"Raphie. Hey, Raphie! Wake up!" That voice... He knew that voice. "You're gonna be late for school, and I'm not covering for you again!" His eyes snapped open.
"Nira...?" His voice sounded different... it sounded young. Very young... "How...?"
Raph was sitting while looking at his beloved older sister... His sister who had been ripped from the world by those horrid creatures years ago. "Rule number one when engaged in battle?"
"Eyes always open..." he whispered.
"Right." She hugged him tightly. "Open your eyes, little bro... OPEN THEM!"
Raph woke up with a loud gasp. The second he took that deep breath he felt pins and needles traveling through his chest.
"Careful, soldier. Your shell is cracked. Any sudden movement will make you see stars... Literally." He was in an infirmary. The head medic was standing over him as he proceeded to examine his wounds. The medic was a turtle like him. "My name is Donatello. I've been in charge of your care since your arrival."
"Mint tea..." Raphael murmured, still feeling dazed.
"Would you like some mint tea?" A woman was now addressing him.
"A-April...?" Raph tried to turn to look at her.
"Yes, Raph. It's me. You're gonna be ok, everyone is ok." April stepped into his line of sight, cupping his face with her palm. "Try and get some rest while Donnie looks you over, 'kay..?"
"Ok..." Raph's eyes closed as he drifted back to sleep.
"Wow... He's a strong one. Didn't think he would be waking up so soon after how mangled he came in and all the blood he lost." Donnie continued to asses his wounds with April, taking note on the progress he was making after only a day of receiving treatment.
"Yeah, Raph has always healed really fast. Casey told me ever since he met him at the academy when they were kids if he would get a cut he would heal in about half the time it took anyone else; anyone normal..."
"Well, super healing or not, I don't want him moving around for a couple of days. Hand me a catheter kit, I'm sure he's going to be needing to use the bathroom soon." April's eyes widened at those words.
"No!" Donnie looked at her dumbfounded. "I-I'll do it. Please, you need to go check on the other patients. I'll handle this."
"But you hate doing catherizations... " Donnie stared at April trying to figure out why all of a sudden she had a change of heart on the one subject that she despised most.
"Well I have to get over that eventually if I want to stay in this field, correct? I'll take care of him." April practically shoved Donnie out of the room. As soon as he closed the door behind him, she let out a sigh of relief. "Don't worry, Raph. Your secret is safe."
April pulled out the plastic sterile sleeve containing the catheter. She prepped herself and then pulled Raph's covers down, exposing his plastron. April gently felt for the soft cartilaginous area in his lower body that protected the pouch where his genitals where kept as a turtle-humanoid. Her fingers carefully spread his opening, exposing Raphael's unusual trait; he was born a hermaphrodite.
It was known in his village that every five generations a 'special child' would be born harboring both male and female genitalia. What made this child 'special', though, resided much deeper than that fact, or at least that's what Raphael's family kept telling him...
Raph had done his best to keep this a secret from the world around him. Casey and April knew, being that they had practically grown up together, and also Traximus who had gained Raphael's absolute trust.
After catheterizing him, April exited the room and proceeded to check on her fiancé.
"Hey, babe. How's Raph?"
"He's doing good. His wounds already started to heal." April walked over to check on Casey's cuts, specially a nasty gash on his right forearm. "You've been picking at it." Her words a statement, sending a cold wave of shivers down the man's spine.
"Nu uh!" Her green eyes where piercing. "Well.... Maybe a little...?"
"Stop it! If you get an infection and loose your arm the wedding is off! I refuse to spend the rest of my life with a man who can't cut his own steaks." April crossed her arms in front of herself, her scowl allowed for no argument.
"Yes, dear..." Casey's face grew as red as her hair.
Back in the center of base, Leonardo was going over some katas his father, the great Master Splinter, a retired general from the army, had taught him in order to polish his ninjutsu skills. From the doorway, Donatello cleared his throats to announce his presence. "I see you, Donnie... Let me finish this kata."
"He woke up." Donnie leaned against the frame of the door.
Leonardo's eyes widen momentarily. "Already? I thought he would be out for at least three days." He reached his ending pose, took a small bow and went towards the olive-skinned turtle.
Don handed Leo a dry towel to wipe his sweat with as they walked through the corridors. "So did I. I mean, he was not being really coherent, but he recognized April and had a short exchange of words, then went right back to sleep... Who is this kid?"
"Trax's golden boy." Leo smiled at Don.
"Oh, I know that look..." Donnie returned the smile.
"I've heard stories about him. He is a fearsome soldier, best in his squadron. I'm anxious to see what he's made of." Leo's eyes had a glimmer that was not often seen. "What did he say when he woke up?"
"Well... Pretty mush just two worlds: mint tea." Leo's face blushed a little as his mind scrambled realizing the possible meaning of those words.
"Hmm... One would think you are crushing on this fellow..." Don teased.
"Leo is crushing on someone!?!!" The two turtles turned back to spot a third one of their kind, this one had sea-foam-green skin and the brightest baby-blue eyes. "Ooohhh, do tell, big brother!" He jumped and clung himself to Leonardo's neck.
"Michelangelo..." Leonardo's voice had a warning tone, but the younger turtle paid no attention to it.
"Is it a boy? Oh, please let it be a boy!" He grabbed Leo by his cheeks, squeezing his face to make his lips pucker up.
Leo pried himself out of Mikey's hands, grunting his displeasure. "I am not crushing on anyone." His voice was soft yet strong. "Shouldn't you be in the kitchen preparing for lunch?" He raised a brow ridge at his younger brother.
"On my way there now, but I had to take advantage and come say hi to my shnookum!" Mikey jumped next to Donnie and placed a kiss on his lips. Donnie blushed. "Leo, I left water boiling for your tea; you're running low on the mint flavored one, by the way. I know that's your favorite. See ya later tonight, Donnie-boy..." Mikey's las sentence was a whisper that sent a shiver down to Donatello's groin area.
"See ya, Mikey..." Donnie's voice was soft as it trailed behind his lover's swaying hips. "So... mint tea?"
Leo cleared his throat, then tried to change the subject. "Don, you guys should really restrict your amours to privacy..."
"We aren't dating, Leo." Don's voice raised a little, his brown eyes piercing into Leo's.
"But, I thought-"
"It's an open relationship. Open as in uncommitted." Donnie started to walk off towards the labs, waiving Leonardo dismissively away.
"They will figure it out. Be patient." Embolos appeared from behind one of the doors.
"I know they will... Eventually. If only they could look past their stubbornness." Leo gave his friend a side smile with a shoulder-shrug. He loved his brother and smart friend very much, and he had absolutely nothing against their relationship status, but he also knew that they both craved something else... Something more personal. Something that they each could offer the other. But it wasn't his place to interfere, so he would patiently wait and be supportive whenever he would be needed.
"How is the soldier?" the bull-man asked.
"Recovering very quickly. Donatello is impressed by his healing abilities."
"Just Donatello?" Embolos crossed his arms.
"You know I've been looking forward to meeting him." Leo waved at him and started to walk off towards the gym to resume his daily workout session before lunch. Embolos raised a brow and smiled. Not many things excited his friend, and it was nice to see him looking forward to something else other than only following orders in the field.
Leo entered the gym to find someone already there. "Sir!" He stood straight and saluted his superior.
"At ease, Leonardo." The man in front of him was dressed in an all black uniform. His dark hair combed slicked back.
"Thank you, Commander Bishop, sir." Leo separated his legs and crossed his arms behind his back.
"I heard you went out last night with Embolos?" The man walked around Leonardo, his sight unwavering.
"You know I had forbidden any excursions without a full team squadron." Bishop stood right in front of Leo. So close he could feel his breath as he spoke to him. "Explain yourself."
"I have no excuse, sir. I was feeling unsettled and decided a run would help. It was my decision, Embolos was following my orders when he followed." Leo looked straight at the man's ebony eyes.
His superior stared back, examining him. "It was careless, and you should receive a reprimand for it, but if it wasn't for your careless act Commander Traximus' special unit would have perished and more lives would have been lost. For this occasion, I will look the other way. Do not let it happen again."
The man held Leo's gaze for a few more seconds, then let out what sounded like a scoff before stepping away and exiting the gym.
Bishop could be Leonardo's superior, but there was something about him that had always made the turtle feel anxious and guarded... He knew Bishop was hiding something.