaned against the flatbed, arms folding across his chest as he considered the question. It didn't matter, right? But Donnie looked away and straightened one of the slats so it sat even with the rest in the pile, and when he stood straight again, his hands on his hips, he didn't look at him, just waiting. He was trying too damn hard to look casual and Raphael didn't know why it bugged him.
"Don't rightly know. Figured I'd stick around till I killed Hun." He shrugged, shifted and flinched as his leg gave a twitch of pain.
Donatello smiled, small, and he nodded, "I figured as much." He wiped his hands on the back of his pants, and smeared a bit of dirt across his backside. "I'll stock up on provisions then. Anything in particular you enjoy eating?"
"Pickled eggs." He answered immediately and Donnie wrinkled his nose, face twisted in disgust. Raphael just grinned and got a snort out of the Padre.
"Of course." He turned away, reaching for one of the last of the timber, and Raphael saw a smile.
He elbowed Donnie and chuckled and they finished their work, guiding the mule back with the flatbed to his barn and shop, unhitching the mule, and Donnie scooped up a curry brush. "You go ahead and wash up, I'll finish here and head on up after."
"Still can't fathom you havin' a real washtub." Raphael shook his head, his skin feeling tight from all the sweat.
"Comes with being friends with the local bar owner. Michelangelo gave it to me for ten dollars after he bought his girls a new one."
He barked out a laugh at that image. "A priest buyin' the used bathtub of whores." He chuckled.
"They aren't whores...they are just working to support their families." Donatello said - and it took Raphael aback. He had never heard a priest speak like that. "I don't approve of their choice of employeement, but neither should I condemn them for their hard made decisions on survival. Some...they just don't have a choice."
"What of that girl, Angel?"
Donnie smiled sadly, dust rising from the mule's coat as he brushed a little harder. "She made her choice simply because she rebelled. She isn't doing it out of desperation. Am I disappointed? Yes. I have told her as much, but I don't despise her. Some people, if given the choice, wouldn't do what they do if the world were different."
He stopped brushing then and looked to Raphael, his mouth opened then closed, and then a nod. "Especially me." He whispered and went back to work his way down the mule's flanks.
He didn't know what to say to that.
"You should go wash up. Off with you now." Donnie said and patted the mule's rump, keeping his hand on her as he moved around behind and to the other side.
Raphael turned and limped through the door connecting Don's home with his barn and up the stairs to his washroom. He started by heating water in a large pot as he stripped down and wadded up his clothes in a corner. His leg bled a bit - though he didn't give it any mind. He didn't know what to think of the Padre. One minute he had him figured, the next, he threw him for a loop.
He didn't bother using the bathtub - it would have taken him most of the evening just to fill it – but he did use its plumping by standing in the tub and scrubbing himself down then dumping the pot of hot water over his head to rinse down. Dressed and clean for a change, he put on a second pot of water to heat and moved down the stairs, tossing a clean towel Donatello's way.
"Go wash up, Padre, I'll do it. You ain't goin' ta get away with it if I can't."
He heard him upstairs as he stirred the stew. It had sat simmering since this morning, thick and filled with potatoes and carrots, meat, and bits of everything that made a stew warm and filled a man up. Donnie had even gone and gotten fresh bread from the baker that morning. Raphael remembered how good his Ma's bread was, so he sliced it in thick slabs and set it close to the fire to warm, wrapped in a towel and turned occasionally.
Donatello was so quiet, even as he washed, and Raphael wondered at the tickle on the back of his neck. It was like the stew, he realized, the more he got to know the Padre, the more he thickened up, became real, became something other than a holy man.
Then the stairs creaked and he turned and he held still, taking in the loose and comfortable Donatello. White shirt, several buttons undone at the top, comfortable pants that hung on his hips, no socks. He smiled and moved in beside him and looked over the meal. Raphael swallowed and stepped aside only to have Donnie slide into his space once again as he reached for the pepper. They had used the same soap, but Donnie carried the scent better, he thought.
Raphael cleared his throat and opened several cupboards and drawers before he found the bowls and spoons and he laid the silverware out and lit the oil lamp Donnie had rigged up above his kitchen table to fill the room with the maximum amount of light. Donatello carried the pot to the table and set it in the middle, ladling up each bowl, and Raphael retrieved the bread, quick to slather it in butter so it melted.
Sitting across from each other, Raphael slurped his meal and Donnie dunked his bread in his stew, and he couldn't help but chuckle at the priest. It felt good and he lounged in the warmth of something so mundane and normal. He smiled and Donnie smiled back, and they talked.
Donatello tried not to stare. Raphael sat beside him on the hanging bench swing he had made years ago, using chains and heavy wood and an interlacing cut wood that he didn't need to use as many nails for. It turned out lovely, and he relaxed as he swayed on the swing, his belly full of the stew they had made and the warm bread and butter Raphael had gone about arranging. But the moment Raphael sat down, Donatello's shoulders stiffened and he held still, and he stared out at the fields behind his shop with the mountains rising to cut them off. The sky was dark, streaked with purples and royal blues with a hint of orange blushed red into the night sky as the sun faded behind the mountains and left a lingering glow like coal in a fire.
"Do you honestly believe the Sheriff will be all right?" Donatello asked.
"Yeah. That man got too much fire in his gut to die. Ain't got enough livin' done. Besides, he's got that pretty gal waitin' for him." Raphael said and shifted on the bench, causing them to sway gently.
The rhythm calmed his nerves and Donatello's hands curled together, fisted into the prayful hands of a repentant. "I suppose so-"
"Ain't no supposin' there, Padre. You got to have faith, right? Then you got ta act like your faith ain't just hope, its reality." Raphael wagged a finger, face forward, and he stared into the night.
Donnie glanced his way and took in the strength of his jaw, the set of his shoulders, the tone of his body - and Donatello gripped his hands tighter together, throat aching.
"Figured a priest wouldn't have so much doubt."
"I'm still a man." Donnie whispered.
Raphael nodded and he turned to finally look at him. Eyes locked with his, amber gold and burning with the remainder light from the oil lamps. His heart skipped and Donatello forced his eyes to look down, his belly tingled. Then Raphael shifted and his arm lay across the back of the bench, and it just brushed his shoulders.
"That ya are, Padre." He agreed simply.
"I don't want you going after that man." It escaped his lips, a strangled sentence that he bit off at the end, but too late. He blushed and closed his eyes.
"Ain't nothin' to do but go after him." Raphael said, the swing of the bench picked up its pace.
"You could die..."
"Will eventually die some day, Padre. You know that."
"I just-"He stopped himself and exhaled, his throat tightening.
Donatello swallowed and shook his head, unwrapped his fingers from one another and he gripped at the bench seat, and leaned forward to try and calm his heart. He was too invested in Raphael...
Raphael moved, shifted closer, and then his hand rested atop Donnie's.
In the shadowed night, the moon a sliver of silver and the noises of the nightlife awakening in the chorus of crickets and prairie owls, Donatello listened to his heartbeat as he turned and became engulfed in amber eyes. Eyes that asked him to tell him everything.
"What is it, Donnie?" he whispered.
Don bowed his head and trembled, forcing himself to breath. "I've become fond of you. I can't lose...a friend." He swallowed hard and forced the right words out that wouldn't betray him, that wouldn't condemn him.
Raphael laughed, soft, throaty, so rich and rough and Donatello closed his eyes at the wonder. Then Raphael's thumb brushed across his knuckles and he stood up sharp and made the bench swing from its chains.
"You're a good man-"
Raphael snorted. "No I ain't."
"Yes, you are." Donatello snapped, his voice hardened, though not because he needed Raphael to understand this fact, he needed Raphael to hear him, to see him, and he hugged his hand to his chest, cradling his fist that tingled from his touch. Donatello shook his head and fell into his eyes all over again as Raphael stared up at him in confusion. "Give yourself credit, Raph…" and his throat closed on him, his jaw tight before he felt capable to try and talk again. "You're just lonely, like me, and you make me that much less lonesome. I don't want you to die because of a wicked man like him." He motioned with his chin toward Mr. Johnson's farm.
Raphael stood and loomed over him; a mountain that filled the space in front of him till he was all Donatello could see, touch, and smell. He basked in it, as well as felt the panic rise.
"How the hell can you be so alone with an entire town full of folk who love you?" Raphael's voice growled, his breath hot against his cheek.
He didn't think Raphael could see him, he could barely see him, so he leaned into him, face twisted, his hand touched his chest and his head spun. "They repsect me. Love is entirely different." He whispered and jerked his hand back from Raphael's chest as moved around him, his feet stumbled in the gravel, and he hurried for the house.
If his desires weren't enough to damn him, the ache between his legs only further proved it to him. He was scared, he had wanted to make a point, instead, he had pushed at Raphael, pulled his strings so the man would resent him - with honesty.
Raphael grabbed his elbow and twisted him around. He pushed him against the wall, his hands slapped against the wall to either side of his head and he growled. They were so close together, their noses touched. "Gotta get one thing straight right now, Padre. Them people love you out there. Second, I ain't like them." He said, voice hard, deep, and all it did was make Donatello smile. No relief, only grief in his heart as Raphael continued. "I ain't one of yer flock, and I ain't one of these damn people. I make my own rules and I follow them."
The light from the window shone upon his face, yellow and otherworldly, and Donatello pressed his hand to Raphael's heart all the tighter, because he could feel it coming.
"You ain't like any priest I've known. You're good, and you actually listen." He lifted a finger, pointing it at him, lips thin, jaw tight as the anger rose, then he hissed across his lips and grabbed the back of Donnie's neck and pressed his brow to his. "Damnit, Donnie-boy, what the hell? I've left people and places who welcomed me; you're the first who made me want ta stay."
Donatello squeazed his eyes shut, his lips moved, words slipped past in a whisper as he prayed, and his hands curled in the front of Raphael's shirt. His tail throbbed with arousal that coursed through his body - but it was just lust and he pushed at it, forced it away because it was base and ugly, and Raphael was being honest with him. He couldn't debase his trust in him by being attracted to him.
Sexually. Mentally. Spiritually…
"I'm sorry. You deserve better than what you have gotten." Donatello carefully released his shirt, his face hot and his body quivered with his proximity.
Raphael tilted his head and inhaled deeply before he pulled back. He released him and left him alone and cold against the wall.
"You too, Donnie-boy." he rasped out, face twisted, "I just don't get it. What's wrong?"
He shook his head.
"You love it here, they love you-"
"Sometimes it's not enough." His voice broke on him and Donatello bowed his head, his blood cold.
Raphael stared and he could feel him hover above him like some Greek pantheon. Donatello pushed away from the wall and stepped back into his home, and he tried to leave his sins at the door.
Raphael laid in bed, in Donnie's bed to be presice. The Padre refused to allow a guest - and an injured one at that - to sleep on anything less than a bed. Donnie had explained all this to him the night before and had set up a cot downstairs for himself, telling him he would be fine and to rest. But now, laying here for the second night, he could still smell him everywhere. Raphael clenched at the bedding and swallowed a lump in his throat because it didn't seem right even as he enjoyed the comfort that was Donatello...
What was happening?
He reached down and gripped his swollen tail, grunting against the rush of pleasure and he closed his eyes to try and keep himself tucked and not drop into his hand - because if he did, what did that mean? He pinched the tip of his tail to force pain to ebb his sex drive. An arm thrown over his eyes, he dragged his hand away from his tail and scratched his nails across his plastron. He inhaled deeply of Donnie's calming scent, yet, terror began to gnaw at his gut an instant later.
What the hell was happening? Donnie's scent?
His tail throbbed again.
Donatello smiled as he knocked on the door leading to Casey's room and he breathed a sigh of relief as he saw April sit back and Casey Jones offered a tired wave of his hand.
"The fever broke this morning." April said, eyes dark and exhausted, but her smile never would have said otherwise. She gripped his hand with both of hers and held tight to his fingers with an air of desperation. He could relate.
"I'm glad." Donnie said and stepped through the threshold, pulling a secondary chair close to the bed to sit beside the couple. April smiled down at Casey and Donnie did the same. He hoped he would be the one to officiate over their wedding. He had seen little few as in love, nor as stubborn, as these two. "How are you feeling?"
"Great." Casey grunted, trying to sit up, but his once again injured arm protested and April stood and urged him to lay back down with a firm hand that told him despite how sugary sweet her tone was, he had no choice.
"I wish I could have done something for you-"
"Donnie," Casey hissed, reached for him and grabbed at his hand. Donatello's eyes widened and he leaned toward him. Sweat broke out over Casey's brow and his body shook, his face pale as he motioned him closer. "They were tryin' to take April."
"Calm down, it's all right." Donatello assured and patted his hand.
"No." Casey's voice rasped, but it was sharp, annoyed even. "They were tryin' to cart her off. That big man was trying to kidnap her."
April looked away, her fingers twisted the rag she had picked up intending to wipe his brow.
Donatello watched April for any sign of protest, but when none came, he regarded his friend and leaned even closer so Casey could lay back down. "Why…"
He shook his head, his dark hair plastered to his skull, but he saw the suspicion in Casey's eyes, just as he felt in his gut. "I don't know. He just said she would be a good one."
"What do you think-"
"You got to watch out for them, Don. Somethin's goin' on and I ain't going to be able to stop it. Not like this."
Nodding, Donatello gripped his friend's hand all the tighter, pressing his lips against his own knuckles, "Of course, I promise. But, what can I do?"
Casey shook his head, eyes closed and his breathes came in short rasps. "I don't know. Just don't let them take April…" he swallowed on the last word and pulled his hand away from Don's hold to reach for April. She leaned forward, wiped the sweat from his brow and neck, and she smoothed some of his long hair along his temple back all while she shushed him. "No one will take me, Casey. Don't worry yourself."
"Father…" Casey kissed April's cheek, and Donatello could count on one hand how often he had seen Casey so tender. But as their eyes met from under April's jaw, Donnie stiffened. "Bring me that damn stranger."
He ignored him, head bowed, hammer raised high and then arching through the blue sky to crashed atop upon the poor, unsuspecting nail as he drove it into the wood in three powerful hits. Raphael crouched upon the roof, late afternoon already, and he had a good quarter of the work done. He had risen early, unable to sleep, and he tore the roof apart before the roosters even began to crow.
The old lumber and shingles lay scattered to one side of the church, tossed about like lifeless toys. Raphael grunted and waved Padre away as he climbed the ladder.
He couldn't look at him, not if he wanted to keep his seat and not lose the nails he had perched against his knee. When Donnie opened his mouth, Raphael barked at him and glared as he demanded he leave him alone and go visit his Sheriff friend.
The Padre had smiled, small, eyes dull as he nodded and left him, barely a word otherwise.
He hammered a little harder than needed at the embedded nail and snarled. What the fucking hell? He panted and leaned back on his heels when he bent the third nail in a row as his brows became wild and brutish, his face flushed in anger.
He hadn't slept last night. His whole body grew cold and far too hot all at once at that admittance. He hadn't slept because…
The ladder creaked and he spared a look its way and the Padre's head appeared, followed by that damn white square at his throat. Donatello paused, studying him, brow raised, and then he leaned forward, elbow hooked over the top of the ladder comfortably. It was only then that Raphael realized he had worked his way up the roof another two rows of lumber and had only five shingles remaining. How late was it? The sun was high in the sky, it had to be ten at least.
"The Sheriff is awake."
"Good for him." He grumbled and moved up to the next layer of the roof to do what, he had no damn idea not that it mattered, it was one more inch away…
"He wants to see you."
It hung unspoken between them, the uncertainty of why. His belly twisted at the thought of being run out of town by a man unable to leave his bed. Instead of grumbling and demanding answers or even flat out refusing like he wanted too, Raphael studied Donatello's dark eyes and carefully masked face.
He crawled to the edge of the roof and followed the priest down the ladder. When they reached the hospital, he had second thoughts. If he avoided the Sheriff, then he wouldn't be told to get his sorry ass out of town. He could spend one last night. He could finish his work for the Padre….for Donnie.
"This way." Donatello whispered and his hand alighted across his elbow to guide him with the gentlest of touches. His cheeks warmed.
The bedroom felt different now that Casey was awake. It was like the entire room had awoken from a dream and the thick air of despair had dispersed. Casey sat up in bed, arms folded across his chest, and he looked as if it took everything he had just to sit upright.
"Sheriff." He tipped his hat his way.
Casey narrowed his eyes, a bead of sweat rolling down his temple. "You know that bastard outside of town?"
Raphael copied him and folded his arms across his chest, defensive ire rose to the surface and he scowled, "Know enough about him to want ta shoot him between the eyes."
"He as bad as he seems?"
"You with him-"
"Don't even imply I'm with that son-uv-a-bitch!" He snarled and advanced on the man. Donatello's hand on his elbow stopped him before he reached out and grabbed his collar to shake some sense into the goddamn Sheriff.
Casey narrowed his eyes and Raphael curled his lip in disgust.
"Good. I'm Deputizing you."
Raphael blinked, his anger gone and his mind hummed from abruptly being empty of all thought. "Huh?"
Casey lifted something off the table next to the wash basin and he tossed it to Raphael. "You're a damn good shot and you know that bastard better than any of us. I ain't worth a sack of beans laid up like I am. I need a man who can at least deal with the Marshalls when they get here and you are the only sorry son-of-a-bitch who fits the bill."
He caught the star and stared at the piece of tin metal and wondered after it. It was so small, so flimsy, how could something like this hold so much power? Why the hell would someone give it to him?
Casey snorted, wiped at his brow, and looked shaky. "My gut tells me to run you off, but Father Malone here seems to like you, vouches for ya too. It's his word that swayed me. Don't you ruin him-"
"Why the hell would you give this to me?"
Casey frowned then and leaned his head back against the wall, his hair slick with sweat and sticking to his neck. "You goin' ta let that man hurt my towns folk?"
"You got the job."
Raphael fingered the badge.
"You got a reason you ain't thankin' me yet?"
"Ya sure ya didn't hit yer head after you was shot?"
Donatello chuckled at his side and Raphael focused on him, and he held to the familiar for a minute to ground in this disconcerting moment. Donnie smiled at him and his once dull eyes flickered ever so faintly with life. "I was thinking the same thing." He explained, and Raphael smirked.
A Deputy. He never thought himself the law type. He was usually the one who ran from the law. "You sure about this, Sheriff?"
"No, but I don't want anyone else for the job. I may not like ya very much yet, but you got the eyes of a protector." He forced his gaze and Raphael shifted from his good leg to his bad and back again. Trusted. He forgot what that felt like. "You goin' ta give me reason to regret my choice, boy?"
"I ain't your boy." He grumped and looked to the badge then held it up and wagged it in the air. "But I ain't one to piss on the good graces handed to me. I'll keep your folk safe for ya, Sheriff, at least till ya get back on yer feet."
Casey smiled and his eyes closed, a weight lifted from his shoulders and he nodded, sighing. "Good man."
He got the keys to the jailhouse and the cabinet of rifles Casey kept in the jail. They spoke for some time, Casey informed him of the locals in town who did need watching, the triggers for others, or who to be gentle with. Raphael listened, carefully, a bit dizzy with disbelief.
When he got back to the church, he found Donatello up on the roof with another quarter of the room finished with his sleeves rolled up and his white square gone and throat exposed.
They stared. Raphael wasn't sure why his gut told him to enjoy the view, the company, the calm and peace of the Padre while it lasted. He didn't want to acknowledge anything as his belly curled in on itself.
He was a Deputy now.
Donnie was their priest.
But one thing occured to him as he fingered the badge in his hand, the keys heavy in his pocket - he could stay a while longer.
"That the town?" He asked, back straight in the saddle, eyes narrowed against the sun under the brim of his black and very clean hat. For a man who had been on the trail of two former bounty hunters - and then summoned at great haste to this town in need of immediate help - he looked as if he stepped fresh from a bathhouse. Clean shaven and prestine. Not many would call a Marshall a gentleman, but Marshall Bishop was as close to one as any.
He stared down at the little town nestled at the bottom of the mountains they stood atop along a ridgeline. It had taken longer than expected to make it through the pass, having to walk the horses and prisoners along the mountain trails and around fallen trees and overgrown paths. Disgraceful is what it was, a town not taking care of their trade route. No wonder they were cut off from the larger city just on the other side. He considered the distance and glanced at the sky with a squint of his eyes. They'd reach it tomorrow afternoon for certain.
His collegue spat black chewing tobacco to the ground, leaned forward in his saddle, lazy and bored, and then nodded. "Yep, that be her. Looks like a real shithole if I ever done saw one." He scowled.
Bishop twisted in the saddle to look his men over. He had over a dozen hardened men dedicated to upholding the law - even if that meant doing certain things that were deemed less than savory for the sake of the citizens. He nodded and one of his men jumped from his saddle. He held the rope to the two criminals they had caught on the way. Complete luck really, but he wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouse.
"Ask the Injun-"
"He's not an Indian. He's from Japan." One of the prisoners spoke, sharp and bold, controlled even as they struggled against the ropes that bound them. Ragged, dusty, and stripped of his weapons and coat - and even his hat. The turtle glared at Bishop, his eyes an intense brown that blazed honey with the sun. He jerked on the ropes at just the right moment and made the Marshall who held him stumble, but he didn't try and run. He was just making a point.
He needed to watch this one, this Leonardo.
"It is alright, Leonardo-san." The other spoke, just as controled and poised, but with a heavy accent that told a story in itself of a journey across the great ocean and into the New World.
Some good it did him, Bishop thought as he raised a brow at the rabbit, just as dirty and worn looking, and his ears loose from the top knot they had captured him in, and yet, his weird Asian robes and oversized pants wrapped around his body looked just as perfect as the day he first saw them. He was a criminal now, no good to anyone, but Bishop didn't trust him or his swords. A knife fighter was just as good as any gunslinger in the right situation.
The rabbit lifted his chin and met Bishop's eyes before he spoke, "What is it you wished of me Bishop-san?"
It rubbed him the wrong way is what it did; the way the Japanese man spoke, never showing any sign of discomfort or humiliation no matter how his men treated him. But he pushed his own annoyance aside. No time for that. "You and your compatriot were following this bandit?"
"Yes." They said together. The rabbit, Usagi – he thought his name was – bowed his head while Leonardo tried his best to follow his companion's lead and remain calm, but the moment he had learned they were also on the trail of this Hun, his temper had risen and he brooded in angry.
"What do you suppose he is doing in a town like this?"
"Nothin' good." Leo spoke and pushed back his shoulders, head held high. "Let us help you arrest him, and I'll hang myself willingly after the bastard is dead."
Bishop raised a brow and studied the turtle, and then he smirked. Vengeance. He could use that.
Surprise! :) Leonardo was part of this story for a very long time, I just had to get to him is all.
This chapter was a surprise chapter for me. I was originally going to write a little of the roof scene and then the Marshals riding in; but then it just...more happened. I love the scene with the swinging bench because it just happened and appeared on the page and I feel like it became the catalyst for which Raph finds himself confused. the confessional scene opened the doors, but this was the scene that made even macho Raphael scared to look on the inside. I loves it! the Angst~! it begins to flow~
I hope you liked!
~Melissa the Damgel
(p.s. I love reviews :) thank you to all of you who took the time to review. It makes me smile and makes me motivated to write faster. )