Leo and Don stood in the doorway, watching Raph talk to Mikey as he opened his eyes. His chest was heaving and his eyes were glazed over as he struggled to keep his eyes open. He looked like all he wanted to do was go back to sleep but Raph has his hand on his face, encouraging him to stay awake.
Flicking his tongue out to try to moisten his mouth, Mikey discovered the mask over his beak. He moved to take it off but Raph made him keep it on.
“It’s okay, Mikey,” Raph soothed.
“What happened?” Mikey choked out as he tried to sit up but a wave of nausea had him staying down.
“You drank a whole bottle of whisky,” Raph answered, keeping his voice soft.
“I did?” Mikey brought his hand up to rub his aching head and noticed that it was bandaged. “What happened to my hand?”
“You don’t remember anything?” Raph answered with a question. Leo knew that Mikey hated it when people did that.
“No,” Mikey said in flatly. “I wouldn’t have asked if I remembered.”
“You burned your hand,” Raph finally answered but the way he said it implied that there was more.
Mikey picked up on it. “What else did I do?”
Raph hesitated for a moment then asked, “What do you remember?”
Mikey scoffed and looked up at the ceiling. “Stop pussy footing around, Raph, and tell me what happened.”
“I need to know the last thing you remember at least,” Raph insisted.
Heaving out an exasperated sigh, Mikey tried to get his thoughts in order. “I remember…,” he mumbled as he thought. Then his eyes went wide as he remembered something. “I remember,” he sobbed, turning away from Raph.
“Hey, Mikey, it’s okay,” Raph stood and placed his hand on Mikey’s carapace. “Don and I were able to save most of your stuff.”
Mikey turned to look up a Raph and squeaked out, “What? What about my stuff?”
“Wait… what… what were you talking about?” Raph stammered out.
Mikey grunted in frustration, “I was talking about trying to kiss you earlier. Now, what were you talking about? What happened to my stuff?”
Leo could tell that Raph was conflicted as he thought about how to answer him. Mikey continued to glare up at Raph, waiting for his response. “You…,” Raph sighed and shook his head, looking down in defeat. “You took it out to the sewer tunnels and set it on fire. That’s how you burned yourself.”
“I did what?” Mikey screamed as his eyes filled with tears.
Donny rushed over, holding up his hands, “I know you are upset but you have to stay calm or you might hurt yourself.”
“Keep calm?” Mikey took a deep breath then shouted, “Everything…!” He turned his back to his brothers and pulled the covers over his head. “Everything has me upset,” Mikey fussed. “Leo hates me, I humiliated myself with Raph, betrayed your friendship, and then burned all my things while in a drunken stupor.”
Don placed a reassuring hand on Mikey’s shoulder. “Leo doesn’t hate you; he’s just going through something… difficult. Raph and I aren’t mad at you and we were able to save most of your things. We’re all just happy that you’re okay.”
They sat in silence as the minutes dragged on and Mikey kept his back to his brothers. Leo continued to stand in the door way, listening but not wanting to say anything for fear of making matters worse. He looked back over his shoulder to where Splinter was resting on the sofa. They had decided to let him rest since he didn’t sleep well that night.
After a while, Mikey’s soft voice had Leo turning his attention back to his brothers, “I wasn’t trying to kill myself, just the pain.”
“I believe you,” Donny whispered back. He rubbed Mikey’s arm through the blanket.
Mikey’s body shook as he started to cry. “How could I screw up so horribly?”
“You reached your limit,” Donny stated. “We all have one. The important thing is that you are okay.”
Mikey continued to cry and Leo took a few steps into the lab. “Mikey….” Leo’s voice was just above a whisper but Mikey was able to hear it and he went silent.
Donny stood and pulled Raph up with him. “Well leave you two alone.”
“We will?” Raph lifted an eye ridge. “I thought you didn’t want Mikey upset.”
“Don’t go,” Mikey pleaded in a shrill voice at the same time.
Donny dragged Raph with him and whispered to Leo, “His crying is a good sign. It shows that he hasn’t completely shut down. Talk to him. Try to explain.” With that, Donny left, taking Raph with him. The solid thump of the door indicated that they would have absolute privacy.
Leo stepped towards Mikey, “I’m sorry.”
Mikey stayed quiet, seething under the blanket. Leo kept his distance but refused to leave.
“I made some mistakes,” Leo tried to explain. “You were right. I lost a part of myself in South America but I’m trying to get it back.” He moved closer and sat down. “Mikey?”
“The only reason you’re here is because you feel guilty,” Mikey’s harsh words felt like a punch to the gut. “I don’t want your pity. I don’t want you anymore, Leo. You can leave.”
Leo moved to say something but Mikey cut him off by yelling, “Go away!”
“Please, Mikey,” Leo placed his hand on Mikey’s shoulder. “Let me explain.”
Pulling away from Leo’s touch, Mikey repeated. “You’re here out of guilt. You don’t want me. You would still be ignoring me if I didn’t…,” Mikey’s voice shook and he had to take a few steading breaths before he could continue. “Just leave.”
Leo pulled his hand back and wrung his hands together as he considered leaving. He didn’t know if he could handle Mikey’s problems on top of his own. He stood, hesitated, and then sat back down. “No,” Leo tried to hide the uncertainty in his voice but it came spilling out. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Mikey threw the covers off his head and glared at Leo. “I don’t want you here,” Mikey forced the words out. “Go away.”
“No,” Leo shook his head. He remained seated even though he wanted to get up and run out of the room.
Mikey swung his injured hand out to hit Leo, and then recoiled in pain after striking Leo’s plastron. When Leo stood to see if he was alright, Mikey managed to strike him on the beak with the other hand. Leo had tears in his eyes from the pain and he stepped back. Mikey brought his hand up to hit Leo again but Leo was able to catch it while holding his beak with the other hand.
“Mikey, I care about you,” Leo insisted in a nasally voice as Mikey tried to pull free from his grip. “I want to give you a chance. I’m sorry it took me so long to realize how much I need you.”
“You only wanna give me a chance because you can’t have Donny,” Mikey argued as he managed to wrench his wrist free. “You feel the need to be nice to me to alleviate your guilt.”
“That’s not true,” Leo said and moved his hand away from his beak to see if there was any blood. Fortunately there was none. “I realized I was wrong before you hurt yourself. I went to your room but you weren’t there.”
“I don’t believe you,” Mikey yelled, throwing another punch that Leo managed to avoid. “You’re here because you pity me and you don’t want me to hurt myself again. You’re gonna settle because you can’t have Donny.”
“I swear, that’s not why I’m here,” Leo insisted.
“I don’t believe you,” Mikey screamed, sitting up and throwing his pillow at Leo. “Go away!”
The door to the lab opened and they both turned to see Splinter enter. “Leonardo,” Splinter beckoned him over.
Leo placed the pillow on one of the chairs and walked over to his father. “I’m trying…,” Leo started but Splinter held up his hand to quiet him.
“Give him a little more time,” Splinter told him, taking his hand. “Go to your room and meditate some more. You have your own problems to work through.”
“Yes, father,” Leo bowed his head but stayed just outside the lab as Splinter walked in.
With Leo out of the room, Mikey was quickly reminded that his body was still recovering and exhaustion started to overwhelm him. He lied back down and moaned as he covered his eyes with his good hand.
Splinter made his way over to his youngest and, with a grunt, sat down.
Splinter didn’t say anything while he waited for Mikey to remove his hand from his face and look at him. Mikey’s eyes filled with tears, “Are you disappointed in me?”
“No,” Splinter soothed, placing his hand on Mikey’s chest. “I am sorry that I couldn’t do more to help you with your pain. I tried as much as I could without interfering too much in your relationships but now I see that I should have done more.”
Mikey shook his head, “There was nothing more that you could have done. It ‘s not like you could have forced Leo to love me back.”
“Your brother does love you,” Splinter said, keeping his tone soft.
“No,” Mikey looked away. “At least, not beyond brotherly love. I’m nothing more than a burden to him; an annoying little brother. He may not hate me and he doesn’t want me hurt but he doesn’t love me. Not like I love him.”
Leo leaned against the wall and closed his eyes as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“So you do still love him.” Splinter ran his hand down Mikey’s head in a gesture of fatherly love and Mikey nodded. Splinter helped Mikey get settled in the bed and fixed the blankets. “There are things you need to know about Leonardo and his time in South America. Do you think you are up to hearing about them now or would you rather sleep?”
Mikey took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I guess you can start and we’ll see how it goes.”