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Not Our Problem

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None of them heard a goddamn thing, except for Leo. 'Course he did. A book could tell you blind people had no better hearing than anyone else, but Fearless could apparently identify inanimate objects around himself by feeling the vibrations nearby cars sent ricocheting up through everything. 

Yeah. So. 

Whatever he'd had heard, it was enough to send him bolting across the skyline so fast he didn't even find the time to call out a word to either of them. Like he thought he needed every scrap of air to move as fast as possible? Raph and Mikey were left to pursue the extremely nimble blind dude across gulfs and past obstacles that really oughtn't have been traversable by someone who couldn't see.

Night snaked, cold, through the slowly recovering city. Most of the Foot insignia had either been taken down, or were falling into disrepair. Gang wars lit up the heat map here or there.

Made Raph nervous.

'Xpecially on nights like t'night when they'd been thinking about the future, and whether they even had one. Dead ends made Raphael nervous. The Foot regime was technically broken and the East Coast was recovering, but they had no real road before them or happy ending to gun for, and it just fucking felt like a dramatically appropriate time for tragic endings.

Raph hadn't been there for Donnie, and he'd barely gotten there in enough time for Mikey, and maybe Leo wouldn't presently be using echolocation or magic or whatever the hell for way finding if Raphael hadn't been such a fucking asshole and thrown him off his game that night, reaming him for decisions it was way too late to take back anyway.

"Slow down, Fearless!"

Of course Leo didn't. Tch! Idiot. Karai was still unaccounted for, and if this was a trap-

"Is it a cat?" Mike blurted, and if Raphael strained his hearing he was pretty sure he could hear some small animal howling.

"C'mon, not everyone's got your priorities," he snarked to his brother.

"You wouldn't see me light out like that over a cat," Mikey growled.

"Woulda once," Raphael teased. Paranoia or not, he'd been smiling a lot more since Shredder'd finally been shredd-ed.

Mikey scoffed with a disgusted noise in the back of his throat, and Raphael briefly went nostalgic for a time Michelangelo had been less like... like himself.

They caught up with Leo as he was descending at break-neck speeds into an alleyway, and followed. It sounded like someone had thrown away an unwanted litter of puppies or something. Smelled like it too, all blood and musk and body fluids. Sure enough, Leo threw open the heavy lid of a dumpster, and began frantically throwing aside poorly closed bags of rot and garbage.

Mike and Raphael shared a look. Leo wasn't as much of a hardass as Mike or Raph were these days, so maybe he would go try and rescue somebody's unwanted pet. Still, break-neck speeds for five blocks travel seemed excessive. Michelangelo's curiousity ended up piqued, and when he hopped down closer to Leo, it was damn good proof his old spirit hadn't completely shriveled away to nothing, so Raph didn't intervene. They could all hear the muffled, piteous crying of something or another.

Leonardo leaned into the dumpster, pulled up a bag, drew a katana, and slit off the top. The whole inside of it was creamed in red gunk, which spilled and spurted out down the side of the dumpster, along with meaty organs that looked sorta like liver and sausage.

That's not what they were, though.

Raphael went ram-rod straight when Leo set down his katana, reached into the bag with both hands, and hoisted out a slimy, twitching, human baby. It wheezed, mewled, and coughed, and Leo just stood there looking as frozen as Raphael felt, breathing heavily but otherwise just holding it aloof beneath the armpits. The baby appeared vaguely cognizant that its present circumstances were a great improvement on its previous circumstances, because it stopped crying.

"That..." Mike was the first turtle to find any words at all, "is not a cat."

Loathing filled Raphael, and he glanced up and around at the brownstone buildings whose inhabitants were either guilty or complicit in abandoning kin. He spat on the ground. "Humans are disgusting," he uttered. "Let's get outta here, need a drink to forget this stench."

"What do we do with it?" Mikey asked him, leery. Decades of everyone and everything being owned by the Foot were stamped on all their minds, and few humans other than April and her immediate lieutenants in the Rebellion had left an even halfway decent impression on them in a very long time. Today surely wasn't restoring anyone's 'faith in humanity,' har har.

"Leave it," Raphael muttered, because it was obvious. "And get Leo a bath in case he doesn't realize what the fuck he just drenched himself in."

"Leave it..." Mike repeated, but sounded unsure. Raphael glanced back at him.

"Maybe a real miracle'll happen and one of them'll hear it crying, and remember what responsibility is to their own damn flesh and blood."

"Or even just their own kind," Mikey muttered. "Yo! Leo? Bro! Can you hear us?"

Leonardo just stood there, still holding up the baby like it was the start of the fucking Lion King or something. Man had it been a long time since they'd had a proper TV. Ugh. Here he was missing Disney Movies. Either nostalgia was being wicked today, or he really was getting old. "Leo!" Raphael shouted loud enough to get his attention. Leo jumped slightly, and turned his 'gaze' back over his shoulder to indicate he was listening. "Drop it! Let's go!"

Leo remained in place, though, weirding both Raph and Mike out a bit. The baby was starting to move again, and if it had the life left to scream, it was going to attract attention. Mike gave Blue's shell a gentle shove. "Yo wake up!"

Leo blinked once. Twice. Then he turned his attention back to the dazed child. His arms bent at the elbow, pulling it down against the front of his clothing and slicking him in even more grime, where he wrapped an arm about it and reached out for katana. He cut the umbilical.

"Oh just great," Raphael tossed his arms. "What the fuck are you doing? Gonna drop it off at a hospital? Police station? Group home? Forget what shit world we live in? That the streets are swarmin' with riotin' kids, and ain't a public institution that ain't strugglin' at full capacity? Leave it. Sad truth is it's kinder."

"This is a baby," Leo stated as he turned to them, as if they could have even possibly been confused on that detail.

"It's human, yo. What do we owe humans?" Mikey grimaced. "April's still good, but we just downed a tyrannical regime they all let happen to themselves; Let them clean up their own messes, bro!"

"This is not a mess, dude," Leo said. "It is a baby."

Raphael snarled in the back of his throat but made a dismissive guesture. "Forget it Mikey. Let him try to pass it off on the hospital or whatever the fuck."

"Why?" Mikey asked. "Bro, Foot are still out there taking in unwanted kids and making brainwashed Clonetroopers. I say just leave it. If someone wants it, more power to them, but this is just feeding a twig to a fire we spent years putting out. No point to it, Raph's right."

Leonardo looked to Michelangelo. "This is a baby girl," he explained. "And she is coming home with us."

And Mikey's armor might have slipped just a bit, just then, changing disgust into wonderment; but Raphael strode straight up to Leo and shoved his face in his brother's. "Over my gutted shell," he laid down the law, voice low. "We have enough problems. Drop it, and move ya tail. Now."

"You don't give orders to me," Leo said without looking to his face, because he couldn't, "I think Michelangelo should name her."

Mikey's face went through paroxysms of uncertainty, as two very different sides of himself warred for control, and old broken things surged out scrambling for expression. "Yo, don't- don't even joke like-"

Raphael sneered and grabbed for the scum-covered pink problem between them, and Leo twisted away. Raphal grabbed his shoulder, and the edge of his shell, to manhandle him into turning about.

"RAPHAEL!" Leonardo exploded, and the amount of venom in his voice could have felled a dragon, which was crazy because it came from absolutely nowhere, and stung so hot that Raphael recoiled a step in surprise. Leo glared in his general direction, milky eyes actually expressive for once. "Why in father's name would you find it acceptable to forcibly tear a newborn infant out of my arms, be it reptile, mammal, or even alien? What the hell?"

Raphael's face darkened. He was quiet a long pause. "If you were ta do this, it'd blow up in our faces," he intoned. "Badly. Drop it."

"Do not lay a hand on her," his idiot older brother warned him. 

Raphael drew and twirled a Sai. "You can't fight me and carry that unwanted tumor at the same time, can ya?" Leo had sidelined Mikey, who otherwise would have backed Raphael; but Raphael didn't really need the backup.

Leo all but tossed the child into just one arm, and snatched his katana up again. "What has gotten into you? I know you have anger issues, but this is obscene! I remain your leader, and this is a baby, not a tumor."

"What's gotten into me? How about you? Maybe I'm about ta declare ya temporarily unfit!"

Leo's eyes narrowed, easing a foot back a step in a clear indication he was willing to try his luck at giving them both the slip. "Be careful. Be very careful what you do next. You are not yourself without a family to protect, and I cannot imagine how badly you'd torture yourself if another member went missing on you, and it actually really was your fault for once."

Raphael dropped his hands. He stared through his brother, because if he stared straight at him he was going to tackle him headlong into the side of the dumpster, and throttle n' concuss him into unconsciousness to keep him down. And then drag him someplace safe and tie him down there, for fuck's sake. Leo!

"Whoa!" Mikey snarled, jumping forward and raising his hands up flat between both of them. "Yo Raph's right, Leo, this is a terrible idea. But nobody should be talking about squashing any babies or running away from any families!"

"Guys, it's October," Leo interjected. "Leaving her here through the night is tantamount to infanticide."

"Her parents or some shit left her there!" Mikey disagreed. "Us doing nothing is just not being good Samaritans or something! Just forget you found her, yo!"

"How can I possibly forget that? I can hear her breathing. I can hear her heart beating. When the weekend newspaper features a small paragraph detailing that an infant was found dead in a dumpster, I will know I could have done something to save it. I cannot forget that! How can you?"

"You can't read newspapers, you are blind!"

"Dude," Leo protested. "I do not rub your disability in your face," he gestured towards Michelangelo's missing arm.

"Okay, look, I'll give you a hand, and we can leave her at some group home. Okay?"

"As you so astutely pointed out, many of those are still overseen by Foot operatives," Leo just bickered.

"Then what are you going to do with her!?" Michelangelo exploded. "You can't take a baby back to our Lair!"

Blind eyes blinked a moment. "You do not think it might be fun to be a father, Mikey?" Leo inquired, and Michelangelo's brain visibly, if metaphorically, exploded.

"But what... what... do we feed her?" Orange mouthed.

Leo frowned and settled down a bit at that, clearly thinking. "I would have difficulty identifying infant formula without opening the canister..." he did realize, before lifting up a very concerned expression. "Will one of you help me?"

Seething past words, Raphael slowly zoned out as an alternative to hitting anyone. In a day or two, when the thing was screaming and forcing them to once more abandon their latest hiding place, the two of them would get quickly over this shit, and either he'd get them to give it away or, hell, jam it back in a plastic bag and lob it into the Hudson.