When Raphael awoke again, he was back in the barracks inside a smaller room with the same walls and floors. There was only a single locker in one corner of the room and a night stand beside the bed he sat on. He guessed this was a bedroom but it looked very cold and bland. There were no colors, not even pictures to make it seem lived-in.
The memories soon followed and Raph sighed with exasperation. This was getting so pathetic it wasn’t even funny anymore. How could a girl, so young, be able to beat him like this?
Someone groaned from behind Raph, startling him. Raph tried to turn around to see who it was, but was unable to due to the ropes that bound his arms to his torso. Raph wiggled a little, testing out its durability when he heard another groan from behind him, this one stronger and lot more recognizable.
“Leo?” Raph called, trying to look over his shoulder to the turtle he was tied to.
“R-Raph?” Leo croaked, his voice hoarse. Raph couldn’t see much but he could tell Leo was shaking his head and looking around.
“No. My head hurts.” Raph felt a tug against their bonds, then heard a, “What the?” There was more squirming with little result, then finally stillness.
“What is this? What happened?” Leo asked.
Raph snorted. “Your daughter, that’s what happened.”
“Shit.” Leo muttered and began wriggling again.
“You’re wasting your time Leo. She knotted these tight. You teach her that?” Raph asked.
Leo grumbled. “Unfortunately, yes.”
Raph smirked. “She’s a sweetheart.”
The conversation fell into silence shortly after that and Raph couldn’t help but feel weird for talking with Leo after all this time. It seemed so natural. His brain already coming up with all the witty come-backs whenever Leo said something. Like he’d been tossed back in time to when they were teenagers constantly teasing and bantering with each other. Raph couldn’t lie, it was nice.
Leo was the first to break the silence though. “I’m guessing she’s already told you everything?”
“Oh, you mean the part about where my DNA was also installed into her? Yeah, yeah, she told me about that.” Raph said sarcastically.
Another long moment of silence, then a heavy sigh from Leo. “I didn’t want you to find out this way.”
Raph scoffed. “Did you even plan on telling me?”
“Yes!” Leo snapped defensively. Paused. “ . . . Eventually.”
“Right, and when was that going to be, when she was thirty maybe?” Raph shook his head. “Seriously Leo, it’s been seventeen years. I mean . . . I can understand it might have taken you a little while to figure it out but once you did, why wouldn’t you tell me? This is freakin big news Leo! I mean, we have a daughter for fucks sake!”
“I know!” Leo slumped, causing the rope to tighten. “I know. . . I should have. I just. . . I didn’t think you would want to know. I didn’t want you to feel obligated to put up with me because of her.”
“You didn’t even give me the choice!” Raph retorted angrily. Already an argument was brewing and they haven’t even been awake for five minutes.
“Then tell me, Raph. If I had given the choice, would you have felt required to stay with me for her?”
Raph paused but he already knew his answer. “I would have liked to get to know my daughter, yes. But no, Leo, I wouldn’t have forced you to be with me because of her. She doesn’t need it.”
As quickly as it began, the anger dissolved back into silence again. Raph wanted to say more but he didn’t think any of it would help. So, he continued to sit there, staring at the white walls and wondering what Leo could be thinking.
Finally, he said. “I’m sorry, Raph. I should have told you. That was wrong of me.” Raph quickly looked at Leo over his shoulder but all he saw was the back of Leo’s head.
“I just. . .” He continued. “I just thought I was doing you a favor. I didn’t want to force you to be around someone you hated.”
Raph’s chest tightened with his guilt as their harsh words replayed in his head, and in response to his shame, he retaliated with anger. “Oh bullshit!” Raph blurted. “Admit it Leo, this has nothing to do with my feelings. You were just too chicken-shit to face me. You didn’t want to mess up your perfect little life again by returning to the whole reason you abandoned us.”
Raph could feel the body behind him stiffen. “Abandon you?” Leo exclaimed in outrage. “What the fuck are you. . .” Whatever argument Leo had was abruptly interrupted by the bedroom door swinging open and the cause of their situation walking in.
“Oh my god, shut up! I leave the room for five minutes to go to the bathroom and you guys wake up and start arguing.” Arianna grumbled as she shut the door behind her and walked over to them, quickly checking to see if their bindings had loosened any. They must not have because she didn’t even touch them before she moved away from them.
“Arianna.” Leo growled. Incredibly pissed off.
Arianna smiled and went over to Leo. Raph couldn’t see her but he could hear her as she said, “Yes dear daddy of mine?”
Raph grunted as Leo leaned forward, tightening their ties a little. “Release us right now.”
“Sure.” She said. “On one condition.”
“No. I am not bargaining with you, young lady.”
“Well, you’re not exactly in a position to be giving orders right now, Dad.”
Raph could feel the vibrations of Leo’s snarls through their shells. “I’ll give you orders because I am your father and if you don’t untie us right now, I’m going to give you hell so help me child.”
Raph had to bite his lip to stifle his laughter. Completely entertained by the ordeal. He should be just as pissed off as Leo by this situation, but for some reason, listening to Leo talking in parent language was amusing to him.
“Sorry Dad but I just can’t do that. Not until you hear me out.”
Leo sucked in some more air to protest when Raph finally interfered. “Come on, Leo. Let’s just hear what she has to say first.”
“Do not tell me how to handle my daughter, Raph.” Leo snapped.
“I wasn’t. I was just saying that maybe. . .”
“You know what, Raph? Maybe you should just stop saying things for once in your life.”
Raph scoffed. “Hey, you’re the one getting all pissed off.”
“And who’s fault do you think that is?”
“Not mine. You’re the one that brought up this fucking conversation.”
“I was apologizing, but you made me regret even doing that!”
“So, you regret being sorry for not telling me that I have a daughter?”
“When you’re this much of an asshole, yes! My daughter does not need that kind of role-model in her life.”
“Oh, like you’re a perfect dad. You abandoned the rest of your family.”
“What the hell is with you and this abandonment? I did not abandon you!”
Raph laughed. “For fuck’s sake Leo, you left us there in fucking New York for twenty-three years to go hide out on a remote island while we fended for ourselves!”
“I kept in touch! I called Mikey every week!”
“But would you have even known if we had died in between then? What would you have done if we had gotten kidnapped by the Shredder? Nothing, that’s what! Because you’re on the other fucking side of the damn world, Leo!”
“Enough!” Arianna’s voice shouted overtop their loud arguing. Both turtles fell silent as they turned their attentions to the girl. Arianna stared down at them as if she was the mother looking down on two naughty children, her arms akimbo.
Raph was panting and shaking from the adrenaline rush as he usually did during a fight with Leo. The familiarity with this feeling was frightening. Taking him back to the day his life had changed so drastically.
This was why Raph didn’t want to come here. This was exactly what he knew would happen. The two were like rabid dogs trapped in a cage together, they could not stop fighting each other. Their alpha personalities enabled them with a need to always come out on top, no matter what.
“Arianna. . .”
Leo began, a touch gentler than before, but was cut off as Arianna’s hand rose to stop him and said, “Don’t.” She sighed and closed her eyes, rubbing the spot in between. She was obviously incredibly annoyed with them.
“This is absolutely ridiculous, this grudge you still hold against each other. Why is it, that after these twenty-three years of absence, the first thing you guys want to do when you see each other is yell at each other for something so stupid?” Raph might have been amused by this, a teenage girl giving two full grown men a lecture about maturity, if it didn’t look so sad.
“I mean, come on guys! The world is falling apart around us and all you can think of doing is arguing about who said what and who did what? Does winning this argument matter more to you then keeping your families safe? For goodness sakes, the whole family split apart because your prides got injured! Yes, it hurts but it’s going to hurt more if someone dies and the last thing they remember is the other telling them they hated them! Is that how you want your story to end?”
Silence answered Arianna’s question as the two turtles tied together allowed her words to sink in. They knew she was right as reluctant as they both were to admit it. Their prides stinging with their shame.
Raph was the first to speak. “She has a point.”
Leo didn’t respond right away, but after another minute passed of tense silence, Raph heard the turtle sigh in defeat.
“What’s this condition you have?”
Raph hadn’t expected that from Leo but he supposed it was better than nothing. Arianna though, looked relieved. A small smile formed as she said, “Raph will be staying here for a while now because of the upcoming storm, so unless you two want to be tied together for an entire week. That includes my feeding you by hand and you two having to take a shit together . . .”
“Arianna.” Leo growled.
“Sorry. Take a crap together. Then you two are going to have to learn fast how to get along. So, no squabbling. No insulting. No trying to push each other’s buttons unless you want to be bound up again. And next time, you’ll be tied facing each other. Now, we have an agreement?”
Another bout of silence.
Then reluctantly, Raph said, “I can try to get along with Leo, but I can’t guarantee anything.”
It was only for a week after all. How hard could it be?
Leo took a little longer to reply but eventually he nodded. “I’ll try too.”
Arianna grinned victoriously and clapped her hands together. “Great! One big happy family!”
Raph wasn’t so sure of that but he had convinced himself that if he could avoid Leo for twenty-three years, he could avoid Leo for seven measly days. Piece of cake.
Arianna had pulled out that dagger that Raph had been admiring in the car and began cutting through the ropes. Raph could feel a tingly sensation as his blood was finally released into the rest of his arms. When they were fully freed, Raph shook his limbs out and rotated his joints that were cramping up.
Finally, after a full two minutes had gone by, Raph worked up the nerve to face the turtle he had been tied to. Leo had his back to him, repeating the same exercise Raph had been doing to his own limbs. Apparently, he wasn’t up for some conversation so Raph left him to it.
Arianna sheathed her dagger back into her belt before gesturing to Raph to come with her. “I’ll show you the guest bedroom.”
Raph followed, taking one last glance at Leo who was now stripping off his black trench coat before leaving the bedroom. Arianna was complaining about the decoration of the barracks or something along those lines but Raph wasn’t really listening. Occasionally, he’d glance up to see a room Arianna was showing him but he wasn’t taking it in completely. He was too exhausted to really care. His head was pounding and his body was incredibly achy. He knew those drugs were probably still swimming through his system and making him feel so tired despite you’d think he’d slept long enough, but all he wanted to do now was crash.
Finally, they entered a similar looking bedroom to the one Raph and Leo had been tied in, except this one was just slightly smaller. It was just as plain and impersonal as the rest of the barracks even with Arianna’s decorating abilities, but he wasn’t going to complain. Even the cheap looking mattress and scratchy blankets looked heavenly at this moment.
Arianna walked over and dropped the duffle bag she had been carrying onto the bed. “Sorry about the plainness of the room. I haven’t had the time to decorate in here.”
Raph shrugged. “Better than nothing.”
“If you want, I’ll get a vase of flowers to make the place look comfier.” Arianna smiled teasingly.
“Oh, uhm, you don’t have to.” Raph awkwardly smiled in return.
“It’s no problem. Don’t worry about it.” Arianna waved him away. “Also, the bathroom is right next door.” She pointed right. “And if you need me, shout. I’m in the next bedroom down.” She pointed left.
Raph nodded. “Got it.”
“Oh, and also, if you’re up for it, training begins at six in the morning if you would like to participate.” Arianna offered.
Raph bit on his lip and shrugged again. “Maybe. It’s been a hell of a day, you know?”
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I just think it would be neat to see what you got. Dad has told me about your fighting capabilities and it got me curious.” Arianna said.
“Did he now?” Raph raised a brow.
Arianna nodded. “It’s all good things if that’s what you’re worried about. Even if Dad doesn’t like you, he still admires your fighting style.”
Raph didn’t know how to respond to that so he just nodded. “We’ll see.”
Arianna smiled. “Well, you have a goodnight Raph.”
Arianna pulled the guest room door closed and made her way over to her father’s room. She gave it two knocks, not waiting for a reply before walking in. She spotted Leo in front of his locker, hanging up his coat and his other small articles of clothing as he prepared for bed.
“Hey Dad?” She called, but he didn’t look at her.
“I’m still not happy with you.”
“I figured. I just wanted to let you know that Raph might be joining us for training in the morning.” Arianna grinned sweetly as Leo turned his wide-eyed stare on her.
“You heard me. As our guest, I decided it was only polite to invite him along.”
“Arianna, you didn’t.” Leo growled.
“Goodnight Dad.” Arianna waved and immediately shut the door before Leo could rein her in for another lecture. Feeling accomplished, she walked over to her own room with a smile on her face.