Mikey hummed to himself as he danced around the kitchen, throwing together a nice breakfast for his family. All of them were still sleeping, but Mikey knew from past experience that the first of his brothers would be walking through the kitchen door soon. It was a toss up between Leo and Donnie; the blue banded turtle would be the first awake, if Donnie hadn’t spent the whole night working in his lab.
A noise behind him caught Mikey’s attention. Glancing over his shoulder, he smiled brightly when he saw Donnie slowly shuffle his way into the kitchen.
“Morning, D!” Mikey greeted, laughing at the stunned look that Donnie was giving him.
“Mikey?” Donnie frowned.
“Have a seat, bro, food is almost done, and I just started a fresh pot of coffee for you,” Mikey said, turning his attention back toward the stove.
“Mikey, are you… are you okay?” Donnie asked hesitantly. Mikey glanced at him again.
“Totally fine, dude,” Mikey said, grinning widely as he turned to place the plate of scrambled eggs on the table.
Before Donnie could ask any more questions, Mikey had turned away again and was back at the stove mixing up more scrambled eggs. He was setting up two more plates by the time Leo joined them in the kitchen, followed shortly by Raph.
“Morning!” Mikey greeted them, placing the plates down on the table just as the two oldest turtles sat down. Raph exchanged a look with Donnie who just shrugged; Leo, however, returned Mikey’s smile.
“Good morning,” Leo replied, and he started eating his own food.
Mikey fixed up a plate for himself, and one for Master Splinter, setting the plates on the table before taking his own seat and starting to eat his food quickly.
“I’m glad you decided to cook this morning, I don’t know if any of us would have survived any more cooking attempts from myself or Raph,” Leo said. It had been a week since the two of them had spoken, and he was glad to see that Mikey was moving on.
“Speak for yourself, Fearless,” Raph snapped, narrowing his eyes at Leo before fixing his gaze on Mikey. He didn’t say anything as Mikey was finished eating before any of them.
“I’m going to try and get some game time in before practice!” Mikey said tossing his plate into the sink before he darted out of the kitchen, nearly running Splinter over in his haste.
“Watch where you are going, Michelangelo,” Splinter reprimanded.
“Sorry, Sensei!” Mikey called over his shoulder, jumping over the back of the couch and snatching up the controller that had been abandoned on the floor. Splinter raised an eyebrow at his energetic son, before continuing on his way into the kitchen.
Mikey glanced over his shoulder toward the kitchen, once he was sure that Splinter was no longer standing in the doorway watching him. He let out a small sigh and turned his attention back toward the game he was starting up. His mind wasn’t on the game though, and he blindly played through each level as they came up, his thoughts elsewhere.
Leo’s words continued playing over and over in his head; he was just overreacting, seeking attention, and his oldest brother had made it quite clear that enough was enough. It didn’t matter if every time someone touched him it made his skin crawl, it didn’t matter that being pinned down or knocked to the floor during training sent him into a panic attack.
What did matter was the fact that Leo wanted things to be normal again, and even if Mikey felt like he was being torn apart from the inside out, he was going to be make sure things were as normal as he could make them.
That’s why, an hour later when everyone was finished eating and the kitchen had been cleaned up from their breakfast mess, Mikey turned toward his brothers giving them a big smile.
“Who wants to bet a whole pizza that I can knock Raph down today?” Mikey said, standing from the couch and following his family into the dojo. Donnie and Raph were still giving each other worried looks, but Mikey was determined to make those vanish by the end of the day.
Leo watched Mikey, watched how focused his brother had become, the determined look set firmly on his face as they went through their morning training. Leo was beyond happy with his youngest brother, and could only conclude that the talk he had had with him, over a week ago now, had truly been what Michelangelo needed. The thing that surprised Leo the most was how quickly Mikey had changed; he almost didn’t seem like the same person.
However, Leo had also noticed that he seemed to be the only one happy about Mikey’s new attitude. Splinter, like Leo, had also been watching Mikey more often, and no doubt had also seen the change in him. Though unlike Leo, Splinter seemed to be more worried about the change.
“Yame,” Splinter called out, putting a stop to the training session. “That is enough for today.”
“But we’ve only been training for half an hour.” Leo frowned.
“Are you unwell, Sensei?” Donnie asked in concern, moving forward a step before Splinter held a hand up stopping his progress.
“I am quite alright, my son, I have simply decided to cut today’s training short. My mind has been troubled recently, and I wish to meditate for a time,” Splinter informed them.
Leo watched as his brothers exited the dojo; he, however, remained for a moment longer. Turning back, he saw Splinter standing in front of the large tree that grew there. Not wanting to disturb his father, Leo went to follow his brothers.
“Leonardo,” Splinter spoke, stopping his eldest son. Leo turned back toward Splinter; the tall rat still had his back toward him and Leo frowned.
“Sensei?” Leo questioned, hesitantly moving forward until he was standing next to his father.
Splinter let out a small sigh. “You are planning on going topside with your brothers this evening?”
“Hai, sensei, we have been slacking lately due to recent events…” Leo trailed off, his mind wandering toward his youngest brother again.
“Hmm.” Splinter nodded. “I do not wish to restrict you boys to the Lair, heaven knows my words have fallen on deaf ears before.” Splinter smiled and finally turned to look at Leo. “Please be careful up there, my son.”
“We always are,” Leo promised, returning the smile, though it faded a moment later. “Are you really alright, Sensei?” Leo asked, concern clearly written on his face.
“Just an old rat’s worry,” Splinter said. “Now, go see to your brothers. Please inform me when you are leaving,” Splinter said and Leo nodded.
Making his way out into the main part of the Lair, Leo looked around. He had expected to see his brothers in their usual spots; Raph at his punching bag; Mikey taking up nearly the whole couch as he played whatever new game he had found; And Donnie either tinkering with something nearby, or else in his lab, if the genius turtle had made a beeline for his sanctuary.
However this was not the case.
Raph and Donnie were sitting on the couch having a whispered conversation. And Mikey was nowhere to be seen. Leo scanned the room once more, to make sure that he hadn’t just missed him, but it seemed that their youngest brother had gone off somewhere else. He shrugged it off, making his way over to the couch.
“I’m tellin’ ya, there is something seriously wrong with him,” Raph growled.
“What do you want me to do? I’m not a doctor, and I’m certainly not a physiatrist,” Donnie huffed. “The only thing any of us can do is wait and see if he comes to talk to us, and we DON’T chase him demanding answers so that he locks himself in the damn bathroom again!” Donnie gave Raph an accusing glare. However, the red-banded turtle seemed unfazed by it.
“What’s going on?” Leo asked, looking between the two of them. “Did something happen with Mikey?”
“Why the fuck do you care?” Raph turned his own glare toward the eldest turtle.
Leo was taken aback by the hostility shown toward him. Not that it was unusual for Raph to take his anger out on him, the two of them butted heads more often than not, but Leo couldn’t think of anything that he’d done recently to earn his hot-headed brother’s anger.
“What’s that supposed to mean? Of course I care. Mikey’s as much my brother as he is yours,” Leo said.
“You sure have a funny way of showin’ it,” Raph said, standing up. “I’m going out for some fresh air,” he said.
“And what’s that supposed to mean?,” Leo asked again, sounding more demanding this time as his own anger started rising, though he had a better hold on it than Raph did. The red-banded turtle didn’t answer, just continued on his way out into the sewers. And Leo would have followed after him, demanded answers, and probably gotten into a fight with his brother as usual, if Donnie hadn’t spoken up, stopping him in his tracks.
“It’s about Mikey,” Donnie said.
Leo turned back toward his brother, who was still seated on the couch. “I gathered that much. What happened?”
Donnie looked sadly up at Leo. “Haven't you noticed how he's acting recently?” Donnie questioned.
“He seemed to be doing better,” Leo said.
Donnie nodded. “Yes, he does seem to be, but I have reason to believe that he's not doing as well as he’d like us to think.”
Leo frowned, thinking this over, trying to recall if he had seen anything that would have raised this kind of suspicion. “He seems more focused,” Leo said. “I thought he was just using training to help him get over what happened with Slash.”
“Leo,” Donnie stared at his brother in mild disbelief. “He was raped, that's not something you just ‘get over’.” Letting out a long sigh Donnie messaged his temples as if trying to ward off an oncoming headache.
“What happened to him is no worse than any other injury we’ve had before,” Leo said, “I think you and Raph are worrying too much about it.”
“I don’t believe I’m hearing this, I really don’t,” Donnie said, looking up at Leo again.
“Look, Donnie, I’m not saying what happened wasn’t horrible,” Leo said, trying to explain himself. “And if we ever have the misfortune of seeing Slash again, there is no way any of us are going to let him walk away. But it’s been two months since Mikey was attacked, his physical injuries have healed, so now he can spend the time and start putting this behind him,” Leo said.
“It’s not that simple, Leo!” Donnie snapped, taking his brother by surprise. “Ever since… since that happened to Mikey, I’ve been doing research, trying to find some way that I can help him. Being raped is more than just physical,” Donnie said, and knew immediately that Leo still didn’t fully understand what he was talking about.
“Why is it so hard to believe that Mikey might actually be doing alright?” Leo asked.
Donnie sighed again. “I want him to be doing alright, I really do, Leo. I want to believe that he’s healing, and I could almost believe it, if it wasn’t for the subtle things he does.”
“Like what?” Leo asked curiously, wondering if he could have actually missed something.
“Like how he flinches away from being touched; how he doesn’t sit next to anyone on the couch anymore; how as soon as we’re done with training he spends an hours in the shower,” Donnie said.
Leo opened his mouth to retort, but paused, mulling it over. He didn’t remember seeing Mikey doing any of that stuff, but knew that Donnie wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true. “You sure you’re not just reading too much into things?” Leo questioned uncertainly.
“No I’m not sure,” Donnie admitted, “though I could ask you the same thing, Leo. You want so much for Mikey to be better; are you sure you’re not just convincing yourself that he IS better?” Donnie shot back.
Leo frowned, truly thinking about what Donnie had just said. He had no reply for it. When Leo didn’t reply, Donnie continued speaking, hoping that he could at least make his older brother see things from a different point of view.
“None of us knows how to deal with something like this, and as far as I can tell from what I’ve researched, there is no ‘right treatment’ for what he’s been through. Mikey COULD genuinely be doing better; but at the same time, he could also be hiding from what happened, which isn’t healthy.”
“What do you suggest we do then?” Leo demanded,sounding beyond frustrated. “There is nothing we can do for him; you said it yourself, none of us knows how to deal with this.”
“At least I’m trying to help!” Donnie shouted. “You’re going around acting as if nothing even happened. And Raph’s even worse! Did you know he’s been hunting for Slash nearly every night now?”
“Don’t say he wouldn’t do it, you know he would,” Donnie interrupted. “It’s how he deals with things he doesn’t understand, he finds what he believes the source of the problem is, and he gets rid of it.”
Leo’s face went blank, turning to look at the entrance of the Lair. He was going to have to corner Raph at some point and put a stop to this. Going out and looking for Slash wasn’t going to help anyone.
“I don’t know what we should be doing, Leo,” Donnie admitted, “but we can’t just tuck our heads in our shells and pretend that everything is fine.” Donnie continued to watch his brother, waiting for some kind of reaction.
But Leo said nothing for a long moment, his eyes still fixed on the entrance of the Lair, as if silently debating about going after Raph now. However his attention drifted toward the hallway that led to their rooms.
“I’ll fix this,” Leo said, heading toward their rooms. and Donnie sighed softly shaking his head sadly. He didn’t know how he was going to get through to Leo and make his older brother understand, this wasn’t something he could just fix.
Mikey opened his eyes groggily, feeling tired and wanting to sink back into the oblivion of sleep; he was curled up under his desk, hidden behind the blanket that he had hung over it, one of the only places he felt safe. Blinking slowly, he tried to figure out what it was that had woken him up.
“Mikey?” Leo said softly into the room before the light was turned on. Mikey pulled the blanket that was hiding him aside, peering out from under his desk to look at Leo.
“Right here, bro.” Mikey said, letting out a yawn as he rubbed his eyes. “Wha’s goin’ on?” he asked tiredly.
“What are you doing, sleeping under your desk?” Leo questioned, coming over to kneel in front of Mikey, pushing the blanket further out of the way so he could see more of his baby brother.
“Nothing,” Mikey answered as he sat up. “What time is it?”
“Almost ten. We’re leaving on patrol in about fifteen minutes,” Leo said.
This surprised Mikey, since he had been banned from going on patrol over the last couple months. Though that had been mostly due to the fact he needed time to recover after his attack; however Mikey wasn’t all that eager to return to the surface world just yet.
“Oh, do I have to go?” Mikey asked, half hoping that Leo would let him stay hidden down here for a bit longer. Though Mikey knew that wasn’t very likely; Leo was determined to get things back to normal.
“Yes, I would like to start getting this team back in shape, regular patrols again. Though, since it’s been a couple months for you, we won't be out too late tonight,” Leo promised.
Mikey sighed and nodded. “Alright, I’ll be out in five minutes.” Mikey watched as Leo let go of the blanket that covered the entrance to the space under Mikey’s desk. Waiting until he heard his door close Mikey let out a long sigh.
“Have to act normal,” Mikey told himself, crawling out from his safe place, shivering as the cool air in his room seemed to press in on him. All Mikey really wanted to do was crawl back under his desk where he had piled his blankets, curl up and go back to sleep.
With very little motivation, Mikey started pulling on his knee and elbow pads, tying on his mask before locating his nunchucks that had been tossed up on his shelves. Mikey stood there in the middle of his room for a moment. Giving one last look to his little hiding space, he steeled himself and went out to the main room, where his brothers were already waiting for him.
“Alright team, let’s go,” Leo said, once he spotted Mikey.
Mikey let his brothers go on ahead of him, staying a few paces behind them as they jumped the turnstiles and ran through the sewers. “So where are we going?” Mikey asked, trying to break the silence a little.
“Just out to get some training done,” Leo answered. “It’s been too long since we’ve been out as a team.”
Mikey bit his lip, unsure if Leo had meant to sound accusing when he spoke, or if Mikey was just feeling guilty about it because he knew it was his fault they hadn’t been a ‘team’ in two months now. Either way, Mikey fell silent and followed his brothers, doing his best to stay focused and alert.
They made it to the surface far quicker than Mikey would have liked, he was the last one out of the manhole, climbing out after his brothers and sliding the cover back into place before quickly joining them on the roof.
“Alright, I think we should start off with a run,” Leo said, “get warmed up, then maybe find a place to get some real good ninja stealth training in.”
“Y’all can go play hide and seek if you want, I’m gonna go find some purple dragons to clobber for my warm up,” Raph said.
“No Raph,” Leo snapped. “We stick together as a team tonight, we’ve been slacking too much, and if we don’t get back into the swing of things, the Kraang are going to take over the city, or the foot, or-”
“We get it Leo,” Donnie said.
Mikey remained off to the side watching his brothers, he glanced behind him over the edge of the roof back toward the manhole cover, silently wondering to himself if he could sneak away and go home instead. He really wasn’t in the mood to be out here right now, he just felt so drained recently.
“Mikey!” The harsh snap of his name shocked Mikey out of his thoughts and back to reality. He turned quickly to look at Leo, grinning widely.
“Present!” Mikey said, smiling wider when Leo rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go, and try not to fall behind,” Leo said, giving Mikey a serious look before he turned and took off, leaving his three brothers to follow him.
“Well, let’s get this over with, I’m already hungry! The sooner we finish, the sooner we eat!” Mikey said with a laugh, ignoring the looks that Raph and Donnie were giving him, he took off after Leo. The same mantra of ‘acting normal, have to act normal’ kept playing over and over in his head. The more he acted like his usual self, the better off his family would be.
The run across the rooftops had been more refreshing than Mikey had expected it to be, the freedom of running, and jumping was apparently what he needed. Even if he had been scolded by Leo more than once for taking stupid chances, by jumping over the larger gaps between the buildings, while his three brothers used their grappling hooks
“That was incredibly dangerous, Mikey!” Donnie said, looking worriedly at Mikey.
“I made it, didn’t I?” Mikey said with a shrug.
“That’s not the point,” Donnie sighed.
“I told you no more stunts like that,” Leo snapped.
Raph rolled his eyes and walked over to stand between Leo and Mikey. “Let the goofball have a bit of fun, it’s not like he’s had much in the past few months, ‘sides, if anyone can make those longer jumps, it’s Mikey, and possibly Don,” Raph pointed out.
“Except I have the brains enough to not try something like that,” Donnie said as he looked back over the buildings they had just jumped from.”
“Dude’s! Chill out,” Mikey huffed. “I’m okay, I made it, and I’ve jumped longer distances than that before,” Mikey said wanting to put an end to the discussion before it turned into a real argument.
Leo let out another long sigh, shaking his head in clear disappointment. “That's enough for tonight I think,” Leo turned. “Let's head back.”
Mikey watched as his brothers nodded in agreement and turned to head back in the direction of the Lair. Biting his lip Mikey glanced around, they weren’t very close to April’s, something that Leo had obviously done on purpose to stop Donnie from running off. But Mikey had already made plans to meet up with Casey, and he wasn’t willing to change those plans just yet.
“Actually,” MIkey said, backing away from his brothers even as they turned to look at him. “I called in a pizza order, so I'm just gonna go pick that up! Meet you back at home!” Mikey said and was gone before his brothers could say anything. He ignored the shouts, and knew that they were going to try and follow him, however Mikey also knew that with his head start, and the fact that he was the fastest out of all of them, there was no way his brothers would catch up with him.
Mikey took the long way around, wanting to make sure that he lost his brothers before he went over to April’s. Because of this, Mikey was nearly an hour late, and he could see Casey pacing back and forth on the roof before he had even landed.
“I’m sorry I’m late,” Mikey said quickly.
“Hey, no sweat little dude,” Casey said, tossing Mikey the extra hockey stick. “You ready to play a bit? Or you want to just head down and raid April’s kitchen?”
“I’m not in the mood for anything really… I just needed to get away from my family tonight…” Mikey admitted.
“Things still tough at home?” Casey questioned.
“Yeah, not in a bad way…it’s just… suffocating,” Mikey said, smiling a little when Casey nodded his head in understanding. It was so easy to speak with Casey, knowing that the other teen just understood things, without Mikey having to go into detail.
“I think what makes it so much worse, is that I know they’re just trying to help,” Mikey said. “I can’t help but think, maybe Leo was right… maybe I am just overreacting to all of this. Maybe it’s time to just let it go and move on…”
“Dude, we talked about this,” Casey said.
“I know!” Mikey threw his hands into the air. “I know we did… and you were right, things aren’t going to go back to normal, but… if I keep acting normal, at least then I’m not bothering them… they seem happier… I mean, just because I have to live with what happened… it doesn’t mean they have to be burdened with it too,” Mikey said.
Casey sighed and shook his head. “That’s only going to hurt you in the long run.”
“I don’t really care about that anymore,” Mikey sighed. “My family is all I have, without them I…”
“You’re useless,” the new voice joined them, and Mikey tensed, his eyes widening and his face lost several shades of green. Reaching for his nunchucks Mikey turned around, trying to locate where the larger turtle was.
“Who’s there?” Casey frowned, taking in Mikey’s defensive pose.
“Slash,” Mikey answered, gripping his nunchucks tighter than he normally would as he pushed down the fear that was threatening to overtake him at hearing that voice again.
Nothing more had to be said, Casey going on the defensive too. “Come out you creepy freak,” Casey said, pressing his back against Mikey’s as he held up his hockey stick like a weapon.
“I didn’t think there was anyone more pathetic than you, Michelangelo,” Slash said. “I’m amused to see I’ve been proven wrong.”
“What do you want?” Mikey demanded, hoping he wouldn’t regret asking that question. Movement off to the side caught Mikey’s attention, the orange banded turtle had less than a second to react, pushing backward he knocked Casey to the ground, rolling over the other teen he landed back on his feet.
Mikey straightened up, ready to go back on the defensive, however he had underestimated how fast Slash really was. Mikey didn’t have enough time to react when a large fist connected with his stomach, knocking the air out of him and sending him flying backward across the rooftop.
“Mikey!” Casey shouted, staring in horror as the orange banded turtle rolled across the rooftop, coming to stop near the edge. Slash started moving toward Mikey as the small turtle lifted himself up, shaking his head as if to clear it.
“Hey, freak! Leave him alone!” Casey ordered, grabbing his hockey stick as he stood and prepared himself to face this oversized turtle. Slash however, didn’t even look at him, just continued walking toward Mikey. Letting out a yell, Casey charged, swinging his hockey stick at the large turtle.
Slash growled, turning quickly he caught the stick in one hand, snapping it in half and tossing the broken bits aside. “Get lost,” he glared down at Casey, raising his hand to backhand the teen.
“No!” Mikey shouted, recovering from the previous attack, he ran at Slash, catching the monster off guard he managed to hit him in the head with his nunchucks. “Casey, run!” Mikey shouted, dodging the next attack Slash aimed at him.
“No way!” Casey reached to grab another hockey stick.
“This guy is to big, he’ll flatten you! Go get April!” Mikey said, hitting Slash again.
“What can she do?” Casey demanded, looking for an opening to attack Slash.
Mikey couldn’t answer, too busy dodging another strike from Slash, Mikey noticed that Casey wasn’t going anywhere, and Mikey knew he couldn’t keep this fight here, he had to lead Slash away.
“Come on you big idiot!” Mikey said, sounding braver than he truly felt, he couldn’t let Casey get caught by this monster, and even though Mikey was terrified that Slash would catch him again, he couldn’t let his new friend get hurt.
Casey watched in horror as Mikey darted off in one direction, Slash giving chase. “Fuck!” Casey said, darting forward to chase after them, but stopped when he reached the edge of the building. The jump wouldn’t be easy enough, however Mikey and Slash were already three buildings ahead, and Casey knew there was no way he could catch up to them.
“Fuck!” He shouted again, turning quickly, moving as fast as he could Casey ran down the fire escape, jumping down whole sets of stairs at once. Ignoring the stinging pain in his legs each time he landed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”
“April! We’ve got trouble!” Casey yelled, before he had even reached the open window to the redheads apartment, hoping she was close enough by that she heard him, and that she would know what to do.
Bad place to leave it, but chapter 9 is finished, and will be up shortly.