“Well,” Donny sighed as he watched Leo and Rachael follow their parents out of the room. “I guess that ends the lesson for today.” He grabbed a box and handed it to Mikey. “Here are some condoms. You can come to me when you start to get low. I’m going back to my lab.” With that he collected the rest of his things and left the room.
Tears stung Leah’s eyes as she sat in stunned silence for a moment while it all sank in. Leonardo and Rachael had admitted to having sex. There was no coming back from that. Not in this small group. They were an item. Now the only one left for her was Raphael.
Leaning forward she cradled her head in her hands. He wasn’t so bad. He seemed nice enough. He wasn’t her first choice, or even her second choice, but in time she could grow to love him, learn to work around his stubbornness and anger. She was sure of it.
Leah was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of Donna crying. She looked over to see her sister holding her stomach as she sobbed uncontrollably.
Leah reached out and placed her hand on Donna’s shell. “Donna?”
“Why did he choose her?” Donna sobbed. “She’s such a bitch. He’s too good for her.”
A little taken aback, Leah leaned down in an attempt to look Donna in the face. “I don’t understand why you’re so upset.”
“Because she had a crush on Leo,” Michelle informed her, rolling her eyes. “I mean it was totally obvious.”
Surprised, Leah looked up, past Donna, at Michelle. “It wasn’t to me. I thought Donna was with Tello. I mean, they spend so much time together.”
“No,” Donna and Tello said together.
“We’re more like brother and sister,” Tello clarified, steepling his large fingers together. “The reason we are together all the time is because of the work we do with Donny. We get along and work well together but there’s no attraction beyond friendship.”
“And besides that, he likes you,” Donna said tartly as she stood up. With tears streaking down her cheeks, Donna rushed from the room. “I’m going to my room.”
“Oh,” Leah managed to say softly, feeling a little relieved and awkward at the same time. On one hand, her sister was hurting. On the other, Tello was available. The only reason she had been considering Leo was because she thought her choices were between Leo and Raph. Tello was actually preferable over the two of them.
“We’ll leave you alone to talk,” Mikey said, grabbing Michelle’s hand. He pulled her off the sofa and out of the room before anyone had a chance to object.
Once they were alone, Leah looked up at Tello. She could see that he was flushed with embarrassment as he fidgeted in his seat. “She wasn’t supposed to tell you that,” he mumbled, looking down at his hands.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Leah asked, scooting closer to Tello.
Unable to look up at her, Tello shrugged. “The last time I had a crush on a girl, I over did it, came on strong. She knew how I felt but never flat out told me ‘no’. I tried to let her go once but she kissed me and made me think I had a chance, reeling me back in. But she ended up choosing another guy.” Leah reached out and placed her hand over his but he pulled it away and stood up. “I can’t go through that again.”
“I won’t do that to you,” Leah insisted.
“You wanted Leo.” Tello said, his voice brittle with emotion. “The only reason you’re coming after me is because, like Donna, you don’t want Raph and I’m all that’s left. I’m the one you’re willing to settle for.”
“I was willing to settle for Leo because I thought you were with Donna,” Leah argued standing to move in front of him. “If I had known you were available, I never would have considered him.”
Tello looked up at her with a look of disbelief in his eyes. “You would choose me, over Leo?”
“Yes,” Leah replied softly, bringing her hand up to caress his cheek. “I prefer you.”
Tello looked down again and barely managed to whisper, “It’s hard to believe you.”
“She really hurt you,” Leah said softly as she brushed away a tear with her thumb. Leaning in, she gently placed her forehead against his. “We can take this slow. I’m not going anywhere.”
The moment was broken by an anguished cry that echoed throughout the lair. “Guys!” It was April and she sounded upset.
Leah and Tello rushed out of the entertainment room and down the stairs in time to see Raph emerge from his craft room. April was standing down on the tracks and ran to him the moment she saw him. Casey was also there with a look of distress on his face.
Raphael held their pregnant friend as she cried, gently rubbing her back in an attempt to soothe her. Everyone else eventually made their way down to either stand on the platform or down on the tracks, waiting to hear what had their friend so upset.
“Whatever it is,” Raph soothed, “we’ll work through it.” He looked up at Casey and silently asked what was going on.
Casey looked down at the large envelope he was holding. “We had a routine checkup today, a sonogram, to find out the gender of the babies. They discovered something….”
Donatello climbed down onto the tracks and approached Casey. “Is that the sonogram?” With a slight nod, Casey handed the envelope over to Donny. After a quick scan over the contents, Donny looked up. “I see.” He walked over to April and placed a comforting had on her back. “It will be alright, April. Medical science has come a long way. Most of this can be corrected. He might not be able to play sports but he can lead a full and productive life.”
“What did I do wrong?” April sobbed, curling in tighter against Raph. “Why is this happening?”
Tello left Leah’s side, hopped down off the platform and headed straight for Donny. Holding his hand out Tello silently asked to see the sonogram. As he looked over the image, Tello dropped to his knees. “I’m so sorry, April. This is my fault.”
April looked over her shoulder and choked out, “What?”
“It’s because of me that your baby is this way,” Tello said somberly. “If I wasn’t here, your baby would be normal. They wouldn’t have come here if I wasn’t here.”
Leo stepped up to the platform edge. “Does this have to do with what you said at the Foot headquarters the other day, about how your friends and family will be reborn here?”
Without looking up, Tello nodded his head. “The Casey and April from my world have chosen to be reborn to April and Casey.”
Rubbing her eyes, April pulled away from Raph and turned to look at Tello. “I don’t understand. What does that have to do with what is wrong with my baby?”
Tello glanced up at her but could not maintain eye contact so he looked down at the sonogram again. “April died quickly so, for her there was little trauma. But, Casey…. He… he was crushed, surviving for a few days before succumbing to his injuries. That trauma has carried over into this life, as a deformity.”
While Tello spoke, April made her way over to stand next to him. “So you’re saying that the reason there are problems with my baby is because he is reincarnated from your Casey and the way he died affects him now?”
Holding back a sob, Tello nodded. “I’m sorry. They did this so that they could be close to me.”
“Then I didn’t do anything wrong,” April said, as a new flood of tears filled her eyes. “That’s a relief.”
Tello’s eyes went wide and he looked up at April. “You’re not mad?”
April shook her head and wrapped her arms around her belly. “No. I was afraid that I had done something wrong to cause it. Knowing the truth takes a heavy burden off my shoulders.” She reached down and cupped Tello’s face with both of her hands. “Thank you. We’ll do everything we can to make sure that this life is a good one.”
Leah made her way down onto the tracks and knelt down next to Tello. “What’s wrong with the baby?” Tello showed her the sonogram but she shrugged. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to see in that.”
“I couldn’t see it either,” Casey stated. “I don’t know how anyone can see anything in that mess. All I know is what the doctors told me. And we ended up spending the day talking to a lot of them.”
“Here,” Tello pointed to the image. “This is the spine. See how it’s not straight?” When Leah nodded, Tello pointed to another part. “This is his leg.” He then pointed to another part. “This is the leg of the other baby. See how they are different?”
Leah looked closely at the image. “This one isn’t as long and kind of looks twisted.”
Tello nodded. “They’re not developing properly.” He placed the sonograms back into the envelope and handed it up to April. “This development makes sense, since the lower half of Casey had been crushed.” He got to his feet and reluctantly looked April in the eyes. “I am sorry.”
“It’s oaky,” April reassured him while wiping the remainder of her tears from her cheeks.
“Your friends couldn’t have chosen a better person to be their mom,” Raph stated, draping an arm over April’s shoulders. “She’ll take good care of them. It’s just a shame that it means they get stuck with Casey as their dad.”
“Hey,” Casey said in protest while the others chuckled, the tension in the air alleviated.
April leaned into Raphael for a sideways hug. “Thank you.”
“You’ve got three of the smartest minds in the world down here,” Raph said as a matter of fact. “There ain’t nothin’ wrong with that baby that they won’t be able to help him with.” He then turned his attention to Tello. “And you stop apologizing for your friends and family choosing to be born here. They’re gonna be in good hands when they get here. My brothers will be good dads to them.”
“This is the first I’m hearing about this,” Donny interrupted. He turned to Tello. “Does this mean that my baby will be someone you knew? Do I have to prepare myself for complications?”
Tello shook his head. “The last time I spoke with my brothers, they told me that Slash will be reincarnated as your child. He died quickly. There shouldn’t be any problems.”
“We don’t have a Slash in this world,” Donny said.
Tello looked off in the distance as he thought and a small smile turned up the edges of his mouth. “He was originally Raph’s pet turtle that got mutated. Let’s just say that being reborn as a mix between a crocodile and a turtle will suit him well.”
This was the first time Leah and her sisters were hearing about it as well. “Does this mean that the children my sisters and I have with you and the others will have problems?”
“One of my brothers will be born to each of us,” Tello said, nodding his head. “That way none of us are burdened with all three disabled children. I don’t know about the rest of the children we all could potentially have. There are other Turtles, from other dimensions, who are waiting to be reborn in this world. We are their only chance at a new life. They can either be reborn to us or move on. But, there’s no rush. They are willing to wait for us to be ready.”
“Or over eager,” Raph quipped, grinning up at Leo who simply narrowed his eyes in response. “I guess some will be here a little sooner than others.” Raph continued, unfazed by Leo’s look. “It all depends on how responsible the rest of you are.”
“Fuck you, Raph,” Rachael shouted down at him from her spot next to Leo.
“Rachael,” Sliver scolded.
“Sorry, mother,” Rachael replied.
“I would love to,” Raph shouted back in a broken voice. “And I can as much as I want without consequence. But none of your sisters want me.”
He turned to go back into his craft room but April grabbed his hand, stopping him. “Do you need to talk?”
“I’m fine,” Raph choked out. “This feeling’s nothing new. I’ve dealt with it before and I’ll deal with it again.” Slipping his hand free of her grip, Raph entered his sanctuary and closed the door.