“Auch, gently, Donnie!”
“It’s not my fault. I’m being as gentle as I can but your burns are bad. Plus I need to remove these black dead skin areas.”
“I know all that but can’t you numb my arms or something?”
“If I would do that then you would complain for hours for not being able to use your arms since they would stay numb for 2 or 3 hours at least.”
I pouted and kept leaning against the table while Don treated my arms. He was right and I knew it so I really couldn’t argue with him… plus he was smarted. He would run my ass over with his wisdom any time, any day. Decided to look at little Leo and what he was doing I found him looking at stuff from the corner of the room near by the door. He clearly wasn’t going to come in look them more closely if he wasn’t invited in the room.
Nudging Don a bit with my foot I gave him silent hint with my eyes towards little Leo and I’m forever glad he’s so smart since he realized my hint right away. Don coughed once to clear his voice before turning to look Leo smiling at him that sweet dorky smile of his.
“It’s okay, Leo. You can come in and look at whatever interests you but please, don’t go touch them without me. I don’t want you to get hurt since Raphael is patient enough for one day.”
Don couldn’t help himself as he chuckled at me with smirk and wiggling eyebrows, returning back to work on my arms. Leo stood at the corner confused and unsure but after a while, and holding his teddy bear tightly, he took one careful step forward. When he noticed nothing bad happened to him for taking that step he took another step, another and another, his steps becoming more and more firm with each step. He was soon next to us looking Don’s handy work but he soon went on to study rest of the room. Both Don and I watched after him with small smiles in silence before we continued our little nonsense chatting to keep good and calm feeling up and give privacy to Leo to look around. I bet he would have start to feel uneasy if we would had keep staying quiet and stare at him.
“Here, all done. How does your arms feel like?”
“Well, they sting and the skin feels tight around the wounds but I can manage.”
Little Leo once more came to us as we both stood up. “I know I don’t need to remind you but I do it still; Be careful with your arms and let them heal. It takes time before your mutagen kicks in good enough and can heal your skin but there is huge chance it won’t heal it completely.”
“And that means?”
“Scars.” I laughed with loud snort at Don’s reply.
“Like scars never have bothered me. I look good with them and I carry them all with pride.”
Pushing his glasses better on his nose Donatello snorted playfully. “Yeah, I know. They are your little trophies.” My only reply to him was wide and proud smirk. I loved my scars and I never minded to have more of them. Suddenly Don and I heard two small ‘blob’ sounds right after each other like when you keep your lips together and then open or move them like fishes does. Turning to look down next to us little Leo stood there and moved his lips again twice in fishy way, creating that sound.
So he had come up with a new way to make sounds and get attention. I knelt down as he rubbed his eyes and hold his teddy by its hand.
“I think he’s tired.”
“Yeah, must be. After all he has go through a lot and I don’t know when he has sleep last time. Come here, pal. Time to go take a nap.” And he came to me as I picked him in my arms. He yawned long and wide curling more against my chest plates rubbing his face deep into his toy. It was… so heartwarming and sweet to see. I noticed how much I already loved and cared about this little turtle… and Don noticed it too since he smiled at me in weird way but it was still gentle and loving too.
“You really have lost your heart to him.”
“Can’t help it. He’s adorable little turtle who I will protect with my life. Same goes with you guys.”
“I know that, we all do. But more than anything it has to mean something huge to little Leo. He hasn’t been here more than hour at max and this is first time I see him so calm and relaxed.”
Looking down into my arms I sighed silently but deep. “Yeah. It will take time for him to get used of being relaxed and calm with us. All those long years he had been standing on his toes in fear. I don’t even know has he ever had a chance to rest and relax fully.”
“He has now.” There he go again – giving me that sweet and loving look of his. Don, you jerk. I blushed and looked away just nodding.
“I better take him to sleep ---”
“If I may suggest, I recommend your own bed since it has your scent on it. I’m sure it will help little Leo sleep, stay relaxed and calm.”
Don was genius for a reason. I shared a smile with him and nodded. Before I left the room I also thanked him for the help and treatment to my hands. He was the best. Outside the needle room Leonardo and Michelangelo turned to look at me as I walked past them towards my bed, placing little Leo to sleep on it, carefully pulling part of the blank on him. Standing up and still I kept my eyes on his sleeping face for a while before walking silently to my brothers who talked to me with whispers.
“Did Don knock him out?”
“Wha- no, you idiot! He is just tired for all what has happen.”
“You do realize he needs his own bed, Raphael.”
I turned my eyes from Mikey’s on Leo’s and there he was going again with his strict look. “Look here, Leo. That little guy can sleep in my bed if it brings him a feeling of comfort and being safe. I can easily share my bed with him or I can sleep somewhere else and he can have my bed.”
“I’m against it.”
“Why?” I growled as I stepped closer. “Because everyone needs their own bed? Because you cannot come to control it who I allow in my bed and who I don’t? Or is it --”
“Guys, guys, guys, knock it out!” Mikey came between us with a bit louder whispering. “You two are gonna wake little dude if you keep going. Leo, calm down and back away. We will make own little bed for little you.” My little brother’s blue eyes turned now on me. “And you, go see Master Splinter. He said he wishes to see you alone without little Leo and talk.”
I eyed Mikey and then Leo, snorting with small growl. “Fine, I’ll go. You keep your eyes on little Leo for me, Mikey. You can have one of my pizza slices as a thanks.”
“Oh so generous of you! But njah, I’m good. I kinda want to look after him. Feels like I’m having a little bro now too!” Even that I didn’t smile I was happy inside to see Mikey so excited and happy about little Leo. I could trust him in Mikey’s care. I walked past my brothers and pushed Leo slightly out of the way to make sure he knew he had piss me off once again as I made my way to Splinter’s room.
I heard knocking from the door and gave permission to come in. My largest son bowed at me before entering and closing the door behind him. I watched how he landed on his knees and I couldn’t help but to check his bandage covered arms as well.
“Are you in pain, my son?”
“Huh? No, not at all. Don did very good job like always when he’s taking care of us.”
“Just like how you are taking care of your brothers in a time of need.”
My sentence clearly embarrassed Raphael in some way so I sighed happily with smile before becoming serious again. “I trust your brothers told you to come here as I requested them to do.”
I reached to take old diary in my hands, placing it on the table between my son and I. “I believe we have things to disgust about. You have seen what’s been written inside of this, haven’t you?”
“Yes. I read part of it when I was in little Leo’s time in their lair.”
I nodded as I locked my eyes on that old cover and ran my fingers gently over it. “I read part of it too but I must admit, my heart nor my spirit cannot handle all the cruelty what has been written in this diary and what little Leo has go through. I wanted to read it all but I know I cannot so I have come to conclusion that it would be wise if we would burn this diary.”
Raphael turned quiet with silent inhale and I waited patiently since he clearly wanted to talk.
“I understand your decision, master, but wouldn’t it still be best if one of us would know what’s been written in it? I believe we could help little Leo better if we would know.”
“I agree with you, but there also are times when it’s better if you don’t have the knowledge of the past since it can come poisonous. You may start to copy and mimic that what you have read instead of doing totally opposite.” Looking down at the diary I sighed and took it in my lap. “I believe this is too dark for any of us to read completely. I fear it might will damage us in this time, your bonds with your brothers, my bond with all of you which I wish never to happen.”
“Don’t get me wrong, sensei, but it sounds like if you’re afraid.”
“Oh but I am.”
“You are? B-but I have always thought you fear nothing.”
“Everyone is afraid of something, Raphael, even I. My greatest fear is to lose you and your brothers. As a parent you never want to see or know you have cause harm and pain to your children. Or lose them.”
My pain was most obvious which was caused by this diary and Raphael must had sensed it since he stood up and came next to me on his knees, hugging me gently and firmly, whispering after a silent moment. “We know you love us and you would never hurt us. Never. We love and trust you more than anything, father.”
Father. That was a name what Raphael rarely called me with but when he did, it came so deep from his heart with so strong love towards me it brought tears in my eyes as I held him back by the arm.
Feeling father holding me by the arm as I kept holding him back made me realize I might had done big mistake while bringing that diary in this time and allowing my father to read it. It had caused so much pain to him... I was worrying so much over him now.
“If you say the best thing to do is to burn that diary without reading it, then so be it. We will burn it.”
I heard the door opening so I placed book from my hands waiting Raphael and father come to us. They told us what they had decided to do about the diary and how we all now had responsibility to be loving big brothers to little Leo and help him to recover.
It was time for dinner and I helped Don and Raph to set the table while Mikey went to wake up little me but of course it didn’t go as planned. Soon weird cry sounds echoed in the lair with the ringing of bell which was Raphael’s call sign. Raphael left us instantly and went to see what was going on and I couldn’t stop myself for following him. I saw how Mikey looked all sad telling Raphael he hadn’t meant to scare little Leo as he had gently wake him up telling him to come to eat with us. Raphael wasn’t angry at Mikey since there was no any reasons for that. Instead he nodded and tapped Mikey’s shoulder, focusing on crying little guy in his arms.
Seeing the way how Raphael talked, smiled and looked at little Leo so lovingly was new and painful. In these days Raph gave such gentle looks to Mike and Don at times but never to me. In our childhood he… we, shared that kind of close bond what he now had with little me. But then again I couldn’t blame Raph or anyone else than myself for it. I had pushed my brothers further away from me and it had caused our relationship become colder and more distant.
I saw how Splinter was now gently making his way towards Raphael and Leo and that little thing was so afraid of our father but Splinter kept smiling at him and gently reached his hand towards little me, introducing himself but Leo just shook his head. I smiled a bit for the fact Raphael didn’t give up on him so easily and told him gently and firmly to shake hands with our father as a sign there was nothing bad in our father. It seemed to be hard task and lots to ask but little Leo took a small hold on father’s finger and then pulled his hand fast back in his lap. He received so many smiles and compliments and encouragement from Mikey, Raphael and father. He looked confused and scared but his eyes started to shine with small joy. I bet he was feeling proud of himself.
At dinner table little Leo sat in my lap and ate his first pizza slice ever and we all were holding our breaths to see his reaction to it – and it was wonderful! His eyes turned wide and so shiny and his smile went from ear to ear as he took another and bigger bite this time, happily munching his dinner. But it also showed how much starvation he had go through since he was stuffing food in his mouth like mad after we had managed to encourage him to eat as much as he wanted and what he wanted. I’m not sure was it bad or good thing to have another person in the family who ate like and as much as Mikey…
After dinner Master ordered us in the dojo to have little training session since morning routines were a bit confused after me coming back home with little Leo who now was sitting in the corner and watching us train. At the end of training Master looked at little Leo and smiled, speaking with gentle and loving voice.
“Would you like to try training, little Leonardo?” But Leo shyly shook his head. I couldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to have anything to do with martial arts and violence. “It’s alright if you don’t want to. We then will find something else what you would like to do.” Splinter said before turning his focus on us and bowing. As he left the dojo with Mikey and Don, Leonardo, myself and little Leo stayed in the dojo and literally everything about Leo was screaming he wanted to talk.
“What is it this time?”
“Nothing.” Was all what he said and marched out of the dojo, I following him in the living room area with little Leo behind me.
“Nothing?! Oh come on, your whole body is screaming you want to lecture me about something! Just spit it out!” Leonardo spun around on his heels and faced me with his ‘normal’ strict look what he wore most of the time. Little Leo seemed to sense the tension between us as he made those ‘blob’ sounds again to get my attention. I looked down at him and petted his head, telling him to move a way for a bit.
It surprised me when Mikey and Master Splinter came to us at this point. “Leonardo, would you like to come with me and Michelangelo? We have something for you.”
Leo looked at me with huge unsure eyes but I smiled and nodded to him. “Go on. You are safe with Mikey and Splinter. They won’t hurt you. And it would be rude to say no if they have something for you. I will come to see you as soon as I can.”
Hesitating a moment Leo sucked his thumb a moment while holding on my belt, looking at Splinter and Mikey. His tiny feet soon took him fast right slightly behind Mikey as he took a hold on his finger. I felt happy and proud since despite the fact he was afraid of Splinter, he didn’t show his fear so strongly anymore if there was someone with him and Splinter. I bet he would freak out if he would have to be alone with him tho. I watched them walking away more further in the living room area, finally sitting on the floor. Mikey kept little Leo sitting on the floor between his legs while Splinter bend down with a box full of our old toys.
“There are all yours. You can play with them whenever you want. My only wish, however, is that when you stop playing, you put toys back in this box. Can you do it for us?”
And little Leo nodded few times to Splinter. Good, that was so very good. Now that I was sure they would be fine I turned my attention on Leonardo.
“I’m all yours now. Spit it out.”
“I don’t like this.”
“That he’s here. He doesn’t belong in our time, Raphael. I understand why you wanted to save him and bring him here but have you thought it at all how it could change things?”
“Well, I don’t know. Perhaps make our time different, make his world different. There’s many ways.”
“You think I give a damn about those? To me all that matters is that we all are fine and alive and that he’s alive and fine with us. Everything else what may come to us, comes to me after all that and we will deal with it then when it comes.” Eyeing Leo’s body language I knew there was something more. “What this is really all about?”
“It’s about HIM.”
“No.” I interrupted my brother instantly. “This is about YOU. You clearly have something against little Leo already when he has been only like 8 hours with us. Why?”
“I would like to know this too since I have been sensing new tension in you, Leonardo.”
Father had managed to sneak by our sides and was now looking directly at Leonardo who now couldn’t avoid the subject anymore. Leonardo sighed deeply before starting to talk with quiet voice so that Mikey, Leo and Don, who had joined to play with them, wouldn’t hear us.
“I’m concerned about how this little ‘me’ will effect in our team and family. As you can see he has start to get so much attention from all of you.”
“Unlike from you.”
“Shut it, Raph. I don’t need to be all after him when you all are already.”
“Sorry, sensei. But I think my concern is right. I mean how we can keep even training if we have a child in our lair who cannot stand violence because of his past? We need to keep looking what we do or say for not freaking him out.”
I felt my temper started to rose but with father next to us I kept my cool as good as I could.
“Those are worries what you shouldn’t even worry, my son, but keep on going. There’s something else what’s troubling you.”
“I… I think the best solution is we would send him back to his time. Who knows what Raph caused by bringing little Leo here.”
“What?! How the hell you can be that cold that you want to send little scared orphan kid back into a world where he needs to steal food to survive, he knows no martial arts so he will be killed if those humans catch him! His lair is also in so bad shape it will collapse in any second if it already hasn’t so he has no home! You are so fucking cold! It’s so easy for you to keep saying all that shit when you haven’t seen the world where he came from and --”
“I’m thinking our best! I’m not doing this to be mean or hurt him but he cannot stay here!”
“Quiet, Leonardo!” Splinter’s voice was low, clear but very demanding and it shut Leo and I both. But I could see it so clearly on Leonardo’s face how father’s words and tone had hurt him since father rarely spoke to him like that with that tone.
“Are you two playing husband and wife again? We can hear your argument all the way here.”
We turned to look Mikey who looked at us in strict way while holding his hands on little Leo’s ear holes.
“I think this little guy has go through enough and so he definitely don’t need to hear your horrible words, Leo.” Without giving Leonardo a chance to reply, Mikey removed his hands and looked down at little Leo with small smile. “Don’t worry, Raph and Leo likes to play this weird ‘husband and wife’ game time to time.”
And for the first time ever we all saw and heard little Leo laughing! It was weird sounding rasps but it was the most adorable thing in the world to me. I couldn’t stop smiling as I rushed my way to him, frightening him a bit since he stopped and slammed his hands on his mouth. I looked down at him and picked him up with wide smile on my face.
“You laughed and smiled! Hahah, you laughed and smiled, Leo! Do it again! Smile and laugh for me!”
My happiness was confusing him so I helped him with his task. I took firm and yet gentle hold on his sides and gently threw him in the air and catch him over and over again. At first he looked and sounded terrified but soon he was smiling and giggling but not laughing like I wanted him to so I laid him on his carapace on my left arm and started to tickle him with my right hand. Awh gosh that adorable small face when he laughed and squirmed, trying to push my hand away. Adorable! So freaking adorable that I almost cried with joy. Prevent that from happening I started to throw him in the air again and after catching him once more I pulled him right in front of my face, rubbed our noses together and kissed his once and fast.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so proud of you!”
He was so cute smiling and laughing while lifting his shoulders against his cheeks. I knew I had things to settle with my older brother but right now I didn’t want to be anywhere else or do anything else than just to be with little Leo like this.
I watched how Raphael was all smiling with little Leo and I couldn’t help but to envy that sight. I forgot father was by my side as I took deep inhale and released it in sad way.
“Is that what’s bothering you really?”
“Your relationship with your brothers. Especially with Raphael who you tend to fight a lot with.”
“I wish my bond with him would be as easy and happy as it is with little Leo and him. I envy little Leo and feel jealous because of him. He already has so great bonds with my little brothers. They all love him so and wants to be with him, unlike me and with me. I wish I could change the way how I feel and think but I can’t. I wish to be better big brother for them.”
“You can’t you say?” Stepping in front of me father placed his hand on my left chest plate. “It all starts here, my son. I have witness how you, after I chose you to become a leader, started to build this wall around you and sealed all your emotions in here. It’s not forbidden for a leader to have emotions and feelings as long as he’s in control of them instead of letting them to control him. And your jealousy towards little Leo is only a sign you have a lesson to learn. Let him be your teacher instead of enemy.” Turning to look my brothers and little Leo Splinter smiled. “Perhaps it is also a time for you to learn to release all those feelings and let your brother see and feel them.”
“Don’t know how. It’s been so long...”
“Why you won’t start by going to Raphael and talk with him about your true feelings of this matter.”
I swallowed as I lifted my eyes from Splinter’s on Raphael who still kept tickling and throwing little Leo in the air while Don and Mikey smiled by his side. I took deep inhale and started to march towards them.
I heard Leo calling me so I put little Leo down and turned around. “What?”
“… … You shouldn’t keep throwing little Leo like that! What if you can’t get a hold of him and he falls on the floor? He’s so fragile he can get hurt badly and --”
He kept on going! I was slightly surprise since he NOW was lecturing me when few minutes before he was yelling at me to get rid of little Leo! Damn this turtle had some serious mood swings… When I was gonna interrupt Leonardo I spotted Master Splinter further away behind him giving me some signs with his hands. O… Oh! OOH! I get it!
In the middle of Leo’s lecture I grabbed on the sides of his shell and caught him by surprise just in time before I threw him in the air catching him, threw him again and catch him. Leonardo’s face was hilarious since he was surprised and shocked.
“R-Raphael, stop! What are you doing?! Put me down! RAPHAEL!”
But I couldn’t stop, not yet. I laughed a bit while catching him for the last time. I pulled him close to me, pressed our noses together rubbing them gently before giving one fast kiss on his nose too. Blush covered his cheeks and for once he was QUIET!
“Leo, we love you even if we would have 100 little Leos here with us. He has special place in our hearts and so have you. But you must understand any of us don’t have a heart to shoo him away and turn our backs to anyone who may need our help. In my eyes we are not losing anything by giving little Leo good home and love to live in and with. We hope that you could share some love to him too.”
While I put Leo back on his feet I continued. “He hasn’t done anything to deserve your cold behavior and stabbing words. If you still feel you need to express those cold emotions of yours, take them on me since I’m the one who brought him here. He’s innocent little kid.”
“I.. I… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to...” Dropping his head down it seemed Leonardo finally understood the cause of his emotions, words and attitude. I stepped one step closer and hugged him gently.
“It’s all good as long as you understand. Understand what I’m saying.”
“I do understand.” His hold around me got more tighter as he continued. “But I don’t understand why you threw me in the air.”
“Don’t blame me. It was Splinter’s idea.” Leo’s head snapped up as he released his hold on me in surprise.
“He gave me signs with his hands behind you to do the same for you what I did to little Leo.”
In disbelief Leonardo turned to look our father. “… Dad….?” And Splinter smirked knowingly.
“I may be guilty for that but still I will never admit it.”