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Michelangelo's Kink

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           They were at it again.  Michelangelo could hear them from the kitchen and instantly left the room to find them; to get closer to the argument.  He wanted to see Raph's face.

           Master Splinter was on the couch watching one of his shows and ignoring his two quarrelsome sons.  That meant Leo and Raph were in the dojo.  Mikey grinned; their best shows happened in the dojo where their dad usually let the fights continue without interruption.

           Entering the dojo quietly, Mikey stepped to one side of the door and leaned against the wall, his arms crossed.  Neither of his older brothers noticed him, too caught up in their fight.

           “I say Hun’s challenging us!” Raph shouted.  “He’s thumbing his nose at us with that stunt of his!”

           “That ‘stunt’ as you call it is nothing more than what his Purple Dragons do every night,” Leo replied, clearly refusing to be riled.  “It had nothing to do with us.  We can’t chase after him every time Hun’s minions rob someone.”

           “Why the hell not?” Raph asked, sneering at his brother.  “When are ya’ gonna get off your ass and prove to him that he don’t have the run of the city?”

           It seemed like a good time to jump in with some fuel for the flames.  “Yeah Leo, why do we let Hun get away with stuff?” Mikey asked.

           Leo didn’t bother to look at him.  “Stay out of this, Mikey.”

           “Why should he stay out of it?  It affects him too!” Raph roared.  “You’re just pissed that he agrees with me!”

           Mikey was gratified to see Leo grow angrier, his dislike for having his authority questioned doubled now that Mikey seemed to have chosen sides.

           The fight continued in a circular pattern, neither brother giving ground.  It was always interesting to see the usually stoic Leonardo blow his top, but then Raphael had a knack for making that happen.

           Lately Raph had seemed to be pushing Leo a lot more, their fights growing in frequency.  That had made Mikey curious, because there really hadn’t been an appreciable change in their lives.

           Over the last week and a half there had been a fight a day.  It had gotten so routine that both Master Splinter and Donatello were ignoring the pair.  But not Mikey.  Such a radical change in the status quo was a mystery that he felt obliged to investigate.  Even if it meant playing the role of instigator.

           Leo had just made his standard argument that if Raph had so much energy to burn, he could spend more time practicing.  Raph would counter with something like ‘how about I practice on you?’ and then they’d trade blows.

           Mikey didn’t want Raph to get quite that angry.  Just angry enough.

           “What’s the point of all the practicing if we can’t go topside and put our skills to good use?” Mikey asked, once more drawing Leo’s attention.

           “Just because we have the skills doesn’t mean we should try to look for a reason to use them,” Leo snapped at him.

           “Are ya’ seriously gonna lecture how we should ‘avoid the unnecessary fight?” Raph demanded in his most sarcastic tone.  “If we followed your philosophy, Shredder would still be around and millions of lives would be in danger.”

           Leo snarled, his voice dropping to a dangerous level.  “There’s a big difference between Shredder and Hun.  Shredder was actively hunting us.  Going after him was about self-preservation.”

           “Says you,” Raph jeered.  “I think it was about saving your face.  Ya’ got your ass kicked by him and ya’ wanted payback.”

           It was a low blow, one guaranteed to push Leo’s buttons.  Leo’s enlightenment training with the Ancient One hadn’t gone on long enough to teach him how to deal with Raphael’s insults.

           “Don’t put off on me the real reason you’re so hot to go after Hun,” Leo barked.  “At least we did defeat Shredder.  For all your trying, you and Casey still haven’t even slowed Hun down.”

           “There it is, the royal ‘we’,” Raph retorted.  “Come to think of it, every time we take on Hun, he manages to slide out from under.  Why is that, Leo?  Your great leadership skills ain’t good enough to take down the Purple Dragons?  Are ya’ hiding down here ‘cause you’re afraid he’ll make ya’ look bad again?”

           “I am not hiding!” Leo shouted, now thoroughly angry.  “I’m not afraid of Hun either!  What I’m afraid of is your bad judgment!”

           Bingo.  Raph had gotten Leo to yell at him.  Mikey straightened as he watched Raph’s eyes dilate.  This was what Mikey had been looking for; these new signs in Raph’s behavior.  He’d first noticed them a couple of days earlier during an argument between the two.

           “You’re the one with bad judgment!’ Raph bellowed.  “Leo the leader; can’t handle Hun, can’t handle Karai, can’t handle Bishop!  Hides in the sewers so he can avoid them all!”

           “If you want to run out there and do something stupid, be my guest!” Leo thundered, pointing at the door.

           A shudder ran over Raph’s body, imperceptible to anyone who wasn’t looking for it.  “Thank you for giving me the go ahead, Fearless leader!”

           Raph spun on his heel and stomped out of the dojo.  As he passed Mikey, the younger turtle saw that in spite of being obviously furious, there was also a touch of satisfaction in Raph’s expression.

           “Don’t you dare confront Hun!” Leo yelled at Raph’s retreating shell.  “Do you hear me?”

           No longer interested in Leonardo, Mikey also left the dojo.  Leo would fume for a few minutes, and then either run through katas or sit down and meditate to calm himself.  What he wouldn’t do was to go after Raphael.

           He didn’t need to.  Despite his anger, Leo knew from past arguments that though Raph stormed out each and every time, he didn’t go where he could pick a fight.  Leo was certain that Raph would run off steam in the tunnels or on the rooftops and then return home.

           At first, Mikey had thought that’s what Raph did too.  Since noticing those interesting new tell-tale signs, Mikey had begun to have suspicions that Raph was purposely starting arguments for an entirely different reason than was usual.

           Mikey gave Raph a head-start, noting which direction his brother turned when he left the lair.  Master Splinter was still engrossed in his program and Donatello was in the service bay working on the moving van.

           When Mikey slipped out of the lair to follow Raph, he made certain that no one noticed.

           Anger made Raphael slightly less cautious than usual, but he was still a highly trained ninja.  He would be conscious of his back trail because there was always the chance that Leonardo would decide to chase him down.  These were things that Mikey was aware of as he trailed his brother, using his wiles to remain far enough back so that Raph would be confident that he was alone.

           This was the first time that Mikey had decided to see where Raph was going.  Curiosity had finally gotten the better of him, heightened by the unusual frequency of his brothers’ fights, the fact that Raph seemed to be going out of his way to start them, and his strange reaction to Leo’s loss of temper.

           Hanging back so that Raph was far enough ahead of him not to sense that he was being followed, Mikey depended on small clues to keep him on track.  The imprint of a toe, freshly disturbed dirt, rats that were just peeking out of hiding after running from an intruder, and broken cobwebs.

           Mikey was just beginning to think that Raph was simply pacing off his fury when he thought he heard his brother’s voice and stopped to get a sense of direction.

           “F . . . fuck ya’, Leo,” Raph stuttered.

           Frowning because he knew Raph couldn’t possibly be talking to Leo, Mikey crept forward.  He could hear Raph muttering and cursing, the sound coming from a side tunnel a few yards ahead of him.

           Pressing himself against the wall, Mikey carefully peered around the corner.  It took a second for his eyes to adjust to the lower light conditions, but when they did, Mikey’s mouth dropped open.

           Raphael was leaning back against the metal grate at the end of the tunnel, his eyes tightly closed while he feverishly pumped his dick.

           “Fuck ya’ and your t . . . tight ass rules,” Raph stammered, precum spurting from between his clenched fist.  “How about I sh . . . shove my fat cock d . . . down that big mouth of . . . grr . . . ugh!”

           He climaxed, curse words continuing to spill from his mouth.

           Mikey fell back quickly while his brother was still in the throes of his orgasm.  Shocked at what he’d discovered, it took a few minutes for Mikey to understand that he’d better get moving if he didn’t want to be caught.

           It wasn’t until Mikey was halfway home before he began to wrap his head around what he’d just seen.  At almost the exact same moment he also realized that he was sporting the beginnings of a huge boner beneath his shell.



Chapter Text

            Curiosity overcame arousal as Michelangelo returned to the lair.  If a fight with Leonardo had sent Raphael scurrying into the tunnels to jerk off, how had that argument affected the older turtle?

            Mikey had assumed that Leo would use one of his tried and true methods to calm himself.  But then, he’d also expected that Raph would simply run off the head of steam he’d built up during the yelling match.  Mikey had found that he was very off base on that assumption.

            As he made his way across the lair, Mikey saw Donatello walking away from the kitchen with a cup in his hand.  Mikey was thankful that Don didn’t even glance in his direction.  He was no doubt flying on a caffeine fueled high, his mind engaged in whatever project was holding his interest at the moment.

            Master Splinter had switched to a news broadcast and likewise paid no attention to his youngest son.  Though Mikey’s erection wasn’t too painful to keep hidden away, he knew that anyone who looked closely would see the revealing bulge.

            Rather than entering the dojo, Mikey peeked through the doorway.  Leo was dancing through one of his imaginary fights, his flashing katana reflecting the overhead lights in moving prisms.

            Along with his normal focused look, Leonardo’s expression also carried a touch of frustration.  There was a savagery in his movements that replaced Leo’s usual finesse.

            Mikey had a thought that the fight Leo was playing out in his mind involved Raphael.

            “What is so interesting?”

            Jumping guiltily, Mikey turned to find Donatello standing behind him.

           “Leo and Raph had another argument,” Mikey said.  “Raph ran off.”

           “So you’re spying on Leo?” Don asked.  There was a cup in his hand, steam curling up from its depths.

           “How many is that?” Mikey countered, nodding at the cup and changing the subject.

           “I don’t keep track,” Don answered.  “Clearly you’re bored.  I can find . . . .”

           “Nope, uh-uh, sorry,” Mikey said, quickly moving around his brother.  “I’ve got my own projects.  Check you later!”

           Mikey took the stairs two at a time, climbing up to the third level of the lair.  His room was above Leo’s and around the corner from Raphael’s.  As much as he had loved the Y’Lyntian lair, in this newest place, the distance between he and his brother’s bedrooms was more of an advantage as far as privacy went.

           The image of Raphael jerking off in the tunnels was still vivid in Mikey’s head.  As he closed and locked his bedroom door, the sounds of Raph’s churring and cursing resurfaced in his memory.  Making straight for his bed, the erection that Mikey had been trying to contain for over half an hour finally escaped confinement.

           Normally Mikey preferred to prolong his self-stimulation, leisurely fondling himself and enjoying a slow climb towards completion.  Tonight he was more than excited already.

           Taking from his bedside table the lubricant he kept hidden there, Mikey poured some onto his palm and then grasped his thick shaft.  A low moan issued from his lips as he began to stroke himself from base to tip, thumbing the sensitive head of his cock before repeating the process.

           Faster and faster his hand moved, eyes closed as he replayed the vision of Raph masturbating.  It wasn’t just the fact that Raph was jerking off that titillated Mikey, but that he had been a secret observer of something so private.

           Raph would try to punch Mikey into next Tuesday if he found out he’d been seen.  That thought had Mikey panting, his imagination picturing Raph with a full hard-on chasing him around the lair.

           Mikey bit his lip to keep from crying out as he climaxed.  For a moment he continued to pump his dick, riding out the last spasms of his orgasm.

           Finally his hand fell away and his body relaxed into the mattress.  As he floated towards sleep, the meaning of the words that Raph had spoken in the tunnel suddenly clicked into place.

           Raph hadn’t just been jerking off out of angry frustration.  He had actually said he’d like to ‘shove my fat cock down that big mouth of yours’, in reference to Leonardo.

           What other sorts of thoughts had Raph been having about their oldest brother?  And more importantly, why did the idea of finding this stuff out arouse Mikey so much?

           He fell asleep pondering those questions.

           The next morning Michelangelo awoke early and bounded out of bed with a new purpose.  His mission for the day was to observe and gather information.  Until now he had been privy to Raph and Leo’s arguments only after they had begun.  Mikey wanted to see how one of them started.

           After visiting the bathroom, Mikey strolled downstairs.  A glance at Raph’s bedroom had shown him the door was shut, which meant his brother was probably still asleep.

           He found Leo seated at the kitchen table, a cup of hot tea clasped between his hands.

           “You’re up early,” Leo said as Mikey walked over to the cupboard for a bowl.

           “I went to bed early,” Mikey replied, grabbing a box of cereal and the milk.  Pouring both into his bowl, he joined Leo at the table.  “Seen Donny this morning?”

           “Not yet, but I did hear him banging on something in the service bay,” Leo said.  “He was hard at it when I turned in for the night too.”

           “That means he didn’t sleep,” Mikey said, talking around a mouthful of cereal.  “He must be building some new contraption.”

           Leo snorted his agreement.  “Don’s been keeping something covered with a tarp,” he said.  “He only does that when he wants to surprise us.”

           “That should be interesting.”  Mikey snuck a furtive glance at Leo as he tried to keep the sound of any undue curiosity out of his voice.  “What time did Raph finally get home?”

           “I don’t know,” Leo said, setting his cup down a little harder than necessary.  “He’s been going out of his way lately to try and aggravate me.”

           “Got any idea why?” Mikey asked.

           “Probably just tired of being cooped up,” Leo said, rising from his chair and going to rinse his cup in the sink.  “Spar with me?  I could use a good workout.”

           “Sure,” Mikey said, quickly shoveling the remainder of his breakfast into his mouth.

           Leo shook his head.  “You’re going to get indigestion eating that fast.”

           “Never have,” Mikey responded.  After washing his bowl and spoon, Mikey walked alongside Leo to the dojo.

           They had been at it for half an hour when Master Splinter joined them.  He watched silently as they continued to spar and then stopped them when Raph and Don arrived for their scheduled practice session.

           Don’s movements were a dead giveaway as to the fact that he hadn’t slept.  From the expression on Master Splinter’s face, it was clear that he and the genius were going to have a discussion about that after they were done.

           Raph hadn’t said more than two words since his arrival, and those two had been directed at their father.

           Muscle memory made it easy for Mikey to keep up with the moves they were practicing, which allowed him to keep a surreptitious eye on the two brothers who currently held his interest.  Leo was his normally resolute self, though he did seem to being going out of his way to avoid looking at Raph.

           It wasn’t the same for Raph though.  He had started off by ignoring his brothers, but as the session went on, Mikey began to notice that Raph’s eyes would periodically dart to Leo.  They didn’t stay on Leo for long, probably because Raph didn’t want to be caught looking at his older brother.

           Mikey found the entire thing to be highly entertaining.

           When Master Splinter pronounced the end to the day’s training and pulled Don off for a talk, Leo excused himself to go to his room and meditate.  Once he had turned away, Raph openly stared at his retreating shell.

           So as not to seem interested in his hot headed brother, Mikey grabbed a jump rope and kept to one side of the room as he exercised.  After watching Leo all of the way out of the room, Raph turned to his weight bag and began punching it.

           Raph’s lips were moving with each punch he threw.  He wasn’t talking loud enough for Mikey to hear the words, but he could imagine the epithets that were spilling from his brother’s mouth.  Whether Raph was cursing Leo again, or himself, was anyone’s guess.

           As the day progressed, Mikey made certain to be near either Raphael or Leonardo.  He noticed that while Leo interacted just as he always did with everyone else, with Raph he was slightly aloof.

           Nightfall approached and Raph seemed jittery and out of sorts.  At the dinner table, Mikey tried to talk his brothers into a movie night, but Raph merely glowered at him and Don said he had work to do.

           That earned him a mild rebuke from Leo, who reminded Don that he needed to find time to sleep.

           “I guess it’s your job now to assign us all bedtimes,” Raph said sarcastically.

           It was the first time that day that Raph had said anything directly to Leo.  His words had an instant effect as the skin around Leo’s mouth tightened and his body went rigid.

           “First off, my words were not aimed at you,” Leo said.  “Secondly, since when is my concern for Don’s welfare any of your business?”

           Raph planted his fists on the table.  “Since ya’ started pulling that fake concern crap with all of us.”

           “Boys,” Master Splinter said, a warning in his tone.

           “My apologies, Master Splinter,” Leo said immediately.

           From Raph’s expression it didn’t appear that he was ready to drop the subject, but he did sit back in his chair and turn his gaze away from Leo.

           Apparently that was enough to satisfy Master Splinter.  They ate in silence after that, Mikey dividing his attention between Raph and Leo who from their body language, were both on edge.

           When Master Splinter bade them good-night and left for his room, Leo immediately rose and began clearing the table.  Don was making some sort of calculations on a scrap piece of paper, his thoughts already a million miles away.

           Grabbing an armful of dirty dishes, Mikey trailed into the kitchen behind Leo.  A glance showed him that Raph was staring in that direction, his eyes narrowed and one hand bunched into a tight fist.

           Raph looked for all the world like someone trying to think of a reason to engage the enemy rather than a brother who knew he was supposed to be keeping the peace.

           Donatello wandered off a few minutes later.  Mikey was washing the dishes as Leo dried when Raph stomped over to stand behind them, his arms crossed.

           There was absolute silence from all three turtles.  Mikey could sense the tension, heck, he could almost feel it like static hovering in the air around them.

           The impasse was finally broken when Raph barked, “Are we gonna patrol tonight or what?”

           Leo continued to dry and put away dishes, pointedly ignoring both the question and his brother.  His hip against the counter, Mikey had a bird’s eye view of both Leo’s face and Raph’s.  Leo’s expression was inscrutable, but after so many years of living with him, Mikey could see the tiny tic at the corner of one eye.

           A blind man could have read the signs of an impending explosion from Raph’s countenance.  It was suddenly clear to Mikey that every one of their nightly fights progressed in nearly the same manner, with Raph starting it.

           “I’m talking to ya’, Leonardo,” Raph said, his emphasis of Leo’s name sounding as ugly as he could manage.

           Leo carefully folded the dish towel and set it aside.  With great deliberation, he slowly turned, his eyes icy with contempt.

           Mikey stepped back.  This was certainly not his first, fiftieth, or even hundredth time being nearby when these two brothers went at it.

           This was however the first time he actively sought to be out of the line of fire.


Chapter Text

            Leonardo stared at Raphael for a good thirty seconds without saying anything.  Raph in turn glared at him, refusing to back down.

            It was clear that Raph wasn’t going to drop it and just as clear that he was itching for a fight.  Michelangelo had a pretty good idea as to why, but he doubted that Leo knew.

            In a voice dripping with disdain, Leo said, “Talking implies a certain intelligent give and take.  You aren’t offering that on any level.”

            Raph growled low in his throat.  “If ya’ wanna play the insult game, I can give as good as I take.  That ain’t answering my question.  We need to be out on the streets reminding the gangs that they don’t have the run of things.”

            “You’re becoming a broken record,” Leo said.

            “Shove it,” Raph retorted.  “Just ‘cause you’re content to hide down here don’t mean the rest of us are.”

            “Staying out of sight is not the same as hiding,” Leo said.  “In case you’ve forgotten, we’re not human.  The time we spend topside should be used wisely.”

            “Paying Hun back for the shit he pulls is the best way to spend that time,” Raph insisted.  “It ain’t like we have to hide who we are from him and his goons.  They already know!”

            Leo’s jaw worked, a sure sign that he was holding himself back.  He still sounded in control as he said, “We are not in the vendetta business, Raphael.”

            “Ya’ know what I think?” Raph asked, though it was clear the question was rhetorical.  “I think you’re avoiding Hun ‘cause the last couple of times ya’ went against him ya’ got spanked.”

            “That was because you guys treated it like a game,” Leo snapped, his calm demeanor crumbling.  “When we’re out there, we have to be a team.”

            “So it’s our fault?  Ya’ ever think maybe ya’ ain’t got what it takes to lead us in one of them fights?” Raph demanded.

            “Did you ever stop to think that you questioning every order I give might be the problem?” Leo countered.

            Raph straightened, puffing out his chest belligerently.  “If your orders didn’t always include the words ‘hide’ or ‘retreat’ then maybe I’d listen to them!”

            From his expression, Mikey was sure that Leo was about to blow.  Before he had the chance, an authoritative voice sliced the air between the warring brothers.

            “That is enough!”

            Master Splinter stood just outside of the kitchen, his tail whipping dangerously, a sure sign that he was perturbed.

            “I have tried to ignore these arguments in the hopes that the two of you would find some resolution on your own,” Master Splinter said.  “It does not appear that you are doing anything more than having the exact same disagreement night after night.”

            “My apologies, Master Splinter,” Leo said.

            “Sorry, Sensei,” Raph said at almost the same time.

            “You should be apologizing to one another,” Master Splinter said.  “It is obvious that you won’t.  Therefore, we will take this to the dojo.  Come with me right now.”

            From his tone it was clear that they had no choice.  Raph and Leo trailed along behind their father, neither saying anything, but both throwing the occasional scornful glare at the other.

            They were much too intent on each other to notice that Mikey was bringing up the rear of the procession.  If he kept quiet and drew no notice to himself, he might not get booted out of the dojo.  He really didn’t want to be excluded at this point.  Mikey had a feeling that whatever happened next would be very telling.

            Master Splinter turned once he was standing in the center of the dojo.  Leo and Raph took up positions in front of him, dropping to their knees as they waited to hear what he expected of them.

            “Since talking does neither of you any good, you are going spar until you are both too tired to continue, or one of you pins the other.  You will then go to your rooms.  Is that clear?”

            “Yes, Sensei,” they said together.

            “Good.  Stand up, place your weapons against the wall, and return to face each other,” Master Splinter commanded.

            Mikey’s interest grew.  Remaining as unobtrusive as possible, he watched as his warring brothers faced one another and bowed.  As soon as Master Splinter stepped back and gave the signal, the pair flew into action.

            Right from the outset it was clear that Raphael was intent on overpowering his brother, while Leonardo’s tactics were more about finesse.  Mikey had watched them spar thousands of times over the years, but there was an underlying intensity in this bout that he’d never before witnessed.

           Raph threw an overhand left to draw Leo’s block and then tried for a kidney punch with his right. Effortlessly blocking the first, Leo caught the second strike on his forearm and forced Raph’s arm high, landing a quick punch to his gut before aiming an elbow at his face.

           Leaning back and catching the blow with his arm, Raph spun a kick at Leo’s head, which his brother easily ducked under.  Turning in a full circle, Raph came back around, swinging with his right fist.

           Leo’s hands rose to block his brother’s punch, but Raph’s leg came up again to catch Leo across his forearms.  The force pushed Leo back, but he countered with a spinning back kick that connected with Raph’s jaw.

           The brothers separated, pausing in their fight to stare at one another.  Raph moved his jaw from side to side while Leo opened and closed his right fist a few times.  Their eyes remained locked and Mikey realized that even if he did move from his hiding spot, they wouldn’t pay him any heed.

           Circling one another, the pair took up fighting stances and then Raph rushed in, throwing an overhand right.  Leo’s left hand came up to block it, and then he brought his right fist down onto the inside of Raph’s elbow.

           When Raph’s arm went down, Leo delivered a hard kidney punch and then a fast front snap kick that shoved his brother away from him.

           Raph came back in, aiming a kick at Leo’s knee which the older turtle blocked with his leg.  Leo aimed a high kick at his brother’s head, but Raph caught it and pushed it down.  Then Raph tried for a roundhouse kick of his own, but Leo danced away from it.

           The fight continued in this fashion for several minutes.  Blood seeped from a cut on Leo’s lip and dripped from Raph’s nostrils.

           Seeking to put Leo on the ground, Raph attempted a front snap kick to his brother’s plastron, but Leo’s arms caught his foot and forced it down.  In the same smooth movement, Leo dropped to the ground, his left arm bracing his body as he pivoted and tried to sweep Raph’s legs from under him.

           Anticipating the sweep, Raph jumped over Leo’s leg.  As he landed, Leo spun on his toes, coming back around and jumping to deliver a one, two kick to Raph’s chest.

           The force of the kick hurled Raph backwards and he hit the wall hard.  As Leo moved forward to press his advantage, Raph came off the wall like a rushing bull and plowed into his brother.

           Leo struck the floor but as Raph pounced, Leo brought both legs up and kicked him.  Raph stumbled back and Leo leaped to his feet to rush his brother before Raph could get his balance.

           Rather than trying to block the fist aimed at his head, Raph lifted his shoulder to take the blow and then grappled with Leo, lifting him and throwing him partway across the dojo.  Rolling over and onto his feet, Leo braced himself as Raph stalked towards him.

           As Raph swung a left at his head, Leo hit his arm and then stepped in, trapping Raph’s arm under his own and forcing it behind his back.  Raph grunted in sudden pain, coming up on his toes to counter the downward pressure.  Bringing his right hand around, Raph tried for a punch, but Leo smashed a fist into Raph’s gut which made the younger turtle cry out.

           Infuriated, Raph jammed a foot behind Leo’s ankle and shoved him off balance.  When the pressure on his arm lessened, Raph yanked it free and hooked an arm behind Leo’s head, whirling him around and throwing him to the floor.

           Leo rolled as Raph came after him, stomping down at his brother.  Crossing his arms, Leo caught Raph’s foot and pushed back as he whipped his legs around to kick Raph’s other foot out from under him.

           As Raph went down, Leo came off the floor as though shot from a cannon.  Landing atop his brother, Leo pressed his knees tightly against Raph’s sides and stabbed at pressure points beneath his brother’s arms.

           “Shit!” Raph yelled, his hands and arms instantly freezing.

           Kicking at the ground with his feet, Raph attempted to buck Leo off, but his brother was immovable.  The tableau held for several moments until Raphael stopped kicking and glared up at Leo.

           As Leonardo stared down at his brother, Mikey was surprised to see his eyes dilate and his nostrils flare.  Both combatants were breathing hard, but their expressions weren’t what Mikey typically saw after one of their fights.

           Rather than anger at being beaten, Raph wore a look of expectancy and acceptance, as though he was waiting for something else to happen and welcomed it.

           For his part, Leo seemed keyed up, excited, and just a little self-satisfied.

           The clap of Master Splinter’s hands broke whatever spell they were under and Leo swiftly released Raph.  He did not offer to help his brother stand, perhaps knowing that Raph would not have accepted his hand.

            Raph’s arms still hung at his sides as he got up.  From experience, Mikey knew it would take several minutes for the feeling to return.

            “Go to your rooms,” Master Splinter ordered, offering no other commentary.

            Leo and Raph both bowed, gathering their weapons before trudging out of the dojo.  Though they walked side by side across the lair and up the stairs to their individual rooms, neither looked at the other.

            Knowing that Master Splinter was still very much out of sorts, Mikey made certain not to draw attention to himself.  Nevertheless, as his father started out of the dojo, he stopped as he drew alongside his youngest.

            Without turning to face him, Master Splinter asked, “Have you had enough entertainment for one evening, Michelangelo?”

            “Not really,” Mikey blurted, then quickly corrected himself.  “I mean, that wasn’t really entertaining.  It’s more of a trying to figure out what’s going on.”

            “Yes,” Master Splinter said in a thoughtful manner.  “There does appear to be more below the surface than their usual disagreements.”

            “Like, by now they’d have solved whatever it was that’s eating at them,” Mikey said.

            Master Splinter nodded, then turned his head to look at his son.  “I would appreciate feedback on any insights you might glean from your observations.  It is clear that your brothers are not going to be very forthcoming.”

            “Don’t really know anything useful,” Mikey said.  He wanted to be as truthful as possible without giving away his brothers secrets.  Especially since he hadn’t figured out exactly what they were.

            “Yet,” Master Splinter said, almost as though finishing Mikey’s thoughts for him.

            “Sure, Sensei,” Mikey responded agreeably.

            It was as noncommittal a reply as he could offer and Master Splinter seemed to accept it at face value.  He walked away, going directly to his room to turn in for the night.

            Mikey waited a few minutes to make sure his father wasn’t going to put in another surprise appearance, and then headed for the stairs.  The TV array was dark, as was Donatello’s computer workstation.  Since the genius’ bedroom door was closed, Mikey figured that his brother had heeded Master Splinter’s warning and was getting some sleep.

            Going up the next flight of stairs, Mikey crept up to Raph’s closed door.  Leaning in, he pressed his ear against the door and listened.  He heard exactly what he’d expected to hear, the guttural utterances and churrs that indicated Raphael was actively jerking off.

            Interspersed between the curse words and suggestive language, the name ‘Leo’ fell from Raph’s lips repeatedly.  That meant that what Mikey had observed the night before was clearly not a one-time thing.

            Wondering how Leo was dealing with the aftermath of their fight, Mikey snuck downstairs again, bypassing Don’s room to go down to Leo’s.  Knowing how sensitive Leo’s hearing was, Mikey tiptoed up to his door, careful to stay to one side so his shadow wouldn’t be seen beneath the door.

            Mikey held his breath as he listened.  For a second no sound registered from within the room and Mikey thought his big brother might have gone to sleep.  Then he heard a low sigh.

            Biting his lower lip, Mikey took a chance and touched his ear to the wooden panel.

            A low groan rewarded his efforts.  Eyes widening, Mikey was shocked to hear Leonardo begin to churr.  Though Leo didn’t speak, the sounds that Mikey did hear were unmistakable.  Leo was pleasuring himself.

            As soon as he realized what was going on behind that closed door, Mikey started to pull away.  Something stopped him though, and he continued to listen.  He could almost swear he heard the squelching sounds of a cum slicked hand frantically pumping away on a fully erect cock.

            Mikey’s own shell began to feel tight as he listened.  It wasn’t long before the low grunts he was hearing became almost continuous moans.

            “Ugh . . . arr . . . humph . . . uh . . . uh . . . ah!  Raphael!” Leo cried out before biting off the sounds.

            Backing off from the door quickly, Mikey made for the stairs.  He was completely turned on and his room felt as though it was miles away.

            All he wanted at that moment was relief.  He’d think hard about the meaning of what he’d heard from both of his brothers after he satisfied his own desperate need.


Chapter Text

            Normally after a strong, healthy release Michelangelo slept really well.

            He’d fallen asleep just fine, but instead of the usual good dreams, nagging thoughts kept waking him up.  Mikey’s mind was gnawing on his new bit of knowledge like a dog worrying a bone.

            Raphael fought with Leonardo, became aroused as well as enraged, and ran off to masturbate.

            Leonardo fought with Raphael.  He too became aroused, but not because he was angry.  Something else involving Raph got Leo’s juices flowing.

            That’s really what was bothering Michelangelo enough to interfere with his sleep.  He wasn’t sure what it was about fighting with Leo that got Raph so hyped up, but at least Mikey knew it was the fighting that did it.

            With Leo there was still a big mystery.  Was it the physical fight with Raph that excited him?  Was it winning that fight that turned him on?  Was it something else entirely?

            Mikey finally decided that what he needed was empirical data.  Like Donatello was always saying, observe the phenomenon, form an idea about what you’ve observed, test your idea with an experiment or two to see if its correct, record the results, and analyze the results to arrive at a conclusion.

            The result of his experiment would be Mikey’s empirical data.  Mikey smiled up at the ceiling.  Don would be surprised to know how much of the stuff he said was actually understood and retained by his little brother.

            Right now the problem was in finding a chance to observe the phenomenon again.  Leo and Raph had just gotten into big time trouble with Master Splinter for their fighting.  If they stopped arguing, Mikey wouldn’t be able to find out why his two brothers suddenly seemed to have awakened sexual desires in each other.

            A fleeting thought went through Mikey’s mind that maybe it was wrong for siblings to be thinking that way, but then that made him just as guilty.  Just imagining Raph stroking his own dick, head back, mouth open, eyes squeezed tight made Mikey hard as a rock.  The sounds Raph made as he masturbated were enough to bring Mikey right to the edge.

            Was he a sick puppy for not wanting Raph to stop?

            Maybe so, Mikey thought as he turned over and burrowed into his pillow to get more comfortable.  He decided he was fine with that.  What else did they have, what else did he have?  He was a teenage mutant turtle with raging hormones and so were his brothers.

            Mikey also decided that he was going to find a way to get his two brothers arguing again.  He’d just have to figure out how to fan those flames in such a way that Master Splinter didn’t know that’s what he was doing.

            A switch kicked over in Mikey’s head as soon as he reached his decision and he was finally able to fall soundly asleep.

            When Mikey awoke the next morning he was filled with a sense of purpose.  He’d realized that he had to make certain the phenomenon he meant to observe was a singular one.  After all, in the last two weeks the only family member Raph had gotten angry with was Leo.  Suppose Raph’s reaction wasn’t to Leo in particular, but to anyone who crossed him?

            If there was one thing Michelangelo was good at, it was aggravating Raphael.  After all, that had always been one of his favorite pastimes.  Since Mikey knew what really annoyed his brother, he planned to goad Raph hard enough to make him lose his temper.  Then Mikey would see if being pissed at him would send Raph into the tunnels.

            Mikey pushed himself into a seated position and slowly eased his legs out from under the blanket.  At some point during the night Klunk had left his small cat bed in favor of sleeping on top of Mikey’s feet.  Not wanting to disturb his little pet, Mikey climbed out of bed slowly and then geared up.  Before leaving the room, he stroked Klunk’s head, earning himself a purr but not actually waking the cat.

            As he expected, Mikey saw Donatello first.  His genius brother was seated in front of his bank of computers, his eyes fixed on one of the screens.  When Mikey called out a good-morning to him, Don barely acknowledged the greeting.

            In the kitchen, Mikey touched the teapot and found that it was still warm.  He could hear Master Splinter calling out instructions from inside the dojo and the answering kiai was definitely Leo’s.  Walking around to the end of the counter, Mikey looked up and saw that Raph’s bedroom door was still shut.

            Quickly darting to the cupboards, Mikey took out the box containing Raph’s favorite breakfast cereal.  There was just enough left for a bowlful, which suited Mikey’s purposes perfectly.  Taking out the bag of pop rocks he’d brought with him from his candy stash, Mikey dumped them into the box and then shook it to distribute the little rocks evenly.

            He was just putting the box away when he heard Raph’s door open.  Mikey very quickly dashed to the refrigerator and took out the box of leftover pizza.  Tossing it onto the kitchen table, Mikey poured out a glass of orange juice and sat down.  When Raph entered the kitchen a couple of minutes later, Mikey was munching on a slice and reading the comic page from the newspaper that Leo had left behind.

            “’Morning, Raph,” Mikey said without taking his eyes from the paper.  “Do you think Don got any sleep last night?”

            “Probably not enough,” Raph said, grabbing a bowl and spoon before retrieving his cereal.

            He set the bowl on the table and yawned widely as he poured cereal into it.  Half asleep still, he didn’t notice the little raspberry colored candy pieces mixed into the cereal.

            When Raph turned his back to get the milk from the refrigerator, Mikey lowered his paper enough to see over it.  Raph sat down before opening the milk jug and pouring milk over his cereal.

            As soon as the milk touched the pop rocks they did exactly what they were advertised to do - they popped.

            Startled, Raph sprang up from his chair, knocking it over in the process.  “What the fu . . . ?”

            It was hard for Mikey to contain his mirth.  Hand over his mouth, he snorted out his laughter, watching Raph’s face redden in anger.

            “At least now you don’t have to add any sugar,” Mikey said quickly.

            “I never add sugar and ya’ know it, ya’ little shit,” Raph said.  “I should dump this on your head.”

            Mikey sprang from his chair, snatching up the last slice of pizza before darting out of Raph’s reach.

            “Enjoy your cereal!” Mikey called out as he ran towards the dojo.

            He could hear his brother cursing as he paused outside of the dojo in order to finish his pizza.  One prank wasn’t enough to set Raph off, but it was the first in a salvo that Mikey intended to unleash.

            Mikey was early to practice, earning approving looks from Master Splinter and Leo.  If they’d known why he’d arrived early he wouldn’t have received such favorable glances.

            When Raph showed up he scowled at Mikey, but was otherwise calm.  Leo had to step out of the dojo in order to call to Don, who arrived a couple of minutes later.

            Master Splinter had them pair off to spar, which suited Mikey just fine, especially when he was told that he’d be fighting Raphael.  Since his main project for the day was Raph, Mikey was unusually focused, and that spelled bad luck for his hot headed brother.

            Nothing rattled Raph more than when Mikey taunted him during a fight.  Making certain to be especially acerbic in his comments, Mikey told Raph that he was slow and clumsy, that his moves were predictable, and that he couldn’t hit the side of a barn.

            The running commentary got to his brother exactly as Mikey expected it would.  As Raph grew angrier, his movements became sloppy and predictable.  Mikey took advantage of every mistake, dropping Raph several times before Master Splinter finally called an end to their contest.

            As practice drew to a close, the four brothers kneeled before their father to await his critique.  He admonished Donatello for seeming distracted, told Leonardo to work on his counter attack, and spoke to Michelangelo about watching his footwork.

            Then he sighed and turned to Raph.  “My son, you have such raw power and incredible technique, yet you allow your temper to defeat you.”

            “If Mikey would just shut up . . . .” Raph began.

            “You should not even hear it,” Master Splinter snapped, interrupting him.  “As his brother you have been subjected to his fighting style for years.  His words should no longer penetrate your focus, yet I am at a loss to understand why you allow them to annoy you.  In a fight, Michelangelo’s taunts are but another weapon in his arsenal, one that you must learn to defend against.”

            “Yes, Sensei,” Raph muttered.

            “You are all excused,” Master Splinter said, after giving Raph a final, long look.

            The cereal escapade had annoyed Raph, but getting his butt handed to him first by Mikey, and then by Master Splinter had raised the heat index to boiling.  An extra push or two would set off enough fireworks for Mikey to learn what he wanted to know.

            Usually Raph would take to his punching bag to work off his frustration.  That was the last thing Mikey wanted him to do, so he made a beeline for the weight bench, which sat next to it.  Plopping down on the bench, Mikey began to do bicep curls with a seventy pound dumbbell.

            Mikey made certain that he was facing the punching bag.  A little while later when Raph approached his bag, he found his little brother staring directly at him.

            Raph’s glare earned him a cheeky grin.  Trying to ignore his brother, Raph hit the bag a few times and then glanced at Mikey, who winked at him.  When Raph turned his shell to Mikey and tried to continue his workout, Mikey began humming the theme from ‘Rocky’.

            Whirling angrily, Raph demanded, “What the fuck is wrong with ya’?”

            Wearing his most innocent expression, Mikey said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.  I am absolutely perfect.”

            With a low growl, Raph turned back to his bag.  Mikey uttered not a sound for a full minute, waiting for Raph to start to settle into his routine.

            “I mean, I did wax your sorry shell during practice,” Mikey said.

            Raph’s shoulder’s tensed but he didn’t turn.  “Shut up, Mike,” he said.  “You’re getting on my last nerve.”

            “Loser,” Mikey mumbled sotto voce.

            Spinning, Raph strode towards the younger turtle and snatched the dumbbell from his hand, throwing it onto the floor.  Mikey stood up quickly but made no attempt to flee, the way he normally did when pranking Raph.  Instead he faced off with his thoroughly angered brother.

            “I swear, if ya’ don’t stop screwing with me I’m gonna smack ya’ into next week!” Raph shouted.

            “You and what army?” Mikey challenged.

            Raph’s hands clenched into fists.  “I mean it, Mike!  I’ve had enough of your shit!”

            “Then why don’t you do something about it?” Mikey asked.  “Afraid of a repeat match?”

            For a moment it looked like Raph was going to hit him, but then he checked himself.  Mikey could almost see Raph’s control returning.

            “You’re bored,” Raph said.  It was a statement rather than a question.  “Ya’ always fucking do this when ya’ got nothing better to do.  Ya’ listen to me, Mike.  I ain’t your personal entertainment committee.  Leave off messing with me.”

            Ready with a snappy comeback, Mikey hesitated when he caught movement from the corner of his eye.  Leonardo had made a sudden appearance.

            “Mikey, stop annoying Raph,” Leo ordered.

            A wild gleam flared in Raph’s eyes and he spun on his older brother.  “I can fight my own damn battles!”

            “Why do you have to fight at all?” Leo asked in a deceptively mild tone.

            Mikey thought to himself that Leo couldn’t be baiting Raph, not after being rebuked the night before by their father.  But Leo didn’t walk away to avoid an argument and from his stance it appeared that he was digging in.

            Raph seemed to read something in Leo’s body language as well.  There was a perceptible change in Raph’s demeanor and his attention turned completely away from Mikey.  In fact, Mikey might not have been in the area at all as far as either of his brothers were concerned.

            “’Cause his brains are all in his fists,” Mikey said, hoping to draw Raph’s notice back to him.

            He mightn’t have spoken at all as far as Raph was concerned.  Leo’s presence eclipsed everything else and in that moment, Mikey realized that he’d gotten the answer to his experiment.  Raphael was only going to really fight with Leonardo.

            Raphael really only wanted to fight with Leonardo.

            Michelangelo was merely a distraction and an annoyance.  Though he might actually manage to get Raph mad enough to try and pound him into the dirt, Mikey wasn’t going to be the reason Raph sprang a woody.

            “I knew it,” Raph said, giving Leo the dirtiest of looks.  “Ya’ got a yellow streak running down the back of your shell.  That’s why we ain’t been topside.”

            For a moment, Mikey felt a slight disappointment that Raph was only interested in Leo, but that was just his vanity.  Since what he mostly wanted was a repeat of the phenomenon he’d already seen a couple of times, Mikey decided to fan the flames.

            “Or maybe Leo’s worried you can’t hold up your end of a fight,” Mikey said, putting a touch of a sneer into his voice.  “He spanked you last night and I kicked your butt today.”

            Normally Leo wouldn’t have rubbed something like that in Raph’s face, but he clearly didn’t appreciate Raph’s intimation that he was a coward.  “Is that the problem, Raph?  Are you over compensating because you’re feeling inadequate?”

            “Ya’ want a rematch asshole?  ‘Cause we can throw down right here, right now, without Master Splinter breathing down our necks!” Raph yelled.

            Mikey was very glad that in this new lair Master Splinter’s room was so far away.  They were at a crucial juncture and he didn’t want any interruptions.

            Leo’s posture changed in response to Raph’s challenge.  Sliding a foot back, he turned his body sideways to Raph’s, and lifted his arms defensively.

            “Bring it on, hot head,” Leo challenged.

            “Careful what ya’ wish for, Splinter Junior,” Raph retorted before leaping at his brother.

            The pair hit the floor, grappling with each other for dominance.  Rolling around, they punched, jabbed, and wrestled, both of them snarling like wild things.

            There was absolutely no finesse to their fight, no technique, no skill whatsoever.  To Mikey it looked like they’d both digressed into some sort of an animalistic state.

            “What the heck is going on in here?  Mikey, why are you just standing there?”

            Mikey turned to find Donatello coming towards him.  The sounds of fighting had apparently drawn him up from the service bay.

            “Stop it before Splinter sees you!” Don reprimanded in a loud voice.

            The words had barely left his mouth when Leo managed to plant his foot squarely into the center of Raph’s plastron.  His hard kick sent Raph flying right into the tide pool.

            Leo was on his feet by the time Raph surfaced, irate and spluttering.  Ignoring him, Leo looked at Don and said, “Sorry, Donny.  You’re right.  Why don’t I help you with whatever you’re working on?  I could use a break.”

            From his tone one would have thought he was chagrined, but Leo’s behavior belied that.  If anything, he seemed to be preening himself, going so far as to give Raph a self-satisfied glance while he was walking away with Donatello.

            “Fucking prick!” Raph shouted at his brother’s carapace.  “This ain’t over, not by a long shot!”

            Heaving himself out of the pool, Raph angrily yanked his headband off and wrung it out.  He was so mad he was quivering, but Mikey could see that his tail was stiff and there was a slight bulge in his crotch.

            Mikey quickly lifted his eyes so he wouldn’t be caught staring at that particular area of Raph’s anatomy.  He was just in time because Raph looked up and glared at him.

            “What the fuck are ya’ looking at?” Raph asked.

            “Nothing,” Mikey said, lifting his hands in a placating gesture.  “Not a thing.”

            “I need some air,” Raph said, scowling at his brother.  “If Leo wants to know where I went, tell him to shove it up his ass.”

            With that, Raph strode out of the lair.  Mikey counted to ten slowly, and then followed him.


Chapter Text

            Michelangelo had grown up watching Leonardo and Raphael battle each other for dominance.  It was a dance they did with growing frequency as they got older.

            Could it be that the dance had been leading up to this, whatever this was?  Mikey wanted to know.  Mikey needed to know.  Because maybe if this was real, then there was a chance . . . .

            It was way too early to be thinking along those lines, Mikey told himself.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  In a proper experiment one didn’t make assumptions.

            Mikey had trailed Raph through the tunnels, keeping far back so that his brother wouldn’t sense his presence.  Low groans told Mikey that Raph had found a place to hide so that he could pleasure himself.

            After the dunking in the tide pool, Raph was soaked to the skin.  He should have been too cold and uncomfortable to even have lascivious thoughts, much less to act upon them.

            From what Mikey was hearing, such was far from the case.  Anger equaled arousal, no matter what the preceding conditions were.

            “Correction,” Mikey thought to himself.  “Anger with Leo equals arousal.”

            Now Mikey knew he could hack off Raph and not get the same reaction.  It appeared that Raph did get horny every time he argued with Leo, but what about Donny?  Did Raph get hot and bothered after an argument with the family genius?

            “Who am I kidding?” Mikey thought, grinning.  “Raph never gets pissed at Donny.  Nobody gets pissed at Donny.”

            Raph’s quiet moans as he jerked off now turned to faint utterances, Leo’s name falling from his lips.  It was a good indication that he was close to peaking and Mikey wanted to watch.

            Easing his way along the tunnel, Mikey peeked around the corner and spotted Raph.  His brother sat on the ground, his carapace propped up against the wall as he masturbated.

            Eyes closed, Raph ranted about Leo, spittle flying from his mouth as he called his older brother every name in the book.  His hand worked furiously over his thick shaft, pumping his cock with almost the same ferocity he exhibited in a fight.

            Mikey was entranced with the scene.  Every time the head of Raph’s cock disappeared in his palm, Mikey felt his own dick pulse.  Raph’s chest was heaving, his curse words interspersed with panting gasps.

            “Asshole,” Raph muttered.  “Bet ya’ th . . . think your dicks bi . . . bigger than mine.  Why don’t ya’ prove . . . prove it Leo?  Show me . . . show me your cock!  Come on, Leo!  Fuck . . . Leo!”

            On that last note, cum spurted from Raph’s cock.  The release was so strong it looked like a small fountain spraying up from between Raph’s clenched palm.

            Mikey’s penis tumbled into the open and he lurched back with a gasp.  Freezing, he waited for the tell-tale sounds of Raph coming to investigate the noise.  When that didn’t happen, Mikey figured that the rush from Raph’s orgasm was still pounding in his ears.

            As quickly and silently as he could, Mikey crept away from Raph’s hiding place and went in search of one of his own.  There was no way he could return to the lair until he took care of the stiff problem swinging between his legs.

            Finding a spot in a dark tunnel far removed from Raph’s, Mikey leaned against the wall and began to jerk off.  In his mind he pictured Raph daring Leo to show him his cock.  That’s what Raph had said wasn’t it?  Just before he climaxed?  He wanted to see Leo’s dick.

            Just the thought of those two whipping out their cocks for each other took Mikey over the edge.  With a grunt he shot his load onto the dirt, continuing to pump his shaft for a full minute until he had completely emptied himself.

            Breathing heavily, Mikey stayed where he was, hand covered in cum and cock hanging in the open.  The cool air started to get uncomfortable, so Mikey carefully tucked his dick away.

            Finding a spot where rain runoff came through a storm drain, Mikey washed his hands and cleaned the places on his body that were dotted with cum.  Satisfied that the signs of what he’d been doing were gone, Mikey headed back to the lair, hoping to arrive before Raph.

            There were no signs of the hot head when Mikey got back.  His first thought was to grab some lunch, but then curiosity over Leo’s whereabouts sent him in search of the leader.

            Mikey found Donatello in the service bay, but Leo wasn’t with him.  Taking a seat on the stairs, Mikey watched as Don, who stood on the hood of the moving van, tinkered with the laser cannons.

            He waited until Don looked up and noticed him to ask, “Where’d Leo go?”

            “To his room to meditate,” Don answered.  Eyeing Mikey, he asked, “Were you following Raph?”

            “Why would I follow him?” Mikey countered so that he could avoid telling a direct lie.  Changing the subject quickly, he pointed at a large, tarp covered lump in one corner of the service bay and asked, “What’s under that?  Is it your new project?  Can I see it?”

            “That is none of your beeswax,” Don said.

            “Did you show it to Leo?” Mikey asked.

            “No I did not and anyway, he wasn’t interested,” Don said.  “He only stayed long enough for Raph to vanish to wherever he goes after they fight before he went up to his room.”

            Mikey did not want Don to start talking about how much their brothers fought.  “You know, I could always peek under that tarp when you’re not around.”

            Hopping down from the hood, Don opened one of the van’s side panels.  “You’d better hope that you don’t,” he said without looking at his brother.  “Remember what happened the last time I caught you messing with one of my projects?”

            “How could I forget?” Mikey asked.  “I still have the scar.”

            “I did not lay a finger on you,” Don said, turning to wave his wrench at Mikey.

            Mikey grinned and flattened a hand on his chest.  “It’s an internal scar, bro’.  You marked me for life.”

            “Unless you want two scars on your psyche, you’ll stay away from my things,” Don warned good-humoredly.  Then he sobered.  “Why didn’t you stop them from fighting earlier, Mikey?  You’ve been picking at Raph all day, were you purposely starting something?”

            “Why would you even think that?  And besides, what makes you think I could do anything about it?  The only reason they stopped was ‘cause Leo got the upper hand and tossed Raph into the tide pool to cool him off.  They sure didn’t stop because you were yelling at them,” Mikey said.

            “I saw the expression on your face when I walked up on that fight,” Don said.  “You looked like you were enjoying it.”

            Mikey shrugged.  “Well, it was kinda entertaining,” he admitted.  He waved a hand when Don opened his mouth.  “Don’t bother lecturing me about my juvenile behavior.  Raph already called me out for being bored.  I’m not bored, I’m going stir-crazy.”

            “Maybe that’s what’s wrong with Leo and Raph too,” Don mused.  “We have been confined down here for quite a while.  Raph has certainly mentioned it enough.”

            “For all his ‘change is good’ talk, I don’t think Leo is ready to chance having Karai find our home again,” Mikey said.

            Don turned back to his work.  “I’m not too keen on moving again either.  I’ve spent hours trying to re-create the schematics and project notes from my old lab, not to mention all of the other important things I lost.”

            “So you’re on Leo’s side on this,” Mikey said.  “Better not let Raph hear that, he might get mad at you.”

            “I’ve already told Raph that I think we should maintain a low profile for a while longer,” Don said, grunting as he loosened a bolt.  “He told me to remember that I’d said that the next time I need some things from the junk yard.”

            “He didn’t yell at you?” Mikey asked.

            Don glanced at him.  “Why would Raph yell at me?  I wasn’t arguing the point, just stating my opinion.  When he voices his, I listen.  Raph and Leo fight because neither of them is actually listening to the other.”

            “They both want to be right,” Mikey said, thinking about Don’s point.

            “They both want the other to think they’re right,” Don said.  “About something anyway.  It’s called respect.  And while I do think they both trust and respect each other, neither of them talk as if they do.”

            “You’d almost think they enjoyed butting heads,” Mikey said, watching Don carefully.

            “It seems to be their standard for communicating,” Don said, appearing unconcerned.  He walked over to one of his work tables and began tossing some things into a box.  “Not my problem and it shouldn’t be yours either, as long as their fighting doesn’t bring the wrath of Master Splinter down on all of us.  I’ve got too much to do.”

            He hefted a large chunk of solid metal with apparent ease, moving it to where his acetylene torch sat.  Mikey found himself admiring the way Don’s muscles rippled, wondering if Don could actually beat Raph in a weight lifting competition.

            The muscles on Don’s legs were pretty defined as well, Mikey noticed.  The work that Don did had made his hands rough and strong, which meant he had a really nice grip . . . .

            Mikey shook his head to dislodge the ideas that were trying to climb inside his brain.  He was already depraved enough for wanting to encourage two of his brothers to continue having sexual thoughts about each other.  Donatello was a perfectly innocent bystander.

            Standing up, Mikey said, “I’m gonna get a sandwich.  You want one?”

            “Um, sure,” Don said absently, his mind already a thousand miles away.

            In the kitchen, Mikey opened the refrigerator and took out the tray holding the leftover turkey.  Setting it on the counter, he peeled back the plastic wrap and began slicing.

            While he worked, Mikey contemplated the words Raph had used while masturbating.  Both of the times that Mikey could actually hear his utterances, they had involved Leonardo being in some sort of sexual situation with him.

            Raphael seemed fixated on having carnal knowledge of Leo.  It was harder to pin down what Leo thought about while jerking off, other than it somehow involved the brother wearing the red mask.

            “Well”, Mikey thought, correcting himself, “at least once it was about Raph.  I’ve only heard him spanking the monkey one time.  That’s not enough of a sample to be a demonstrable phenomenon.  Ha!  If only Donny could hear me now.  I’ve got the science speak down pat.”

            Chuckling, he retrieved the bread and a couple of plates.  He was heading back to the refrigerator for the condiments when he saw Raph returning from the tunnels.

            Raph stopped to look around, clearly searching for someone.  It was so obvious that Mikey couldn’t resist calling out, “He’s in his room.”

            “What makes ya’ think I give a fuck where Leo is?” Raph snapped, glaring at Mikey.

            Wearing his most innocent expression, Mikey said, “Leo?  Sorry, I thought you were looking for Master Splinter.  Want a sandwich?”

            Raph huffed and didn’t bother to reply.  Using the stairs on the opposite side of the lair from where their bedrooms were, Raph avoided going past Leo’s door.  Arriving in the TV room, he plopped down on the couch.

            The television array flickered to life and then Raph turned up the volume.  From the sounds, Mikey could tell he was watching a mixed martial arts match.  After a couple of seconds, he turned the volume up even louder.

            It didn’t need to be so loud and Raph normally didn’t turn the sound up that high.  Clearly it was an attempt to aggravate Leo and possibly spark some sort of reaction from him.

            Mikey knew right then that he’d been correct in believing that Raph was fixated on Leo.  In fact, it was starting to look as though that was the only thing Raph thought about.

            Turning from the refrigerator with his hands full, Mikey nearly plowed into Leo.  His brother deftly caught the mayonnaise jar that had slipped loose when Mikey jerked to a stop.

            “Shell!  Give a guy a heart attack, why don’t you?” Mikey griped.

            “If you were more aware of your surroundings, I wouldn’t have surprised you,” Leo retorted.

            Setting the rest of the fridge supplies on the counter, Mikey thought, “Too bad you don’t know just how aware I am.”

            Out loud he asked, “Want a sandwich?  I’m making one for Donny.”

            “Sounds good,” Leo said.  “Make it two, would you?”

            “Okay.”  Mikey took bread from the loaf while Leo retrieved another couple of plates.

            Lining bread up on the plates, Mikey opened the mayonnaise.  As he was spreading some on the first slices of bread, Leo said, “No mayo on one of them.  Let me get the mustard.”

            The only one who preferred mustard on turkey was Raph.  Mikey made no comment as he accepted the mustard from Leo and finished preparing the sandwiches.

            Leo thanked him and took two plates, one of which held the mustard turkey sandwich.  Knowing that Don was too preoccupied to come looking for his lunch, Mikey watched Leo take the food upstairs to the TV room.

            Needing to know what was going to happen next, Mikey climbed the opposite set of stairs and then proceeded up to the ramp that led to his room.  From there he had a bird’s eye view of his brothers.

            Leo had taken a seat on the chair next to the couch, setting the plates on the coffee table.  After a minute, he pushed one of the plates in front of Raph, but didn’t say anything.

            Balancing the other plate on his knees, Leo began to eat his sandwich, his eyes on the television screen.  He had taken three bites when Raph picked up the offered sandwich and began to eat.

             A tiny, almost imperceptible smile lifted the corners of Leo’s mouth.  If Mikey hadn’t been staring right at him, he might not have seen it, or recognized a touch of smugness in that smile.

            Eyes gleaming as he observed this remarkable tableau, all Mikey could think was, “Curiouser and curiouser.”



Chapter Text

            After witnessing the ‘sandwich episode’ as Michelangelo liked to call it, he delivered Donatello’s lunch and then took his own up to his bedroom.

            Mikey sat on his bed, leaning up against wall with a notebook propped against his raised knees.  He tapped a pencil against his lip as he studied the chart that he’d been creating.

            On the nightstand were the remains of his sandwich and a bag of chips.  Mikey had decided that it was high time he began to make notes of his observations.  It was the correct scientific procedure.  Don was always scribbling notes about his experiments, so Mikey figured he should do the same.

            The chart showed not only the actual fights that Leo and Raph had gotten into, but also the other out of character behaviors between the two.  There were probably more of them than Mikey had viewed, but he’d make do with what he’d seen with his own two eyes.

            He noted times of day, who was present, and what had occurred immediately afterwards.  This included when and where both Raphael and Leonardo masturbated, as well as what they’d said.

            Absently reaching for a chip, Mikey tossed it into his mouth as he contemplated his observations.  Something was niggling at the back of his mind, some clue that would take him a step closer to what motivated his brothers.  He just couldn’t see it.

            Klunk jumped onto the bed and butted Mikey’s hand, seeking attention.  Shifting his eyes from the pages of his notebook, Mikey scratched behind the cat’s ears and then offered him a small piece of leftover turkey from his sandwich.

            Taking it from his hand, Klunk dropped it onto the bedspread and stared at it a moment before deigning to sample the meat.  Mikey watched the cat chew the small piece of turkey and then leave the masticated remains on the bed.

            “Eww, why do you do that?” Mikey asked, using a tissue to swipe up the mess.

            Ignoring him, Klunk began to bathe himself as though he’d just consumed a seven-course meal.  Shaking his head at the vagaries of cats, Mikey turned his attention back to his notebook.

            It was then he noticed what might be a pattern to Leo’s behavior.

            Sitting up straight, Mikey reviewed the various scenes that had taken place between his two brothers.  In each instance where Leo got the upper hand in a fight, or when he’d won an argument, or just simply gotten Raph to comply with an order, that little smug smile had appeared at the corner of Leo’s mouth.

            Leo wasn’t trying to avoid confrontations with Raph.  In fact, he seemed to be going out of his way to be in situations that would absolutely lead to fights.

            It wasn’t the fighting that was doing it for Leo, it was the winning.

            No, not quite that either.  Something else.  Something more.

            With a sigh of frustration, Mikey tossed the notebook to the side.  His brain hurt.  He had no idea how Don could spend hours studying stuff.  Trying to follow Don’s example and use the scientific approach was going to give Mikey a brain aneurysm, he was sure of it.

            Deciding that he’d been cooped up in his room for long enough, Mikey hopped out of bed.  Klunk promptly crawled onto the spot he’d vacated and curled into a furry bundle.

            “Thanks for the help, little buddy,” Mikey said.  Klunk’s ear twitched.

            Mikey started to leave the room and then remembered his notebook.  It wouldn’t do to leave it lying around, so he carefully tucked it under the mattress.  Granted, his brothers normally didn’t invade the privacy of each other’s domains, but he wasn’t taking chances.

            Taking his plate to the kitchen, Mikey washed, dried and put it away before attempting to locate his family.  Master Splinter had wrested control of the television array away from Raph and Leo and was watching one of his shows.  Leo sat nearby reading a book.

            Since the other two didn’t appear to be in their rooms, Mikey trotted down to the service bay.  He wasn’t surprised to see Raph working on some sort of upgrade to the moving van alongside Donatello.

            Just for a second Mikey froze.  The pair were side by side, their bodies touching as they leaned into the engine.  A very foreign feeling crept over Mikey and he had to squelch the urge to yell at Raph to get away from Donny.

            Mikey pinched himself.  Hard.  Then he walked over to join them.

            “What’cha doing guys?” Mikey asked, managing to sound both curious yet indifferent.

            Raph continued working but Don’s head came up.  There was grease smeared across his forehead and on the side of his face near his mouth.  Mikey suddenly had the urge to remove that smear with his tongue.

            “This stuff between Raph and Leo is affecting my brain,” Mikey thought.

            “We’re trying to figure out why the engine nearly stalls when I give it the gas,” Don said.  “Could be a fouled fuel pump, a clogged fuel line, a problem with the throttle . . . .”

            “Did you change the fuel filter?” Mikey asked.

            Raph growled.  “Of course he did, lame brain,” he said, his voice echoing inside the engine space.

            Since that was the extent of his vehicle knowledge, Mikey wasn’t sure what else he could offer.  It irked him that Raph could be helpful but he couldn’t.

            “I really don’t want to have to drop the engine,” Don said worriedly. 

            “Tell me what I can do to help and I will,” Mikey offered.

            Pulling his head back and straightening up, Raph glared at him.  “Ya’ can stay out of our way, that’s what ya’ can do.”

            Irrational anger flared and Mikey snapped, “Just ‘cause you’re pissed that Leo won’t let you out of the lair doesn’t mean you can take it out on everyone else.”

            “What’s that supposed to mean?” Raph asked angrily.

            “Master Leo grounded you,” Mikey retorted with a sneer.  “You’ve been bad and aren’t allowed outside.”

            Raph’s fist clenched.  “Leo ain’t my Master,” he shot back.  “Why don’t ya’ shut it before I shove part of this engine down your throat?”

            “Stop it both of you,” Don demanded, stepping between them.  “I’m beginning to think we’re all going stir crazy.  Just because circumstances have made it difficult to enjoy some quality topside time doesn’t mean we should take it out on each other.”

            The sound of Don’s voice seemed to calm Raph, who promptly turned his shell to Mikey.  “I think it’s the control module,” Raph said.  “Ya’ got an extra one of those by any chance?”

            Don frowned.  “No.  I was going to salvage one on our next run, but . . . .”

            A grin blossomed on Raph’s face, humor that Mikey would not have thought possible moments earlier clearly showing now.

            “Is this a good time to say I told you so?” Raph asked.

            “It is not,” Don said firmly.

            With a shrug, Raph said, “Then I won’t.  Don’t need to, we both know I was right.  Keeping a low profile means we run out of stuff.  The fridge is already starting to look bare.”

            “I concede your point,” Don replied, “but only if you admit that you were using that argument as a way to push a personal agenda.  We need to look for supplies; we don’t need to look for a fight with any of our enemies.”

            Raph’s scowl had no effect on Don’s composure.  It rarely did.  “Ya’ know what pisses me off?  That everyone in this family assumes I’m always itching for a fight whenever I leave the lair.  All of ya’ think ya’ know me so damn well.”

            Mikey would have responded with ‘because we do’.  He was pretty sure Leo would have answered in the same manner.  Maybe that’s why Don didn’t fight with Raph, because that kind of rejoinder wasn’t the first thing that came to mind.

            “I apologize for making that assumption,” Don said.  “You’re right, we shouldn’t stereotype each other.  Of the hundreds of times you’ve helped me with salvage operations there hasn’t been a single occasion where you left to get into other mischief.”

            That response seemed to mollify Raph, whose features softened.

            “I could go talk Leo into letting us make a run to the junkyard,” Mikey said quickly, pulling Don’s attention away from Raph.

            “I’d appreciate that, Mikey,” Don said.  “If he needs to know details, send him my direction.”

            “Tell him to take his thumb out of his ass before he gets here,” Raph said.  “Uptight bastard,” he mumbled under his breath as he turned back to the engine compartment.

            Mikey barely registered the insult aimed at Leo because he was too caught up in the warmth of Donatello’s expressed appreciation.  The genius had a gift for soothing his brothers and probably didn’t even realize it.

            Bypassing the kitchen, Mikey saw that Master Splinter had started dinner preparations.  Leo was still in his chair reading and closed the book on a finger when he spotted Mikey heading towards him.

            “I’m bringing a request from Donny,” Mikey said, plopping down on the couch.  “He needs a part for the van and doesn’t have a spare.  We need to do a supply run.  On a side note, the kitchen cupboards are bare and Klunk is nearly out of kibble.”

            Leo stared at him and Mikey could almost see the wheels turning in his head even though his face was an expressionless blank.

            “How much of that request was Don’s and how much Raph’s?” Leo asked.

            Clearly Leo thought that Mikey was functioning as a go-between for Raph’s ulterior motives.  He would have dearly loved to convey Raph’s exact message because seeing them fight again would give him more information.  Doing so might satisfy some of Mikey’s curiosity, but then Don would never get his much needed engine part.

            “Dude, you have got to stop seeing Raph behind every bush,” Mikey said.  “The request was all Donny’s.  Raph agreed ‘cause he’s helping with the van and knows it can’t be fixed without that part.  Don would have asked you himself, but he’s covered in grease.”

            “He’s almost always covered in grease,” Leo said.  “I’ve never known it to stop him from talking to me.”

            “Would you believe I’m helping him keep the peace?” Mikey asked.

            “That I would believe,” Leo said.  “I can also well imagine the colorful language Raph used when it was decided I needed to be consulted about a proposed supply run.”

            “And here’s Raph thinking we don’t know him as well as we think we do,” Mikey said with a grin.  “So what’s the answer bro’?”

            “I suppose it has to be a yes, otherwise Don will just go on his own,” Leo said.

            “If he wants something bad enough he will,” Mikey said.  “He’ll turn a deaf ear to anyone fussing at him about it afterwards too.”

            “Sometimes he’s as bad as Raph when it comes to the issue of personal safety,” Leo said.  “He just puts his at risk in different ways.”

            Mikey jumped up.  “I’m gonna go tell them, okay?”

            Leo caught his arm before he could leave.  “We’ll go to the junkyard, a bodega, and then back here.  Nothing more.”

            “I’ll pass that along too,” Mikey said.  “You can deal with any arguments about it.”

            “I always do,” Leo said, flipping his book open again.

            It might have been Mikey’s imagination, but he could have sworn Leo not only anticipated a disagreement, but welcomed one.  Mikey would have put money down betting that it was Raphael he wanted to argue with.

            When Mikey delivered the good news, Raph whistled in surprise.  “Well what do ya’ know, Fearless is actually willing to come out of hiding.  Might be hope for him yet.”

            “It’s supposed to be a round trip,” Mikey said.  “Junkyard, bodega, and home.”

            “And the hope is dashed,” Raph said.  “Once a tight ass, always a tight ass.”

            “Baby steps, Raph,” Don muttered as he inspected a part with a magnifying glass.

            Raph huffed and went back to working on the engine.  The two of them had obviously talked about some aspect of the situation between Raph and Leo.  It irked Mikey not to have been privy to that conversation since it might have given him some additional clues.

            He contemplated Don, who was oblivious to Mikey’s perusal.  If he could get Donny alone, Mikey might acquire answers to a few leading questions.  Mikey would have to be subtle though, because the genius did not betray confidences.

            Deciding it wouldn’t be worthwhile to stand around watching those two work, Mikey left to help Master Splinter with dinner.  They all took turns preparing the one meal Master Splinter insisted they try and eat together as a family.  Since Mikey liked to cook and their father wasn’t anywhere close to being a master in the kitchen, the youngest turtle tended to go to his aid.

            For lack of a better word, dinner was interesting.  There was absolutely no talk of their impending trip for one thing.  Raph and Leo were locked in a staring contest throughout the meal, breaking off only when someone else addressed either of them directly.

            Because they weren’t actually bickering, Master Splinter ignored their behavior.  It was almost as though the pair were having a silent battle of wills.  Mikey wondered how they’d determine who had won.

            It turned out to be very subtle.  Master Splinter left the dinner table first and then Leo got up and began stacking the dirty dishes.  He put the plates directly in front of Raphael and then walked away carrying the glassware.

            Raph sat there staring at the pile of plates.  Mikey made a show of brushing crumbs off the table just so he could observe how his brother would react.  Don muttered something about putting the van back together so they could drive it and left.

            For a few minutes Raph’s jaw worked from side to side, like it did when he was annoyed.  When he suddenly stood up and slapped both hands down on the table, Mikey nearly came out of his skin.

            “He’s gonna walk off,” Mikey thought.  “He’ll leave the plates and Leo will get mad.  No topside tonight, boxing fans.  We’re in for a fight.”

            Then Raph picked up the plates and took them into the kitchen.  Waiting where he was, Mikey cocked his head to the side, listening for the first sounds of an argument.

            It wasn’t long before Leo left the kitchen alone.  He moved off towards the service bay where Don had gone and Mikey took that opportunity to peek in on Raph.

            The hot head stood at the counter washing the dishes.  His mouth was pressed into a thin line and his movements were jerky, like he was thoroughly angry.

            Raph was also breathing faster than normal and when he turned to retrieve the soiled pans from the stovetop, Mikey could see that his tail was stiff and that there was a well-defined bulge in his crotch.

            Mikey pulled back fast before Raph saw him.  Apparently Raph and Leo had fought, only it wasn’t verbal.  Leo had won too, otherwise Raph wouldn’t be standing there slamming pots and pans around but still washing up.

            Wanting to know what Leo was talking to Don about, Mikey started in the direction of the service bay.  He’d gone only a few steps when Leo came back from that area and walked past him.

            There was no mistaking the complacent look on Leo’s face as he glanced towards the kitchen.  Nor did Mikey have any trouble noticing Leo’s awkward gait or the fact that his tail was also thickly rigid.

            Leonardo went straight up to his room.  Mikey bit his thumb in indecision.  He wanted to eavesdrop but he didn’t want to get busted in the act.

            Finally his curiosity overcame his caution and Mikey crept upstairs to press his head against Leo’s door.

            It was quiet for several long minutes and when Mikey’s chest started to hurt, he realized he’d been holding his breath.  Releasing it very softly, Mikey looked around without seeing anyone and then leaned in again.

            This time he heard an unmistakable churr.  This was followed by wet slapping sounds.

            “Ah . . . ngh!  That’s . . . right Raph.  Hah, hah . . . mmm.  Do wh . . . what I tell . . . tell you to . . . to do.  Umph!  Ahh!  Shell!  Umm, ah . . . Raphael!”

            Thoroughly aroused, the uncomfortable pain of trying to contain his erection made Mikey flee to his bedroom.  As he was going inside, he spotted Raph jogging up the stairs, clearly intent on gaining the privacy of his own room.

            Mikey could easily guess that both he and Raph were going to be doing the exact same thing in just a few minutes.



Chapter Text

            During the ride to the junkyard, Michelangelo surreptitiously watched both Raphael and Leonardo.

            They were studiously avoiding eye contact, which was interesting considering the staring contest at the dinner table.  Even though comments had passed between the four as they prepared to leave the lair, neither Raph nor Leo had directly addressed one another.

            Donatello, behind the wheel of the van, seemed oblivious to the undercurrent of tension.  For the most part, he didn’t seem much aware of any change taking place at all.  A loud straight up fight would get his attention, but anything more subtle didn’t appear to catch his notice.

            Then of course, Don did have better things to do with his time.  If not for him, they’d probably be living in a dark hovel and getting around town on stolen bikes.  Or maybe not even have lived long enough to learn how to ride a bike.

            It was Donatello who had figured out how to tap into the third rail of the subway to provide them with electricity.  He told them that the third rail was a potent source of power and nearly untraceable by the city.

            Candles were all well and good for light, but for heating the lair or their bath water they were pretty useless.  The flame wasn’t much use for cooking either and sure couldn’t run the entertainment system Michelangelo so often depended on.

            Michelangelo made a mental note to thank his genius brother more often.

            As his mind drifted back to earlier, Mikey couldn’t help thinking that the current situation was pretty funny.  Not more than a couple of hours ago, three of the turtles seated in the van were furiously masturbating, though not for the same reasons.

            Maybe that was why there was tension without fighting.  A healthy release was always followed by a certain sense of euphoria.  How long that would last between his two alpha brothers was anyone’s guess.

            They entered the junkyard through a side gate as they usually did, with Raph jumping out to unlock it and then relock it behind them.  Being thoroughly familiar with the layout of the yard, Donatello drove directly to the area filled with salvage vehicles.

            After they were all out of the van, it struck Mikey that the only ones who knew what they were looking for were Don and Raph.  Fully aware that Karai was still hunting them, Don had strategically parked the van where it could not be seen from the other side of the fence line.  That did not mean they could let their guard down.

            Apparently Leo had the same thoughts.

            “Mikey, since the two of us can’t help find vehicle parts, we’ll patrol the yard.  Keep your eyes open, we don’t want the Foot to catch us with our shells down,” Leo said.

            Raph and Donny were already dividing up quadrants to search, neither of them paying any notice to what their brothers were doing.  Or at least that’s how it appeared.  Mikey was sure that Don’s mind was entirely taken with the task at hand, but when Leo slipped away through the piles of junked cars, Raph’s eyes followed him.

            When Raph and Don separated, Mikey remained near his genius brother.  Not wanting to incur the wrath of Leonardo, he made certain to make a pass around the fence line, keeping his eyes and ears open.  After each round, Mikey would head back in Don’s direction, determined to be the one keeping an eye on that particular brother’s shell.

            During the first couple of passes, Mikey encountered Leo, who seemed satisfied at seeing his younger brother following his orders.  After that, Mikey didn’t see him again, but didn’t find that to be reason for concern.  Leo was good at staying hidden.

            On the next round Mikey didn’t run across Raph either and that got him worried.  He didn’t think Raph could really be so rash as to take off on his own, but Mikey did have to admit that his behavior of late was nothing less than extraordinary.

            It made Mikey wonder if Leo had discovered Raph’s defection and had gone after him.  He was about to go to Don and tell him what might be happening when he heard something that sounded like a body slamming against metal.  Check that, not a body per se, but a carapace.

            Fearing the worst, Mikey raced towards the sound.  He was definitely going to chew his brothers out for not yelling for help.

            Mikey crested a stack of cars, his hands starting for his nunchakus, when he saw the cause of the noise and froze.

            Raph was pressed back against the side of a delivery truck, Leo’s hand on his chest ostensibly holding him in place.  The pair were close together and though there were angry overtones to their murmured conversation, they weren’t actually fighting.

            Looking around, Mikey tried to see if there was a way to get closer so that he could hear what they were saying.  Much to his disappointment it just wasn’t possible.  Even with Leo so focused on Raph, there was no way Mr. Super Ninja wouldn’t sense Mikey’s approach.

            It wasn’t hard to guess what had started this.  Raph probably caught Leo spying on him and called his brother out on it.  He’d have claimed Leo didn’t trust him.  Instead of covering and saying he was simply watching Raph’s back, Leo would have popped off something about how he needed babysitting.

            They’d have gotten in each other’s faces, Raph would have jabbed a finger into Leo’s plastron, and in retaliation Leo would have shoved him back.  But his holding him thing, this keeping his hand on Raph, well that was new.

            Mikey noticed that his brothers were breathing heavily as they glared at one another.  By now Raph should have slapped Leo’s hand away, but both of his were at his sides, flattened against the truck.  There was zero indication that Raph was making any attempt to escape.

            The sharpness of their tones didn’t change, but Mikey noticed that Leo shuffled a little nearer to Raph.  From his position, Mikey could see the sudden flare of Raph’s nostrils and the widening of his eyes.  As soon as he reacted that way, Leo reached out and flattened his other hand on the truck near Raph’s head so that he could lean even closer.

            Mikey had no clue what sexual tension was, but he was pretty sure that’s what he was seeing.  The scene was so fascinating that he couldn’t look away.

            “Guys?  Where is everybody?”

            Startled, Mikey’s knee knocked against the top of the car he was squatting on, the sound loud in the quiet junkyard.  Leo jerked back from Raph to look towards the noise and Mikey quickly scuttled down from his hiding spot.  Using whatever cover he could find, Mikey ran to where he’d last seen Don, finding that his brother was simultaneously coming his way.

            “You okay, Donny?” Mikey asked.

            “I’m fine,” Don said, his grease covered fists coming to rest on his hips.  “Am I the only one working?  Where are Raph and Leo?”

            “I’m right here, brainiac,” Raph said as he walked over to them.  In his hand was an engine part of some sort.  Tossing it to Don, he added, “Here.  I dug this out of a truck around the corner.  It ain’t the part we came here for, but a clean distributor is something we can always use.”

            “Thank you,” Don said happily, turning the part over in his hand as he looked at it.  “I found the control module I need.  If we have more time, I’d like to grab a couple of other things.  Maybe take a look at the truck you got this part off of?  Where’s Leo?”


            Three sets of eyes flashed upward to find Leonardo perched atop a precariously balanced mound of crushed cars.  “In answer to your question, Donny, we can stay a bit longer but only if we can keep the noise level down.”

            “Then why don’t ya’ patrol on your own and let me and Donny work?” Raph snapped at him.  “Mikey can schlep parts.  It ain’t like he’s all that good a lookout anyway.”

            “Hey!” Mikey said, frowning at him.  “Don’t take your bad mood out on me.”

            “Take this and put it in the box in the back of the van,” Don said, cutting off the impending argument by handing the auto part to Mikey.  “Then head back over to . . . .”  He looked at Raph.  “Where’s that truck?”

            “Behind me about thirty yards,” Raph said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder.

            “Meet us there,” Don said, returning his attention to Mikey.

            “Aye, aye, Captain,” Mikey said with a snappy salute.  “Need anything else? What me to carry your bag, sir?”

            Don grinned.  “Nope, I need my tools.  Don’t get lost.”

            He and Raph walked away together and Mikey looked up to find that Leo had already disappeared.  When Mikey reached the moving van, he was not at all surprised to find Leo standing next to it, clearly waiting for him.

            “Decide we’re not in danger?” Mikey asked, choosing to take a counteroffensive before Leo could speak.

            “We’re always in danger,” Leo answered, watching as Mikey set the machine part into the box as instructed.  “The question is, did you see anything while you were supposed to be patrolling?”

            The way the question was phrased insinuated a number of things while also being a question within a question.  Mikey was clever enough to know not to take the bait.

            “I know I didn’t see you on my last pass around the perimeter,” Mikey said, turning towards his brother.  “When I heard Donny call out I thought there might have been trouble.”

            Good. Mikey was pleased to see Leo color just a little.  It never hurt to put pressure on Leo’s guilty conscious.

            “So you were coming from the opposite direction?” Leo asked.

            Mikey had played enough pranks during his lifetime to have perfected the innocent act.  He could also smell a trick question from a mile away.

            “Opposite from where?” Mikey countered.  “I was near the river when I heard Don.”

            Technically the whole place was near the river, so in Mikey’s book it wasn’t a lie.

            Leo’s eyes narrowed as though he knew that Mikey was trying to mislead him and was working on a way to catch his brother out.  Allowing the other fighter time to get set was always a mistake.

            “Better get back to Raph and Don,” Mikey said as he started moving.  He couldn’t resist adding, “Wouldn’t want them to think I’m slacking too.”

            He didn’t give Leo time to make a comeback, walking just fast enough to put an end to the conversation without appearing to rush off.

            Before Mikey was too far away, Leo called out, “Tell them fifteen minutes.”

            When Mikey got back to his other two brothers, he saw that they had a collection of greasy auto parts stacked on the ground behind them.  Groaning, Mikey regretted that in his hurry to escape Leo’s interrogation he hadn’t thought to bring the box with him.

            Don lifted out another part that was as big as his head and spotted his younger brother.  “Uh, you might need something to carry these in.”

            “Gee, no kidding,” Mikey said sarcastically.  “It might have been easier to just tow the whole truck behind us.”

            “I thought of that,” Don said, “but I figured Leo wouldn’t go for it, since we have to make a grocery run before we go home.”

            “Speaking of Leo, he said to tell you guys fifteen minutes,” Mikey said, watching Raph’s shell closely.

            Raph’s head came up fast and he hit it on the underside of the truck’s hood.  “Ow!  Shit!” he exclaimed, twisting around to scowl at Mikey.  “He’s turning into a fucking drill sergeant.”

            “What’s it matter to you?” Mikey asked.  “You rarely listen to him anyway.”

            Tossing a couple of gaskets on the ground, Raph said, “I know where the Professor usually leaves a shopping cart.  I’m gonna go get it.”

            He stomped off and Mikey turned to see Don looking at him with a bemused expression on his face.  “Are you trying to wind him up?”

            Mikey shrugged.  “No more than usual.  Why, am I doing a good job?”

            Don’s lips pressed into a thin line before he opened them to say, “You always do a good job of it, but normally there’s a reason.  Lately you seem to be trying to anger him just for sport.”

            “Lately I’ve been bored,” Mikey said, not wanting Don to explore the subject any further.

            “Riling him up because you’re bored doesn’t explain why afterwards you stare at him like he’s some sort of specimen under a magnifying glass,” Don said.  “Nor does it explain why you appear to be purposely antagonizing both Leo and Raph in ways that ensure they’ll end up fighting with each other.”

            For a second, Mikey’s mind went blank.  Apparently Don had noticed more than he’d been letting on.

            He started to respond and then caught himself.  Maybe Don didn’t really know anything but was fishing.  The genius was a lot more subtle about it than Leo, which was one of the reasons everyone tended to tell him more than they’d meant to.

            Mikey had to hand it to Don.  Stating something as though it was a known fact did tend to make the questioned party admit things, or at least verify the declared theory.  Mikey realized then that Donny often approached his everyday life the same way he did an experiment.  It was probably ingrained into him.

            All of that passed through Mikey’s mind very quickly and he figured out that the only proper reply was to say nothing.

            “Mikey?  Are you going to answer me?” Don asked with a frown.

            “Oh sorry,” Mikey said.  “I didn’t know you’d asked me anything.”

            Fortunately, he’d stalled long enough for the squeak of wheels to tell him that Raph was on his way back.  Don gave him a last stern look before he began collecting parts off the ground.

            Though Mikey was glad for the interruption, he wasn’t thrilled to have Donatello peeved at him.  He didn’t worry over having Raph or Leo annoyed with him, but Donny was a different story.  For some reason it was important to Mikey that he stay in Don’s good graces.

            In an effort to placate the genius, Mikey moved fast so that he was the one who ended up loading most of the parts into the shopping cart.  He would have tried to wrestle control of the cart away from Raph if he wasn’t worried Don would take that the wrong way and think he was just trying to irritate Raph some more.

            At the van, Mikey once more made the effort to unload most of the cart.  Both Raph and Don were shooting perplexed glances in his direction, but Mikey pretended not to notice.

            Leo appeared as Don was placing some old clothes and blankets into the cart.

            “I brought these for the Professor,” Don explained.  “I thought we might see him, but I can push the cart near where he usually hangs out and he’ll know who this stuff is from.”

            “Make it fast, Donny,” Leo said.  “We’ve been in one spot for too long.”

            After Don left them a heavy silence fell on the trio.  Mikey clasped his hands behind his shell and rocked back and forth on his feet, trying not to look as though he was watching his brothers.

            Raph was glowering at the ground, periodically shooting daggers in Leo’s direction.  For his part, Leo’s head seemed to be on a swivel as he kept watch for unseen foes.  Mikey noted that there was just the tiniest hint of a smug smile at the corners of Leo’s mouth.

            Finally Raph could take it no more.  “Ya’ afraid something’s gonna come out of the dark and pounce on ya’, Fearless?”

            “An observant ninja is not caught unawares,” Leo said, sounding like he was quoting something.

            “Why don’t we go observe Hun while we’re topside?” Raph asked.  “Quick drive by.  See if he’s up to something.”

            “In a van whose engine stalls when Donny steps on the gas pedal?” Leo asked, the question clearly rhetorical.  “Hun is not our business tonight, supplies are.”

            “Why do ya’ have to be so goddamned focused on one thing?” Raph barked.  “You’re all defense, ya’ got no offensive play in ya’.”

           “And you’ve got a one track mind,” Leo said.  “There is not a patient bone in your body.”

           They seemed to have forgotten that Mikey was there and he was happy for once to keep his mouth shut and just be a spectator.

           “How the hell am I supposed to be patient when ya’ don’t fucking listen to me?” Raph demanded.

           “I’ve explained until I’m blue in the face why we can’t be the aggressor right now,” Leo said, a hint of frustration in his tone.  “What do you want from me, Raph?”

           “What do I want?  I want ya’ to think that I’m important!” Raph shouted.  His eyes widened as he realized what he’d said.  “I mean . . . I want ya’ to think that what I say is important.”

           Leo’s brow creased.  “You are important,” he said.  “Just because I’m not always accepting of your ideas doesn’t mean . . . .”

           “I ran into the Professor,” Don announced as he rounded a pile of junk.  “I had to cut him off because I knew you guys were in a hurry.  He sends his greetings.”

           Raph sucked at his teeth to produce a rude noise and said, “Great.  Can we go now?”

           Donatello looked at him and then at Leo, before shrugging and climbing into the driver’s seat.  Without a word, Leo swung in next to him on the passenger side, leaving the seats in the back for the younger turtles.

           This time it was Mikey who jumped out to deal with the gate.  When he got back into the van, he saw that Raph hadn’t changed positions at all.  His eyes were glued to the back of Leo’s head and his fists were doubled into tight balls.

           As they drove along, Mikey thought he heard Raph sigh.  The sound was so slight that he might have imagined it.  Raph didn’t sigh when he was mad, he did that when he was frustrated.  He did it when he wanted something that was just out of reach.

           Since he was boring holes into Leo, Mikey could only guess at what Raph wanted.

           Something Donny had said earlier suddenly struck Mikey as interesting.  He’d asked if Mikey was trying to antagonize Raph and Leo on purpose.  Of course the answer at one time had been yes, but that was earlier when Mikey was testing some ideas on the way to collecting his empirical data.

           What he’d observed between Leo and Raph when they hadn’t known they were being spied on opened another avenue entirely.  Add to that the slip Raph had made and how Leo kept going out of his way to engineer situations that would put him into close physical contact with Raph.

           To Mikey’s mind it could all be summed up in one way; the pair wanted to have sex with each other but the obstacles to that were keeping them apart.  Would probably always keep them apart.

           Unless a certain very ingenious and crafty younger brother interfered.



Chapter Text

            It was Leonardo who did the shopping when they stopped at the bodega.  He would have done it all on his own, in fact he’d told his brothers to stay in the van, but Raph snidely reminded him that he was the one who had harped on the subject of keeping a watchful eye open.

            Don had quickly volunteered Mikey as Leo’s watch turtle.  Clearly the genius didn’t want Leo and Raph paired up for the shopping trip and it wasn’t hard to figure out why.  Even Don could see that those two were practically bristling at each other.  Fighting in the safety of the lair was one thing, fighting in the middle of the street something else entirely.

            Michelangelo was actually glad for the chance to go off alone with Leo.  He doubted his brother would try to continue the grilling from earlier and if he did, Mikey would dodge the leading questions the way he’d done before. 

            Since Mikey had made the decision to get involved in putting Leo and Raph together in the way he thought they wanted, he had to start somewhere.  This was as good an opportunity to collect clues as any.  Once back at the lair there was no telling when he’d get Leo away from prying eyes.

            Leo easily picked the lock on the back door and the pair of turtles slipped inside.  Almost at once a keypad next to the door began to beep loudly.

            “They changed the alarm system,” Leo said.  “We’ve got fifteen seconds before the police are notified.  Better call Donny.”

            “I’ve got this, Leo,” Mikey said.  Leaning forward, he huffed heated breath onto the keypad.  It immediately showed smudges on three of the numbers.

            He tried a sequence combination using those numbers but the warning continued to beep.

            “Mikey . . . .” Leo cautioned.

            Taking a guess, Mikey tried a second combination.  As soon as he hit the last digit, the beeping stopped and the light above the keypad turned green.

            “Nice job bro’,” Leo said.

            “Don’s been teaching me,” Mikey said proudly.

            They were in a storage room and Leo helped himself to an empty box.  Some of the items they required were in this room, so while Mikey stood watch, Leo filled the box and set it next to the back door.

            Grabbing another box, Leo signaled that he was going into the store.  Mikey pulled a stock cart against the back door so they’d have a warning in case someone tried to sneak in behind them and then followed his brother.

            The front window and door were covered by security bars which made them difficult to see through from the outside.  It was one of the reasons the turtles preferred to shop in this particular bodega.  Only a couple of interior lights were on and they were near the cash register, which left the shopping area in darkness.

            Since seeing in the dark was not a problem for the brothers, Leo didn’t need a flashlight to find the items they needed.  While he moved through the store, Mikey stood where he could see both the front and storage room doors.

            “So Leo, I was thinking . . . .” Mikey began, knowing he didn’t have much time to broach the subject.

            “Not sure that’s such a good idea,” Leo said, his voice floating out from behind an aisle.

            Mikey made a face.  “Very funny.  It’s about what Raph said earlier.”

            “You’ll have to be more specific than that,” Leo said.  “Please skip the curse words.”

            “Your sense of humor is underwhelming,” Mikey observed.  “It was when you asked him what he wanted from you and he said he wanted you to think he was important.”

            Silence.  Mikey waited, counting off the seconds.  He was starting to think he’d have to push when he heard Leo sigh.

            “He amended that,” Leo said.  “He misspoke.  You heard him.  He meant to say that he wanted me to think that what he said was important.”

            “That’s not how you started to answer him,” Mikey said.  “You told him that he is important.”

            “If you’ll recall, I’d barely begun my answer when Don came back,” Leo said.  “What does it matter to you anyway?  It’s not like that was the first argument you’ve ever heard us have.”

            Mikey shrugged, even though he knew Leo wasn’t looking at him.  “I don’t know, maybe it matters ‘cause the two of you are getting more vicious.  What do you want from him?”

            Another pause, this one shorter.  “A little respect would be nice.  Do we need any spices?”

            “Salt.  And oregano,” Mikey said.  Not to be distracted from his topic, he continued.  “That’s an old argument and he already knows it.  What else?”

            “What else what, Mikey?” Leo asked, sounding irritated.

            “You want respect, he wants respect,” Mikey answered.  “Been down that road for how many years now?  It’s not a new argument and after all this time it’s not like that’s going to ramp up to the point where the two of you can’t look at each other without fighting.”

            Leo popped out from behind a stack of paper towels.  “Any time we’re forced to stay out of sight for an extended period of time he gets antsy.  You know that too.  We always fight more when he’s not allowed to go topside.”

            “But he doesn’t always say he needs for you to think he’s important,” Mikey said.  “Maybe the two of you should just sit down and talk it out.  Like, make a pact not to fight.  I saw this technique on a show, where the married couples have a timer, and each one has a certain amount of time to say what’s bugging them, then the buzzer goes off and it’s the other person's turn.”

            “We’re not a married couple,” Leo said, disappearing again.

            “Same difference,” Mikey told him.  “We gotta live in close quarters and you two have to find a way to actually hear each other.”

            “I hear him just fine,” Leo said.  “He’s loud.”

            “That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Mikey said.  “You don’t have to do it out in the open.  You two could go in your bedroom and lock the door.  I’ll let you borrow my egg timer.”

            Leo didn’t respond for a couple of minutes.  Mikey was starting to wonder if his brother was actually considering the idea when Leo was abruptly there in front of him.

            “What’s with the sudden interest in playing peacekeeper, Michelangelo?” Leo asked.  “Do you have some particular investment in seeing the two of us get along?”

            He was staring at Mikey, clearly studying every micro-expression on his younger brother’s face.  Long years of practice kept Mikey’s countenance smooth and free of clues.

            Wanting in turn to see how Leo would react, Mikey countered.  “Could be I want to see Raph happy and contented for once.  You know, satisfied in every way.  It’d be a novel experience.”

            As far as poker faces went, Leo was a master at it.  There wasn’t even a slight bit of color to give away what he was thinking.

            “You have an odd way of going about that,” Leo said.  “Wasn’t it you who was trying to fire him up just yesterday?”

            Mikey decided on a little honesty.  “I wanted to see if he’d get as mad at me as he does at you.  No contest by the way.  He gets pissed at stuff I do, but not at me in particular.  That personal anger is reserved just for you.  I wanna know why.”

            “The way I interact with Raph is not anyone’s business but ours,” Leo said.

            “That’d be true if the rest of us didn’t get pulled into it,” Mikey said.  “It’s not like me and Donny can just go back to our own apartments while you two slug it out.  We don’t have any choice but to put up with the disturbances.”

            “I understand the particular eccentricities of our family as well as you do,” Leo said.  “If we had more time, I’d address the disturbances through the years that we’ve put up with from your pranks.”

            Mikey waved that away with a flick of his fingers.  “Not the same thing bro’.  Pranks fall under the heading of ‘entertainment’.  When we were kids, you pulled your fair share of them too.”

            “In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not kids anymore,” Leo said.

            “No we’re not,” Mikey acknowledged.  “That means you and Raph can’t keep fighting all the time like you did when we were little.  The now fights hurt more, and I don’t mean ‘cause both of you can punch harder.”

            “Is this your idea of an intervention?” Leo asked, a hint of amusement in his voice.

            Now it was Mikey’s turn to be annoyed, but he swallowed it.  Leo probably hoped for some sort of emotional reaction because that would take the focus off of him.

            “Just trying to help,” Mikey said.  “I know you won’t ask for any and neither will Raph.  I’m trying to be a good and considerate brother.”

            Leo watched him as though trying to gauge the level of his sincerity.  Finally he said, “Thank you.  I appreciate your effort, but you need to understand that I can’t just be a brother, I also have to be a leader.  When Raph pushes against my decisions, I can’t fold.”

            “No one’s asking you to fold,” Mikey insisted, knowing that Leo would eventually pull the leader card.  “Doesn’t your Sun Tzu say something about understanding the men under your command?  How can you understand . . .?”

            He was interrupted by the buzzing of Leo’s shell cell.  His brother took it from his belt and glanced at the screen.

            “It’s Don.  He wants to know what’s taking so long,” Leo said.

            Mikey stayed quiet as Leo texted something back and got a quick reply.  Tucking the shell cell away, Leo set the box he was holding on the ground and said, “Check that I got everything.  Don needs a couple of items from the medicine aisle.”

            He was off before Mikey had a chance to respond.  Mikey grimaced as he realized their conversation had come to an abrupt end without his having accomplished anything.

            After checking the box, Mikey grabbed a few bags of the hard candies that he knew Don liked.  Leo wasn’t a big fan of sweets so he tended to forget the little extras that the rest of the family enjoyed.  While he was at it, Mikey got a couple of the latest issues of motorcycle magazines for Raphael and potato chips for himself.

            Leo came back holding a basket filled with an assortment of medical supplies.  Setting it on the ground next to Mikey, he took some folded bills from a small pocket in his belt.  Darting over to the check-out station, Leo tucked the bills under the cash register and then rejoined his brother.

            Together they took their shopping out the back door and then Mikey ducked in again to reset the alarm.  Leo locked the door and then the pair returned to the van.

            “Damn, what took ya’ so long?” Raph griped as soon as they were back.  “I’m growing a beard here.”

            “It takes as long as it takes,” Leo said.

            “So much for making an effort,” Mikey thought to himself.  Out loud he said, “They have a new alarm system and moved some stuff around.  Now if Don would get us an account with one of the big stores, we could have our groceries delivered.”

            “And how exactly would we list our address?” Don asked as he drove towards home.  “Number one, Sewer Lane, care of the Tunnels?”

            “Terrapin Station, Turtle Pond South,” Mikey said.

            They kept up the banter during the remainder of the drive.  Neither Leo nor Raph joined in, both clearly lost in their own thoughts.

            By the time they got back to the lair, unloaded the van and put away the groceries, it was after three in the morning.  Mikey yawned loudly, stretching his arms overhead before staring meaningfully at Donatello.

            “It’s been a long day, I sure am tired,” Mikey said.  “Aren’t you tired, Donny?”

            Don was turning an engine part over in his hands and it took him a second to register that his brother had said something to him.  “Uh, not really.  I was thinking about how I could modify . . . .”

            “Sure you were,” Mikey said, trying to sound stern.  “What you should be thinking about is bed.  Or don’t you remember the tongue lashing you got from Master Splinter for showing up to practice dragging your butt?”

            “Mikey’s right,” Leo said.  “Once you’ve started a project, you’ll never stop.”

            “Oh leave him alone,” Raph snapped.  “Don’s a big boy.  I think he can figure out his own damn bedtime.”

            “Anything at all, right Raph?” Leo asked, glaring at his brother.  “Whatever I say, you have to contradict.”

            Wide eyed, Don stepped between them.  “It’s okay guys.  I am actually tired and I’m glad Mikey reminded me that I should put the projects down and get some sleep.”

            “It wouldn’t hurt any of us to get some extra rest,” Leo said.  “Master Splinter would appreciate all of us making a good showing during practice.”

            “I’m gonna watch TV,” Raph announced, his tone belligerent.

            Leo started to say something, but Don gave him such a pleading look that he closed his mouth.  One didn’t have to be a brain surgeon to see that Raph was intentionally being as uncooperative as possible.

            Rather than ignore the pettiness like he would have in the past, Leo was rising to the bait.  If they were alone, Mikey would have reminded Leo of the conversation they’d just gotten done having.

            Instead he stared pointedly at his older brother and was gratified when Leo glanced at him and then did a double take.  Leo’s mouth stiffened into a thin line before he gave Mikey a short, crisp nod of acknowledgment.

            Raph had already stomped off in the direction of the televisions.  Don and Mikey walked side by side behind Leo, who went directly up to his bedroom.

            “What was that all about?” Don asked, stopping Mikey while they were still far from their own bedrooms.

            “Which part?” Mikey asked, scratching his neck.

            “Don’t act so naïve,” Don said.  “I’m talking about the nonverbal communication you had with Leo just now.”

            “Oh that,” Mikey said.  “We talked a little in the bodega.  I told him he shouldn’t let Raph get under his skin so easily.”

            The frown on Don’s face smoothed out.  “It’s nice to hear you trying to stop the fights for once rather than egging those two on.”

            “Even I can tell when things have gone too far, Donny,” Mikey told him.  “Like you not going to bed at a decent hour.”

            Don chuckled.  “Okay, I can take a hint.  Goodnight.”

            “’Night, Donny,” Mikey said, watching Don climb the stairs to his room.

            Mikey turned off all but one of the lights in the kitchen area and then went upstairs, pausing on the first landing near Leo’s room.  From there he could see Raph, who was sitting on the couch scowling at the TV.

            Raphael couldn’t be asking for Leonardo’s attention more loudly if he was yelling it from the rooftops.  The problem was, at least from Mikey’s point of view, that Leo wasn’t giving him the type of attention that he was truly craving.

            Having shot his first salvo in Leo’s direction without any satisfactory results, Mikey had to come up with a new game plan.  Leo was just too good at keeping his secrets to himself and that created a big problem if there was going to be any hope in getting him and Raph together.

            Mikey contemplated Raph for a few minutes, reading frustration in every line of his brother’s body.  Where Leo was so good at hiding things, Raph was the opposite, an open book.

            An idea struck Mikey and he chewed on it.  Going after Leo wasn’t the best play because that nut was too hard to crack.  Besides, Leo already suspected that Mikey’s attempts to interfere hid some sort of ulterior motive.

            He was right of course, but Mikey didn’t want to confirm that at this juncture.  The direction Mikey needed to take was to go at his self-proclaimed task through Raphael.

            The difficulty was in figuring out which of several possible techniques would work.  He needed Raph to acknowledge to himself that he wanted Leo.  Mikey grinned and amended that thought.  Raph needed to admit that he wanted to screw Leo, or vice versa.  It didn’t matter to Mikey which of his brothers spread their legs, just so long as they finally jumped into bed together.

            Subtlety was the key.  Mikey could do subtle even though his family might not agree.  He had to somehow change how Raph and Leo interacted, get them to stop jabbing at one another, and then both concede that what they really wanted was to bone each other.

            Mikey needed to do all those things without arousing the suspicions of anyone in his family.  Especially Master Splinter.

            Slowing turning his head so that he could stare at Leo’s door, Mikey could feel a nebulous idea percolating in the back of his mind.  Maybe what he needed to do was to start siding with Leo, but not in a way that would come off as him trying to rile Raph.

            A smile began to spread across his mouth.  What Mikey was planning should arouse a completely different emotion in Raph.  One that would make him aggressive in getting Leo’s attention, but not by making the older turtle angry.



Chapter Text

            “Subtle, subtle, can’t be obvious,” Mikey muttered to himself as a sort of mantra.  “Gotta make them curious, not mad.  Gotta open their eyes.”

           He knew that he’d set himself a tough task but he was determined to make his idea work.  What Mikey knew he had to do was to get positive attention from Leo and make Raph start to question what was going on between them.   At the same time, Mikey had to handle his subterfuge delicately enough that he wouldn’t actually anger Raph.

           Raphael was competitive.  If Mikey was smart, he could rouse that trait to a point where his brother would be motivated to counter whatever advances he made towards Leo with some his own.  And if he was really smart, neither Raph nor Leo would realize what was happening.

           It would be organic.  Mikey grinned.  He’d heard that on some TV show and liked the term.  Raph and Leo coming together would seem completely natural.  That Mikey had orchestrated everything would be his little secret.

           Having an idea of what he wanted to do had been enough to help him sleep the previous evening, but only after setting his alarm for thirty minutes before the ungodly hour that Leonardo usually rose.  If he was going to play at being interested in Leo he’d have to hang out with him.

           Getting up when that alarm sounded had been hard.  Mikey had no idea how Leo managed it every morning, and he didn’t even use an alarm clock.  If this stratagem worked though, the sacrifice of sleep would be more than worthwhile.

           Michelangelo knew Leo’s routine well.  His first stop after a trip to the bathroom was always the dojo.  Mikey made certain that he got there first.

           Leo’s entry was silent.  Since Mikey hadn’t known exactly when he’d arrive, he had started a series of katas so that he’d look like he was hard at work.  Mikey made certain to be in a position where he could spot any movement in the doorway.  He was nearing the end of one kata when his brother stepped into the dojo.

           He completed it with as much finesse as he could manage and then turned, faking a sheepish expression at seeing Leo standing there.

           “Oh, hey Leo.  Good morning,” Mikey said, trying to sound slightly self-conscious.

           “Good morning, Mikey,” Leo responded.  “What has you up so early?”

           Mikey looked down, raking the floor mat with one toe as he said, “You remember when Master Splinter was coming down on Don for not taking his training seriously enough?  I mean, he told Don that getting proper rest was important because he couldn’t perform at his peak without it?”

           Nodding encouragingly, Leo said, “I do.  What does that have to do with you practicing at the crack of dawn?”

           With a shrug, Mikey looked at him, trying to appear as sincere as possible.  “It made me think about the stuff Master Splinter has said to me in the past.  How if I just applied myself and focused that I could be as good a ninja as Master Yoshi was.”

           “I’ve made that same observation, Michelangelo,” Leo said.

           “I know,” Mikey said, eyes wide as he stared at his brother.  “I got to thinking that I want that.  I don’t want to just rest on my past wins as the Battle Nexus champion.  ‘Cause you know, I remember that second time against Kluh and how much I didn’t want to face him.  I never want to feel like that if I’m ever challenged again.”

           “Does that mean you’ve decided to take your training more seriously?” Leo asked.

           “Yep,” Mikey said with a nod.  “You helped me before so I figured if I got up early and showed you that I was ready to put in the work, you’d help me again.”

           “Of course I will,” Leo said, looking pleased.

           “It’s not too much trouble?” Mikey asked.

           Leo smiled.  “Helping you will help me to be better as well.”

           “Awesome, dude!” Mikey chirped enthusiastically.  “What do you want to do first?”

           As he expected, Leonardo was more than happy to line out a training program, one that would mean that he’d spend extra time with his younger brother.  When their other two brothers and Master Splinter arrived for their usual practice session, they found Leo and Mikey already hard at work.

           As they lined up to take instruction from their father, Mikey made certain to jockey himself into a position between Leo and Raph.  The latter gave him a funny look but then paid Mikey no further attention.  He hadn’t seemed to think much about finding Leo and Mikey together either, but it was early in the day.

           Because Mikey had managed to plant himself next to Leo, when it was time for them to split into pairs to go through exercises, they were naturally matched up.  This did earn a frown from Raphael, who preferred to be partnered with Leo despite the fact that lately they were so often at odds with one another.

           It wasn’t during the regular exercises that the pairings mattered, at least that was what Mikey assumed; for those Master Splinter simply barked out a series of movements and strikes and each pair was required to complete them flawlessly.  Leo rarely had to be corrected, with Raph running a close second.

           Mikey and Don usually caught the brunt of it, with Master Splinter alternating between telling his youngest son to focus and his smartest son not to slouch.  Don spent so much time bent over either his computer or his work table that his shoulders were developing a distinctive curvature.

           Today though Mikey was all about the focus.  His performance was so flawless that Master Splinter had not a single correction for him.

           Raph however wasn’t operating at full capacity.  He kept tossing glances towards Leo and then end up being a step off or a fraction late in reacting to a command.  This earned him several rebukes that had him scowling by the time the exercises were concluded.

           Mikey hadn’t thought before about how working next to Leo might motivate Raph, but he was guessing now that it did.  Maybe it was Raph’s competitive streak or the energy that Leo exuded, but Raph definitely performed better alongside his oldest brother.

           When it was time to begin sparring Mikey felt super charged.  What he’d learned about Raph during their exercises had been enlightening, but this was the part of practice that Mikey had been waiting for.

           Of course they regularly sparred against each of their brothers, but whoever each was partnered with determined how much floor time a particular pairing received.  Mikey was pretty sure that Master Splinter didn’t even realize it worked out like that and none of the brothers had ever thought much about it either.

           Only Mikey believed that Raph did think about it and that was why he always tried to make sure he was next to Leo.  It didn’t work out for him a hundred percent of the time, but it was pretty close.  Mikey was sure that Raph probably figured this was one of those random days where someone else got next to Leo.  He no doubt wrote it off as no big deal, seeing as how Mikey and Leo had begun practicing earlier than anyone else.

           Mikey’s job was to make Raph start to question just how random the pairing setup actually was.

           His opening gambit was to kneel especially close to Leo.  Master Splinter called Raph and Don to the floor first.  As they walked onto the mats, Raph glanced towards Leo and then did a double take, his eyes narrowing when he saw that Mikey was practically in Leo’s lap.  Don had come to a stop, turning to face his brother, and Raph nearly ran into him.

           “Raphael, is something on the other side of the room more important than your training?” Master Splinter snapped.

           “No, sensei.  Sorry, sensei,” Raph said, looking properly chagrined.

           “Good,” Master Splinter said.  “Begin.”

           The beginning bouts were normally without weapons and was good practice for perfecting holds and throws.  Raph liked to grapple and when he and Leo went against one another, it was him trying to use strength against Leo’s quicker movements.  That strategy didn’t work as well against Donatello, who was strong in his own right.

           Defeating Donny meant trying to outguess what his thought process was on that specific day.  Don had a tendency to overthink his moves, treating the dojo like a big chess board.  That worked up to a point, but then you had to let training and instinct guide you so that you could seize opportunity when it presented itself.

           As odd as it was, the more of Don’s brain that was partitioned off to work on a project, the better he fought.  It was like whatever part of his mind was left over to be devoted to training put all of their intellect on an even playing field.

           Apparently Don’s current project was a doozy, because he was giving Raph a run for his money.  No one was going to be scolding Donny about not getting enough sleep.

           There was also a good chance that Raph’s game was off for some reason.

           Because Mikey was so intent on forcing Raph to acknowledge his feelings for Leo, the younger turtle was paying close attention to Raph’s body language.  Even while he was sparring, Raph couldn’t seem to help shooting quick glances in Leo’s direction.  Mikey saw that and when he realized that Raph was going to keep doing it, he decided to use those lapses against his brother.

           Breaking dojo decorum, Mikey leaned over to whisper an observation in Leo’s ear.

           It wasn’t a big enough breach to warrant notice from their father, nor did it seem to bother Leo, who nodded in agreement.  The effect on Raph though was nothing less than spectacular.

           He was right in the middle of a move and his step faltered, his head turning to look directly at the kneeling pair.  Don took immediate advantage by hooking his foot behind Raph’s heel and sending the larger turtle toppling to the floor.

           Mikey straightened and adopted his most angelic expression, appearing completely focused on the match.  Once Don had Raph down, he took advantage quickly, gripping Raph’s foot and twisting it until his brother tapped out.

           Red faced and disgruntled, Raph barely remembered to bow to his opponent before they left the floor.  When Mikey stood up for his bout against Leo, he saw that Raph was glowering at him.

           Thereafter Mikey paid him no mind.  Mikey’s total focus was on Leo and he was highly motivated.  What Mikey wanted more than anything was to make such a good showing, win or lose, that Leo couldn’t help but show him open admiration.

           Mikey managed it too.  Not only did their match last much longer than it usually did, but Mikey was so driven that he was hyper aware of every move that Leo made.  He was so aware that each tic of a muscle, every crook of a finger or tightening of skin began to telegraph what Leo was going to do and Mikey countered it with a precision that he rarely showed.

           Almost without realizing he’d done it, Mikey got the upper hand in their fight.  As Leo’s arms moved to deliver a strike, Mikey saw it happening almost in slow motion.  When one of Leo’s arms went down and the other up, Mikey leaped into the air and planted his foot squarely in the center of his brother’s unprotected chest.

           The blow caught Leo off guard and knocked him back on his shell.  Mikey swiftly jumped on him, twining his legs around Leo’s and pinning his arms above his head.

           That position naturally put Mikey’s face close to Leo’s.  Grinning, he stared expectantly into his brother’s eyes.  They were both breathing hard and even though he was well and truly caught, Leo tried to squirm out of the hold.

           Mikey found that he was enjoying the feeling of having his brother wriggling against him.  Getting to dominate Leo in a fight was something that was usually in Raph’s wheelhouse and Mikey had to admit it had its attractions.

           From across the room Mikey heard a low pitched growl.

           Leonardo’s knuckles immediately tapped the floor mat.  Still wearing a triumphant grin, Mikey got off of his brother and helped him up.

           “Excellent match, Michelangelo,” Master Splinter said, a pleased look on his face.  “Your focus and awareness were above reproach.  Yours as well, Leonardo.  Remember, a split second is all it takes for an opponent to see and take advantage of even the slightest weakness.”

           Both of the turtles bowed to each other and then their father before leaving the floor.  Mikey could practically feel Raph’s gaze burning holes in him as he walked past.

           Though he studiously avoided looking at Raph, Mikey couldn’t resist giving Don a quick glance.  Donatello caught his eyes and offered him a nearly imperceptible nod of approval.

           Mikey’s heart jumped in his chest and he practically floated down to his kneeling position.  Master Splinter’s praise had felt great, but Don’s recognition made him feel ten feet tall.

           Master Splinter spent a few minutes reviewing the two matches and then called Leo and Raph to the floor.  Mikey watched them eagerly, wondering what effect his actions so far would have on the pair.

           Leo seemed unperturbed but Raph was as tense as a kitten in a roomful of rocking chairs.  His fists were clenched and his body spring loaded.  When Master Splinter called a start to their match, Raph launched himself at Leo as though he were rocket propelled.

           It might have been Mikey’s fertile imagination, but he could swear that the air around the pair was electrified.  He could practically see sparks coming off of them whenever their bodies connected and that happened a lot.  Neither was trying to avoid contact, they fought with a physicality that was unusual for the duo.  Usually Raph was the brawler while Leo’s moves were predicated on more thoughtful refinement.  And staying out of Raph’s clutches.

           As the match progressed, Mikey could see that Leo was becoming more calculated, while Raph was letting his frustration slow him down.  Each time he seemed to have Leo in his clutches, the older turtle would slip free.  However, he did so in a way that caused Raph’s hands to slide across his skin, almost as if he was giving Raph a teasing taste.

           If that was part of Leo’s overall strategy, it was working well.  Raph’s composure was slipping further, his attacks becoming rash and ill-conceived.  Master Splinter had begun to frown, looking more puzzled than disturbed.  Leonardo, whose emotions were always hard to read, suddenly had a triumphant glint in his eyes.

           As Raph bore down on him again, Leo stood his ground, making no attempt to move.  His hands came up, as though he was going to meet Raph head on, and that caused Raph to lift his arms as well.

           It was clear that Raph meant to let Leo punch him in order to grab hold of the other turtle’s shoulders and drive him to the floor.  What he didn’t expect was for Leo to duck under those grasping arms at the last second, throw his shoulder into Raph’s solar plexus and lift him off his feet.

           Raph’s own momentum helped Leo pick him up and then all Leo had to do was fall forward, carrying Raph with him.  They hit the floor together, with Leo on top, and he quickly crawled up to jab at pressure points that would momentarily freeze Raph’s upper body.

           It was never a good idea to give Leo the opportunity to use his expertise with pressure points, and as soon as he found that he couldn’t move, the look on Raph’s face said he understood his mistake.

           Mikey bent forward, avidly watching the tableau.  Leo was straddling Raph’s hips, his hands pressed against his brother’s sides.  Very slowly he leaned forward, his hands sliding along Raph’s skin, up onto his chest, then neck, before cupping the prone turtle’s cheeks.

           “Do you yield?” Leo asked, his voice husky and low.

           Raph glared at him.  “Fuck you,” he muttered.

           “What was that?” Leo asked, moving closer, his eyes boring into Raph’s.

           “Fuck you!” Raph all but shouted.

           “Raphael,” Master Splinter said sharply.  “Yield with good grace.  You are beaten.”

           Gaze still locked with Leo’s, Raph went silent, one corner of his mouth lifted in a snarl.  Then Leo shifted slightly, rocking on Raph’s hips and sliding his toes under his brother’s thighs.

           “I yield!” Raph suddenly yelped, his bottom lifting from the floor as though trying to buck his brother off of him.

           Leo rose slowly, stepping back and away from Raph without offering a hand up, even though the feeling was returning to his brother’s upper extremities.  Raph sat up and lifted his knees but made no attempt to stand, instead making a great show of flexing his arms.

           Mikey had a pretty good idea as to why Raph wasn’t ready to get right up, and why he was sitting so that his legs blocked the view of other parts of his anatomy.

           No one said anything as they waited.  Master Splinter seemed to believe that Raph was simply waiting for the feeling to return, because their sensei did not look suspicious, just dissatisfied.

           When Raph finally got up, he made a curt bow to Leo, which was returned in a more formal fashion.  Then they turned to bow to their father, whose lips were pursed in a way that meant serious business.

           After all four of his sons were once again kneeling, Master Splinter walked over to stand before them.

           Taking a deep, calming breath, Master Splinter said, “Three of you acquitted yourselves well today.  You were focused, concentrated, and dogged.  Skill is not always the determining factor in a fight, oftentimes it is the combatant who sees and takes advantage of their enemy’s lapses who wins the day.  If you are the one who allows yourself to be distracted, then any level of opponent can benefit.  I believe that is enough training for today, you are dismissed.  All but Raphael.  Please remain here.”

           The other three turtles rose and bowed before making their way out of the dojo.  Before they were out of earshot, Mikey said loudly, “I volunteer to make breakfast.  What do you want, Leo?  I’ll make your favorite.”

           He had no opportunity to see how Raph reacted to that, but Mikey was certain he’d scored a hit.  Mikey made sure to follow through with the breakfast offer, because he knew that later Raph would notice.

           Throughout the day Mikey did his best to stay within Leo’s orbit, being careful not to seem as though he was following Leo around, but that he was only interested in Leo’s activities.  They even watched the afternoon news broadcast together, with Mikey going out of his way to make salient observations about the headlines.

           He saw Raph walk past them as they sat together on the couch, and a little while later make another pass.  Mikey turned sideways on the couch so that he had one leg curled under him, his knee nearly touching Leo’s thigh.  With one arm curved over the back of the couch behind Leo, Mikey leaned in to engage his brother in a lively conversation.

           Raph was practically pacing by the time the news ended.  He had started off near the second level, where the televisions were, but wound up on the third level overlooking the media area and the couch.

           When Leo excused himself to go to his room and meditate, Mikey remained where he was, carefully avoiding looking towards Raph.  As soon as it seemed that Mikey was going to stay put, Raph came back downstairs again and headed straight for his punching bag.

           Mikey let him burn off some steam before getting up and going downstairs as well.  He saw Raph hesitate as Mikey drew near him, but when the younger turtle went past on his way to the service bay, the rhythm of punches started up again.

           Don was seated at one of his work benches, a soldering iron in one hand and a circuit board in the other.

           “Whatcha’ doing, Donny?” Mikey asked.

           “Trying to turn this into something that actually works,” Don said.  He set the items down and turned in his chair.  “And what are you up to?”

           “Just chilling,” Mikey said with a shrug.

           “Uh huh,” Don said, sounding suspicious.  “Why don’t I believe that?”

           “I don’t know, Donny,” Mikey said.  “I thought you had a more trusting nature.”

           “Not where you’re involved,” Don said.

           “Moi?  I’m a complete open book,” Mikey said.  He figured enough time had passed for the next part of his plan and began walking back towards the lair proper.  “I’ll just leave you to it.  Catch you later.”

           Don watched him go, eyes narrowed in thought.  Mikey would worry later about the genius, at the moment he had an important item on his agenda.

           He began whistling before he drew within sight of Raph and kept it up as he sailed past, thus ensuring that he had caught his brother’s attention.  Mikey jogged up the stairs, growing quiet as he made directly for Leo’s bedroom.

           Tapping gently on the door, Mikey didn’t wait for an invitation, instead turning the knob and stepping inside after a half second.  Closing the door behind him, he saw that he’d given Leo enough time to set up his candles and situate himself on the floor.

           Leo’s eyes opened when Mikey came in.  “Something you need, Mikey?”

           “Thought I’d meditate with you, if that’s okay,” Mikey said, sitting next to Leo.

           His brother looked at him in surprise.  “You hate meditating.”

           “This is my ‘imitate Leo day’,” Mikey said.  “If I wanna be better and more focused, I’ve gotta be more into my own head, right?  I’ve gotta understand myself.  Be one with my inner self.  That’s what you do, isn’t it?”

           “Not quite,” Leo said.  “It’s more about making peace with the energies around you.  Becoming one with both the external and internal universe.”

           “Not sure I’m ready for a whole universe,” Mikey said.  “My brain kinda jumps all over the place.  I’ll be happy to learn how to keep it all on one track.”

           “Then don’t try to control your thoughts,” Leo said, closing his eyes.  “Let all of those thoughts out and then look at them one by one.  Allow them all to fall into place on their own.”

           “You have a lot of confidence in my thoughts,” Mikey said dryly, shutting his eyes as well.

           They both fell silent.  Mikey wasn’t really buying into the whole making peace with stuff, but he did have to wonder what it was that Leo even thought about.  His older brother could sit for hours like this, perfectly still and completely relaxed.

           Mikey had talked to Don once about what he did during meditation, because the genius could go into a trance as fast as Leo did.  Don had admitted that his thoughts usually turned towards his work, on the mechanics of the things he wanted to do, or on more esoteric concepts.

           Don and Leo were similar in the whole cerebral department.  For Mikey and Raph life was more of a visceral thing.  They didn’t dwell on abstruse notions, they focused on what was right in front of them, like day to day living.

           When Master Splinter forced him to meditate, Mikey usually just told himself stories, letting his imagination create scenarios in which he battled alongside the Justice Force as a super hero, earning accolades from the citizenry.  It was an enjoyable way to pass the time and it made Master Splinter happy.

           Right now all Mikey needed to do was stay in Leo’s room long enough to worry Raphael.  Mikey was actually surprised at how little effort he’d had to make to get Raph’s hackles up.  He was sure it would have taken more than a day for Raph to start feeling worried or jealous.  If that growl Mikey had heard during practice when he’d pinned Leo down was any indication, Raph was already feeling like his little brother was encroaching on his territory.

           Mikey opened one eye and peeked over at Leo.  He took a moment to study his brother critically, trying to see the attraction.  Leo was nice enough looking as far as mutant turtles went, leaner than Raph but still having good muscle definition.  Not bad skin color either, though Mikey thought that Donatello’s olive toned skin was the nicest of the bunch.

           Raph’s sported the biggest muscle mass of the group, but that was because he worked hard to pump himself up.  Donny didn’t even try, his muscles came from good honest labor.

           Turning his mind towards their personalities, Mikey pondered his two alpha brothers.  The responsibility of leadership meant that Leo was pretty serious all of the time, making him kind of uptight.  Raph on the other hand was a victim of his own mood swings and tended to be volatile.  To Mikey neither of them would be much fun in the long run, but they certainly saw something in each other that got their motors running.

           As far as Mikey was concerned, Don had the best personality.  His emotions were almost always on an even keel, he was generous and thoughtful, smart and funny.  He did everything for his family and asked nothing in return.  Let Leo and Raph have each other, just so long as they left Donny out of it.

           Mikey remembered what Leo had told him during his rematch against Kluh.  Leo had said, “In this life, we only have each other.”

           All Mikey had been troubled with at the time was trying to figure a way out of the grudge match, so he hadn’t paid much attention to his brother’s words of wisdom.  They made more sense to him now.  They really did only have each other; they were the only four of their kind.  Because of that, they had to be all things to each other.

           That epiphany gave Mikey a strange feeling and he opened his eyes.  More than enough time had passed and he didn’t want to sit there any longer with those uncomfortable realizations running through his mind.

           Very quietly he stood up and tiptoed to the door.  Leo was so far into his meditation that Mikey could have stomped across the room without drawing his notice.  Moving silently seemed to better fit the mood Mikey was in.

           He opened the door carefully and backed out of the room, pulling the door shut again with barely a click.

           When Mikey turned to head for the stairs, he ran smack into Raphael.

           In a deeply menacing tone, Raph asked, “Ya’ want to tell me what you’re up to?”


Chapter Text

            Mikey’s first thought after being accosted by Raph was, “Guess I wasn’t subtle enough.”

            The next was that his brother was fishing and if Mikey wanted to keep him off balance, then he needed to go on the offensive.

            “Is there some reason I keep tripping over you?” Mikey asked.  “I mean, you’ve made it really clear the last couple of days that I’m persona non grata, so I’m trying to stay out of your way.  Problem is, every time I’ve looked up, there you are glaring at me.  What’s the deal?”

            It was clear that he had managed to catch Raph off guard.  His brother stared at him, his expression more perplexed than angry.  The scowl returned soon enough.

            “Ya’ been all over Leo today,” Raph said.  “It’s almost like you’re trying to be Leo’s mini-me.  What’s your angle?  Ya’ trying to get him pissed at me for some reason?”

            “Gotcha,” Mikey thought to himself.  Out loud he said, “Not everything is about you, Raphie boy.  Why would I even bother with that when you do such a spectacular job of aggravating Leo all by yourself?”

            “Don’t ya’ fucking lie to me,” Raph said.  “Ya’ seem to be nearby whenever me and Leo get into it.  Our fights ain’t for your amusement.”

            “They kinda are,” Mikey said, playing into Raph’s new notion that he had a hand in instigating their fights.  “I mean, they are kind of pointless.  Why shouldn’t I be curious?”

            “Curious ain’t the same thing as trying to poke the hornet’s nest,” Raph said.

            Mikey shrugged.  “You seem to be the only one who’s bothered by me.  Since when does it matter to you whether Leo’s annoyed or not?”

            “It don’t,” Raph said firmly.

            “Then why’d you jump me as soon as I stepped out of his room?” Mikey asked.  “Geez, make up your mind.  No wonder you couldn’t fight well today.  Maybe you should try meditating too.  Bet Leo wouldn’t mind if you went on in there and joined him.”

            He gestured towards Leo’s door, more as a reminder of where they were standing and that Leo was within earshot.  Mikey was sure Raph’s pride wouldn’t allow him to go inside, but it was interesting to see such a show of indecision on the hot head’s face.

            Pride won and Raph stormed past Mikey, making certain to slam his shoulder into the younger turtle’s as he did so.  On the off chance that Raph glanced back at him, Mikey kept his smile of satisfaction internal.

            “Catastrophe averted,” Mikey muttered under his breath.

            He heard the television array come to life, the sound turned up a little louder than necessary.  That was either Raph’s way of trying to attract Leo’s attention, or a ‘screw you’ to Mikey.  Maybe both.

            Heading downstairs, Mikey went the long way around to get to the kitchen, thus avoiding drawing Raph’s attention again.  Far from finished with his gambit to evoke Raph’s jealousy, Mikey chose to make one of Leo’s favorite meals for dinner.

            It was supposed to be Don’s turn to make dinner, but there was no sign of him.  That wasn’t unusual or even surprising.  Master Splinter had actually created a special rule with Donny in mind.  That rule was to go pull him from whatever he was working on and remind him that he had a chore to do.

            Since Mikey was willing, and if he was honest, needed to make dinner as part of what he’d dubbed ‘Operation Sex’, he didn’t bother Don.  As Mikey was putting the final ingredients together, he heard the news come on and looked up just as Leo came out of his room.

            Mikey started to wave to his brother, but Leo’s attention was fixed on the living area.  When he started moving in that direction, Mikey figured out why Raph had changed channels.  He knew he’d draw Leo to him.

            Maybe Mikey’s plan was working after all.  If Raph was truly pissed at Leo and wanted nothing to do with him, there was no way he’d give up one of his shows in order to watch the news.  Raph hated the news, he always said it was all bad and that it ticked him off.

            Curious, Mikey tiptoed to a position where he could see the couch.  Sure enough, Raph and Leo were sitting side-by-side, both seemingly engrossed in the weather report.

            Chuckling to himself, Mikey went back to his dinner preparations.  His brothers weren’t just sitting on the couch together.  If things were normal, they’d each be sitting on opposite ends.  They weren’t though, the pair were sitting close enough to feel each other’s body heat.

            Sliding the pan into the oven, Mikey washed his hands while toying with the idea of seeing if he could squeeze in between them.  He nixed that notion as being way too obvious and instead went in search of Donatello.

            The genius was not hard to find.  He was exactly where Mikey had left him earlier; in the service bay.

            Mikey had learned the hard way not to sneak up on Don when he was working, but there was something furtive in how his brother was hunched over his work station.  The tarp over Don’s secret project had been disarranged and Mikey could see that whatever it was sat atop a table.  What looked very much like a game controller was also visible.

            Practicing his stealth technique, Mikey silently approached Don.  Still several feet away, he could see robotic parts strewn about and what appeared to be a tiny but very long tail was in Don’s hands.

            Before he could get close enough for a really good look, a bell tinkled and Don jerked around in his chair.

            Mikey paused in mid-step and offered Don a sheepish grin.  “What was that?”

            Placing a large towel over his work station, Don said.  “You broke an electronic beam connected to an alarm that sounds an alert whenever someone is trying to creep up on me.”

            “Aw come on, Donny,” Mikey said in his most wheedling tone.  “Show me your project.  I won’t tell anyone else.  Besides, I already saw a controller over there on the table and the robot parts you just hid under the towel.”

            Don’s eyes narrowed.  “You are too nosy for your own good.  This is supposed to be a surprise for everyone.”

            “So surprise me early,” Mikey said.  “Maybe I can help with something.  You never let me help.  I’m really good with my hands.”

            “What you’re really good at is pressing buttons that you shouldn’t press,” Don said.

            “Total accident,” Mikey said.  “I didn’t hurt the Battle Shell.  You can’t hold that over me forever.  Nothing important got damaged.”

            “And playing with shiny things you know nothing about,” Don said.

            “We’d never have saved Sydney and the gang if I hadn’t done that,” Mikey countered.  “Besides, who do you think magnanimously made dinner tonight even though it was your turn?”

            “Oh crud, I completely forgot!” Don exclaimed.  “Master Splinter is going to kill me.”

            “No he won’t, he was nowhere around,” Mikey said with a complacent purr.  “We’ll let him think you made dinner.”

            He stared expectantly at his brother, who sighed.  “Just as long as I share my secret with you,” Don said, finishing the sentence for him.

            Mikey graciously waved that away.  “Shush, I would never resort to blackmail.”

            “Of course you wouldn’t,” Don said.  “You’d just guilt trip me until I gave in.”

            “So give in now and save yourself the headache,” Mikey told him.

            Don’s jaw worked from side to side, a sure sign that he was about to acquiesce.  Mikey waited patiently, careful not to look too pleased with himself.

            “Okay fine, but not a word to anyone else, got that?” Don asked.

            Mikey swiped an X across his chest.  “Cross my heart.  Lemme see.”

            Lifting the towel, Don showed Mikey what was underneath.  The portion of tail he’d seen was attached to a small mechanical reptile.

            “It’s a lizard,” Mikey said, surprised.

            “Technically, it’s an Italian Wall Lizard,” Don said.  “They’re mostly abundant throughout the two boroughs on Long Island, but they’re spreading through the other boroughs as well.  They were accidently released from a pet shop in nineteen-sixty six.”

            “But Donny, why are you building lizards?” Mikey asked.

            “Because they can go just about anywhere and be completely unnoticed,” Don answered.  “The ones I’m making are replicas of juvenile Wall lizards because the youngsters don’t have the green coloring down their backs.  Their tan coloring blends well against most backgrounds.”

            “And once more I have to ask, why?”  Mikey leaned over to touch the lizard’s tail and then jumped back when the appendage flicked his finger.

            “Unlike rodents, the lizards don’t engender the same panicked reaction if they’re seen,” Don said.  “People just think they’re cute and leave them alone when they scurry away.  I’ve installed surveillance equipment in each of the five that I’ve completed.”

            “Is the controller for the lizards?” Mikey asked.

            “One controller can operate two lizards,” Don said.  “It’s all about frequency.  These little guys can be set to automatic so they can patrol a set pattern in the tunnels, or you can manually operate them with the controller.  They’re able to climb walls and stick to them, crawl anywhere, and squeeze into tight spaces.  They’ll never set off security systems, even heat sensors, because they run cool.”

            “This is awesome, bro’,” Mikey said.  “Can I test one?”

            Don glanced towards the lair.  “Depends on where Leo and Raph are.  I don’t want them to stumble across the project until I’ve finished at least ten lizards.”

            “They’re watching TV,” Mikey said, gingerly reaching to pick up the lizard.  It bit his finger.  “Hey!”

            “They’re programmed to react like real lizards,” Don said.  “If they can’t escape, they’ll fight back.”

            “Not much of a fight though,” Mikey said.  “It didn’t hurt.”

            “All it’s meant to do is startle someone into dropping them,” Don said.  “They can survive a ten foot drop without damage.  I thought Leo and Raph were avoiding each other.”

            “Raph tell you that?” Mikey asked.

            “Raph hasn’t told me anything, not even why they’re fighting so much,” Don said, frowning.

            “Me either,” Mikey said.  It was the truth.  “I’ve tried to ask him, but he tells me to go someplace I’d rather not go.”

            “Is that why you’ve been so chummy with Leo today?  You’re trying to find out what’s up with those two?” Don asked, his expression a little too innocent appearing.

            The way he asked that caught Mikey’s attention.  Don usually straight out asked what he wanted to know and never had a hidden agenda to his questions.  He understood Mikey well enough to know that the younger turtle was always trying to ferret out any secrets family members might be keeping.  Don shouldn’t even have had to ask.

            But he had and Mikey wondered why.

            “Maybe,” Mikey said, drawing out the syllables in that one word.

            He was purposely vague in the hopes that it would draw something else out of Don.  Instead of continuing the conversation, Don stood up and went to the tarp covered table to retrieve the controller that Mikey had seen.

            “Here, let me show you how to guide the lizard,” Don said.

            Standing shoulder to shoulder with Mikey, he did a quick walk through of the controls, which weren’t very different from operating one of their video games.  A little pop up screen showed exactly what the mechanical lizard saw and a volume function allowed the user to hear everything as well.

            After Don set the lizard on the ground, he moved back to Mikey’s side.  Don’s hands hovered near his younger brother’s as Mikey guided the lizard through a series of commands.  Leaning in close, Don watched the screen with Mikey so they could both see images from the spy lizard’s point of view.

            Mikey was adept enough with a controller that he didn’t have to pay strict attention to what Don was telling him.  He couldn’t have if he’d tried; having Don so close to him was slightly intoxicating.  Not only did Don smell really good, but his touch was electrifying, especially to certain parts of Mikey’s anatomy.

            When he found himself asking for clarification on a control he didn’t really need help with, Mikey realized that he was using excuses to keep Don near.  Then Don reached around him to put a hand on Mikey’s shoulder, pulling half of the younger turtle’s body flush against his chest.

            Donatello was merely trying to help adjust a setting, but Mikey had a startling physical reaction to the contact.  His tail stiffened, heart began beating faster, and a very specific kind of heat started to pool in his lower extremities.

            Flushed, Mikey suddenly recognized the signs of arousal with a great deal of embarrassment.  He had to get away fast, before Don noticed.

            “Shell!  I forgot that I’ve got something in the oven!” Mikey yelped, shoving the controller into Don’s hand and spinning out of his hold.  Practically running up the stairs, he tossed back over his shoulder, “Thanks for showing that to me.  I’ll keep it to myself.”

            Mikey made a beeline for the kitchen and straight to the catch all drawer.  Inside was a full length apron, inscribed with the words ‘Kiss the Chef’.  He donned the apron as quickly as he could in order to hide the fact that he was sporting a half hard woody beneath his shell.

            Turning on the tap, Mikey splashed cold water over his neck, face, and arms.  Eyes closed, he reached for the towel and encountered skin instead.

            Opening his eyes, he saw Don standing next to him.

            “Are you okay, Mikey?” Don asked as he handed the towel to his brother.

            “Yep, doing just fine,” Mikey said.  “Just wanted to make sure I didn’t have any metal flakes or dirt on me before I handled food.  Why are you here?”

            Don’s eye ridges lifted.  “Because it’s my turn to cook and I missed the first part of dinner prep.  I don’t want to shirk the rest of my duties.”

            “Cool,” Mikey said.  “I was gonna toss a salad.  You wanna take care of that?”

            “Sure.”  Don went to the refrigerator to retrieve the vegetables and Mikey took a deep breath, releasing it slowly.

            He made sure to stay as far from Don in their small kitchen as he could, without seeming too obvious about it.  “I wonder if this is how Leo and Raph feel when they get close to each other,” Mikey pondered as he set the table.

            Throughout dinner Mikey surreptitiously watched Don.  There was no denying that he had a thing for the genius.  Even if he hadn’t understood the signs of attraction before, there was no escaping them now.

            Mikey thought back over their conversation, and the way Don had sounded when he’d asked about Leo.  Was it possible that in his attempts to make Raph jealous, he’d also activated a similar feeling in Donatello?

            It was probably wishful thinking, Mikey told himself.  He was seeing things that weren’t there because his vision was skewed by what was going on between Raph and Leo.

            A couple of hours later Don was back in the service bay and Mikey was feeling out of sorts.  Leo had gone to his room to read a book, and Raph was busy sanding the rust off some free weights he’d found.

            Master Splinter had co-opted the television array and was watching a group of people competing against an obstacle course for a chance to win money.  He found the show to be endlessly amusing, probably because of how easily he or any of his sons could have beaten the course.

            Mikey had never heard his father express such an opinion because he wouldn’t ever make light of anyone else’s limitations, especially not a humans’.  At least not out loud.  It was fun to watch his facial expression though, so Mikey joined him.

            A while later Raph could be heard tossing some things around and then cursing.  Master Splinter frowned, so Mikey got off the couch and went partway down the stairs to find out the problem.

            “Uh Raph, Master Splinter can hear you,” Mikey said, trying to warn his brother.

            “Well shi . . . crud,” Raph replied, changing his word choice mid-stream.  “Have ya’ seen my red stretch wrap?  I need to wrap these damn handles and it’s disappeared.”

            “Haven’t see it, haven’t touched it,” Mikey said.  “Maybe it’s in the service bay.”

            “It’s not in the service bay,” Raph snapped.  “It’s never in the service bay.  It’s always right here with the rest of my weight equipment.”

            From the corner of his eye, Mikey could see Leo come out of his room.  “Don’t get mad at me,” Mikey told Raph.  “I was trying to help.”

            “I’ve got stretch wrap in my room,” Leo said.

            His arms were crossed and he was staring at Raph, who turned his attention from Mikey in favor of glaring at his oldest brother.

            “Is it mine?” Raph asked.

            “No,” Leo said.

            Raph waited a moment but it was clear no other response was forthcoming.  “So what was that, a public service announcement?  Ya’ gonna give me the wrap or just stand there looking pleased with yourself?”

            “I’ll have to look for it,” Leo said.  “Since you want it, you should come up here and help me look.”

            From the expression on Raph’s face, it was obvious he wanted to tell Leo where to shove the wrap.  He was also struggling with the desire to find out if the wrap that Leo claimed to have was actually his.

            Curiosity won.  Raph stomped across the lair towards Leo’s room and just before he got there, Leo went inside.  There was no hesitation on Raph’s part as he entered the bedroom, and then Mikey watched the door swing shut.

            Because it had quieted down, Master Splinter had returned to watching his show.  Mikey on the other hand was dying to know what was going on behind that closed door, but there was no way he could eavesdrop with his father so close.

            The whole ‘missing wrap, come to my room’ shtick was just too pat.  They had all known that Raph was going to work on those weights and that he always wrapped the handles with red tape.

            Mikey didn’t know when Leo had found the opportunity to disappear the wrap.  He’d been glued to Leonardo for most of the day.  There was no doubt in Mikey’s mind that Leo had been responsible.  Being the master of stealth that he was, he had somehow managed to elude Mikey long enough to put his plan into action.

            All of that passed through Mikey’s brain as he went downstairs and towards the service bay.  It wasn’t until the moving van came into view that it dawned on him why he was going in that direction.

            Switching to ninja mode, Mikey crept to the head of the stairs and looked around for Donny.  He couldn’t see his brother, but he could hear him working on something in the van’s cab.

            Taking a chance, Mikey slunk down the stairs.  Just in time he remembered the electronic beam and stepped over it as he approached the tarp covered table.

            Carefully lifting the tarp, Mikey swiped the controller and the lizard he had tested earlier.  Something banged behind him and Mikey almost jumped out of his shell, but a quick look proved that Don hadn’t spotted him.

            Mikey practically flew across the service bay and back into the lair proper.  He swiftly ducked into the bathroom, locking the door behind him and then setting the mechanical lizard on the ground.

            It slipped under the door as easily as Don had said it would.  Mikey manipulated the controls, sending the lizard straight to Leo’s room.

            As the lizard crawled under Leo’s bedroom door, Mikey licked his lips and took a seat on the toilet lid.  Invading his brothers’ privacy did not give him a second thought.

            The only thing that caused him any concern was knowing that if Don caught him, he was dead meat.


Chapter Text

            Getting the mechanical lizard into a position where it could see something was trickier than Mikey had imagined.

            When he’d practiced with it earlier, he hadn’t been trying to view anything in particular.  Now he needed to get the lizard’s tiny little camera turned in the right direction.  Working the control for its head, he made it swivel so he could get some idea of where his brothers were.

            An emerald green foot came into viewing range and then stepped out of it again.  Raph was moving around and that meant Leo was probably moving too.

            Locating the nearest wall, Mikey sent the lizard crawling upwards.  When it was near the ceiling, he made it turn so that it could look down at the room.  From that position Mikey could see nearly every square inch of Leo’s space.

            A flick of his thumb turned up the volume control in time for him to hear Raph griping.

            “Your room ain’t all that big and there ain’t a single thing out of place,” Raph said.  “Are ya’ seriously gonna keep acting like ya’ don’t know where my wrap is?”

            “I told you, we’re looking for my wrap,” Leo said, opening one of his desk drawers.

            Raph’s scowl deepened and Mikey knew why.  Leo wouldn’t lie outright, but he was a master at being evasive.

            “Why don’t ya’ just admit it, Leo?  Ya’ took my wrap ‘cause ya’ get your jollies from pissing me off,” Raph snapped.

            “Found it,” Leo said, his manner calm as he held up a roll of stretch wrap.

            “Are ya’ fucking serious?” Raph asked.  “That’s blue.”

            “I told you the stretch wrap was mine, not yours,” Leo said.  He began walking towards Raph as he bounced the wrap in his hand.

            “If you’d said it was blue in the first place, I wouldn’t have wasted my time coming up here,” Raph said.  “I ain’t wrapping my weights in that color.”

            “What’s wrong with this color?” Leo asked, stepping into Raph’s personal space.

            Raph held his ground.  “For one thing, it matches your damn mask.  There ain’t no way I want to be reminded of ya’ every time I pick up one of those weights.”

            “There are worse things you could be thinking about,” Leo said.  “Maybe seeing blue instead of red will calm some of your poorest impulses.”

            “Seeing blue has the opposite effect,” Raph growled.  “All it does is remind me of your ugly mug up in my face all the time.”

            Mikey was barely remembering to breathe as he watched and listened to them.  The sniping at each other and the insults were par for the course, but their body language was fascinating.

            Raph’s hands weren’t curled into fists as they usually were when he was angry at Leo.  Instead, they were open, the fingers spread and curved as though he was wrestling with the temptation to grab at something.

            For his part, Leo’s body wasn’t full of the aggravated tension he normally exhibited when facing his belligerent brother.  He seemed more the way he was at the start of a sparring match; alert and poised to spring.

            “Kind of like a tiger with its prey,” Mikey thought.

            “I think losing your red wrap was a sign,” Leo said.  “A message of sorts.  Like the one at practice today.  The one that forced you to yield to me.”

            Raph spluttered angrily.  “It was your dirty tricks that made me yield!  Crawling on me, feeling on me, using pressure points to get your way.  Why don’t ya’ just admit that ya’ hate the fact that in a fair fight I can take ya’!”

            Now Leo did begin to tense up.  If there was anything that would set him off, it was having his sense of fair play, his honor, questioned.

            “You wouldn’t recognize tactics if they bit you in the rear end,” Leo said.

            “Ass,” Raph hissed.  “The word is ass.  Are ya’ so uptight ya’ can’t even say it?  It’s ‘bit ya’ in the ass’ just like ‘I’m gonna kick your ass’.”

            “You’ve been doing a spectacular job of that lately,” Leo said with a sneer.  “I’m starting to think you like having me pin you down.”  He shuffled closer to Raph, to the point that their bodies were almost touching.  “Do you want me to pin you right now?”

            Mikey’s eyes widened.  The way they were arguing was in complete contrast to the way they looked.  Both of his brothers’ nostrils were flaring, their tails stiff, and from the way their chests rose and fell, they were breathing faster.

            If he hadn’t experienced it for himself with Don a little while ago, Mikey might not have recognized the signs for what they were.  Leo and Raph were getting more turned on with each passing second.

            “I’d like to see ya’ try,” Raph responded.

            The words had barely left his mouth when Leo tossed the roll of wrap in his face and then swept his feet out from under him.  As he hit the floor, Leo fell on him, pulling Raph’s wrists above his head.

            It was a lightning fast move, one that Raph clearly had not expected.  He was the one who was usually the aggressor when their arguments became physical, starting the fight by charging at Leo.

            Having Leo knock him down like that, without a word of warning, took him by surprise.  It surprised Mikey too.

            When Raph tried to free his arms, Leo leaned in and bit his neck.

            Raph’s gasp was loud.  His legs went rigid, his heels digging at the floor, but he made no attempt to buck Leo off of him.  He seemed frozen with indecision.

            With his teeth still gripping Raph’s skin, Leo kept one hand on his brother’s wrists and snatched up the stretch wrap.  In a move that would have made a rodeo cowboy proud, Leo wound the wrap around Raph’s wrists.

            “Ya’ son of a bitch,” Raph barked, yanking against the restraint.

            “I think I like you this way,” Leo said, practically purring in Raph’s ear.

            “Always got to win, don’t ya?  Always got to prove something,” Raph said.

            “You’re always fighting me,” Leo replied.  “Rebellious.”

            “So is this ya’ trying to prove something to me?” Raph asked.

            “Why don’t you just admit you knew your wrap wasn’t in this room?” Leo countered.  “Admit you followed me in here because you wanted to be in this position.”

            “You’re the one who asked me to come in here,” Raph said, staring defiantly up at Leo.  “I’d say you’re the one with the ulterior motive.”

            Leo rubbed his cheek against Raph’s.  Keeping one hand on his brother’s bound wrists, Leo slid the other down Raph’s arm, then along his side, all the way down to his taut, muscular thigh.

            “Is this the ulterior motive you were hoping for?” Leo whispered as he squeezed Raph’s thigh.

            “Hngg, Leo, shit!” Raph yelped.

            Leo flicked his tongue against Raph’s chin.  “Was that curse word in protest, or encouragement?”

            “I ain’t your bitch,” Raph snarled.

            “I don’t want a bitch,” Leo said.  “I want you.”

            He lowered his mouth until it was nearly touching Raph’s and then stopped.  For a long moment the only thing moving between them was their eyes, and those were doing a lot of talking.

            Mikey’s entire body was quivering with excitement as he watched them.  He had been growing more and more aroused at the sight of his brothers behaving in such an erotic fashion.

            Then Raph lifted his head and planted his lips squarely against Leo’s.  Almost immediately Mikey saw tongue.

            Unable to contain it any longer, Mikey’s cock escaped captivity, quickly filling and standing at attention.

            “Oh shell,” Mikey breathed, rocking back and forth on the toilet seat as his entire lower half began to throb.

            He heard Raph groan and Leo churr.  The sounds made his dick jump.

            His brother’s mouths were moving together hungrily, as though they couldn’t get enough of each other’s taste.  Leo’s hand skimmed inward to clutch at Raph’s inner thigh, his fingertips grazing his brother’s groin.

            Leo was pushing at the floor with his toes, rocking his body up and down against Raph’s.  It was a parody of sex but close enough to the real thing that Mikey could sit still no longer. Jumping up from his seat, he set the controller down on the edge of the sink so it was facing him. He then flipped up the toilet lid and began to masturbate.

            Mikey watched as Leo’s knee prodded against the underside of Raph’s leg, urging him to widen the space between his thighs.  Their mouths separated long enough for deep, breathy sounds to escape, and then they were kissing again.

            Though Mikey could see Leo’s arm moving, his view of what exactly Leo was doing was hidden by his brother’s torso.  Whatever it was, he was making Raph’s hips gyrate.

            Too desperate for release, Mikey didn’t bother teasing his cock in an attempt to build the pleasure.  His hand moved frantically on his shaft, the skin slick with precum.

            He was no longer seeing Raph and Leo on the screen.  Mikey’s sex starved mind envisioned Don lying on top of him, holding him down so that he could play with his younger brother’s dick.  It was Don’s tongue invading his mouth, Don’s breath heating his neck while Don’s teeth left love bites on his skin.

            Breath huffing from his open mouth, Mikey moaned at the thought of being taken by Don.  The genius would know exactly what to do, he’d know just where to touch Mikey to bring him to the heights of pleasure.

            Delightful waves of pressure began to roll through his cock, the heat pooling at its base.  Mikey was close, so close.

            “Stop!” Raph grunted, tearing his mouth from Leo’s.  “Just stop.  I can’t do this.”

            “Don’t fight it,” Leo urged, breathing heavily.  “Let it happen.”

            Mikey closed his eyes, blood pounding in his ears so he couldn’t hear them.  With a last few frenetic pulls, he climaxed.

            His orgasm lasted for several long, beautiful minutes.  By the time Mikey had pumped his cock dry, he was shaking all over.

            The high pitched whine that echoed through his head at the moment he came faded away and Mikey once more glanced at the controller screen.  At some point while he was lost in the fog of his orgasm, Mikey had missed seeing Raph and Leo separate.

            Both were now standing several feet apart.  Raph’s wrists were no longer bound and he was staring at the ground, refusing to meet Leo’s eyes.

            Leo was watching him warily, almost as if afraid any sudden move would send Raph scurrying from the room.

            Mikey could easily see how aroused both of his brothers were.  Their slits had parted and portions of their cocks were quite visible.

            “Don’t ya’ get it, Leo?” Raph asked, his voice guttural.  “This is what always messes us up.  I let my emotions carry me away and don’t think before I do shit.  Ya’ respond to my anger by getting mad too.  If neither one of us is thinking straight, then maybe this . . . thing we were doing ain’t the way to go.”

            “Or maybe our fights are because we’re denying a desire for each other,” Leo argued.

            Raph barked out a frustrated laugh.  “Oh, I ain’t doubting that I got the hots for ya’.  It’s what gets my blood boiling that I gotta question.  It’s what gets ya’ fired up that I gotta worry about.”

            “What is that supposed to mean?” Leo demanded.

            “Pinning me down, getting the upper hand,” Raph said.  “It’s like you’re trying to dominate me.  I’ll bet ya’ jerk off at the thought of having me under your control.”

            “What do you jerk off to?” Leo asked.  “Me letting you do whatever you want?  Letting you walk all over me?”

            “You’re so full of shit,” Raph growled.  “Power hungry.  Mad for it.  Can’t stand to have your commands questioned!  Bet ya’ can’t get it up if ya’ ain’t lording it over me.”

            “You sure weren’t putting up much of a fight when my hand was between your legs,” Leo snapped.

            “Go to hell!” Raph yelled, his eyes flashing angrily.

            “I’m already there!” Leo shouted.

            Raph spun on his heel and charged to the door, yanking it open hard enough to bang it against the wall.  Leo didn’t move, his hands clenched at his sides and his neck red.

            Mikey was still standing at the toilet, one hand wrapped around his flaccid cock as he watched the fight play out to its end.  How in the world could those two have gone from . . . ?

            A fist hit the bathroom door, making Mikey jump.  “Who’s in there?  Get the hell out!  I need to use it!” Raph bellowed.

            “Shell,” Mikey cursed under his breath.  “Give me a second!” he called out, awkwardly tucking his dick back into hiding.

            “Ya’ got one and then I’m breaking the damn door!” Raph threatened.

            Washing his hands quickly, Mikey dried them on a towel and then wet it enough to wipe himself down.  Grabbing a wad of toilet paper, he cleaned the seat and then flushed before spraying air freshener all around the toilet.

            His eyes landed on the controller as Raph banged on the door again.  His brother would see it if he tried to carry it out of the bathroom.  Thinking fast, he turned it off and then wrapped the towel around it before shoving it far down in the dirty clothes hamper.

            The door bulged inwards as Mikey jumped for it.  When he threw back the latch and turned the knob, the door opened so fast it almost hit him in the face.

            “Get out,” Raph ordered in a tone that brooked no nonsense.

            Mikey said not a word as he darted out, the door slamming shut behind him.  There was no doubt in his mind that Raph was going to do what Mikey had just done.  Raph was too wound up.

            Making a beeline for his room, Mikey saw that Leo’s door was shut again.  He would lay odds that Leo wasn’t meditating.

            Once safely inside his own bedroom, Mikey threw himself down on the bed.  Klunk was already there and meowed a protest at being disturbed.

            “Sorry Klunk,” Mikey said, scratching behind the cat’s ears until he was purring.

            Klunk stretched and then sauntered over to settle down against Mikey’s leg.

            “You know what, buddy?  I don’t understand my brothers,” Mikey said, absently stroking his cat’s fur.  “One minute they’re at each other’s throats, then they’re making out.  A couple minutes later they’re yelling again.”

            There was a soft ‘meow’ from Klunk, as though he was urging Mikey to continue his soliloquy.

            “They jerk off thinking about each other,” Mikey said, his voice low and secretive.  “I’ve been spying on them.  What do you think about that?”

            Klunk made a noise in his throat that sounded like ‘ick, ick, ick’.

            “Yeah, probably not cool but I can’t help myself,” Mikey said.  “I mean, if I don’t know what’s going on, how am I gonna help them?  If I leave it all up to those two, they’ll never get together.”

            With a ‘murr’ Klunk rubbed his head against Mikey’s leg.

            “Well I think they need to get together,” Mikey said, as though Klunk had just questioned his motives.  “Why not?  Just ‘cause we’re mutated turtles doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to have a love life.”

            Klunk snuffled at his hand and Mikey scratched under his chin.

            “So what if we’re brothers?  Why should that make any difference?  It can’t be incest if we’re not human, right?  I mean, if that was the main problem, then either Raph or Leo would have brought it up during their fight, but they didn’t.  They were kissing!”

            The excitement in his voice made Klunk look up at him and knead the bedding with his claws.

            “True, right after that they started fighting again,” Mikey acknowledged.  “They both have some kind of control issue.  Leo seems to want full control . . . .”  He stopped talking and frowned.  “You know what?  Raph didn’t really talk like giving it up to Leo was what bothered him.”

            He was quiet for a time, replaying just his brother’s words and ignoring their actions.  Raph clearly had doubts, but did they stem from not wanting to submit?

            “I think Raphie needs to know that Leo cares about him,” Mikey said.  “That Leo isn’t just turned on by the idea of making Raph do what he says.  Raph is really emotional, you know?”

            Mikey thought some more, reviewing the things he knew about his brothers.  Then he went over the times when an encounter with Leo had sent Raph hurrying into the tunnels to masturbate.

            “Raph needs for Leo to be emotional too,” Mikey said, feeling like he’d just had a revelation.  “That’s why Raph gets a boner when Leo yells at him.  Raph needs Leo to be passionate with him.  I’ll bet Raph made him stop ‘cause he thought Leo was getting off more on directing Raph’s reactions than to actually wanting to be with him.”

            Lifting Klunk, Mikey set the cat on his stomach to pet him.  Klunk sat on his brisket and stared at Mikey, blinking slowly to acknowledge that the giant turtle was family.

            Mikey returned the slow blink.  “Thanks for listening, Klunk.  It helps to talk things out.  I’d love to talk to Donny about all of this.  I’ll bet he’d know how to get those two to be honest with each other without it turning into a yelling match.”

           Klunk’s purr felt like an encouragement.  The cat’s eyes closed.

            “I know you think so too, but I can’t drag Don into this,” Mikey said.  “He already does so much for us, it wouldn’t be fair to burden him with something else.  It’s bad enough that I can’t even be close to him now without getting all weird.”

            The cat shifted positions, stretching one leg out so he could rest his head on it.

            “You’re right, I’m too tired to think straight,” Mikey said, following the statement with a yawn.  Klunk’s warmth was lulling him to sleep, helped along by his recent orgasm.  “I’ll . . . yawn . . . see what happens tomorrow.”

            He fell asleep without bothering to turn out the lights.

            Mikey dreamt about lizards crawling on him, especially the lower half of his body.  They kept nudging the entrance under his tail and teasing the area where his cock was hidden.

            When Mikey looked up, he saw Don leaning against his bedroom wall, a lizard controller in one hand.

            “Do you like that, Mike?  Would you like me to take their place?” dream Don asked.

            “Yes, yes, please,” Mike pleaded.

            “I don’t know, you’ve been rather naughty,” dream Don said.  He pushed off from the wall and came closer.

            Mike’s dick was throbbing.  It was out, it was hard, and a lizard was mouthing the side of his shaft.

            “I can be good.  Tell me how to be good,” Mikey replied in desperation.

            “You already know,” dream Don said, standing next to Mike’s bed.  He reached out towards Mike’s cock . . . .

            . . . . the alarm sounded at the exact same moment that Mikey ejaculated.

            “Oh shell,” Mikey murmured shakily.

            Thankfully, Klunk was no longer on the bed, probably disturbed by Mikey’s thrashing. 

            Reaching for the box of tissues on his bedside table, Mikey began to clean himself off, and then sat up.

            “I am so screwed,” Mikey muttered.

            He could still vividly remember the dream, remember that Don had been about to touch his penis, and how good it felt to have the lizards crawling on him.

            “Crap!” Mikey yelped, jumping out of bed.  Lizard!

            He’d left a mechanical lizard clinging to Leo’s wall and one of the few working controllers stuffed in the hamper.  He was dead.  Surely Don would have missed those things by now.  He was so dead.

            For a moment he contemplated hiding in the bedroom the whole day.  But that wasn’t an option, Master Splinter would send one of his brothers to get him, and with his luck, it would be Donatello.

            Maybe if he stalled a few minutes everyone would be in the dojo and he could run into Leo’s room to grab the lizard.  A few seconds spent in retrieving the controller, and then a quick sprint to the service bay to replace the borrowed items.  Perhaps Don would think he’d just mislaid them.

            That plan went awry as soon as Mikey stepped out of his room.  His entire family was gathered next to the tide pool.

            “Michelangelo, if you would be so good as to join us,” Master Splinter said, his head upturned to observe his son.

            “Coming, Sensei,” Mikey said.  “Um, quick stop in the bathroom and I’ll be right there.”

            He heard grumbles but didn’t bother trying to identify who’d made them because he was already running.  In the bathroom he did a quick job of freshening up and then checked on the controller, half surprised to find it still there.  Mikey had kind of expected Don would have implanted some sort of tracking device in the thing.

            When he did not receive a rebuke from Master Splinter, Mikey guessed that he’d moved fast enough.  He joined the lineup, standing next to Leo.  This morning he did not have to jockey with Raph for that position, because the hot head was standing as far from the leader as he could get.

            That placed Mikey next to Don as well.  A quick glance to the side showed him that Don’s entire focus was on their father.  Thereafter, Mikey made certain that his total attention was on Master Splinter too.

            It turned out that the training session was to be all about balance.  Mikey cringed inside.  The last time they’d had balance training in the pool, they’d had to try to knock each other off the rocks.  Considering the current atmosphere, Mikey was afraid they’d all get wet just trying to pull Leo and Raph off of each other before one of them got drowned.

            Fortunately, Master Splinter had a different idea in mind.  He’d had Don install a hydrant next to the pool and then attach a hose to it.  As each of his sons traversed the pool, hopping from rock to rock, Master Splinter would hit them with a hard spray from said hose.  Since he blindfolded them, the turtles had no way of knowing when they were going to be hit by water.

            Of course, they all took a tumble, except for Leo.  Even when the jet hit him in mid-jump, Leo somehow managed to flip with the momentum and land safely.

            Under normal circumstances, Raph would have muttered something unkind under his breath, like the usual ‘teacher’s pet’.  Today he kept his mouth shut, not even looking at Leo.

            Mikey made it through one time without being knocked from his perch.  When he reached safety, Don patted him on the shell and said, “Good job, Mikey!”

            That little bit of encouragement made Mikey feel ten feet tall.  He was floating on air by the time practice was called for the day.  The praise was amazing all by itself, but to Mikey it also meant that Don hadn’t noticed that his brother had swiped anything.

            When they separated, Master Splinter went to his room and Don to his computer station.  Neither Leo nor Raph paid any mind to each other.  Raph went up to his room and Leo sat on the couch to watch television.

            The field was wide open, the decks all cleared.  Those idioms ran through Mikey’s brain as he made a beeline for the bathroom.

            Closing and locking the door behind him, Mikey retrieved the controller.  Before opening the door again, he listened carefully to make certain no one was nearby.

            As Mikey opened the door, he spotted Leo moving past Don.  “Shell, he’s going to his room.  I’ll have to grab the lizard later,” Mikey thought.

             But Leonardo did not go to his bedroom.  Bunching his legs under him, Leo leapt high, landing lightly on the catwalk between Raph and Mikey’s rooms.

            Mikey watched him walk to Raph’s door, turn the knob, and enter without knocking.

            Ducking back into the bathroom, Mikey spent not even a half a second in indecision.  Then he turned the controller on.  Manipulating the mechanical lizard, Mikey moved it out of Leo’s room, up the wall and along the catwalk to Raph’s bedroom.

            He sent it scurrying up near the ceiling, learning from the previous day that it was not only the best spot to see and hear from, but also the place where the lizard was least likely to be trampled.

            As he turned the lizard to adjust its position, Mikey received a huge shock.

            On the wall quite close to his, was another mechanical lizard.


Chapter Text

            “Ya’ heard me, I said get the hell out,” Raph said.

            It took Mikey a moment to shrug off his surprise at seeing the second mechanical lizard.  There was only one other inhabitant of the lair who could be controlling it, and that had to be Donatello.

            There was no possibility that Donny hadn’t seen Mikey’s lizard crawling up next to his.  Either this was as big a shock to Don, or the genius already knew Mikey had borrowed one of his inventions.

            Mikey shook his head.  He’d worry about the implications later.  Right now he wanted to focus on what was happening between Raph and Leo.

            “We need to talk,” Leo said.

            Raph was lying back in his hammock, a motorcycle magazine in his hands.  Mikey had a moment to think how wonderful the picture quality was on the little camera.  Then Raph sat up and tossed the magazine aside.

            “What makes ya’ think there’s anything to talk about?” Raph demanded.

            “Come on, Leo.  Tell him what he needs to hear,” Mikey thought.

            “The way you bolted out of my bedroom, for one thing,” Leo said.

            “Pissed that I left ya’ standing there with your dick in your hand?” Raph asked with a sneer.

            “Can we not do this?” Leo asked.  “Neither of us has to be right or wrong.”

            “Ya’ want to meet in the middle?  Fine.  Let’s start with ya’ telling me what ya’ want from this . . . whatever this is,” Raph said.

            Leo frowned.  “I want us to be together.  Isn’t that what you want?”

            “Together how, Leo?  Just sex or a real relationship?” Raph asked.  “Would ya’ be willing to walk into Master Splinter’s room and tell him about us?”

            “Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?  Sensei’s approval does us no good if we can’t define what we’re committing to,” Leo said.

            “It’s nice to hear ya’ at least say the word ‘commit’,” Raph said, scowling at his brother.  “Not so nice hearing ya’ backpedal away from the idea of talking to dear old dad.”

            “What sense would that make?  How would you suggest I start a conversation with him?” Leo asked.  “Master Splinter, Raph and I are . . . um, we’re . . . actually I don’t know what we are because Raph won’t tell me what’s going on in his head.”

            Raph leaped down from his hammock.  Fists on his hips, he said, “Here’s one thing I’m thinking.  We’ve spent most of the last few years butting heads ‘cause we’re fighting against something inside of us that’s way stronger than a difference of opinion.”

            “I don’t start those fights,” Leo said.

            “Sure ya’ do,” Raph said with a sneer.  “Not all of them, but the ones I start are in reaction to something you’ve done.  Ya’ know how to push my buttons, Leo.  Ya’ have a thing for forcing an issue with me.  Ya’ have a thing for control.  Maybe our bros don’t see it, but I sure as hell do.”

            “And you don’t like being told what to do,” Leo said.  “Even if it’s for your own good.”

            “Who are ya’ to tell me what’s for my own good?” Raph asked.  He lifted a hand, palm outward.  “Don’t bother giving me the ‘I’m the leader’ bullshit ‘cause I know that one by heart.”

            “If you did then you wouldn’t always question my orders,” Leo said.

            “Stop making them orders then maybe I won’t,” Raph countered.  “How about trying a little discussion first?”

            “That makes a lot of sense,” Leo said.  “Why don’t we try that next time we’re in the middle of a battle against forty-odd Foot soldiers?  We’ll discuss what our next move should be just before they cut off our heads.”

            “Why do ya’ always gotta take things to that extreme?” Raph asked.  “I wasn’t talking about holding a debate in the middle of a fucking fight.  I was talking about when we’re here, safe at home, trying to decide our next course of action.”

            “Every time I try that, you push back,” Leo said.  “Your solution to everything is to head straight at our enemies.  You won’t even hear a different sort of plan.”

            “How can ya’ say something like that?  I’ve gone along with plenty of your plans,” Raph said.  He shook his head in frustration.  “How the hell did we get off subject anyway?  Ya’ said ya’ came in here to talk but all it sounds like to me is another rousing lecture on ‘why Raph should do as he’s told’.”

            Mikey was starting to feel just as exasperated as Raph.  Though their normally hot headed brother sounded as though he was ready to express his feelings in a healthy way, Leo was dancing around the subject.

            Leo took a few steps closer to his brother.  “I told you yesterday that I thought that maybe we fought because we were trying to deny certain needs.  You just said almost the same thing.  Isn’t that a place to start?”

            “I also said that this ain’t supposed to be about us looking for a good fuck,” Raph said, putting it as crudely as possible.  “We wanna give each other the high hard one, peachy.  Ya’ wanna get rough, I’m down with that too.  I ain’t exactly vanilla when it comes to the things that get me off.  I like spice in the bedroom.”

            “Then what is our disagreement?” Leo asked.

            “Oh for fuck’s sake, Leo!” Raph exclaimed.  “Like usual, ya’ ain’t hearing me.  What the hell is the basis for . . . ?”

            “Hey, where is everybody?  Yo!  Anybody here?  Guys?”

            Casey Jones.

            Something fell over with a clatter.  Once more, Mikey quickly hid the controller, invoking the name of a few deities who he wished would rain retribution on Casey’s head.

            Mikey exited the bathroom and encountered Casey coming up the stairs.

            “We’re here,” Mikey said.  “Where’s the fire?”

            “Hey Case, good to see ya’,” Raph said, leaping down from the ramp that ran in front of his bedroom.

            Casey and Mikey went up the stairs to the next level to meet Raph.  Don spun around in his chair to greet the man.  Mikey glanced at his brother’s computer screen but all he saw was a bunch of numbers and letters that made no sense to him.  A remote controller for the mechanical lizards was nowhere to be seen.

            Leo joined them, coming up the stairs as though he’d been in his own room.  Mikey had no idea how he’d moved so fast, but it wasn’t the first time Leo had managed that sort of feat.

            “I need some help,” Casey said, looking at Raph.

            “What is it?  Purple Dragons need a beat down?” Raph asked.

            Casey snorted.  “They always need a beat down.  Nah, I just need some help moving into my new place.”

            “What was wrong with your old place?” Mikey asked.  “Did you get kicked out for riding your motorcycle up the stairs again?”

            “I only did that once,” Casey protested.  “Now I walk it up the stairs so it don’t get stolen.”

            “That’s ‘cause ya’ live in a crappy neighborhood,” Raph said.

            “You’re one to talk, buddy,” Casey said, punching Raph in the shoulder.

            “Does this mean you’re moving into a nicer neighborhood?” Don asked.

            Casey crossed his arms.  “As if I’m gonna fork over big bucks for a damn apartment.  No way.  I’ll just help clean up the neighborhood I’m in.”

            “Why are you moving then?” Mikey asked.

            “That does kinda have to do with the Purple Dragons,” Casey said, looking slightly sheepish.  “I try not to stay in one place for too long ‘cause I don’t want them finding me.  They got a bad habit of burning places down.  I ain’t got all that much shit to worry about, but most of the other people in the building do.”

            “If you don’t have much, what do ya’ need help moving?” Raph asked.

            “I’ve got a big ass couch for one thing,” Casey said.  “My weights and bed.  A few other things.  I’d like to take it all in one load.”

            “So ya’ need our moving van,” Raph said.

            “It’d help,” Casey admitted.  “I was gonna borrow April’s van, but it won’t hold everything.  I don’t wanna disturb all of ya’ guys, Raph’s the only muscle I need.”

            Mikey could tell by the way Leo stiffened that he didn’t like that idea.  In fact, Mikey could almost see the wheels turning in Leo’s head.  His big brother probably wondered the same thing Mikey was wondering; if Casey and Raph had cooked this up between them as a way to get Raph out of the lair to do some head bashing.

            Before Leo could say anything, Don jumped in.  “I’ll go with you two,” he said.  “If the new place is like the old one, you’ll need help with the water heater, plumbing, and anything else that’s in disrepair.”

            Casey shrugged.  “Sounds good to me.  I hate bitching to a new landlord about that kinda stuff.”

            Getting up from his chair, Don approached Raph and said, “We need to check that the new control module is functioning properly before we go.  You can help me grab any supplies we might need too.”

            “This’ll be a good test for the van,” Raph said.  “Better than finding out something ain’t working while we’re in emergency mode.  It’d suck to stall out while we’re running from the Foot.”

            The smug glance he sent in Leo’s direction wasn’t missed by Mikey.  He could tell that Leo understood the dig too.

            “You can head over there now, but the actual moving will have to happen after nightfall,” Leo said.  “Don’t take any chances on being seen.”

            “Thanks for stating the obvious, Leonardo,” Raph said.  “We might not have been able to figure that one out for ourselves.”

            “We’ll be careful,” Don said, tapping the back of Raph’s hand to get him moving.

            Leo frowned at their retreating forms.  When they were out of sight, he turned without a word and headed for Master Splinter’s room.

            “Those two at each other’s throats again?” Casey asked.

            “Yeah,” Mikey said.  He had no intention on elaborating.  This wasn’t something he thought the human would understand.

            Casey seemed to want to talk though.  “I figured that’d happen.  Leo came back from his training all enlightened and Raph had to act like it was no big thing.  I wondered how long he’d be able to keep that up.”

            “We all missed Leo while he was gone,” Mikey said, giving Casey a speculative look.

           Mikey had never thought much about what Raph and Casey discussed when they were together.  Now he realized that having a male friend who was so much like him might mean that Raph treated Casey like a confidant.  He was curious about how much Raph had said to Casey during those two months that Leo was gone.

           If he asked Casey straight out, the man would probably close his yap.  Mikey decided that if he could lead him just right, without being too direct, Casey might spill the beans.

            Casey rubbed the back of his head.  “Well sure, I guess ya’ all did, ‘cause he’s your brother.  But ya’ don’t know how Raph was without Leo being here.”

            When he paused, Mikey noticed that his neck was red, a sure sign that Casey was self-conscious.  If Mikey wanted to get more out of him, he’d have to put the human at ease.

            “Have you had lunch yet?” Mikey asked.  “We haven’t had lunch yet.  Wanna help me make some hot dogs?”

            “Sounds good,” Casey said, perking up. 

            He followed Mikey to the kitchen and volunteered to chop up some onions.  Mikey began pulling things from the refrigerator, giving Casey a few minutes to drop his guard.

            “Raph did spend a lot of time training,” Mikey said, broaching the subject again and careful not to look right at Casey.  “You know, punching his bag and working out with Master Splinter.  But Don threw himself into his work too.  He’d even ask Leo questions and then remember he wasn’t here.”

            “It was different for Raph,” Casey insisted.  “He acted tough ‘cause he thought that’s what ya’ guys needed from him.  He had this idea that ya’ needed him to be strong.  But he was hurting way more over Leo being gone than even I would have thought.”

            He finished with the onions and grabbed the jar of pickles.  As he began chopping those up, Mikey tossed the hot dogs into boiling water.

            “Hurting?” Mikey asked.  “Don’t know why, he was the one who was about to come unglued over Leo’s behavior before big bro’ got sent to the Ancient One.”

            “I couldn’t figure that one out either and I told him so,” Casey said.  “Seemed to me that Raph should have been thrilled about Leo getting his head screwed back on straight.”

            “Maybe he just didn’t like the idea of Leo learning something more than the rest of us,” Mikey said offhandedly.

            Mild contradictions seemed to do the trick in getting Casey to talk.  “I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it at all,” Casey said.  “Didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing, Raph was always thinking about Leo.  Never saw him act like that before.  He was a basket case that time when your dad went missing, but hell, he knew where Leo was.  It was almost like he thought Leo might not come back or something.”

            Mikey found that to be interesting.  If Raph really had been that worried about Leo, he’d done a great job of hiding it from the rest of his family.  Other than the behavior Mikey had witnessed, Raph hadn’t seemed different at all.

            Maybe Casey was right, Raph did put on a brave face for his family to keep them from worrying.  Mikey wouldn’t have thought he was that good an actor if he hadn’t seen Raph pretending not to give a crap about anything Leo said.

            The approaching voices of Leo and Master Splinter cut off their gossip session, much to Mikey’s dismay.  It was rare that he was alone with Casey and it probably wouldn’t happen again. 

            Still, Casey had given him something to think about.  When Raph and Leo were arguing earlier, Raph had said that the past few years of head butting were because they were fighting their own feelings.  Years he’d said.

            That meant that if Raph was hurting while Leo was gone and that he also worried Leo wouldn’t ever come home, it was because Raph wanted to be with him even then.  It might even mean that Raph was in love with Leo and had been for a really long time.

            All of that put into perspective the reason for Raph pushing Leo away when they’d started to make out.  Sex with Leo wasn’t Raph’s ultimate goal.

            As the group sat around the table eating hot dogs, Mikey watched Leo. His brother’s expression was as enigmatic as ever and for the first time, Mikey could understand why that bothered Raph. 

           Mikey wondered as to Leo’s reason for wanting Raph to proclaim his thought processes first when it came to what was going on between them.  Raph seemed much more willing to lay himself open, but Leo wasn’t reciprocating.

           “Maybe he just doesn’t know how,” Mikey thought to himself.  “Or maybe he’s afraid that he’ll forget whatever he learned from the Ancient One and lose control again.”

           Whatever the reason, Mikey decided he should shift his focus and energies from Raph and start addressing Leo’s issues.

           “And my own too,” Mikey added in his head, glancing at Don.

           His smart brother was sitting between Raph and Casey, having a lively discussion about engines with both of them.  From Mikey’s point of view, Don was staring way too intently at Raph and that did not go over well.

           That second spy lizard was in Raph’s room.  Why it had been there and for how long were questions that Mikey really wanted answers to.  Was it there because Donatello had a thing for Raphael?  It would be way too unfair if it turned out that Leo and Don wanted the same turtle.

           Mikey’s first thought when Don volunteered to go with Raph to Casey’s was that he was playing peacekeeper again.  Leo knew that Don would keep those two out of trouble.

           “What if he volunteered because he wants to spend time with Raph?” Mikey asked himself.

           “Don’t worry about us,” Leo said in response to something he was asked and that Mikey had missed.  “Mikey and I have a new training regimen.  We’ll spend our time in the dojo.”

           Inwardly cursing himself for using that as a way to be alone with Leo, Mikey almost missed the look of surprise that Don sent in his direction.

           “Good for the two of ya’,” Raph said, his tone snarky.  “Think ya’ can turn Mikey into a real fighter so we don’t have to spend the rest of our lives undergrounded?”

           “Hey!” Mikey yelped in protest.  “I’ll have you know I’m the Battle . . . ow!”

           Don had kicked him under the table.  When Mikey shot a dirty look in his direction, Don widened his eyes as a warning.  The message was clear; don’t feed the flames.

           With his lips compressed into a thin line, Mikey knew he appeared petulant, but he didn’t care.  Don wasn’t looking at him anyway, not after getting his point across.

           It was obvious that Don was doing his best to keep Raph calm and that would have been just great if it didn’t make Mikey wonder if he had a hidden agenda.  Don was the only one who could talk Raph down when the hot head was starting to overload.  It was a skill honed through years of practice and something even Master Splinter couldn’t accomplish.  Not when Raph was getting truly worked up.

           They were all pushing back from the table when Don volunteered to wash dishes if Raph would dry.

           “As long as you’re the one getting the dish pan hands,” Raph said with a grin.

           Once more Mikey felt a small flare of jealousy as the pair piled plates together and left.  Then he realized he might have another chance to talk to Casey alone.

           That was spoiled when Leo requested an update from the man on recent gang activity.  Mikey only half listened to them, part of his mind fighting the urge to join Raph and Don so he could keep an eye on them.

           When it was time for Casey, Raph, and Don to depart, Mikey expected Leo to issue another directive about staying out of trouble.  He could tell that Raph was expecting it too, because his expression was thunderous.

           Instead it was Master Splinter who appeared just as the trio were about to climb into the van.

           “Please be safe, my sons.  Mr. Jones.  There are still several hours until sunset,” Master Splinter said.  “I expect that you will all adhere strictly to the task at hand, which is to assist Mr. Jones in moving to a new abode.  Should you somehow encounter trouble, through no action of your own, you will not engage.  Is that clear?”

           “Sure thing, Master Splinter,” Casey answered promptly.

           “Of course, Father,” Don said.

           “Whatever,” Raph snapped.

           “Raphael,” Master Splinter responded sharply.

           Raph’s jaw worked.  It took him a minute, but he finally said, “Yes, Sensei.  It’s crystal clear.”

           His eyes slid from Master Splinter to Leo, the look in them murderous.  Mikey glanced at his oldest brother and saw how complacent he seemed.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Leo had arranged for the parental send-off.

           When the van pulled out of the service bay, Mikey turned around to go back into the lair and immediately noticed that Leo’s entire body language had changed.  He looked crestfallen.

           Master Splinter appeared to see that as well.  He paused on his way to his room and set a hand on Leo’s shoulder.  Neither said anything and Leo didn’t look at him.  Then Master Splinter patted his shoulder and left.

           Leo took a deep breath and released it.  “Come on, Mikey.  Let’s see how much we can accomplish before they get back.”

           The work-out was beyond rigorous.  In fact, it was almost as bad as the practice sessions Leo called just before he left for training with the Ancient One.  That was a sure sign that something was eating at the leader in blue.

           Mikey knew he had to get Leo talking.  If someone didn’t, he’d never open up to Raph and the chances of those two ever mating were doomed.

           “Okay, okay, uncle,” Mikey finally said after his carapace hit the floor for the seventh time.

           Leo was standing over him.  “We keep going until you’ve mastered that move, Michelangelo.”

           Sitting up, Mikey circled his knees with his arms.  “Why don’t we take a quick breather and you can tell me what I’m doing wrong.  I’m just not seeing it.”

           After a second of hesitation, Leo sank down to the floor next to his brother.  “Part of the problem is you’re falling back on your left heel instead of keeping the balls of that foot on the ground.”

           “Kinda hard to do when you’re rushing at me,” Mikey complained.

           “That’s when you employ your counter move,” Leo explained.  “I’m sure you know this, Mikey.”

           “Guess I do,” Mikey said.  He looked at Leo.  “I’m a little distracted.”

           Leo frowned.  “You can’t be distracted in a fight.  You’ll get your shell waxed and not in a good way.  What’s going on in your head?”

           “Thought you’d never ask,” Mikey told himself.  He sighed for effect and said, “I’ve been thinking about how much you and Raph have been fighting lately.  Not just yelling, but I don’t know, like really bitter.”

           “It’s not anything new.  There’s no reason for it to concern you,” Leo said, his face starting to close up.

           “Sorry but it does,” Mikey said quickly.  “I don’t have a huge extended family, I’ve got you guys.  You’re the one who told me that all we have in this life is each other.  I figure that means along with a lot of other stuff, there has to be trust.”

           “I trust you guys with my life,” Leo said.  He looked perplexed.

           To Mikey that was better than him shutting down.  He just had to keep the momentum going.

           “Sure you do,” Mikey said.  “Same goes for me.  I know it’s true for Don and Raph.  But trust is about more than just knowing your brother is watching your back.  It’s knowing they aren’t gonna screw up and showing them that you know it.”

           “Raph has a history of making bad decisions,” Leo argued.

           “Not for a while now and haven’t we all?” Mikey asked.  “Haven’t you made some doozies too?  Do you want Raph to continuously rub Karai in your face?  The only time he does it is when he’s using it as a defense mechanism.”

           “Trust is a two way street,” Leo said.  “So is respect.  Do I get either of those from him?”

           “That’s just childish tit for tat,” Mikey said.  “That’s why you fight.  Stop feeding off each other that way ‘cause it’s just an endless loop.”

           “Not when he acknowledges that I’m in charge,” Leo said.

           “Wow.  Would you listen to yourself?”  Mikey shook his head.  “Like earlier, when you got Master Splinter to tell Raph what not to do.  That tactic was low, bro’.”

           “I didn’t think he’d listen to me,” Leo replied haughtily.

           “Only ‘cause you’d already said the same thing a dozen times,” Mikey said.  “I’m happy you’re so pleased with yourself, but you have to lose that attitude.  All it tells Raph is that you’re toying with him.”

           Leo’s brow was furrowed and Mikey hoped that meant that his words were getting through.  “You’ve given me a lot to think about.”

           “Good,” Mikey said, getting to his feet.  “You think.  Talking about Master Splinter made me remember that I’m supposed to do the laundry.  Let me know if you need me to bend an ear.  I’m here for you bro’.”

           If he knew anything about Leo, it was that after you planted a seed in his head, you had to step back and let it grow.  Pushing a point only made him obstinate.

           With the others gone and Leo in the dojo, Mikey saw his chance to retrieve the equipment he’d borrowed from Donny.  Taking the stairs quickly, he grabbed the entire hamper from the bathroom and then went up to Raph’s bedroom.

           The only times they were allowed into a brother’s room while said brother wasn’t there was to pick up their dirty laundry.  Raph kept a basket next to the door where he tossed his dirty linens and gear.

           Looking up, Mikey saw the mechanical lizard he’d sent into the room, but the second one wasn’t there.  He couldn’t spend much time in the room for fear that Leo or Master Splinter would notice, but a quick check proved that the lizard was nowhere to be found.

           Leaping high, Mikey snatched his spy lizard off the wall.  Tossing it into the hamper, he dumped the contents of Raph’s basket on top and fled the room.

           Once he’d gotten the laundry from all of the bedrooms, including his father’s, Mikey made a beeline for the service bay.  The hamper was fairly heavy, but he couldn’t empty it until he’d returned the two items guaranteed to get him into trouble if he was caught with them.

           Turning back the tarp, Mikey dug out the lizard and controller and put them back where he’d found them. Lifting the tarp higher, Mikey counted the number of complete lizards on the table.  There were five.  That accounted for all of them.

           Dropping the tarp back into place, Mikey snatched up the hamper and walked back to the space that served as their laundry room.  While he sorted the dirty items into piles, he thought about this newest puzzle.

           He had not seen Don with a controller earlier.  He hadn’t even seen or heard Don leave his computer station, and when Casey had shown up, Don was still in the same spot.

           If Donatello wasn’t controlling the second lizard, then who was?

           Mikey pondered that question until his head started to hurt.  It was still on his mind a few hours later when Raph and Don returned, having left Casey to settle into his new apartment.

           It was Raph’s turn to cook and he got out of it by bringing home take-out food.  The meal was completely informal, the brothers and Master Splinter sat in the living area to watch television as they ate. 

           Raph and Don took turns describing the move and Casey’s new domicile.  Though the overall tone of the family discussion was genial, neither Raph nor Leo would look at each other.

           Leo was the first to turn in for the night.  Soon afterwards Master Splinter bid them a good-night and left for his bed.

           When Don yawned, Raph told him to get some shut-eye as well.  Apparently there had been a few necessary repairs to make Casey’s apartment habitable and the genius was exhausted.

           Mikey helped Raph clear up the few things they’d dirtied and then Raph announced that he too was calling it quits and going to sleep.

           Left to his own devices, Mikey stared speculatively at Donatello’s bedroom door.  His mind was in turmoil over the mystery of the vanishing lizard and whether Don had feelings for Raph.

           Waiting around and letting stuff eat at his brain wasn’t Mikey’s way.  He decided to talk to Don, to admit to swiping the lizard.  He didn’t have to say exactly what he’d used the lizard for, he could just say he’d taken it for a test spin around the lair.

           Hopefully, that would open the door for Don to tell him a few things.  Granted, Don could be secretive, but Mikey was nothing if not persistent.

           Reaching Don’s bedroom door, Mikey lifted his hand to knock and then heard a sound that made him pause.  Leaning closer, he listened.

           “I think I like you this way.”

           “Always got to win, don’t ya?  Always got to prove something.”

           Mikey straightened in shocked disbelief.  That was a recording of what had happened between Leo and Raph the day before.

           Trying the door knob, Mikey found that it wasn’t locked.  Carefully, he eased the door open enough so that he could peek inside.

           Don’s computer desk was against the right side wall, near the entrance.  The room was dark other than the gleam from one computer screen.  On that was a video playback of what Mikey had watched in real time; Leo pinning Raph to the floor.

           Leaning back in his computer chair was Donatello, his eyes glued to the screen.  Sweat droplets gleamed on his face and arms and his legs were spread wide.

           The fingers of one hand dug into the chair’s arm.  Mikey stopped breathing when he saw where Don’s other hand was.  His brother was jerking off to the video, his cock hard in his hand, precum dribbling from the tip.

           Mikey knew that he should move, but he absolutely could not.  The sight was mesmerizing.


Chapter Text

            When his eyes started to burn, Mikey realized that he needed to blink.

            He did so quickly, afraid of missing something.  His interest wasn’t in the recording on Donatello’s computer screen, it was on Donatello himself.

            Head back, mouth open, Don continued to masturbate, his hand moving ever faster.  His eyes were closed to mere slits but they never left the screen.

            Though the sight was enticing, it was the sounds that stirred the fire in Mikey’s gut.  Don was churring, the call of sensual pleasure causing Mikey’s barely hidden erection to throb.

            When the recorded scene reached the part where Leo’s hand disappeared between Raph’s legs, Don groaned long and low before climaxing.

            That was all Mikey could take.  Somehow he managed to close the door without making a sound and then he bolted for his room.

            Pushing the door to as he rushed inside, Mikey didn’t bother trying to reach his bed.  His carapace hit the wall and he slid down to the floor, his cock already clutched in one tight fist.

            Eyes shut so that he wouldn’t lose the visual of Donatello masturbating, Michelangelo began to do so as well.  There were no thoughts in his head, only a visual and auditory playback that was so erotic Mikey could feel himself peaking rapidly.

            He didn’t hear his door hinges squeak, too lost in his fantasy.  However, the snap of the lock did catch his attention.

            Mikey jerked his head up so fast that it hit the wall and his eyes flew open.  Standing a few feet in front of him was Donatello.

            Shocked, Mikey stopped moving to gape at his brother.  Don stared back at him, his gaze intense.

            “Keep going, Mike,” Don ordered, speaking in a deeper voice than Mikey had ever heard him use.  “You watched me, I think it’s my turn.  Make it good.”

            Michelangelo’s cock was crying for attention.  Precum dripped from the head to roll over his clenched fingers and there was a deep ache within his loins that refused to be ignored.  He had never viewed himself as an exhibitionist when it came to his carnal side, but Donatello’s gaze was hypnotic.

            Very slowly, Mikey began to jack off again.  As his hand moved, sliding up and down on his slick shaft, he watched Don.  His brother’s brown eyes seemed to glitter, his focus completely on the younger turtle.

            He didn’t know what came over him but having such undivided attention motivated Mikey to go further.  Making a show of it, he stuck a finger from his free hand into his mouth and sucked on it, opening his mouth so that Don could see how his tongue lapped at the digit.

Mikey then slipped his hand down over his plastron, his nails producing a sensuous scraping sound.  Don took a step closer as Mikey’s hand drifted past his stiff cock to his tail.

            Hand working feverishly to pump his dick, Mikey began to quiver.  Caressing the underside of his tail with his thumb, Mikey moved the wet finger toward his bunghole.

            Donatello gasped, his breathing growing harsh.  His own cock had dropped down sometime during Mikey’s lewd show and Don began jacking off.

            Very slowly, Mikey pushed his finger into his ass.  Breaching himself that way was an alien feeling and he had to fight against the protective tightness around his entrance.  Having Don totally concentrated on everything he was doing, seeing how turned on his brother was at such a lascivious performance, spurred Mikey to continue.

            “Do . . . nny . . . .” Mikey stammered, the staccato tapping of his shell against the wall reminiscent of a telegraph machine.

            He raised one knee, planting his foot on the ground nearer his body.  This lifted his butt higher, affording Don a better view of Mikey’s finger as it disappeared into his asshole.

            “Mike!” Don cried out in appreciation at the sight.

            “Umm . . . .” Mikey moaned, drawing a churr from his brother.

            The pair never stopped looking at one another as they masturbated, their hands moving almost in unison.  Their heavy breathing and churrs, the slick sounds of fists sliding over cum wet skin filled the room around them.

            Mikey’s toes curled suddenly, the pressure in his groin sweeping into one tight knot at the base of his cock.  He shoved his finger in as far as it would go and felt his asshole clench around it.

            “I’m . . . ahh!”  Mikey’s entire body jerked when his orgasm hit, cum spraying out to splatter the lower half of his body and both of his hands.

            Don groaned long and low before biting his bottom lip and climaxing too.  His jizz splashed the floor between his legs and coated his hand as he continued to pump his cock until it was empty.

            Both brothers were breathing hard, chests rising and falling rapidly as they stared at each other.  Then Don walked towards Mikey to kneel between his now outstretched legs.

            “H . . . how . . . .?” Mikey stuttered, not sure what to ask first.

            Rather than answer, Don reached out to cup Mikey’s chin, his thumb just below his brother’s lip.  Pulling down lightly parted Mikey’s lips and Don leaned in to kiss him, sliding his tongue into his brother’s mouth after a couple of seconds.

            If Mikey hadn’t just cum, he was pretty sure that kiss would have made him hard again.  A feeling stirred in Mikey’s chest, like his heart had just suddenly grown to a point where his body couldn’t contain it.

            He started a hand for Don but his brother broke the kiss to sit back.  Mikey moaned at the loss of contact and made as if to move forward, but Don’s hand on his chest stopped him.

            “I wish I had recorded that,” Don said, his voice still guttural.  “I’ve never seen you look more enticing.”

            “Dude,” Mikey breathed out.  “That was awesome.”  His expression turned questioning.  “How’d you know I was watching you?”

            “There’s a tiny camera above my bedroom door,” Don answered simply.  “I always know what’s going on in and around my room.”

            “Figures,” Mikey said, wanting to kick himself for not realizing his security paranoid brother might do something like that.  Then he remembered what he’d seen.  “You had a video of Leo and Raph.  Where’d that come from?”

            Don chuckled.  “As if you didn’t know.  After all, you were the one who sent the robotic lizard in there to spy on them.”

            “But I didn’t know it was going to record anything,” Mikey protested.

            “I designed them to auto record anytime they are activated,” Don explained.  “As soon as I showed you my project I realized you might ‘borrow’ one of the devices.”

            “Did you know . . . I mean . . . .”  Mikey rubbed the back of his head and then grimaced when he felt how sticky his hand was.  “Leo and . . . and Raph . . . um, me . . . could you tell . . . how long . . . .”

            “Mike, stop,” Don said with a small smile, placing the tip of a finger against his brother’s lips.  It was all Mikey could do to resist licking it.  “One question at a time.  Ask me the one you most want to know the answer to first.”

            The words came spilling out.  “Did you know I was starting to feel things for you?  Like, not brother things?”

            “I had an inkling, yes,” Don said, gently caressing the side of Mikey’s face.

            “How?” Mikey asked.  “I mean, I didn’t even know.  Not really.  Not until . . . .”  He paused, thinking back to when he’d first started noticing, really noticing, Donatello.

            “Until when?” Don prompted.  When Mikey hesitated, Don looked slightly amused.  “Was it when you became aware of the change in how Leo and Raph were behaving with each other?”

            “You noticed it too, right?  Beyond them just fighting more for dumber reasons?  ‘Cause you acted like you didn’t,” Mikey said.

            “No, I acted like I didn’t want them to fight because I don’t,” Don corrected.  “I did notice the fighting and it wasn’t hard to figure out why.”

            Mikey pouted.  “I didn’t know until I started following Raph to see where he was going after their fights.”

            Shaking his head, Don said, “Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t until you began snooping that I came to question their emotional shift.  Your curiosity drew my attention to the frequency of their fights.  After that I analyzed their behavior and my knowledge of our basic turtle instincts to assign a cause to their frequent battles.”

            “You would be proud of me,” Mikey said, brightening.  “I made notes of my observations, formed some ideas, and then tested my ideas by experimenting.  That’s what you always say to do.”

            “Setting aside the fact that you used that scientific approach on your brothers, I am proud of you,” Don said, looking amused.  “I’ve always known that you were a lot smarter than you let on.”

            “Uh, thank you, I think,” Mikey responded.  “Wait, is that what you like about me?”

            “That amongst other things,” Don admitted.

            Mikey preened under his gaze.  “I am the total package.”  He sobered quickly.  “You like Raph too, don’t you?”

            “Not in the way you mean,” Don said.  “What makes you say that?”

            “’Cause you’re always hanging out with him,” Mikey said.  “You guys talk, you know, like real conversations and stuff.  You do things together and Raph never gets mad at you.”

            Don snorted.  “He gets mad at me.  There are plenty of things I tell him that he doesn’t want to hear.”

            “But he listens anyway,” Mikey insisted.  “When you guys are working on stuff, he gets really close to you, like touching close.  That’s gotta mean he likes you.  Since you don’t move away, that means you like it too.  Do you have a thing for Raph?  Like a kind of thing that makes you want to do what you just did with me?”

           “No, Mike. When the mating instinct hit me, my first and only thought was of you,” Don said.  “The only instances of physical closeness you could have observed between Raph and I was likely due to our work space being too small for us to be very far apart.”

           Mikey frowned.  “Dude, am I the last one to get hit by this mating instinct thing?  Raph and Leo were at each other’s throats way before I started investigating and you already knew about basic turtle whatsis.”

           Don stroked a palm down Mikey’s throat and across his shoulder, his eyes following the route his hand was taking.  “You aren’t the last.”  His eyes came back up to meet Mikey’s.  “You identified what you were experiencing and associated it with me, didn’t you?”

           “Yeah,” Mikey answered slowly, waiting for Don to tell him more.

           “Raph and Leo haven’t acknowledged anything,” Don said.  “Not from what I’ve seen.”

           “Geez Donny, they wrestled each other to the floor so they could start groping and kissing,” Mikey said, as if stating something clearly obvious.  “You saw it.”

           “I’ve seen it twice, actually.  I also saw them stop and argue about what they were doing,” Don said.  “Before Casey showed up like a raging bull, I also watched the two of them dance around their feelings and argue in circles.”

           “Oh right!  That’s another reason I thought you had the hots for Raph ‘cause you put a lizard in his room,” Mikey stated triumphantly.  He would have moved to emphasize his point, but he liked the feeling of Don’s hand exploring the contours of his body.

           “Have you been feeling jealous, Mike?” Don asked as his fingers glided over Mikey’s collarbones.  He stopped to lean closer, making Mikey’s breath catch.  “Don’t deny it because I recognize the signs.  I experienced them during every moment you spent special time with Leo.”

           Mikey’s eyes widened.  “You thought I liked Leo and I thought you wanted Raph.  Hanging out with him, lizard in his room, getting him to talk stuff out when no one else can . . . .”

           “None of that is new, other than the lizard,” Don said.  “For your edification, I had Raph’s permission before I deployed it to his room.”  He raised his hand to stop Mikey’s next question.  “No, I didn’t tell him about the robotic lizards, you’re still the only one who knows about them.  What I told him was that I was working on new surveillance equipment and that I needed him to tell me if he noticed it.  Raph was quite aware that it could be anywhere.”

           “That’s kinda underhanded though, don’t you think?” Mikey asked.  “I mean, he wouldn’t think that your spy stuff was gonna be crawling around on four legs.  He wouldn’t notice something so small unless it was a bug.”

           “I’ll concede that he either thought I wouldn’t invade his room or that he forgot something might be watching him as soon as Leo walked in,” Don said.

           “You recorded it anyway,” Mikey said.

           “Yes I did,” Don acknowledged.  “It seems that you and I have something in common.  We both like to know what’s going on and . . . .”

           “We both like to watch,” Mikey said, finishing the sentence for him.

           Don reached up to cup his cheek and Mikey leaned into his touch.  “That’s another thing I’ve always loved about you, Mike.  You’ll talk things through and you listen.  You don’t get defensive.”

           “Raph sure does,” Mikey said.  “Leo does too, in different ways.  It’s like they both expect to get attacked at any moment.”

           “Which is why they aren’t connecting, not in the way they really need to.  Neither one is willing to lower their guard.”  Don grew thoughtful.  “Mike, during your experimental period, were you meaning to make them mad and then to make them jealous?”

           “Both,” Mikey confessed.  “I was mostly working on Raph.  The first thing I wanted to know was if he only got turned on after arguing with Leo, or if fighting with anyone would do the trick.  By the way, he only gets hot and bothered over Leo.”

           “I take it that after you determined that you then decided to try and make him jealous to see if he’d act on his desires,” Don said.

            “Yep, totally,” Mikey squirmed when Don’s hand left his face.  “I never thought about either of them the way I think about you.  Honestly, Donny.  I even like the way you call me ‘Mike’.  It’s like a private thing between us ‘cause hardly anyone calls me that.”

           “You do realize that we can’t be together openly until Leo and Raph resolve their conflict,” Don said.

           “Why?”  Mikey wanted to reach for Don again, but his brother stood up.  The sense of loss was immediate, so Mikey rose too.  He didn’t want to seem to be pleading, but he couldn’t help the tone that crept into his voice.  “Maybe if they see how good we are together they’ll kiss and make up.”

           “They won’t,” Don said.  “You know them.  How would they react, really?  Think about it, think about what they’ve been saying to each other.”

           He waited as Mikey reasoned it through.  It took a couple of minutes to sift over the past weeks’ worth of conversations, fights, and actions.

           Don nodded when Mikey looked up at him, a gleam of understanding in his eyes.

           “They’d get resentful, wouldn’t they?” Mikey asked.  “Like feeling as if they got together it’d only be ‘cause they were obligated to or something.  Or that they were copycatting us.”

           “There would always be a question in the backs of their minds as to whether the other was with them for the right reasons,” Don said.  “They have enough trust issues as it is.”

           “So let’s get them together,” Mikey said.  “I’ve kinda already been trying, but if both of us were . . . .”

           “It has to seem as though it was their idea, Mike,” Don said.

           “That’s cool.  I get that.  I mean, I’ve already been trying to be subtle about it.  I even came up with a code name.  I’m calling it ‘Operation Sex’,” Mikey said.

           “A different name might be better,” Don said indulgently.  “Those two having sex isn’t really the ultimate goal.”

           “It is part of the goal though, right,” Mikey asked, his tone hopeful.

           Don grinned.  “You want to watch them, don’t you?”

           Mikey flashed a brilliant smile of his own.  “It is pretty hot.  I wanna watch us do it too.  You did say you wished you’d recorded us, Donny.”

           “I’ll do it next time,” Don said, moving in to wrap his arms around Mikey and kiss him.

           Grabbing onto Don’s biceps, Mikey kissed back for all he was worth.  His body felt as though it was melting into his brother’s and it was warm and inviting there.  Their tongues glided together and Mikey lost himself to the sensation, his whole being in that moment belonging completely to Donatello.

           Mikey didn’t want to let go when Don finally separated from him.  “Could next time be right now?” he asked hopefully.

           “It’s getting late,” Don said with real regret in his voice.  “If we did anything more, there’s a good chance we’d fall asleep together and have a lot of questions to answer in the morning.  We should both take a shower to get our scent off of each other.”

           Perking up, Mikey asked, “Shower together?”

           “You’re incorrigible,” Don said, chuckling.  “Still not a good idea.  You go first.  I’ll clean your floor while you’re gone.  It wouldn’t do to leave any tell-tale signs of our activities.”

           “Okay,” Mikey said.  “But I’m not gonna be able to keep my hands off of you for very long.”

           “First chance we get we’ll try something new,” Don said.  “How does that sound?”

           “Awesome!” Mikey chirped as he headed for the door.

           “Wait a second,” Don said, making Mikey spin around immediately.  “We have another obstacle to overcome for both us and for Leo and Raph.  Master Splinter.”

           “Yeah, I’ve kinda thought about that too,” Mikey said.  “You heard Raph bring it up to Leo and how fearless leader reacted.  Master Splinter told me he thinks there’s more going on with them than just their usual disagreements.”

           “You talked to Master Splinter about them?” Don asked, surprised.

           “More like he talked to me,” Mikey said.  “He said he’d appreciate feedback on any insights I might have.  His words.”

           Don’s brow furrowed.  “What did you say?”

           “I was honest and said I didn’t know anything useful,” Mikey answered.  “At the time I didn’t.  Not sure I do now either, at least nothing on how to deal with the head-butting those two are doing.”

           “Since you’ve already got an open line of communication with Sensei, then you’ll have to be our conduit to him,” Don said.  “This could get tricky for all of us if he disapproves.”

           “You don’t think he would, do you?” Mikey asked, suddenly struck by that harrowing thought.

           “I truly don’t know,” Don said.  “This is uncharted territory.  To me it’s completely logical that we weren’t going to be merely brothers forever.  While we can appreciate the human form, nature dictates that our deepest attraction will be for our own kind.”

           “There’s exactly four of those,” Mikey said.  “But Donny, I’m pretty sure Master Splinter doesn’t think about sex, so how do we explain any of this to him?”

           “Have you met Master Splinter?” Don countered, shaking his head.  He waved in the general direction of the living area with its TV array.  “Those shows of his are thinly disguised sex romps.  Everybody is always sleeping with everybody else.”

           “Those characters are all human,” Mikey said.  “They aren’t his sons.”

           “If you’ll remember my dear Mike, Dad was the one who insisted we have lessons about the birds and the bees when we were younger,” Don said.  “He made a point of talking about how our own bodies work and how it was normal for us to get erections.”

           “Oh I remember all right,” Mikey said, grinning.  “You were helping him give that talk and both Leo and Raph looked like they were gonna have fits.  I missed part of that lecture ‘cause I was watching them and wondering which one would blow a gasket first.”

           “I’m fairly certain some of the reason for that talk was because he knew we’d get curious and might start experimenting with each other,” Don said.  “Maybe he thought he could head it off.  I don’t know and I think we need to if we want to smooth the way for not only Leo and Raph, but for us too.”

           “I’m open to suggestions,” Mikey said.

           “Choose your words carefully and lead him,” Don said.  “Feel him out the way you normally do when you want something and you think he’ll say no.”

           Mikey made a face.  “The problem with that is he still does say no.”

           “Has that ever mattered?” Don asked.  “Don’t you usually talk him around?”

           “May~be,” Mikey said, not wanting to commit himself.

           Don walked across the room to touch Mikey’s arm.  “I’m with you the whole way, Mike.  If you’re too uncomfortable with trying to ease Master Splinter into accepting what we want to have together, then we’ll think of another way to get him on board.”

           Mikey took the opportunity to plant another quick kiss to Don’s lips.  “Nah, I can do it,” he said.  “The trick is not to think too hard on what I want to say and just let the words flow.  Like you said, I listen.  Gotta do that if you want to get inside someone’s head.”

           “You’re inside mine.”  Don tapped his chest.  “You’re in here too.  I love you, Michelangelo.”

           “I love you too, Donatello,” Mikey replied.

           “Better go,” Don whispered, looking at Mikey with longing.

           Mikey sighed.  “Guess so.  Don’t wanna spoil everything by being caught together.”

           Somehow Mikey found the wherewithal to open the door and leave the room.  During his shower, all he could think about was Don and how amazing it felt to be in a relationship with him.

           He’d always been drawn to Donny but had never questioned why.  Now he knew and it was like the universe had opened up to divulge all of its secrets.  Mikey wanted to sing at the top of his lungs and only just managed to restrain himself.

           When he got back to his room, it was both clean and empty.  Not really empty; all of his clutter was still scattered around, but it felt empty without Don.

           Mikey crawled into bed, suddenly very tired.  Hugging a pillow to his chest, he imagined it was Donatello.

           Knowing that wouldn’t happen until Leo and Raph pulled their heads out of their asses strengthened Mikey’s resolve.  He’d get those two together or die trying.


Chapter Text

            The following morning Mikey noted with some surprise that his entire family was in the kitchen all at the same time.

            It was by no means an extraordinary thing, but it was uncommon.  Leo and Master Splinter were early morning risers, while Raph and Mikey usually only managed to drag themselves out of bed before mid-morning.  Donatello was a night owl, which meant he was generally just beginning to sleep deeply when the call to practice sounded.

            Mikey had a good idea as to why Don looked well rested this morning.  The pair exchanged glances and then quickly looked away.  He didn’t know about Don, but Mikey was certain his feelings for the genius would show on his face.

            Not that it mattered at the moment.  Leonardo’s eyes were entirely on Raphael.

            If Raph felt them, he gave no indication, other than the stiffness in his shoulders.  He was surly, barely acknowledging the greeting that Mikey tossed in his direction.

            Leo appeared to be brooding as he sat at the table, teacup in hand and barely eaten dry toast on a plate in front of him.  Raph remained at the kitchen counter, shell turned to his family as he scarfed down a bowl of cereal.  Mikey didn’t think he was tasting it.

            While those two played whatever game this was, Master Splinter studied the pair from his vantage point at the table.

            Mikey wanted to bash both Leo’s and Raph’s heads in with his nunchucks.  How could they not see the speculative look on their father’s face?

            They were going to ruin everything.  Master Splinter was already suspicious of their behavior.  If he figured out that hormones were running wild and that his sons were attempting to engage in certain not so brotherly acts, he might very well put his foot down.

            If he pronounced an absolute no to the concept of Leo and Raph being together, then it meant that Mikey couldn’t be with Don either.  That was just not acceptable.

            Mikey had to get his father’s attention.  He had to pull that contemplative gaze off of Leo and Raph before Sensei figured something out.  Unfortunately, Mikey wasn’t sure how and he started to panic.

            Before he could do or say something idiotic though, Donatello came to the rescue.

            “I’ve figured out where the draft in your room is coming from, Sensei,” Don said, drawing Master Splinter’s attention in his direction.

            Mikey could have kissed his brother right then and there.  Not to do so took willpower.

            Master Splinter’s brow lifted.  “Yes?”

            “One of the pipes running through your room has corroded.  I’ll have to weld in replacement pieces and it isn’t a one turtle job.  Raph, do you think you could help me with it?” Don asked.

            And there went Mikey’s triumphant feeling.  Despite Don’s assurances, those two spending time together would probably always bother the youngest turtle.

            “Sure,” Raph muttered, sounding indifferent.

            “I am hoping it will be a simple fix, Donatello,” Master Splinter said.  “The July heat is pushing warm air into my room and though not as bad as the cold that will come in during the winter, it is still uncomfortable.   In addition, the draft is continuously extinguishing my candles.”

            Leo finally looked away from the red banded turtle, his gaze dropping on Mikey.  “We have some work to do ourselves.  Your form during the Bassai Dai needs improvement, especially your hip movements.”

            “I’m a turtle, my hips have limits,” Mikey complained.

            “If I can do it, you can do it,” Leo said.  “There is nothing wrong with your hips.”

            There was too much complacency in his tone for Mikey’s liking, but he had to lump it.  The idea for extra training had been his, even if it was just a tactic to make Raph jealous.

            Thinking of Raph made Mikey glance at him again.  Raph’s expression had dissolved into a scowl.

            Okay then.  It looked as if the jealous thing was still working.

            “This is very true, Michelangelo,” Master Splinter said.  “If you apply yourself then you can accomplish anything.”

            “I’ve always found you to be the most flexible of the four of us.  It really is very intriguing,” Leo said.

            There was a distinct purr in his voice.  His sly eyes had once more found Raphael, who in turn was glaring at Leo.

            Then Raph’s countenance smoothed out, one corner of his mouth lifting.  “The two of ya’ have fun with that.  I’m sticking with Donny today.  Ain’t fair how hard he’s been working lately while all we’ve been doing is sitting on our butts.  Our bro’ here deserves better.”

            Leo’s lips twitched, clearly amused at his brother’s attempt at a turnabout.  Mikey was close enough to see a tiny vein pop up on Raph’s temple and begin to pulse, but other than that, he remained a picture of serenity.

            Mikey had to admit that it was kind of fun watching those two dance around each other, but it wasn’t accomplishing anything.  Entertainment factor aside, this was not a progression towards the real goal of getting Leo and Raph together.

            Assuming that Don’s aim in getting Raph to himself was to attempt to make inroads on that front, Mikey plastered a grin on his face.

            “I’m gonna nail that Bassai Dai today and make the rest of you look like amateurs,” Mikey told his brothers.  “There is no challenge too great for the . . . .”

            “Do not say it,” Raph warned.

            “ . . . Battle Nexus champion!” Mikey finished.

            The legs on Leo’s chair screeched back as he hastily rose.  Brushing past Raphael, he quickly deposited his tea cup and plate in the sink.

            Pausing where he was, just inches from Raph, Leo said, “We’d better hit the dojo before he hits you, Mikey.”

            “I ain’t gonna hit him, I’m gonna strangle him so he can’t ever say that again,” Raph growled, rounding on Leo.  “Last I looked, your job title ain’t peacekeeper.”

            “Leonardo’s title is leader,” Master Splinter snapped, looking put out at what he could see was the beginnings of another bickering session.  “Team unity is a part of that function, Raphael.  You would do well to remember that.”

            “Sure, Sensei,” Raph mumbled, shooting a dirty look at the brother in question.

            Leo maintained the air of amused tolerance, which had Raph’s skin flushing.  With an effort he swallowed the other words that wanted to come out and turned to Don.

            “Let’s get out of here.  The kitchen is too damn crowded,” Raph said.  On the way out with Don, he took the opportunity to sneer at Leo.  “I’ll take the smart one over the dumb ass any day.”

            “Raphael!” Master Splinter exclaimed.

            “Pardon me, Master Splinter,” Raph said, not sounding in the least bit apologetic.

            Mikey quickly finished the glass of orange juice he’d poured for himself, promising his stomach something more substantial later.  He did not want to get off on the wrong foot with Leo this morning by making said turtle wait for him.

            To get Leo into a more amenable mood, Mikey put all of his focus into their training session.  Together they ran through several katas, focusing especially on the one that had caused Leo some concern.

            After running through it for the third time, Mikey completed the final movement and then bowed to his brother.

            “Excellent, Mikey!” Leo said enthusiastically, nodding his approval.  “Your form was flawless and you have mastered the pivot you were having problems with.”

            “Hips okay this time?” Mikey asked.

            “Your hips were flawless too,” Leo said.

            “Yeah, they are, aren’t they?” Mikey said, preening and laughing all at once.

            Leo rolled his eyes good-naturedly.  “Let’s see how you do with the Goju Shi Ho Dai.  I’d like to see more fluidity in your hand placements.”

            “Bet you’d like to see that in Raph’s hand placements too,” Mikey thought to himself.  It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up, so out loud, he said, “My hand placements are better than Raph’s.  You should work with him.  All he ever wants to do is make a fist.”

            “Raphael does everything with his fists,” Leo said, a sour note to his tone.  “Even talk.”

            “But not always, right?” Mikey asked.  He decided to go with his instincts.  “He doesn’t use his fists on Donny unless it’s called for in practice.  Raph and Donny get along just fine without fighting.”

            Leo’s expression darkened and Mikey had to hide his glee.  “Score,” he thought.

            “Donny isn’t tasked with the job of keeping Raph in line,” Leo said.  “I doubt they’d get along quite so well if Don had to give Raph orders.”

            “I kinda don’t think Don’s got the temperament for that,” Mikey said.  “That’s why you’re the leader, dude.”

            “Unfortunately, that’s something of which Raph must be constantly reminded,” Leo replied.  “Kata now, Mikey.  That’s what we’re here for.”

            As Mikey got into position and began the kata, he let his body follow the familiar routine while his mind raced.  He had Leo all to himself and knew they wouldn’t be interrupted.  Mikey resolved to talk to Leo about whether he noticed that Raph had seemed upset over the two of them spending time together.

            He would not mention the word ‘jealous’.  If he worked it right, Leo would believe that Mikey thought he and Raph were just being competitive again.

            One advantage that Mikey had was that his brother would think it out of character for him not to be curious.  That meant that Mikey could pry into everyone’s business without raising any real red flags.

            “Stop,” Leo ordered.

            Mikey froze mid-kata and waited.

            “Left hand rolls under the right arm,” Leo instructed.  “You’re flipping it.  Don’t be impatient.  Slow it down and try again.”

            Following his direction, Mikey repeated the move.  When he heard no more critique, he continued.

            “Stop,” Leo said once more.  “Punch, one, two, three.  You’re using a circular motion.  The blows should be sharp and straight.  Leave the spinning to your nunchucks.”

            Once more Mikey ran through the movement, this time as Leo had directed.  Mikey had to hand it to him, Leo had turned into a really good instructor.  These days Master Splinter was leaving more of his sons’ practice sessions to Leonardo’s lead.

            That hadn’t bothered Raph nearly as much as Mikey had expected.  It was pretty clear to all of them that based purely on skills, Leo was hands down the best.  His katas were perfect and his combat techniques, whether hand to hand or with weapons, were impeccable.

            It was also clear, at least to Mikey, that Raph sort of resented Leo for being so good.

            Okay, so maybe a little more than ‘sort of’.

            Mikey amended that thought when he remembered how Raph had reacted to being pinned by Leo during their sparring session.  Apparently there were some situations in which Raph didn’t seem to mind that Leo was so skilled.

            “Stop,” Leo called, startling Mikey out of his reverie.  He gave his brother a guilty look, knowing that his thoughts had drifted a little too far away from what he was supposed to be concentrating on.

           “Where is your mind?” Leo asked disapprovingly.

            “Sorry, bro’,” Mikey said, and then scratched at his neck self-consciously.  “Something’s bugging me and I gotta ask.”

            When he paused it made Leo frown.  “If you have something to say, say it.”

            “What’s the deal with you and Raph using me and Don to try and one up each other?  Like, you barely looked at him until he said he’d prefer to hang with Don and he acted pissed when you said the two of us were going to work out together.”  Mikey stared at Leo, watching for even the smallest micro-expression.

            Leo’s face had smoothed into an unreadable mask though.  “Please don’t allow Raph’s gutter language to influence your speech, Michelangelo.  It’s bad enough that he talks that way.”

            “What way?  Pissed?” Mikey shrugged.  “It sure is more expressive.  You’re our leader, not our dad, so I get to say what I think.  Using me and Donny in whatever’s going on with you two is totally not cool.”

           “The problems between Raph and I have nothing to do with either of you,” Leo said.

            “I guess it does,” Mikey argued.  “You’re the one who’s always telling us we’re a team, that we have to communicate, and then spouting off about that Sun Tzu stuff.  How a leader must understand his army, blah, blah, blah.  If you don’t listen to my gripes, then how are you gonna understand me?  That goes for Raph too.  How much listening do you actually do when he starts bitching about something?”

            It was a lot for him to say all at once, but Mikey needed to sound impassioned.

            Leo folded his arms across his chest.  “I listen to him.”

            Mikey snorted a laugh.  “Is that the body language you use when you’re supposedly ‘listening’?  ‘Cause that looks pretty defensive to me.  Kinda closed off and insulting, if you want my opinion.”

            “I don’t actually remember asking for it,” Leo said rudely.

            “Tough,” Mikey snapped.  “You get to hear it anyway.  Wanna know why?  ‘Cause I give a damn.”

            After a moment of silence, which Mikey spent pointedly staring at Leo’s crossed arms, the older turtle sighed and lowered them to his sides.

            “I guess we’re having this conversation,” Leo said.

            “Looks that way,” Mikey said.  He pointed at the floor.  “Pull up a chair and sit with me for a couple of minutes.”

            He sat down and gave Leo an expectant look.  With an air of resignation, Leo walked over and sank down onto the floor mats next to his brother.

            Leo glanced at Mikey and then looked away to study his hands.  “I’m not trying to use either you or Don against Raph,” he said.

            It struck Mikey right then that maybe Leo truly wanted to talk.  He didn’t really have anyone he could open up to about personal type problems.  Sure, with Master Splinter he could discuss training, family dynamics, and stuff pertaining to team building or their enemies.  But Leo would think that sharing his own needs or doubts would make him sound weak to their father.

            When the four of them had returned to the Battle Nexus for Mikey’s rematch against Kluh, Leo had remained at his little brother’s side to help him through it.  Mikey had opened up to him about his doubts and insecurities.  Leo hadn’t judged him.  Instead, he listened and then calmly guided Mikey past his self-doubt.  It was Mikey’s turn to offer a shoulder.

            “So what is going on between you guys?” Mikey asked in a caring tone.  “Arguing I get ‘cause that’s normal.  This hasn’t been anything even close to normal.”

            “We have some . . . issues that haven’t worked themselves out yet,” Leo said.

            “If they haven’t worked themselves out by you two beating on each other do you really think that’ll happen if you don’t change your approach?” Mikey asked.

            Leo shook his head, a slight grimace on his face.  “Probably not.”

            Leaning towards his brother, Mikey said, “You know Raph, maybe better than you think you do.  You’re smart, Leo.  What does he want from you?  Is it something you can give him?  ‘Cause if so, and if it’s not something that is totally life threatening, then give it to him.  Make the first move.  You are the leader, but more important, you’re his brother and someone he cares about.”

            “I wish it was that simple,” Leo said.  “I’ve tried approaching him to talk things through, but we usually wind up shouting at each other.”

            “You know, Leo, I’ve spent my whole life listening to the pair of you argue,” Mikey said, staring earnestly into his brother’s eyes.  “A lot of what you say to him is how he’s wrong.  Whatever subject has the two of you going at it, no matter what it is, you tell him he’s wrong.  He’s not always wrong, bro’.  You should maybe lead off with that.”

            Leo’s brow was furrowed, as though he was thinking hard about Mikey’s words.  “That’s pretty insightful, Mikey.  It’s possible I have been going at this the wrong way.”

            “I totally understand the urge to keep him under control,” Mikey said, choosing his words carefully.  “And I think that deep down, he depends on you to call the shots, maybe even needs that from you.  Not that he’d admit it in so many words.”

            “Then why does he fight me about everything?” Leo asked.  “If I said that grass is green, he’d argue the point.”

            Mikey shrugged.  “Some attention is better than no attention.”

            He could almost see Leo’s brain working on that.  His stoic brother was forgetting to mask his emotions and Mikey had to be careful not to seem to be staring at him.

            “I remember when we were little,” Leo began, speaking softly.  “Four of us, all clamoring for Master Splinter’s notice.  All of us with individual needs.  Father directed each of us towards our own natural inclinations.”

            “You liked to train more than any of us,” Mikey said, carefully setting Leo back on track when his brother paused.

            “He made certain to give me the extra time I needed,” Leo said.  “Keeping up with Don’s inquisitive mind required a great deal of attentiveness as well.”

            Mikey grinned as he remembered a number of incidents that ended with either small fires or things exploding.  “Donny was always way too good at taking things apart.”

            “And then there was you.”  Leo looked at Mikey, his indulgent expression much like the one their father often wore when dealing with his youngest.  “What was that board game you liked so much?”

            “Trouble,” Mikey supplied.

            Leo chuckled.  “Appropriate name.  I’ll bet if we counted the number of times you cajoled him into playing that game with you it would be in the thousands.”

            “He wasn’t very good at it and I liked winning,” Mikey said.

            “He let you win,” Leo said.

            “Shut up, he did not,” Mikey argued good-naturedly.  At Leo’s knowing smile, he rolled his eyes.  “Okay, he did.  But he stopped when he saw that I’d figured it out.  After that, any time I won it was for real.”

            “I’ll grant you that.”  Leo sobered again.  “Do you recall what Raph did to get Master Splinter all to himself?”

            “Yeah, how could I forget?  Something dangerous or something he was told he wasn’t supposed to do,” Mikey answered.  “It was a total cry for attention.”

            “There were so many other ways he could have gone about it, things that would have been more constructive,” Leo said.  “I could never understand why he was always acting out.”

            “Pushing boundaries is kind of his thing,” Mikey said.  “I mean, we all had a slot we fit into except for Raph.  He wasn’t the best student, he wasn’t the smartest, and he sure wasn’t the cutest.”

            “Don’t be so modest,” Leo said.

            “Glad you know who I was talking about,” Mikey retorted.  “Anyway, what I’m trying to point out is that he got the attention he was craving, even though it wasn’t exactly healthy.  Patterns, dude.  He’s repeating them with you.”

            “But Mikey, you’re saying that I need to listen to him,” Leo said, the frown returning.  “Master Splinter has tried that and the problems still exist.”

            “You’re not trying to change Raph, you’re just trying to understand him,” Mikey said.  “Once you do, or at least show him you care enough to work at it, you’ll have him.”

            “Have him,” Leo repeated in a near whisper, his gaze directed towards the lair.

            A thrill of excitement ran down Mikey’s spine.  It didn’t require much imagination to guess what was going through Leo’s mind at the moment.

            Mikey teetered on the edge of coming out to Leo right then and there.  “It always pays to go for what you want, Leo.”

            Their eyes locked and Mikey could swear he saw in Leo’s a dawning of comprehension.  They might actually have stopped talking in circles if their father hadn’t chosen that moment to enter the dojo.

            “Ah, Leonardo, Michelangelo,” Master Splinter said, walking towards them.  “Have you completed your training for the day?”

            Leo rose to his feet, followed swiftly by his brother.  “Yes Father.  Mikey made great strides today and mastered the techniques we were working on.”

            “It pleases me to hear that,” Master Splinter said.  “Michelangelo, perhaps your enthusiasm for additional training extends to meditation.  Would you care to join me?  I will be doing so here, since the noises your brothers are making in my room do not lend themselves to quiet contemplation.”

            “As great as that invitation sounds, I think I’ll go help Don and Raph,” Mikey said, inching his way towards the door.  “You know, fetching stuff, making sure they don’t trample anything in your room . . . .”

            “I’ll join you, Sensei,” Leo said.  “I’m sure that if they need my help, Don will send Mikey back to get me.”

            There was zero possibility of that happening, not while Raph was in a mood.  Leo knew it, but the offer helped Mikey escape his Father’s clutches.  Extra physical training was something Mikey could suffer for his cause, but having to meditate was going beyond the call of duty.

            Leonardo actually liked meditation, and Mikey was sure he’d given his big brother a lot to think about.  As he walked towards Master Splinter’s room, Mikey wondered if Don had worked on Raph at all.

            In their old lair, Master Splinter’s room was just across from the television monolith, the entrance visible from almost anywhere.  The space that was his in their new home was down a hallway past the living area.  It was a lot more private.

            Mikey moved on silent feet, not wanting either Don or Raph to know he was approaching.  He could hear banging coming from inside the room and saw that the shoji doors were open.  Flashes of light came from within and when Mikey glanced inside, he saw that Don was atop a ladder, using his torch on the pipe than ran overhead.

            “There, got that section fixed,” Don said, tossing the torch down to Raph before making his descent.  “How are you doing with the remaining metal plates?”

            Raph waved towards the work bench they’d set up.  “Finished banging out the rough edges.  They’re ready to go.”

            “I think Master Splinter will be happy to know we were able to finish this in one day,” Don said.  He glanced at Raph.  “You know what else would make him happy?”

            Holding up a hand to stop Don, Raph said, “I heard ya’ the first time, Donny.  It ain’t as easy as ya’ make it out to be.”

            “Of course it is,” Don said, sounding slightly exasperated.  “Talking things through is a very simple process.  You open your mouth and say something constructive, then close it to listen.”

            “What am I supposed to do when the other person don’t listen?” Raph asked.  “That’s what happens with me and Leo every damn time.  We both wind up yapping at each other, trying to drown each other out, and it always ends the same.”

            “With you two fighting,” Don said.  “If you don’t like what you’re hearing, then count to ten and give the words time to sink in.  Try to see where Leo is coming from.  If you go quiet and don’t yell, it’s very possible he’ll stay calm too.”

            “Or start lording it over me like he’s just won,” Raph said.

            “Neither of you are winners if you can’t find a way to connect,” Don told him.  “I think you know that perfectly well.  You two aren’t enemies, you’re family trying to work through an issue.  There’s no trophy at stake, there’s only peace of mind.”

            “What happens if what I want from him is something he ain’t willing to give?” Raph asked.

            “You won’t know for certain that he’s unwilling if you haven’t fully stated your case,” Don said.  “Getting frustrated and yelling at him to ‘shove it where the sun don’t shine’ isn’t actually telling Leo anything you want him to know.”

            “It makes me feel better,” Raph said with a lopsided grin.

            “No it doesn’t,” Don said flatly.  “That’s pure reflex.  What would make you feel better is an acknowledgment from him that he’s not just hearing what you’re saying, but that he’s making an effort to understand your point of view.”

            Raph picked up the hammer off the work bench, looked at it for a moment, and then dropped it again.  “I know what I want.  I don’t know what he wants.”

            “Then create an environment in which he feels comfortable in opening up to you,” Don advised.  “Nothing that could even remotely be construed as confrontational.  Show him that he can tell you things and you won’t throw anything he says back in his face.”

            Mikey nodded at that, still silently eavesdropping on his brothers.  He had to hand it to Don, the genius was good at this.

            “What if it turns out we ain’t on the same page and never will be?” Raph asked.

            “We can play the ‘what if’ game all day, Raph,” Don said.  “Do you know why that’s not a good game?  Because you’ll psyche yourself out of doing what needs to be done.  It builds irrational fear and leaves you petrified into inaction.”

            If there was such a thing as ‘psychology monthly’ then it sounded to Mikey as though that was something Don had been reading.

            “I’m not afraid of anything, especially about Leo,” Raph insisted hotly.

            “I didn’t say you were afraid of him,” Don said, his voice even and reassuring.  “The fear I’m talking about is dread.  Like how you are when you’ve been injured badly enough for stitches and do your best to try and avoid them.  It’s got to happen, you know it’s got to happen, and your imagination makes it ten times worse than it actually is because you’ve spent five hours dodging the needle.”

            “So now Leo’s a needle I’m trying to dodge?” Raph asked.

            Don clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth.  “Don’t be obtuse.  You know what I’m talking about.”

            “Yeah, yeah, I got the gist of it,” Raph said.  “Can we get back to work now?  I’m growing old here.  Me and Leo will work this shit out, okay?  We always do.”

            That was as near to ‘shut the fuck up’ as Raph ever got with the genius, and Don accepted that the subject was now closed.  Mikey watched for several minutes as they sorted metal pieces into stacks according to size, letting enough time pass so that neither of them would suspect he’d been listening all along.

            Eventually he did join them and made an extra effort to be useful without getting underfoot and annoying Raph.  When the job was complete, they cleaned up the mess they’d made in Master Splinter’s room and then had their father inspect the work.  He was pleased with the repairs and effusive in his praise of all three of his sons.

            The hard work had helped ease some of Raph’s restlessness and the family made it through dinner without any conflicts.

            When their father disappeared into his room for the evening, Raph plopped down on the couch to watch a boxing match.  Leo bade his brothers a good-night, announcing that he was going to read for a while.  Mikey did not miss how his eyes met and held Raph’s for a moment before he turned to go to his room.

            Don and Mikey sat at the kitchen table, quietly playing cards.  In whispered voices they discussed their day, agreeing that what they’d learned was that both Raph and Leo were suffering from similar mindsets.

            “Do you think we did any good?” Mikey asked.  “I mean, are they gonna take our advice?”

             “We’ll have to wait and see, Mike,” Don said.

            “I hate waiting,” Mikey said, sliding his fingertips across the back of Don’s hand.

            He was pleased to hear a tiny catch in Don’s breathing.  “We can keep working on them, help them . . . .”

            When he stopped talking, Mikey looked at him curiously and saw that something on the other side of the lair had caught his attention.  Turning his head to see what it was, Mikey spotted Raph entering Leo’s room.

            Mikey’s eyes met Don’s and they both jumped to their feet at the same time.

            “Guess we didn’t have to wait for long after all,” Mikey said.


Chapter Text

            Mikey started towards the service bay but Don quickly caught his arm to drag him in another direction.

            “The lizards . . . .” Mikey began.

            “My room,” Don hissed, moving fast and forcing Mikey to keep up with him.  “There’s a lizard in Leo’s.”

            “When did you do that?” Mikey asked as they plunged through the entrance into Donatello’s bedroom.  He barely pushed down his excitement enough to quietly close and lock the door.

            “I was late to dinner, remember?” Don answered.  He dropped into the chair in front of his computer desk, his fingers flying over the keyboard almost before he was fully seated.

            Mikey pulled a stool up to the desk and sat down next to his brother, eyes on the computer screen.  An image of a section of Leo’s room sprang up immediately.  Manipulating the robotic lizard’s head, Don soon located both Leo and Raph.

            It appeared they hadn’t missed anything.  Leo was standing behind his chabudai table, apparently having risen when Raph entered.  The pair were staring at each other, but neither were doing any talking.

            After another few minutes of inaction, Leo started around the table.  He didn’t get far before Raph lifted his hand, palm outward.

            “Stay where ya’ are,” Raph said.  “I want to talk and anytime I get too close to ya’ I can’t think straight.”

            Leo didn’t appear surprised at the confession, halting where he was with a nod of understanding.  “I’d like to talk.  I want to be better at that for you.”

            “Ya’ do?” Raph asked, seeming slightly stunned to hear that from his brother.

            “Of course I do,” Leo said.  “Every word you say to me is important, Raph.  I know it doesn’t always seem that way and I very much regret ever giving you the impression that I don’t care.”

            “Ya’ have a funny way of showing it,” Raph snapped and then immediately looked grieved.  “Sorry, that was habit.”

            “Our conversations do seem to have fallen into a set pattern,” Leo said with a grimace.  “We’re both pushing at each other so hard that we’ve forgotten how to communicate.”

            Raph’s jaw shifted from side to side, a sure sign that he was struggling with something.  “Let me ask ya’ a question.  When ya’ went off to study with the Ancient One, ya’ were gone for over two months without a word to us.  No calls, no letters, nothing.  If Karai hadn’t found our lair and destroyed it, would ya’ have spent more time in Japan?”

            Frowning, Leo said, “Yes I would have.  The Ancient One had much to teach me and I benefited greatly from what I learned.  Why do you ask?”

            Rather than answer, Raph asked another question.  “If we hadn’t needed ya’, would ya’ have even come home?”

            Leo opened his mouth and then closed it again, his expression changing to one of awareness.  “I would absolutely have come home.  You guys are my family.  I . . . I thought about you in particular every single day.”

            “I thought about ya’ too,” Raph said.  “I thought about how ya’ didn’t seem to care that Master Splinter was sending ya’ away.  How ya’ never tried to stay in contact with us.  How maybe ya’ was relieved to be out from under the burden . . . .”

            Leaning closer to Don, Mikey whispered, “He told Casey all of that while Leo was gone.”

            “Shh,” Don warned, adjusting the volume so as to miss nothing.

            “I argued with Master Splinter over his decision,” Leo protested hotly.  “I told him that I didn’t want to leave but he overruled me.”

            “So like a good son ya’ packed your shit and took off,” Raph said.

            “What would you have done?” Leo asked.  “Tell me, Raph, how would you have responded if Master Splinter had insisted that you leave to train with someone else?”

            Raph exhaled heavily and rubbed his forehead.  “Fuck, I don’t know.”  He laughed humorlessly.  “I’m always half expecting him to do that and tell me not to come back.”

            Shaking his head, Leo said, “That’s not funny.  He wouldn’t and you know it.  Just in case you want to know how I’d respond to something like you leaving us, it would be to stop you in any way I could.”

            A corner of Raph’s mouth quirked up and this time the humor seemed genuine.  “I’d like to see ya’ try.  Really, I would.  Could be interesting.”

            Leo took a couple of steps towards him but stopped when Raph’s hand came up again.

           “That wasn’t an offer,” Raph said.  “Not yet.  We still got stuff to work out.”

           “Why were you so worried that I wouldn’t come home?” Leo asked softly.  “I’d have thought my not being around would be a welcome reprieve.”

           “Hey, don’t get me wrong, ya’ can be a major pain in my ass,” Raph said.  His mouth tightened into a thin line for a moment before he finally added, “Wouldn’t want to live without ya’ though.”

           A half smile curled Leo’s lips.  “What was that?” he asked.

           “Ya’ heard me,” Raph said.  “Don’t even start to think that I’m gonna turn into a sap just ‘cause I’ve got feelings for ya’.”

           Mikey’s heart did a flip at the way Leo was looking at Raph.  Their leader was always so stoic, never wanting to show any of his deeper emotions.  He surely wasn’t trying to hide them now.

           “I always intended to come home, Raph.  There was never any doubt of that.  If there had been a way to contact you, a way to let you know that, I would have done it.  Where I was . . . .”  Leo waved that away with the flick of a hand.  “I couldn’t, not by traditional means.  Often when I meditated I hoped that my thoughts were reaching you.”

           “If I’d have known that, I would have done some meditating of my own,” Raph said.  A smile lit up his features.  “I sure did a lot of one handed thinking about ya’ though.”

           Leo snorted and shook his head.  “You’re incorrigible.”

           “Ya’ gonna lie to me and say ya’ don’t ever jerk off?” Raph asked.

           “No more lies,” Leo said.  “Not to you and not to myself.”

           Raph gave Leo a sly look.  “So~o, when you’ve got little Leo in your hand, what do ya’ think about?”

           The guttural tone in his voice had Mikey’s legs clenching together.  As if reading his mind, Don whispered, “I’m recording.”

           “I think about you,” Leo said, very matter-of-factly.  “I’ve always thought about you, even when I didn’t feel it was right to want you that way.”

           “Damn, ya’ really meant it when ya’ said ya’ wanted to be better at the whole talking thing,” Raph responded.

           “You asked me what I wanted from this,” Leo said.  “You were right to call me out for not really knowing what that meant.”  He took a deep breath before going on.  “I want something meaningful, something lasting.  Something that’s forever.”

           “Ya’ can use the four letter word for that, Leo,” Raph said.

           Leo gestured towards him.  “I already love you, Raph.  I always have.  What I want is for the two of us to be in love.”

           “Okay, I can work with that,” Raph said.  He swiped a hand across his mouth.  “Relationship then.  Ain’t gonna be easy.”

           “Nothing worth fighting for ever is,” Leo told him.

           “Ya’ got control issues,” Raph stated flatly.

           “Yes, I do,” Leo acknowledged.  “This is who I am.”

           “Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t asking ya’ to change,” Raph said.  “Don’t expect me to either.”

           “The worst thing we could do is to try being something that we’re not,” Leo replied.  “We’d both end up resenting each other for that.”

           Raph went on as though Leo hadn’t spoken.  “’Cause ya’ know, I kinda get off on ya’ being aggressive with me.”

           Leo’s brow lifted.  “You do?”

           “As if ya’ didn’t notice,” Raph said.  “I saw ya’ take my scent when ya’ pinned me down during the fight Master Splinter forced us to have.  That worked both ways ‘cause I smelled arousal coming off of ya’ in waves.”

           “I knew it,” Mikey whispered excitedly.  “Raphie does get turned on when Leo’s ordering him around.”

           “More likely when Leo exerts his dominance,” Don said.

           “Raph’s stronger,” Mikey said.

           “Leo’s more skilled and a lot trickier,” Don replied.  “Watching them spar has always been a fascinating study.”

           Don had turned his head to speak to Mikey and the allure of his mouth was too much for the younger turtle.  Mikey kissed him on the lips, breaking off only when Leo, who had taken another couple of steps closer to Raph, began to speak.

           “Your strong will feeds me,” Leo said.  “It makes me stronger, makes me better.  It forces me to dig deeper into myself and to never be complacent.  I realized that during my time in Japan.”

           Raph laughed.  “Ain’t we a pair?  We’ve spent our whole lives butting heads ‘cause of those exact personality traits and it turns out that’s what we want in each other.”

           Leo was moving again and this time Raph made no attempt to stop him.  Mikey was practically holding his breath as he watched the pair draw close to each other.  Manipulating the controls, Don zoomed in on the pair.  The picture quality remained excellent; Mikey could even see Raph’s nostrils flare and the way his pulse beat in his neck when Leo stepped to within a couple of feet of him.

           “We have to learn to talk even when we’re near each other,” Leo said, his voice husky.  “If we can’t behave normally we’ll call attention to ourselves.”

           Clearing his throat, Raph said, “Yeah, guess we should practice.  What happens when we spar?  I don’t exactly want to put on another show like we did the last time.”

           “Then fight harder,” Leo said, his eyes flashing a challenge.

           Mikey’s mouth dropped open as something clicked into place.  “Holy crap!  I get it now.”

           “Get what?” Don asked.

           Pointing at the screen, Mikey said, “Raph likes to be forced into submission.  Wrestling and gaining control of him is what gets Leo’s motor running.”

           “They fit perfectly,” Don whispered.  “Like us.”

           “ . . . let ya’ have it all your way,” Raph said.

           Mikey had missed the first part of that because he’d been talking, but the feral grin on Leo’s face was enough to fill in the blanks.

           “Since when have you ever let me do anything?” Leo countered.  “Your challenges are very motivational.  Right now I can think of several responses to what you just said.”

           “Oh yeah?”  Raph squared his shoulders and lifted his head so that he could look down on his shorter brother.  There was both defiance and invitation in his next words.  “What can ya’ show me?”

           Quick as a flash Leo grabbed onto his brother’s mask tails, winding them around his hand until he had a tight grip on them at the back of Raph’s head.

           Raph inhaled sharply but didn’t try to pull away.  Their eyes locked and color rose to Raph’s cheeks, which in turn brought a small self-satisfied smile to Leo’s face.

           With great deliberation, Leo forced Raph’s head back and then pressed against him in order to run his tongue across his brother’s pulse point.  Raph’s hands shook and he curled them into fists, pushing them against his thighs as though willing himself not to reach for Leo.

           Once more Leo licked Raph’s throat and then swiped his tongue up the side of his brother’s neck.

           Raph’s entire body quivered and in a deepened voice he demanded, “More.”

           Leo’s teeth sank into his neck before quickly releasing the skin so that he could lick at the slight mark he’d left.

           “Harder,” Raph insisted.

           It was easy to see that Leo wanted to do it; that he was wrestling with himself and his need to go further.  With a visible shudder he pulled back but didn’t relinquish his hold on Raph’s mask.

           “I don’t want to leave a mark,” Leo told him.

           “To hell with that,” Raph said gruffly.  “Don’t ya’ fucking hold out on me.”

           They were face to face now, their bodies touching.  Leo shook his head.  “And what will you say when Master Splinter asks for an explanation?  We may leave a lot of marks on each other when we fight, but bites haven’t been a part of that since we were three.”

           “But we know what we want now, right?  Ya’ said we have to be able to define what we’re committing to before we tell him about us.  So let’s tell him about us,” Raph countered.

           “Timing is everything,” Leo said.  “It’s not only about choosing the right moment, but also finding the right approach.”

           “Or we could just procrastinate forever,” Raph said, a sour look on his face.  He reached up to try and untangle Leo’s fist from his mask, but his brother was not relinquishing his hold.  “Why don’t ya’ let me tell him?”

           “No,” Leo said sharply.  In a softer tone, he continued, “No. You would be blunt and that’s the wrong approach.”

           “Hell, Leo, I think Master Splinter would appreciate us being straight with him,” Raph argued.

           “It’s not just Master Splinter, there’s still Don and Mikey to consider,” Leo said.  “Whether or not Master Splinter accepts our choice, our brothers must also be told.  We’re too close to them to try and hide anything.”

           There was a slight sneer on Raph’s face as he replied, “Just how close are ya’ to Mikey?  Maybe you’re thinking that paving the way with me will open him up to some of your advances.”

           The words were barely out of his mouth when Leo lunged towards him, his lips closing forcefully over Raph’s.  When Raph’s hands came up to grab at his shoulders, Leo thrust one of his legs between his brother’s, hooking the back of his ankle against Raph’s while leaning into him.

           In that position, Raph couldn’t move to achieve the leverage he needed to shove his brother off, not unless he wanted to end up on his shell.  His grunts of protest were swallowed by Leo’s mouth and if he wanted to pull away, the hand still wound tightly in his mask kept him from doing so.

           “I told you, trickier,” Don whispered with a touch of satisfaction.

           It took only a couple of minutes before Raph was clutching at Leo rather than trying to push against him.  The sounds of their heavy breathing and churrs were easily picked up by the microphone in the robotic lizard.

           Mikey hadn’t realized he was leaning even closer to Don until their shoulders touched.  He was completely turned on by the sight of his two brothers kissing, their tongues visibly twisting together each time their mouths shifted.  Dropping a hand to Don’s thigh, Mikey began to stroke the toned olive colored skin, his eyes never leaving the screen.

           Don churred in response.  One of his hands left the keyboard so that he could rub Mikey’s thigh as well.  That hand crept inward and his fingers brushed across the slit which hid Mikey’s cock.

           “Sh . . . shell,” Mikey stuttered, trying hard to ignore the stimulation.  There was nothing he wanted more in that moment than to drop down and feel Don’s hand wrap around his dick.

           Exhaling slowly, Don pulled his hand away and caught hold of Mikey’s.  “We can’t, not just yet.  We can’t risk being caught.”

           Raph and Leo’s lips and the skin around them were reddened and puffy when the pair finally separated.  When Raph’s tongue slipped out to lick at the moisture left behind, Leo’s eyes were glued to it.

           “The only advances I’m ever going to make are going to be directed towards you,” Leo said in a breathy voice.  A corner of his mouth quivered and then curled up into a smug grin.  “Go ahead and be jealous though.  I’ll enjoy proving you wrong.”

           “I got no problem with ya’ trying to prove something to me right now,” Raph said, his expression slightly hopeful.

           In response, Leo moved close again, only this time he bypassed Raph’s mouth to slide his lower lip along his brother’s cheek all of the way up to his ear opening.

           From the way Raph’s color changed, the red creeping up from his neck to his face, it was clear that Leo was whispering something provocative to him.  The only problem was that it was so low that the microphone in the robotic lizard wasn’t picking it up.

           “Can you adjust that or something?” Mikey asked, practically sprawling across Don’s desk in an effort to catch Leo’s words.

           “He’s whispering right against Raph’s head,” Don said, though he fiddled with a few controls.  “I can’t get it.”

           “We’re missing something good,” Mikey said, nearly whining.  “Look at Raph’s face!  Leo must be kinkier than even I could have imagined.”

           “Did you really think the only thing he reads is Sun Tzu?” Don asked.

           Mikey glanced at him, doing a double take when he saw that Don was quite serious.

           “You’ve been holding out on me,” Mikey said with fake disapproval.

           Don merely smiled knowingly.  In that moment at least six ideas for making him talk raced through Mikey’s mind, every one of them salacious.  Then the action on-screen pulled his attention back to Leo’s room.

           There was real regret in Leo’s expression as he released Raph’s mask and stepped back.  Raph remained frozen in stunned surprise while Leo walked back to his chabudai table.

           Blinking rapidly, Raph snapped out of his dazed state as Leo moved away from him.  The bulge between his legs was unmistakable.

           “Shit!” Raph exclaimed.  “Ya’ would fucking whisper that kind of filth and then just walk away.  You’re a real bastard, ya’ know that?”

           “I’m just giving you something to think about when you’re all alone in your hammock,” Leo said, appearing much too pleased with himself.

           “Who says I’m gonna think about ya’ at all once I walk out this door?” Raph asked belligerently.

           “I’ll certainly be thinking about you,” Leo said as he sat down behind his table.

           Raph’s mouth pressed into a thin line.  It was easy to see that he would have liked to storm out, but that instinct was warring with the one that refused to allow Leo to have the last word.

           “Ya’ want me pretty bad, don’t ya’, Leo?” Raph asked, his eyes narrowed.

           “I would have thought that was fairly obvious by now,” Leo answered, warily watching his brother.

           “You’ve been in my face, ordering me around, chasing me,” Raph said.  “How do I know if I let ya’ catch me the fire’s still gonna be there?”

           For a moment Leo didn’t answer, but he wasn’t ignoring his brother or avoiding the question.  Finally he said, “You told me you wouldn’t change and I believe that.  I don’t think you’ll ever let me do anything.  I’ll have to earn whatever I get from you and that is exactly the way I want it to be.  You’ll always be stubborn, you’ll always fight me.  There’s no denying that’s your nature.  That is the kind of fire that never goes out.”

           “As long as we understand each other,” Raph said.  He started for the door, and then spun around at the last second.  “This talking to Master Splinter stuff, we do that together.  Ya’ get me?  If we’re gonna have a relationship, then anything having to do with us gets shared.”

           Leo folded his hands together and placed them on the table.  “Agreed.  That goes for Mikey and Don as well.  I know you spend a lot of time with Donatello and tend to talk freely to him.  In fact, he seems to garner a lot of your attention.  When it’s time for him to know about us, both of us will explain it to him.”

           It was Raph’s turn to favor his brother with a smug smile.  “Go ahead and be jealous,” Raph said, repeating Leo’s words back to him.  “I’ll enjoy proving ya’ wrong.”

           As he reached for the door knob, Don jumped up from his chair, almost knocking Mikey off his stool in the process.

           “Move fast!” Don urged.

           There was no time for questions as Mikey bolted from the room behind his brother.  Don turned to his computer workstation and waved Mikey towards the kitchen.

           Mikey had never moved so fast in his life.  He heard Leo’s door close as he fled across the lair and he was halfway down the stairs when he chanced to look back the way he’d come.  Raph was starting up the flight of stairs to the living area, his head down as though in deep thought.

           Grabbing a bag of chips and a bowl off the kitchen counter, Mikey counted to ten before retracing his steps, this time at a more leisurely pace.

           Upon seeing Raph sprawled on the couch, Mikey feigned surprise and said, “Oh hey, Raph.  I thought you’d turned in for the night.”

           “Nope, bathroom run,” Raph said, lying with a straight face.  “Ya’ want details?”

           “Not especially,” Mikey said, forcing Raph to move over so he could sit down.  “There’s a monster movie marathon on channel six.”

           Raph snorted a laugh.  “Is that a hint?”

           Holding out the bag of chips, Mikey said, “As precious as my babies are to me, I’m willing to share them if you’ll change channels.”

           Lifting the remote, Raph did as he was asked, saying, “You’re lucky I happen to like those kinds of chips.”  He watched Mikey pour the contents of the bag into a bowl and added, “You’d better not hog them either.”

           Mikey had studiously avoided looking at Don, but as he and Raph settled back to watch television, he chanced a glance in the genius’ direction.  Donatello seemed completely absorbed in whatever he was doing on his computers and appeared undisturbed by any of the sounds going on around him.

           Given a moment to think, Mikey had to wonder why his brother deemed it so vital that they split up before Raph could learn they were together in Don’s room.  There would have been nothing unnatural about Mikey and Don being in the bedroom together.  Mikey had often gone into Don’s room looking for his brother’s assistance with something.

           Despite the smart turtle’s assurances to the contrary, Mikey couldn’t help the tiny sprigs of doubt that crept into his mind when it came to the subject of how Don felt about Raph.  After all, Leo had noticed something too, otherwise he wouldn’t have showed his insecurity on the subject by mentioning it to Raph.

           Mikey sighed and then quickly pretended it had been a burp when Raph looked at him curiously.

           Once Raph’s attention returned to the screen, Mikey told himself to relax and stop thinking about his quandary for the night.  There was nothing he could do about any of it at that moment, so there was no use continuously running questions through his head.

           “But tomorrow . . . .” Mikey thought to himself.  “Tomorrow I’m talking to Master Splinter and then I’m gonna get Don alone so I can tackle him too.”

           The double meaning behind that resolution was not lost on him and Mikey grinned.


Chapter Text

            Michelangelo went to bed late and jerked off to the memory of Donatello’s hand between his legs.

            He’d fallen asleep quickly afterwards, sleeping deeply until the sound of Master Splinter’s voice woke him.  Lying still, he heard Leonardo’s reply and realized they were talking to each other and not trying to rouse him in particular.

            Flipping over, Mikey dug his face into his pillow and allowed his body to relax again.  His mind was awake though and it wouldn’t let him go back to sleep.

            A small smile curved his lips as he thought about Don.  There were many, many physical things he wanted to explore with his brother and that entire line of thinking was enticing.  More than that though was the concept of loving Don and being loved by him.  Deeply, truly loved for who he was without judgment and with complete understanding.

            It was something he never thought would happen for him.  The feeling was so amazing that it made Mikey magnanimous; he wanted with all his heart for Leo and Raph to have the same thing.

            Tossing his covers aside, Mikey sat up and stretched.  The night before he had resolved to figure out a way to broach certain subjects with Master Splinter and lying around thinking about it wasn’t going to get the job done.

            As he pulled on his gear, Mikey wondered if the robotic lizard was still in Leo’s room.  Mikey could understand Raph not noticing a small lizard, even two of them, on his bedroom wall.

           Lizards were by no means an unusual sight in the tunnels and in the lair.  Maybe that was the reason that Leo hadn’t seen the robotic ones in his room either, because usually he spotted anything out of the ordinary.  Don had made his design choice for exactly that reason – the lizards were normal visitors, just like the insects and rodents that sometimes found their way inside.

           Mikey had to hand it to Don.  Granted, the genius wasn’t the artist that Mikey was; in fact, Don could barely manage to draw a decent looking stick figure.

           Don was, however, a very talented artisan and the robotic lizards were just the latest proof of that.  The workmanship and attention to detail were astonishing, quite reminiscent of the sculptor that Donatello was named for.

           Astonishing was a word that Mikey often attributed to his genius brother.  There was so much about Don to love and Mikey was slightly confounded at learning that his feelings were returned.  Compared to Don, what did Mikey possibly have to offer?

           Mikey wasn’t often given to self-doubt, but when it was important, when his actions could affect his family, he was sometimes overcome with uncertainty.  Suppose he had his conversation with Master Splinter and somehow gained his approval for the brothers to become lovers?  Would Don at some point believe that he’d been short-changed as far as partners went? 

            There was a small mirror hanging on the wall in Mikey’s room and he stopped to stare at his reflection.

            “Dude, you are so going to have to talk about this with Donny,” Mikey told himself.

            “Meow,” Klunk responded, coming out of nowhere to rub at Mikey’s ankles.

            Reaching down, Mikey picked up the cat and scratched under his chin.  “Glad you agree.  I guess I need to push aside all the other stuff I want to do with Don and make sure he really wants to go down that road with me.  I mean, just ‘cause Raph and Leo are so into each other doesn’t mean they wouldn’t give Don the time of day if he expressed an interest in either of them.  I could easily be the odd turtle out.  They’ve sure called me odd enough times.  What if they really meant it?”

            Mikey listened to his cat’s purring, his thoughts a million miles away.  If he got Master Splinter’s blessing, then none of them would have to hide their desires anymore.  That would leave Leo and Raph open to acting on their feelings and maybe even asking if Don wanted to join them.

            His face felt hot when he thought about either of his aggressive brothers having their way with Donny.  Mikey had never thought of himself as being the possessive type, but he sure didn’t want to share the genius.

            If Mikey didn’t broach the subject with Master Splinter and no one else did, then the status quo would remain the same.  He could probably talk Don into a dalliance or two in some private area of the tunnels, but it wouldn’t be the relationship that Mikey really wanted.  A sometimes tryst just wasn’t the same and besides, there was no guarantee that a frustrated Leo or Raph wouldn’t try to jump Don anyway.

            With a heavy sigh, Mikey set Klunk down and decided he needed to stop thinking so much.  Thinking was Don’s thing, strategy was Leo’s, and instinct was Raph’s.  For Mikey it was insight and heart, two things that went well together.

            His insight would tell him what each member of his family was feeling and his heart would guide him to do whatever was correct.  To do whatever was right.  He wasn’t going to accomplish that by hiding in his room.

            When Mikey came downstairs he heard Master Splinter and Leo in the dojo.  In about an hour the other three turtles were expected to present themselves for practice, so Mikey knew he had time to eat something.

            Entering the kitchen, Mikey glanced at the coffeemaker and saw that it was both empty and off.  That meant that Don hadn’t gotten up yet.  Knowing his brother would want a cup of his precious brew before practice began, Mikey set about making a pot.

            Surprisingly, it was Raphael who actually made the best tasting coffee.  When Don brewed the stuff it was always too strong for anyone else to enjoy, unless they added a few ice cubes to their cup.  Mikey didn’t make it often, usually only with Don in mind, so he tended to prepare it to the genius’ specifications.

            The coffee was just starting to drip into the pot when Raph strolled into the kitchen.  He glanced at the coffeemaker and then at Mikey.  “Am I gonna be able to stand a spoon up in that brew?”

            “I made it the way Don likes it,” Mikey said.  “That answer your question?”

            “He ain’t up yet, so I guess he’ll need it,” Raph said with a shrug.  “I think we ought to get one of those gadgets that uses the little pod things.  I’ve seen them on TV.  Ya’ can make coffee or tea or even hot cocoa in the things and they clean up easy.”

            “We’d still need the old coffeemaker for Don,” Mikey said.  “No other machine’s gonna make coffee the way he likes it.”

            “Yeah, strong enough to strip paint,” Raph said.  “Ya’ think that’s what he does with it when he ain’t drinking the stuff?  He sure goes through a lot of coffee.”

            “You’re funny,” Mikey said, sitting down at the table with a bowl of cereal.  He was glad that Raph seemed in a decent mood and wasn’t snapping at him the way he’d done the last few days.

            “I’m a regular comedian,” Raph said, helping himself to a cup of coffee.  He went to the freezer to retrieve some ice cubes and then set the cup on the table before eyeing Mikey suspiciously.  “Ya’ didn’t mess with my cereal again, did ya’?”

            “Nope,” Mikey said around a mouthful of food.  “Have you ever known me to play the same prank twice?”

            “Yes,” Raph said flatly. 

           He took down the cereal from the cupboard and poured some into a bowl.  Using one finger he stirred the cereal around, searching for any contaminants.  Satisfied it was safe, he took it back to the table and sat down, using the milk from the carton Mikey had left sitting in front of him.

           After a few minutes of silent eating, Mikey glanced up at his brother.  “How’d you sleep?”

           Raph looked at him, brow furrowed.  “Just fine.  Why’d ya’ ask?  Did ya’ screw with something in my room?”

           “Geez you’re suspicious,” Mikey said.  “I did not screw with anything in your room.  I just wondered if the monster movies gave you any nightmares.”

           “What am I, six?” Raph demanded.  “Shredder was worse than anything in those movies and he never gave me nightmares.”

           Mikey knew that wasn’t true but decided it would be healthier to keep that observation to himself.  Instead, he asked, “Did you have any good dreams?”

           Raph’s spoon tapped hard against the side of his bowl.  “What’s with you and dreams all of a sudden?  Did you get into one of Don’s brain books again?”

           “I dreamed that I got turned into a vampire,” Mikey said.  “There was a cure in some vials but this other vampire kept stealing them for himself because they gave him extra strength.”

           “Ya’ are too weird,” Raph said, shaking his head.

           “So what did you dream about?” Mikey asked, pushing.  “Everybody dreams.”

           “I don’t remember,” Raph answered shortly.

           There was a touch of color on his cheeks and Mikey bit back a smile.  Raph did remember what he dreamt about and it wasn’t something he wanted to share with anyone.  Mikey could easily guess what sort of dream it was.

           Mikey was trying to decide if he should goad his brother to see if he could embarrass him further when Don shuffled into the kitchen.  His eyes were barely open but he went directly to the coffeemaker, no doubt drawn there by the smell.

           Both Raph and Mikey watched him with amusement.  Only after Don had swallowed not one but two sips of coffee did he finally acknowledge their presence.

           “’Morning.  Who made the coffee?” Don asked.

           Mikey raised his hand.  “I did.”

           “May the blessings of a thousand deities bring you good fortune,” Don said, his eyelids sliding higher as he took another sip.

           Raph snorted and Mikey laughed.  “You’re welcome,” he said.  “How late did you stay up?”

           “Too late,” Don said, sliding into a chair next to Mikey.  “It took three separate alarms to wake me this morning.”

           “Master Splinter’s gonna hand ya’ your ass if ya’ ain’t alert during practice,” Raph warned him.

           “Two cups of this and I’ll be on a caffeine fueled high,” Don said, lifting his cup for emphasis.

           Finishing his cereal, Raph stood up.  “Ya’ can’t go through life on too little sleep and a shitload of caffeine.  Dial it back, Donny.”

           After sharing that nugget of wisdom, Raph deposited his dishes in the sink and left.  Mikey watched Don for a few minutes, gauging when his brother had taken in enough coffee to be attentive.

           “What kept you up last night?” Mikey wanted to know.

           Don yawned.  “Trying to finish the programming on the last five lizards.  I’ve deployed a pair of them in the tunnels so I can see how they function in a damp environment.  I’m pretty sure I’ve accounted for moisture in their design, but the best way to be certain of that is to run them through a test.”

           “How about when they go someplace where there’s no light?” Mikey asked.

           “I’ve upgraded their optics with two night vision features,” Don said.  “They have both thermal imaging and image enhancement technology.  In other words, they can amplify the tiny amount of light that is always present even if it can’t be seen by the naked eye.  They can also capture the upper portion of the light spectrum which is emitted as heat by objects.”

           “Have I ever told you that I love how smart you are?” Mikey asked, his eyes wide.

           “Only when you’re asking me to build something or fix something for you,” Don answered with a laugh.  “Which is it this time?”

           Mikey set a hand on Don’s arm.  “Neither one.  I just wanted you to know.”

           Don stared at him for a moment and then lowering his voice, asked, “What’s wrong?  I can see something is bothering you.  Were you and Raph arguing?”

           “Nah,” Mikey said, shaking his head.  He decided to take the bull by the horns.  “I was just thinking this morning that you’re too good for me.  What do I have to offer you?  You’re smart and sweet and funny and hot and . . . and wouldn’t you rather be with Leo or Raph?”

           “Why?” Don asked.  “I’m not attracted to either of them.  I’m attracted to you.  As far as what you have to offer, you’re just as smart as I am, but in a different way.  You’re witty, imaginative, and gifted.  You’re a better fighter than Leo or Raph when you put your mind to it.  Neither of them have anything on you when it comes to tactics or thinking outside the box and you are always there for us, for me.”

           “We’re all there for each other,” Mikey said, Don’s words making him feel warm all over.

           “You more so,” Don insisted.  “I know you don’t realize it, it’s just who you are.  You’re bright; you’re our sunshine.  I’ve known you my whole life and love you for who you are.  I’m not operating under any illusions.  What’s with all the insecurities?  Are you having second thoughts?”

           “Shell no,” Mikey said, squeezing Don’s arm.  “Can I be honest about something?”

           Don nodded.  “Of course, always.”

           “I do kinda get . . . jealous,” Mikey said, finally admitting out loud what Don had asked him about a couple of days earlier.  “Especially when you’re hanging with Raph, but even when you’re having a private powwow with Leo.  I think I always have felt that way.”

           The smile on Don’s face was gentle and understanding.  “They’re not anything to worry about, Mike.  I’ve never thought of Raph or Leo as anything but my brothers.  You on the other hand have fueled plenty of lascivious day dreams.”

           “Yeah?” Mikey asked, starting to get turned on.  “Want to tell me about them?  Spare no detail.”

           “Not before practice,” Don said, draining his coffee cup and rising from his chair to get a refill.  “It’s bad enough that I’ll have to face Master Splinter while I’m sleep deprived, I don’t need to top it off by trying to contain an erection as well.”

           Mikey wiggled in his chair.  “Great, now I’m going to have a hard-on during practice.”

           Pointing a finger at him, Don said, “That is entirely your own fault.  We’ll continue this discussion later.”

           “As long as we do more than just talk about it,” Mikey said, dumping his bowl into the sink and following Don out of the kitchen.

           Their practice session went smoothly.  Don’s lack of sleep didn’t show and Mikey managed to focus on their training, mainly to avoid giving away his feelings for his brother.

           Leo and Raph were nearer their normal selves than they had been in quite a while.  There was still a certain amount of stiffness in their interactions, but not enough to force Master Splinter into having to call them out for it.

           It was a hopeful sign, but Mikey knew those two well enough to understand that things could change between them in a heartbeat.  A little sexual tension was a good thing, too much of it led to frustration and stupid decisions.

           An idea came to him while he was sparring against Donatello.  Pretending to grapple with him, Mikey pulled Don close and whispered, “Find a way to keep Leo busy after practice so I can get Master Splinter to myself.”

           “What about Raph?” Don asked, twisting out of Mikey’s grip and then putting his brother into a fake headlock.

           “He’s allergic to meditation,” Mikey whispered.  “He’ll go lift some weights or follow the two of you.”

           “Okay,” Don said as Mikey broke the hold and swept his feet from under him.

           This was another thing Mikey loved about Don; he didn’t ask how he was supposed to distract Leo, he would just do it.  He always found a way to get the job done, whatever the job.

           When their practice session ended, Master Splinter announced his intention to meditate in his room.  They all knew that was his habit.  Making the statement aloud was his way of telling anyone who cared to meditate with him that they were welcome.

           Normally only Leo took him up on the offer.  There were other mandatory meditation sessions for all of them, but Leo was the only turtle who truly enjoyed meditating enough to do it voluntarily several times a day.

           Leo had started to follow his father when Don stepped into his path.

           “Could you spare me some time?” Don asked.  “I’ve finally finished the schematics of the entire reservoir station.  There are areas where I need help in determining whether to build barriers to shut off access or create secret entry points for us.  I don’t want to cut off any potential escape routes, especially with Karai still searching the tunnels.”

           “We could go topside and kick her ass,” Raph said as he walked past them.

           Whatever reply Leo gave him was lost on Mikey because he was following his father.  With a quick hop he caught up to Master Splinter and began walking in step with him.

           “I’d like to join you in meditation, if that’s okay, Sensei,” Mikey said.

           The look Master Splinter gave him held both surprise and a touch of skepticism.  “Of course you may.  I find it curious that you are volunteering to meditate.  You did not show such enthusiasm the last time I made you this invitation.”

           They passed through the shoji doors that gave entry into Master Splinter’s room.  As they started down the stairs, Mikey said, “Just following Leo’s advice.  He told me that open awareness increases problem solving skills and improves focus.”

           “I believe he said that to you two years ago,” Master Splinter said as he began to light candles.

           “Sometimes it takes my brain a while to catch up,” Mikey replied with a grin.

           Together they kneeled on the mediation mat next to one another.  Mikey made a show of getting into a comfortable position as his father settled himself.  Timing was everything; Mikey needed for Master Splinter to relax and for his suspicions to ease before broaching the subject that was on his mind.

           Mikey couldn’t wait overly long though.  If Master Splinter went too deeply into his meditation, snapping him suddenly back to reality wouldn’t make him very amenable to certain concepts.

           When he felt he’d waited long enough, Mikey spoke again.  “Leo also said that meditation improves the ability to solve problems.”

           Master Splinter didn’t open his eyes but he did not seem perturbed at the interruption, which was a good sign.  “What problem are you attempting to solve, my son?”

           “Well, maybe I sorta, kinda, have an idea about what the trouble is with Leo and Raph,” Mikey said.  “Remember that you told me you’d appreciate my insights on what was going on with them.”

           “Does ‘sorta, kinda’ mean that you have something of substance to relay?” Master Splinter asked as he opened his eyes to peer at his youngest son.

           “I think it’s more of a ‘what if’,” Mikey said, trying to read his father’s expression.

           One of Master Splinter’s brows lifted.  “I see.  Allow me to translate.  You have discovered something that you feel I might disapprove of and you are dissembling until you have garnered my possible reaction.”

           “What’s dissembling?” Mikey asked.

           “To conceal the truth or the real nature of something; to mislead,” Master Splinter said.  “You do understand that I cannot provide you with wise direction if you insist upon misleading me.”

           “It’s not really something that you just blurt out,” Mikey said, not wanting to start off with having his father think he was being deceitful.

           Master Splinter nodded once.  “Then tell me in your own way and I will listen with an open mind.”

           “You know that we’re all getting older and trying to be more responsible,” Mikey said, choosing his words carefully.  “I mean, we still have issues and stuff like disagreements.  Leo and Raph will probably butt heads until they’re both using walking sticks.  No offense, Father.”

           “None taken,” Master Splinter said.  “A walking stick can double as a very handy weapon.”

           “You’re telling me,” Mikey said, unconsciously rubbing the back of his head.

           “Please do not become sidetracked,” Master Splinter said.

           “Oh, right.  So, Leo and Raph are a lot alike and were always really, really close when we were kids,” Mikey said.  “They only started fighting when Leo became leader and Raph felt like he had to rebel against being told what to do.”

           “Of this I am already painfully aware,” Master Splinter murmured.

           “Aren’t we all?” Mikey asked rhetorically.  “Just suppose that a lot of that was, you know, hormones and stuff.  That maybe they don’t actually want to fight but that they clash ‘cause they do enjoy the, not exactly the competition but that’s part of it, but maybe the struggle itself.”

           “The challenge and its accompanying tension perhaps?” Master Splinter asked.

           There was something knowing in his expression so Mikey pressed on.  “Yeah, that.  Maybe Raph needs for Leo to best him, that Raph is . . . drawn to the aggression.  And maybe Leo enjoys getting Raph to submit.”

           He stopped talking, feeling the color rushing into his face.  Mikey watched Master Splinter, looking for some sign that his father understood what Mikey was alluding to.

           “If I follow your train of thought, what you are saying is that they are fighting not because of a disdain for one another, but because rather than each finding the other repellent, they are in actuality attracted,” Master Splinter said.  “You did mention hormones.”

           “Is that too weird?” Mikey asked.  “I mean, we are the only four of our kind and . . . .”

           His words trailed off because he wasn’t sure what to say next and his father seemed to be lost in his own thoughts.

           Mikey waited, holding his breath until it became painful and then taking a quick breath before holding it again.  He was afraid to make a sound, afraid that distracting Master Splinter before he worked through all of the implications would engender a negative response.

           Finally Master Splinter sighed, blinking his eyes and giving Mikey a direct look.  “There is nothing wrong with your brain, Michelangelo.”

           When he stopped speaking, Mikey said, “Uh, thanks?”

           “I have not been completely blind to certain possibilities,” Master Splinter said.  “Nor have I missed how their interactions, even the arguments, have changed.  You noticed it first, did you not?”

           Mikey shrugged.  “I almost always notice when something is off with my bro’s.”

           “And your natural curiosity dictates that you learn the reason,” Master Splinter said.  “So when you told me that you ‘sorta, kinda’ had an idea as to the problem between Leonardo and Raphael, what you meant was that you investigated until you learned the truth.”

           “I couldn’t help myself,” Mikey said, a touch defensively.

           “I am not judging you, my son,” Master Splinter said.  “In fact, I find what your brothers might term as meddlesome prying to be quite advantageous, to both myself and to them.  They may not ever admit it, but they often rely upon your inquisitive nature.”

           “Don said he does,” Mikey said.  “Leo and Raph not so much.”

           “It is Donatello’s point of view that matters most to you, is it not?” Master Splinter asked.

           Mikey felt his face heating up again.  “Yes,” he answered, his voice low and his eyes downcast.

           “So Leonardo and Raphael are not the only ones feeling the tumultuous effects of raging teenage hormones, are they?” Master Splinter asked.  “Perhaps you and Donatello have come to terms with yours?”

           “We have an understanding,” Mikey said, staring at his father with hopeful eyes.

           “Part of this understanding was that one of you broach the subject with me,” Master Splinter said.  “I would appreciate it if at this point we speak openly.  Innuendos are not necessary and lead to misunderstandings.  What you are telling me is that the four of you are physically attracted to one another, you to Donatello, while Leonardo and Raphael feel a sexual desire for each other.”

           “I don’t want to speak for Leo and Raph ‘cause they really should tell you themselves,” Mikey said.  “But me and Donny want to be together in a relationship.  I love him and he loves me.  I mean, I love Leo and Raph too, but not in that way.”

           “I am certain they would say the same of you,” Master Splinter said.  “Which does bring up the question as to why it wasn’t Leonardo who came to me with this revelation.  It is no less than that.  What we are discussing means a drastic change for this family and could adversely affect the team that he is tasked with leading.”

           Mikey didn’t like the tone of that or where he was afraid Master Splinter might be heading.  “Leo doesn’t even know about me and Donny,” he said quickly.  “Maybe he and Raph haven’t figured the whole thing out enough to know what they’d say to you, or even if they should do anything about what they might be feeling.”

           “If that is the case, then why did you come to me before discussing this with Leonardo?” Master Splinter asked, staring hard at Mikey.

           “’Cause you’re my father,” Mikey said.  “’Cause Leo and Raph don’t . . . aren’t . . . .”

           “Ready?” Master Splinter supplied.

           “Communicating too great yet,” Mikey said.  “They’ve gotta be able to talk the whole thing through with each other first, don’t you think?  I mean, I could hint that I’ve got an understanding with Donny and that we’re okay with him and Raph being together, but then that might make Leo believe that we were feeling pressured to be partners.  Because of them.  And then Leo would deny himself a chance to be happy ‘cause he likes being a martyr.”

           “Michelangelo,” Master Splinter began.

           “Okay, maybe likes isn’t the right word, but Leo does seem to seize the opportunity to beat himself up,” Mikey said.  He fell back on what was becoming his favorite term.  “I figured I should be subtle.  If I knew for sure you would give us your blessing, then I could sort of maneuver Leo and Raph into coming to an understanding.  You know, get them to see the big picture.”

           “Are you certain the word you mean to use is maneuver and not manipulate?” Master Splinter asked, raising an eyebrow.

           “Manipulate means getting them to do something they don’t want to do,” Mikey said.  “They do want this, they just don’t know how to make it work.”

           “Which of these are you attempting with me, to maneuver or to manipulate?” Master Splinter asked.

           Mikey looked sheepish, but answered promptly.  “None of the above.  It seems like all of this has gotten to the point where it’s a family thing.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my life pretending that I don’t have feelings for Donny and hiding stuff from you.  If I feel that way, then you know everyone else does too.  What you think about it all is important.  Your guidance and wisdom have always steered us right.”

           He was speaking as earnestly as he could so that Master Splinter could see the truth in what he was saying.  His words did not erase the troubled expression on his father’s face and Mikey had a sinking feeling in his stomach.

           “My children, who I have raised to be brothers, family, and honorable ninjas, have decided that they should assuage their sexual needs by engaging in certain carnal acts with one another,” Master Splinter said.  “Am I stating this correctly?”

           “Not really,” Mikey said with rising panic.  “We didn’t like, decide that we wanted to do it with each other.  It happened ‘cause it’s natural.  ‘Cause we love each other.  I guess partly too it’s ‘cause we have this mating instinct that’s bringing us together.  You want us to be happy, don’t you?”

           “I want what is best for you,” Master Splinter said.  “Sometimes doing what is for your own good may not be what makes you the happiest.”

           Mikey started to speak but Master Splinter held up his hand and stopped him.  “I must meditate upon this.  Since you joined me under false pretenses, it would be best if you left me to my own council.  I will decide how to proceed.  If you truly have the welfare of your siblings in mind, you will not share our conversation with them.”

           “But Donny . . . .” Mikey said.

           “Knows you came in here to speak to me,” Master Splinter finished for him.  “Yes, I gathered as much since he found the excuse that stopped Leonardo from joining me as he usually does.  You’ll talk to Donatello no matter what I ask.  If you do not want to set off a firestorm within our home, you will at least keep this from your other two brothers.”

           The last thing Mikey wanted to do was to set Raph off.  “I won’t say a thing to them,” he promised.

           With a final long look at Mikey, Master Splinter turned away from him and closed his eyes.  Since he had clearly been dismissed, Mikey rose and bowed to his father, knowing he could sense the respectful gesture even if he couldn’t see it.

           Mikey’s legs felt leaden as he climbed the stairs.  All he wanted to do was to hold Don and tell him everything with the hopes that the genius would find something positive in the conversation between Mikey and Master Splinter.

           Because one thing was certain, Mikey wasn’t feeling very sure about anything at the moment.



Chapter Text

            Michelangelo sat in Donatello’s lab, slumped over and looking morose.  “I might have blown it,” he said.

            Don looked up from the array of mechanical objects on his work table and blinked at Mikey from behind thick magnification goggles.  “You didn’t blow it.  Honestly, Mikey, you did better than I could have.  Better than any of us could have managed.  Master Splinter didn’t say no.”

            “He didn’t say yes either,” Mikey said lugubriously. 

            After leaving Master Splinter’s room, Mikey had immediately gone in search of Don.  He was relieved to find that not only was he alone, but that he was in his lab.  There they had a modicum of privacy, since the room was on the other side of the lair from the bedrooms, a good distance from the TV room, and tucked into a corner.  The nearest common area was the kitchen, but it was currently unoccupied.

            “You couldn’t possibly have expected that Father would immediately acquiesce,” Don said, waving a tiny screwdriver at his brother.  “The goal was to apprise him of the situation, make our feelings known, and let him know that we’ve thought this through.  It sounds to me like that’s exactly what you’ve done.  You’ve given him something to think about.”

            “Yeah, and as soon as he comes out of his room and announces that nobody is sexing up anyone else under his watch, Raph will blow a gasket and Leo will murder me in my sleep,” Mikey said.

            Don pushed the goggles up on his head so that he could meet Mikey’s eyes.  “I have never known you to be so negative,” he said.  “Where is the Michelangelo who sees what he wants and goes for it without having an existential crisis?”

            Mikey gave him a sour look, deciding to look that word up later.  “You weren’t there looking at Master Splinter.  You didn’t hear how he said ‘sometimes doing what is for your own good may not be what makes you the happiest’.”  The younger turtle had changed his voice to imitate his father and now went back to normal.  “He practically chewed me out for going behind Leo’s back.”

            “When have you ever known him not to put his foot down immediately if he thinks something we’re doing or that we want to do is wrong?” Don countered.  “He’s going to meditate on it, which means he’ll spend hours reviewing our entire lives, every interaction we’ve ever had, every action and word he’s seen lately between us all, and every bit of the conversation you just had with him.  Hours, Mikey.  Maybe even days.”

            Something in his younger brother’s demeanor suddenly changed at those words.  “Wait,” Mikey said, eyes brightening as he straightened in his seat.

           He didn’t say anything for a few minutes and Don watched him, practically seeing the wheels turning in his brother’s head.  Don would never tell him that he was very much like Leo and their father in these moments because he doubted that Mikey realized that he was doing what they would, examining a problem from every possible angle.  Mikey would have said that he was much more spontaneous than that.

           “Master Splinter won’t make a snap judgment, not on this,” Mikey said slowly.  “It’s too important and he’s gotta know that if we want something badly enough, we’ll do it whether he accepts it or not.  Especially Raph.  And Raph will drag Leo along because he always manages to do that, even if Leo doesn’t want to go against Sensei’s wishes.”

           A small smile appeared on Don’s lips.  “You and I won’t ignore our feelings for one other either.”

           “Habits of a lifetime, right?” Mikey asked.  “How many times do you think he told us not to go after Shredder and the Foot clan?”

           “Eight hundred and fifty-two times,” Don said without missing a beat.  “That includes Karai as the new Shredder.”

           “Figures you’d know,” Mikey said.  “Anyway, what I’m thinking is that if he wants to tell us we can’t be together, he’s gotta figure out a way to talk us out of it to where even we think he’s right.  So all we gotta do is prove him wrong.”

           “That’s not going to be easy with Leo and Raph going at it hammer and tongs,” Don reminded him.

           “It’s all or none too,” Mikey said.  “Even with us showing Master Splinter how good we are together, if Leo and Raph can’t stop dancing around each other, then they’ll ruin everything.  ‘Cause even if we’re all doing what we want, if we’re doing it against Father’s wishes, then we don’t really have a family anymore.”

           “Leo won’t last long under those conditions,” Don said.

           Mikey shook his head.  “No he won’t.  He and Raph will come apart at the seams and I don’t even wanna think what’ll happen after that.”

           “If I’m hearing you correctly, the key to everything is Leo and Raph, not Master Splinter,” Don said.

           “Yeah.  I mean, Sensei didn’t even seem all that negative until he asked why I was the one coming to him and not our Fearless leader,” Mikey said.

           “We’ve done a fairly decent job of getting those two to talk to each other,” Don said thoughtfully.

           “Sure, now we just have to get them to see that they have to know exactly what they want and be able to be together without conflict before going to Master Splinter,” Mikey said.  “They’ve got to have sex first.  You know, the whole vested interest thing.”

           “Getting them to do that won’t be easy,” Don said.  “Not because they don’t want to, but because Leo won’t want to do anything that might give away their secret to Master Splinter before he gets the chance to tell him.  As if the fighting didn’t raise enough questions.”

           There was a sly expression on Mikey’s face that caused Don to look at him suspiciously.  In response to that look, Mikey grinned.

           “Temptation, dude.  Leo might be the master of self-control, but Raphie always gets under his skin,” Mikey said.  “If they stay away from each other they can hold out, but if things sort of happen that force them to be alone together, then . . . .”

           “The way your mind works is both frightening and fascinating at the same time,” Don said.  “What do you propose?”

           “What is Leo’s highest priority right now?” Mikey asked in return.  “Not the personal stuff.”

           Don frowned.  “To avoid another confrontation with Karai, at least until our new home is fully secure.  Not to go looking for trouble with Hun and to stay off of Bishop’s radar.  But Mikey, we can’t goad Raph into trying to do something rash because he won’t try, he’ll just do it.”

           “I’m not thinking that we get him to do anything crazy, I’m thinking we give him a job that takes him out into the tunnels,” Mikey said.  “You did say our new lair isn’t fully secure and you did already tell Leo about the areas that need work.  No way will Leo let Raph go off alone.  We just have to make sure we’re both too busy to go with and then Leo will have to.”

           “Raph doesn’t have Leo’s self-control,” Don said, grasping where Mikey was headed.

           “Alone in the dark tunnels, no one around to catch them at it, Raph will get notions,” Mikey said.

           “Especially if he knows that we’re occupied elsewhere,” Don said.  “I’m liking this idea, Mikey.”

           Preening, Mikey rubbed the nails of one hand on his chest and then blew on them.  “I’m the goods all right.”

           All signs of his earlier funk were gone.  Mikey’s resilience was just another of the things that Don adored about his younger brother.

           “I love that you never let anything get you down for long,” Don told him.

           A cunning look crossed Mikey’s face and he got up to stand behind Donatello.  Sliding an arm around his brother’s chest, Mikey leaned in close and whispered against the side of his head, “You know what I’d love?”

           Anticipation sent a shiver down Don’s spine.  “What’s that, Mike?”

           “For you to have sex with me while our bro’s are wandering around in the tunnels,” Mikey said in a guttural tone.

           “Not afraid Master Splinter will catch us?” Don asked.

           “Double bolt the door,” Mikey said, planting a kiss on the side of Don’s face and then one on his neck.

           Don turned his head so that their lips could meet.  As their tongues danced together, Mikey slipped his hand down Don’s arm while still keeping his plastron pressed tightly against his brother’s shell.  Mikey’s hand jumped from Don’s arm to his stomach and then continued its downward movement.

           Spreading his legs wider, Don inhaled sharply through his nostrils when Mikey’s fingers grazed his most sensitive area.  Don’s hidden cock twitched in reaction and his kiss turned hungry.

           Something clattered in the kitchen, the sound loud enough to startle the pair.  Mikey jumped back to stare guiltily at the door, which was closed but not locked.

           “Where the hell is the big frying pan?” Raph shouted.

           Don turned to look at his brother.  “That’s probably meant for you,” he said.

           “Shell,” Mikey cursed shakily, rubbing a hand over his face.  “Got any cold water?”

           “If you’re all wet when you walk out of here he’ll ask questions,” Don said.  “Try this mental image; Ch’rell in a bubble bath.”

           “Gross,” Mikey said, scrunching up his face.  “Yep, that did the trick.  I’ll never have another erection ever.”

           He headed for the door, followed by the sounds of Don’s laughter.  Mikey was grinning as he walked out into the lair, but managed to hide his good humor before encountering Raph.

           Several hours passed with no sign of Master Splinter.  Leonardo insisted on going to check on him when he didn’t come up for a meal or his favorite afternoon television program.

           Mikey nearly panicked when Leo headed for their father’s room, but Don jumped up from his seat in front of the computers and said he’d check too.  The pair returned only minutes later and Leo seemed perplexed when he announced that Master Splinter was in a deeply meditative state and had told them he didn’t wish to be disturbed.

           Looking over at Don, Mikey caught the genius’ slow wink.  It was a signal that between the two of them, they could manage to keep Leo from having a private conversation with Master Splinter until the time was right.

           It appeared that Donatello had also come up with a plan to deal with that as well.  Dinner had consisted of leftovers and was not a formal affair.  Each of the turtles grabbed what they wanted when they were hungry and then drifted off to their own devices.

           That was until Don called his brothers together.  They gathered around a set of maps that he’d laid out on a work table in the service bay.

           “These are the schematics I reviewed with Leo earlier,” Don said, stabbing at the papers on the table.  With his finger he indicated two spots on the map, both marked with a red X.  “I’ve identified these locations as the most vulnerable, both to searches by our enemies, or as places where city crews might inadvertently stumble across our home.”

           Leo picked up the explanation from there.  “After looking this over with Donny, we’ve determined that the location to the south of here should be bricked over.  It does not serve as an ingress or egress by any of the city departments, and is not necessary as an overflow tunnel during storms.  As an escape route for us, it’s the long way around.  There’s a much better location just two klicks northwest of this spot.”

           “This area however should remain open to us,” Don said, indicating the other red X.  “I’ll have to build a secret entryway here, making it look to outsiders as though it’s also been bricked over.  Press the correct sequence of bricks, and the entry opens and then quickly closes behind you.”

           “As we build these security features, we’ll all need to remember which ones are the fake walls and which are not,” Leo said.

           “I’d hate to be shoving on bricks that won’t move if a score of Foot soldiers are chasing me,” Mikey said.

           He said that partly because it was the sort of thing he’d say, and partly to keep the danger from Karai and the Foot at the forefront of Leo’s mind.

           “Since there’s a certain amount of engineering that has to go into building the fake wall, that location is where I’ll be working,” Don said.  “Raph, you’re the best and fastest bricklayer in the lair, so you’ll need to erect the true barrier.  I’m taking Mikey with me, and Leo will go with you.”

           Leo and Raph glanced at each other and then looked quickly back at Donatello.  Both spoke at the same time.

           “I don’t need Fearless looking over my shoulder.”

           “Perhaps it would be better if Mikey worked alongside Raph.”

           Don held up his hand, his expression one they didn’t often see but when they did it always meant he would brook no argument.

           “I’ve not had the chance to complete the installation of all of the parameter alarms in the tunnels,” Don said.  “There are more of them in the area where the fake wall is going.  Since Raph and I will be doing the majority of the work, our two assistants need to be on their guard and totally aware of their surroundings while we’re working.  Who thinks Mikey can be more focused than Leo in an area without alarms?”

           “Hey, I resent that,” Mikey said, pretending to be offended.

           “Fine,” Raph conceded with an ill-mannered huff.  “But I’m in charge of this foray.”

           “Just remember that this job has to be started and finished in one night,” Don said.  “Even if you guys hear someone prowling around you can’t start tracking them.  Should the Foot see that we’re trying to block off that tunnel, it will give them a place to focus their search.”

           A slight sneer appeared on Raph’s face and though Leo avoided looking at him again, there was a more purposeful set to his shoulders.  Mikey had to hand it to Donny, he’d taken the younger turtle’s idea and run with it and he had applied their new watchword while he was at it.  Don’s hint about avoiding their enemies was subtle and effective.

           “Ya’ gonna be able to get your job done with Mikey running all over the place distracting ya’?” Raph asked.  “I mean, if we’re preaching about all work and no play it oughta be aimed in the right direction.”

           “I know when I’m supposed to be working,” Mikey protested.

           “Everything you’ll need is on that pallet dolly over there,” Don said, indicating said item with a jerk of his thumb.  “I built a hover lift mechanism into it so it glides on air rather than wheels to make it easier to transport things through the tunnels.  Mine is the one with mechanical components sitting on top of the bricks.”

           “Let’s get going then,” Raph said, “unless ya’ got some more sage wisdom to impart.”

           Don stared meaningfully at both he and Leo.  “The only thing I have left to say is that I hope you two can complete this job without fighting.  If not, then I’ll have to do both tasks myself and one of you will be explaining to Master Splinter why it is that I can’t be at practice.”

           Mikey hadn’t expected him to be quite that direct and he held his breath, waiting for the explosion.  Rather than the genius’ words upsetting the pair, they both had the decency to look discomfited, though Mikey could have sworn he saw a touch of suspicion come and go in Leo’s expression.

           “We can work together, Donny.  Don’t worry,” Leo said.  “If something comes up and you need us, call my shell cell.”

           “Likewise,” Don said, watching as Raph grabbed the handle on the dolly and pressed a button to activate the air lift feature.

           Don walked over to retrieve his dolly, hanging back so that Leo and Raph could exit the lair first.  In the tunnels the turtles separated.

           When Leo and Raph were out of sight, Mikey leaned close to Don and whispered, “How are we gonna know if this worked?”

           Putting a finger to his lips, Don stopped and tilted his head to listen.  The slight sound given off by their brother’s pallet dolly faded until it could no longer be heard.  Don immediately turned around and pulled his dolly back to the service bay.

           “Help me take everything off of this and put it away,” Don said as he began unloading tools.

           “Don’t we have a wall to build?” Mikey asked, removing bricks and placing them on a stack that was sitting next to where Don had parked the dolly.

           “I already built it a few nights ago,” Don said.  “Why do you think I haven’t been getting enough sleep?”

           Mikey stopped to gape at his brother.  “Did you know that far back that you’d need to pull this trick?”

           “Nope,” Don said.  “It just came in handy.  I’m glad I didn’t tell Leo back then that I’d completed that task.  He and Raph were probably fighting at the time.”

           “So now what?” Mikey asked as he started working again, moving as fast as he could.

           “So now we spy on them,” Don said.  “This will be a great test for the pair of lizards I deployed yesterday night.  As soon as I knew where I was going to send Leo and Raph, I moved the lizards into that area.  I programmed them to follow the trackers in both of their shell cells.”

           “You think of everything,” Mikey said admiringly.  “Are they recording?”

           “Always,” Don said, quickly washing his hands in the work sink.

           Mikey followed suit while Don retrieved the robotic lizard’s controller from beneath the tarp.

           “Where are we going?” Mikey asked.  “I don’t want to get caught by Master Splinter.”

           “My lab,” Don said.

           He was moving fast and Mikey had to rush to keep up with him.  Once they were in the lab, Don closed and locked the door.  Mikey followed him as Don led the way to the back of the room where there was a clearing behind a bookcase.  There Don had placed a futon on the floor, for those times when he was too tired to walk all of the way to his room.

           His laptop was already on the futon and Don flipped it open when he and Mikey sat down.  After activating the lizard’s controller, Don handed it to Mikey and typed a series of commands into the laptop.

           A split screen appeared showing almost the exact same image from two different viewpoints of a section of the underground tunnel system.  The same picture was showing on the tiny screen attached to the controller.

           Setting the laptop on the ground in front of them, Don took the controller from Mikey but then simply held it in his lap.

           “We’ll leave them on automatic for now, since Leo and Raph are still moving,” Don said.  “The laptop will give us a broader view.”

           Mikey could see his brother’s feet and legs.  The view was from low to the ground, so it was clear that the lizards were trailing along behind the pair.

           A quiver of anticipation rushed through Mikey’s system and he scooted closer to Don so that their thighs were touching.  “Think anything will happen?” he asked.

           “You saw how stiff Leo was when they left,” Don said.  “Raph’s wound up tight too.  That tension has to go someplace soon.”

           They stopped talking then to simply watch.  Neither Raph nor Leo were speaking and though walking side by side, they were as far from each other as the tunnel allowed.

           It took them a quarter of an hour to reach their destination.  Though their trip was uneventful and thus pretty boring, Mikey couldn’t take his eyes off the screen.  Despite the darkness of the tunnel, the image from the two lizards was crystal clear; they could even see the eyes of the rats who scurried to get out of the way.

           “Guess this is the spot,” Raph finally said, bringing the dolly to a stop.  “There’s a red X on the wall.  Gotta be Don’s handiwork.”

           “We’ll have to level the ground first,” Leo said.

           Raph made a sound akin to a growl.  “Uh, uh.  This is my show.  You’re the assistant, not the boss.”

           From the positions of their feet it was clear that they were now facing each other.  Don reached for the controller and manipulated the control stick, sending one lizard up onto the left side wall and the other up the wall to their right.

           With a flick of his finger, Don widened the viewing lenses on each of the lizards so that there was now a clear, full picture of both Leo and Raph.

           He set the controller aside.  Seeing that his hands were now free, Mikey caught hold of one of them and twined his fingers through Don’s.

           Leo reached for the shovel.  “There is no point in setting bricks on uneven ground.”

           Snatching the shovel away from him, Raph said, “There’s no point in leveling the ground if we don’t take measurements of how much needs to be leveled.”

           “That should take about two seconds,” Leo told him, grabbing at the shovel.

           Raph held onto it.  “Remember what Donny said?  I’m the best at this, not you.”

           For a moment there was a tug of war for the shovel, both brothers glaring at each other.  Then Leo suddenly let go of his end, causing Raph to stumble backwards and hit the wall.

           “Ya’ son of a . . . .” Raph began.

           “Why are we fighting about this?” Leo asked.  “We have a job to do and should be doing it.”

           Straightening up, Raph glowered at his brother.  In spite of the reasonable sounding words, there was a hint of complacency in Leo’s features, as though he’d just scored a point at Raph’s expense.

           That look wasn’t lost on Raph.  “What are ya’ acting so smug about?  You’re the one who got a bug up his ass as soon as Don said ya’ had to come down here with me.  After all that big talk of yours about communicating ya’ can’t even manage to listen to me even now.”

           “You told Don you didn’t need me here,” Leo countered, his expression smoothing out the way it did when he was getting riled.

           “Aw, were your little, tiny feelings hurt?” Raph jeered.  “Ya’ tried to shove Mikey at me.  I’m surprised ya’ didn’t want to keep him for yourself.”

           “Don’t drag Mikey into this,” Leo said.  “You need to start handling your own problems and insecurities without trying to find a way to blame everyone around you.”

           “This is going well,” Mikey whispered sarcastically.  “Not.”

           “My only problem is you!” Raph shouted.  “’Hurry up and wait, Leonardo’.  That’s your new name.  I think you’re screwing with me and ya’ got no intention of telling Master Splinter anything about us.  Ya’ talk a big ass game, whisper some shit in my ear that ya’ probably read about in a porno magazine, and then get scared when it’s time to put up or shut up!”

           The stoic mask suddenly snapped and Leo lunged, barreling into Raph and shoving him back against the wall.  “I don’t get scared,” he hissed right in his brother’s face.

           “Get off of me before I lose my temper,” Raph threatened from between clenched teeth.

           His arms came up as though to defend himself, but Leo was faster.  Slipping a hand past Raph’s guard, Leo pressed one finger against a spot on the side of the larger turtle’s neck.

           The result was instantaneous as Raph lost all feeling in his arms.

           “Fuck!” Raph shouted, his arms falling to his sides.  With a snarl, he kicked at Leo’s knee, but his brother anticipated the move and twisted aside to avoid him.

           “Do that again and I’ll freeze your lower half too,” Leo said, his voice deep and guttural. 

           He slid a hand down Raph’s scutes, clearly petting him, until he reached a spot between his brother’s legs.  Raph gasped and Leo leaned against him to keep him pinned to the wall.

           “You want to feel this, don’t you?” Leo asked.  He was rubbing against the area that hid Raph’s manhood.  From the way the softer cartilage bulged outward, it was a good bet that it wouldn’t be hidden for much longer.

           “Sh~shell,” Mikey breathed, his eyes wide as he watched them.  His heartbeat had quickened and his tail was stiff.  A pulse was beating between his own legs and from the way Don squeezed his hand, it was a sure bet that he too was feeling stimulated.

           “Hngg!” Raph grunted, shifting his hips as though trying to move away from Leo’s questing fingers.

           “Notice he hasn’t tried to make a run for it?” Don whispered.

           “Running’s not his style,” Mikey replied, leaning closer to Don so that their shoulder’s touched.  “If he really wanted to stop Leo, he’d head butt him.”

           Raph leaned his head back, closing his eyes and baring his teeth.  He looked exactly like a guy trying hard to fight back his arousal.

           “He’s not running or head butting,” Don observed.

           “Stubborn,” Leo murmured just before biting down on Raph’s collarbone.

           Raph’s surprised yelp echoed through the tunnel and his cock dropped heavily into Leo’s hand.  Leo’s lips curled back and Mikey could see how his teeth had sunk into Raph’s skin.  A small trickle of blood slipped past Leo’s mouth, rolling down Raph’s chest until it hit the upper edge of his plastron.

           A loud churr erupted from Raph.  The following groan was a good sign he hadn’t wanted to make that sound since it denoted that he was taking pleasure from what Leo was doing to him.

           As if to reward his brother, Leo began to slowly tug on his dick.

           Lifting his mouth away from the love bite, Leo said, “I don’t read porn.  What I do read is very old text, written when the giving of sensual pleasure was an art form.  Slide down to the ground.”

           “No,” Raph snapped, opening his eyes to glare at Leo.

           “I said slide down,” Leo ordered.  He kicked against the backs of Raph’s heels, dislodging them just a little.  “I’m not letting go of your penis.  If I have to force you to the ground, I might accidently pull too hard.  It would be better if you get down on your own.”

           The threat to that very delicate part of his body did the trick.  Keeping his carapace braced against the wall, Raph pushed his heels forward in the dirt so that he began to slide down.  His golden eyes threw daggers at Leo as he moved.

           For his part, Leo maintained a firm grip of Raph’s thick shaft.  It was the first good look Mikey had of Raph’s cock, his previous view having been from a hiding spot in a very dark tunnel.  To say that Raph was well endowed would have been an understatement.

           When Raph’s rear hit the ground, Leo positioned himself on his knees between his brother’s legs.  Still holding Raph’s cock, Leo leaned forward, bracing himself with a hand on the wall next to his brother’s shoulder.

           It was clear he was going in for a kiss and Raph turned his head away.  Leo smiled and yanked hard on his dick.

           “Ow!” Raph yelped.  “You son of  . . . .”

           Leo’s mouth swallowed his curse word.  Muffled protests reverberated from Raph’s throat but when Leo shifted his head, Raph’s lips followed.  Both of their tongues were visible then and Raph’s was clearly warring for dominance.

            Breaking the kiss, Leo pulled back to stare into Raph’s eyes.  “I gave you pain, let me make it up to you.”

           His mouth began a downward path along Raph’s center front line, his tongue dipping into the sensitive groove.  Raph was breathing hard as he watched his brother, who did not falter or hesitate as he approached his ultimate goal.

           When Leo’s tongue swiped over the tip of his brother’s cock, Raph’s head went back and struck the wall with a loud thump.

           “Easy, Raph,” Leo said, his voice rough with desire.  “Don’t knock yourself out before you get to enjoy this.”

           Anything remotely resembling resistance was gone from Raph’s demeanor.  Leo watched him for a second before adjusting himself into a more comfortable position and lowering his mouth to Raph’s cock again.

           “He . . . he’s sucking Raph off,” Mikey said, astonished at what he was seeing.

           “Tricky,” Don said, swallowing hard.  It seemed to be his favorite descriptive term for their leader.

           Reaching out with his free hand, Don began stroking Mikey’s thigh without tearing his gaze from the screen.  When Leo deep throated Raph’s cock, Mikey gave up on trying to keep his contained.  It popped free from confinement and filled quickly.

           Quickly glancing into Donatello’s lap, Mikey saw that he too was sporting a full erection.

           The slurping, sucking sounds that Leo was making were both obscene and hotter than anything Mikey had ever heard.  Leo periodically lifted his mouth free in order to pump Raph’s cock and then he’d lick up the precum before returning to his blow job.

           Raph’s thighs were twitching, his legs sliding around in the dirt as he tried pushing more of himself into Leo’s mouth.  There was no longer any effort on his part to disguise the churrs and moans of pleasure.  His shoulders moved from side to side as though he was trying to bring his arms back to life.  Mikey was sure that if he could have moved his hands, Raph would have grabbed onto the back of Leo’s head.

           “Ahh, fuck!  Oh shit, Leo, shit!” Raph exclaimed, panting as his hips gyrated, his ass sliding around on the dirt.  “Yeah, yeah, there!  Ng, ahh, keep . . . oh shit, shit!”

           His legs stiffened as Raph threw back his head and howled.  He had peaked with Leo’s mouth on the upper quarter of his cock and Mikey could see cum spilling past Leo’s lips.

           Rather than move away as Raph climaxed, Leo took his entire length into his mouth and swallowed his brother’s jizz.  As the orgasm faded, Leo gently lapped up any cum that had escaped, thoroughly cleaning Raph’s cock.

           Breathing hard, Raph’s lowered his head to look at Leo, who wore a Cheshire grin as their eyes met.

           Raph lifted a hand to rub his forehead and then stared at it in surprise.  “Figures the feeling would come back now,” he muttered.  “I can’t fucking believe ya’ just sucked me off like that.”

           “Don’t worry, you’ll return the favor at some point,” Leo said, licking his lips lewdly.

           “Oh hell no I won’t,” Raph told him.  “Ya’ ain’t cumming in my mouth.”

           Leo sprang at him, catching Raph off guard.  As Raph’s hands closed on his brother’s shoulders, Leo’s mouth once more descended on his and forced it open.

           Raph’s gurgled complaint went unheeded.  When he finally managed to push Leo back, a long string of saliva mixed with Raph’s own spunk hung between their mouths, until a swipe of Leo’s tongue snapped it off.

           “Do you like how you taste?” Leo asked.  “I do.”

           “Asshole,” Raph said.  He repeated it, stretching the word out.  “Ass~hole.”

           “Don’t we have a job to do?” Leo asked.

           “After that I still gotta work,” Raph complained, accepting Leo’s hand and rising shakily to his feet.  “Ya’ got the worst timing ever.”

           Leo’s response went unheard as Don pressed a button to mute the sound.  When Mikey looked at him, he saw pure lust shining in his brother’s deep brown orbs.

           “I can’t wait any longer for you, Mike,” Don announced.

           Michelangelo’s heart skipped a beat.  Everything and everyone else was forgotten as he waited to see what Don planned to do with him.


Chapter Text

            Untangling his hand from his younger brother’s, Donatello gripped the back of Michelangelo’s head and moved in to kiss him.  Mikey’s lips opened under his, accepting the tongue that Don thrust into his mouth.

            The kiss was so sensual that Mikey became lost in it, no longer feeling Don’s other hand, which was still stroking his thigh.  That was until Don’s fingers lightly caressed the underside of Mikey’s swollen length.

            Electricity sparked through Mikey’s system and he yelped into Don’s open mouth.

            With a dark chuckle, Don swiped at Mikey’s lips with his tongue and whispered against his mouth, “Want more?”

            “Duh,” Mikey replied, churring when Don’s hand left his head to caress his neck.

            Moving the hand from Mikey’s thigh, Don reached across his brother’s body to catch hold of his hip.

            “Swing around to face me,” Don instructed.

            Mikey nodded eagerly, enjoying the genius’ take charge attitude.  While he shifted on the futon, Don also moved, kneeling on the mattress and then sitting back on his legs.

            Now placing both hands on Mikey’s hips, Don urged him to scoot forward until the younger turtle’s legs were draped over his upper thighs.  Both of the brothers were breathing heavily in anticipation, their fully erect cocks bobbing with each movement.

            “Touch yourself,” Don said in a harsh, guttural tone.

            As Mikey wrapped a hand around his own shaft, he felt a touch of discontentment.  He really wanted it to be Don’s hand on his cock.  The disappointment faded when he saw the avid look on his brother’s face and that Don was slowly stroking himself as he watched Mikey.

            Mikey’s churr brought a smile to Don’s lips and he offered an explanation.  “I know I’ve watched you do this before, but up close like this I can get a better idea of how you like to be touched.”

            “So we can help each other out?” Mikey asked hopefully.

            “I intend to make you feel good, Mike,” Don said, leaning in again to lightly kiss his brother’s lips.  “It’s my ultimate goal.”

            He lowered his head once more to watch Mikey masturbate.  The position that Don had placed them in meant that their cocks were close together and Mikey could feel the heat coming from his brother’s shaft.  The sight of Don’s hand sliding along his own cock was enticing and Mikey’s dick throbbed in response.

            Precum spurted from Mikey’s cock, slicking his shaft so that his hand could move faster.  He saw that Don tended to use a tighter grip, his hand closer to the center of his shaft as he pumped his cock.

            The brothers were tipped far forward now, the sides of their heads pressed together and the tips of their cocks occasionally touching.  Someone was trembling but Mikey wasn’t sure if that was his own excitement or Don’s.  He decided it was probably a combination of both.

            “N . . . now, Mike.  Switch,” Don husked.

            As brothers who had trained together all of their lives, the pair easily traded targets with instant, seamless precision.  Both cried out at the first touch of a hand other than their own and stopped moving for just a moment to look at one another.

            In Don’s expression was a reflection of the desire and love that Mikey was feeling.  Neither spoke, but there was a flash of understanding between them and smiling, they began to jerk each other off.

            In seconds Mikey was panting, his tail stiff and toes curling back.  Don had done exactly what he said he would; paid attention to what felt good to his brother.

           Don’s grip was looser and his hand higher up on Mikey’s cock so that there was more of the feeling of his rough palm sliding along the skin.  Periodically he would twist his hand, slipping it down to the base of the shaft before pulling back up again.

           It was exactly the way Mikey preferred to work his cock.  Determined that Don would be no less satisfied, Mikey kept his own grip firm.  He’d noticed that Don tended to occasionally pull his cock back towards his body as he masturbated, so Mikey did that as well.

           Mouths open, the sounds of the brother’s heavy breathing filled the room.  Their churrs were broken only by words of encouragement and raspy exclamations of pleasure.

           Mikey gripped Don’s bicep as he felt his orgasm drawing near.  Don’s body was quaking against his and it wasn’t hard to tell that he was close too.

           The heat along Don’s cock increased and then his shaft expanded.  Don groaned loudly, drawing a responding moan from Michelangelo.

           Rocking back slightly on his buttocks so that he could move his pelvis, Mikey tried to thrust into Don’s hand.  “Ah, ah, Donny!  Just like that!”

           “Mike, oh . . . ngh!  We have to be . . . .” Don began.

           He didn’t finish the sentence.  Suddenly his mouth was covering Mikey’s, his low keening cry muted as he climaxed.  The feeling of his cock pulsating in Mikey’s hand sent the younger turtle over the edge and his shout of pleasure was swallowed by Donatello.

           Neither relinquished their grip until their cocks began to shrink.  It was with reluctance that Mikey let go of his brother’s dick.  He had never experienced such intense pleasure, made more so at knowing he’d brought Don so much bliss.

           The pair wordlessly tucked themselves away and then Don fell back, pulling Mikey along with him.  Mikey was still straddling his brother and found that he liked the position.

           “That was so good,” Mikey said, nuzzling into Don’s neck.  “When can we do more?”

           Don chuckled, squeezing his brother tightly.  “Typical Michelangelo.  Don’t ever change.”

           They drifted on an endorphin high for a few minutes and then Mikey asked, “You started to tell me that we had to be quiet, didn’t you?”

           “I’m afraid so,” Don answered with a sigh.  “We wouldn’t want Master Splinter to catch us before he gets the chance to sanction our relationship.”

           “Or not,” Mikey said.  “What’ll we do then?”

           “Change his mind,” Don said, kissing the top of Mikey’s head.  “How could he even think about keeping us apart when he sees how great we are together?”

           “It’s not us I worry about, it’s Leo and Raph,” Mikey said, rolling off his brother and propping himself up on one elbow to gaze down at him.

           “I know what you mean,” Don said, looking thoughtful.  “They got together, but would you call that interaction between them healthy?”

           “I’d call it kinky,” Mikey said flatly.  “Healthy, not so much.  I mean, kinky isn’t a bad thing, but there’s gotta be more to it than that.”

           “It’s easy enough to arrange instances where they can be together.  It’d be nice if they managed more than fighting as foreplay,” Don said.

           Mikey made a face.  “So how do we get them to stop fighting?”

           “That’s going to be the trick,” Don said.  “They did make some headway with their last real conversation, so it’s not as though they don’t understand what they have to do.  And I think they want to do it right because I believe they really do love each other.  If they didn’t, all of the things that aggravate them about each other would have kept them from even thinking about becoming a mated couple.”

           After thinking for a minute, Mikey asked, “Do you think Leo might be on a little bit of an ego trip?  He really gets off on forcing Raphie to submit.”

           “I’m hoping that’s more of a bedroom thing,” Don said.  “We did hear Raph tell him that he liked Leo being aggressive with him.  They just have to learn to keep that in the bedroom.”

           “They have to learn how to disagree without turning the whole lair upside down too,” Mikey said.

           “They’ve each always had a very definite point of view.  The problem is that they try to shove theirs down each other’s throats rather than intelligently discuss them.  I wonder if an intervention would help,” Don mused.

           “An intervention?  How would that work?” Mikey asked.  “You gonna tie them down?”

           Don snorted a laugh.  “Don’t tempt me.”  He paused to rub at his chin, a sure sign that he was having ideas.

           “What are you thinking?”  Mikey stared at his brother, a quiver of expectation running along his spine.

           “I’m thinking that maybe we don’t keep the recordings of those two strictly to ourselves,” Don said slowly.

           “Oh.  Oh!”  Mikey contemplated what he thought his brother was saying and then verbalized it to erase the possibility of a misunderstanding.  “You want to show them that we’ve been spying on their private times?  Is this part of a death wish?”

           “I’m going to have to present the lizards to them at some point,” Don said.  “I think that would be a good segue into their functionality.”

           “Sure, I can hear that conversation,” Mikey said sarcastically.  “’These spy lizards work so well and are so indiscreet that you two didn’t even notice them while you were screwing each other.’”.

           “I wasn’t going to be that blunt, Mikey,” Don told him.  “What we’ve recorded doesn’t just contain their physical interactions.  We’ve got some very telling conversations and arguments that I think would help them to see each other better.”

           “The only thing Raph’s gonna see is red,” Mikey said.  At the look Don gave him, Mikey waved a hand in surrender.  “I’ll go along one hundred percent with whatever you think is best.  Just make sure my hoverboard is fully fueled in case I need to make a quick getaway.”

           “Very funny,” Don replied.  “You have to help me think of a way to get them focused on their own problems so they don’t lash out at us.”

           “Could I take on Karai and the Foot clan instead?” Mikey asked.

           “Hey, you started all of this,” Don said.

           “Me?”  Mikey’s eyes widened in surprise.  “I didn’t build those lizards.”

           “You chose to get involved in what was going on with Leo and Raph,” Don said.  “Not that I’m an innocent bystander,” he added quickly.

           Mikey grinned and kissed him.  “I like having you as a partner in crime.”

           “Speaking of partners, I guess we’d better get back to monitoring Leo and Raph,” Don said regretfully, rising from his prone position.

           He sat cross legged on the edge of the futon and reached for the laptop.  Mikey kneeled behind him, arms around Don as they checked in on their brothers.

            The pair were hard at work and the brick wall was going up at record speed.  It looked as though with the sexual tension gone for the moment, Leo and Raph could function like a single well-oiled machine.

           For the next couple of hours Don and Mikey lounged together, keeping an eye on their brothers and simply talking.  Over their lifetime they had shared many things, but now they revealed their most intimate thoughts and dreams.

           It amazed Mikey to learn that during the last few years Donatello had harbored a desire for him, one that he’d kept well-hidden out of respect for his brother.  Even though Mikey had only just come to understand that he was in love with Don, he was sure that somewhere in his subconscious he’d always known that to be true.

           When they saw that their brothers were finished with the new wall and had started back to the lair, Mikey and Don left the lab and went straight to the bathroom.  They showered together, resisting certain carnal temptations, and exited a while later with wet gear and towels wrapped around their bodies.

           This was how they greeted their brothers upon their return.  Mikey noticed that Raph had carefully draped the ends of his mask over his collarbone, effectively hiding the bite mark.

           “How did the two of ya’ get here before us?” Raph asked suspiciously.  “I’ll bet ya’ didn’t even finish building your wall.”

           “Oh but we did,” Mikey said, grinning widely.  “The fake wall is finished, the fancy opening trick built right into it, and the area all cleaned up.”

           Don was staring at Leo and Raph as though studying them.  “Actually, you should have finished before we did.  Was there a problem with the engineering, or were you two  . . . ?”

           He trailed off, leaving the question open ended.  Mikey was tickled to see the color rise in Raph’s cheeks and the look of guilt on Leo’s face.

           “No, we weren’t fighting,” Leo said, realizing that one of them had to say something.  “We had a bit of a . . . disagreement on how to begin, but we worked it out.”

           “I’m glad to hear that,” Don told them.  “You’re both a mess.  We saved you some hot water, but you might want to draw straws on who gets the shower first.”

           “Unless you guys want to hop in together,” Mikey couldn’t resist adding.

           Leo and Raph exchanged glances and then looked away from each other quickly.  “Raph can go first,” Leo said.  “He did most of the hard work.”

           “Thanks, Leo,” Raph said, appearing surprised at the gesture.  “I’ll make it fast, how’s that sound?”

           “Take as long as you need,” Leo said.  There was a soft look in his eyes that Mikey hadn’t seen before.

           He went to bed thinking about that look and wondering if the task he and Don had set for themselves might not be so insurmountable after all.

           Whatever Don might have been planning, April O’Neil’s appearance the next morning changed things.

           She arrived at the lair just as the brothers were about to begin their practice session.  Master Splinter had come out of his room earlier for tea and informed them that Leonardo would be leading them through their exercises.  He’d said no more than that, merely giving each of his sons a hard look before going back to his room.

           “Hey April,” Don called out in greeting.  Noticing that she was carrying her laptop, he asked, “Not getting more strange messages from another dimension, are you?”

           April shook her head, seeming both curious and worried all at once.  “Master Splinter called and asked me to come by with my computer,” she said.  “He’s never called me before.  I didn’t think he knew how to make a call on his shell cell.”

           “He called you?  Why?” Leo asked, frowning.

           “I have no idea,” April answered.  “I thought you guys might know.  Is everything all right?”

           “He’s been in his room meditating since yesterday,” Don said.  “He’s eating and has said he’s fine when we’ve checked on him.”

           “Something is bothering him,” Leo said.  “I can tell.  He won’t tell me what it is.”

           “Maybe he’ll tell me so I can help,” April said.  “Try not to fret, guys.  If there’s some sort of danger coming and he’s sensed it, he’ll let us know what it is when he’s ready to.”

           She proceeded on to Master Splinter’s room and the brothers gathered together in the dojo.  They didn’t talk about what might be bothering their father, though under normal circumstances that is exactly what they would have done.  Don and Mikey knew, but not why he’d called for April.

           Mikey guessed that Leo and Raph probably had an inkling as to why their father was isolating himself and it wasn’t something they wanted to address in front of the other two.

           Despite the fact that his home life was in something of a turmoil, Leonardo performed his task as leader flawlessly.  Compartmentalizing was one of his gifts and he took them through their training session without a hitch.

           When they finished for the day, Mikey went to the kitchen to take some chicken out of the freezer to thaw.  He found a note from April on the counter, saying that after instructing Master Splinter on how to search for information on the internet, she’d left her laptop with him.  She said he’d told her that one of them would return it later.

           Mikey took the note to Don, who was seated in front of his computer terminals.  Leo and Raph were nearby and came over to read it as well.

           “Why didn’t he ask for my laptop?” Don asked of no one in particular.  “I could have helped him with whatever he’s researching.”

           “Guess it’s something he don’t want any of us to know about,” Raph said.  “That can’t be good.”

            “Dude, that is never good,” Mikey said, his own misgivings ratcheting up a notch.

           Leo started to pace.  “Do you think he’s ill and is trying to hide that from us?  Maybe he borrowed April’s laptop so that he could look up symptoms without leaving a history for us to find.”

           Raph scoffed.  “He didn’t know how to use the internet, how’s he gonna know about browser histories?”

           “Actually, we talked about that once,” Don said.  “It was when Mikey was experimenting with food and wouldn’t tell us what he was making for dinner.  I scanned through his browser history to see what recipes he’d researched.”

           “Hey, that’s cheating!” Mikey exclaimed, giving Don a dirty look.

           Don raised his eye ridges.  “All’s fair in our gastrointestinal peace and your war on our stomachs.  Anyway, Master Splinter wanted a head’s up on what he might be eating too, so he watched me.  I guess the only thing he remembered from then was that when you look for something on the internet, you leave behind a trail.”

           “He was always good at following trails,” Raph said.

           “You guys are getting far off the subject,” Leo said sharply as he stopped pacing.  “I don’t care about what he does or doesn’t know about computers, I care about why he’s in seclusion.”

           “Don’t get your shell in a bunch,” Mikey said.  He pointed to himself.  “Leave it to the Mikester.  I’ll whip up some of that soup he likes so much and take it to him.  I mean, he’s gotta eat, right?  If he’s got an appetite, then it probably means he’s not sick.  Maybe it’ll put him in a good enough mood so he’ll tell me what’s up.”

           “Or you’ll try to get a look over his shoulder at whatever it is he’s researching,” Don said.

           “You know me so well,” Mikey replied, beaming at him.

           “Go on then, hurry it up before Leo busts a gut worrying,” Raph said, slapping the back of Mikey’s shell.  “Just don’t forget to tell us everything ya’ find out.”

           “On it,” Mikey said, heading for the stairs.

            Fortunately Mikey kept a container of his homemade vegetable broth in the freezer and it didn’t take him long to heat up a batch.  He added some sliced vegetables to the broth and chunks of leftover turkey.  While it simmered, Mikey prepared a pot of tea and then placed everything onto a tray and carried it to his father’s room.

            On his way past the couch, Mikey saw that Raph and Leo were seated next to each other.  The television was on, but neither was watching, too engrossed in a whispered conversation.  They stopped talking when Mikey was within earshot, but returned to their discussion after he’d gone by.  Looking back, Mikey saw that their heads were close together and there was no sign of any argument between them.

            When Mikey entered his father’s room, he heard the clacking sound of fingernails on a keyboard.  Walking slowly down the stairs so as to make no noise, Mikey spotted Master Splinter kneeling behind his chabudai table, April’s laptop open in front of him.

            If Mikey thought his father would be too absorbed in his research to notice him, he was mistaken.  Master Splinter looked up before Mikey stepped off of the last stair riser.

            “I brought you some lunch, Sensei,” Mikey said, smiling brightly at his father.

            One of the skills the aged rat had mastered was the ultimate poker face.  Mikey couldn’t read a single thought from his father’s expression.

            “That is very kind of you, Michelangelo,” Master Splinter said, lowering the screen on the laptop so that Mikey couldn’t see what was on it.

            Mikey set the tray on the end of the table.  “Um, you doing okay, Sensei?  Need anything?  I can help with the computer if you want, I’m really good on it.  I mean, not as great as Donny is, but second best and I can find anything if you’re having trouble . . . .”

            “No, thank you, my son,” Master Splinter said with an air of dismissal.

            After fidgeting for a second, Mikey blurted out, “Look, I didn’t mean to freak you out with everything I said.  You know, about Leo and Raph, and . . . and Donny and me.  I know you said you wanted to meditate on it and I totally understand, but whatever you decide won’t change how we feel about each other.”

            “You think to speak for all of your brothers?” Master Splinter asked.

            Mikey rubbed the back of his head, feeling ill at ease.  “Mainly just Donny and me.  ‘Cause you know, we talk about stuff.  We don’t keep things from each other.”

            “That is commendable, or it would be if you were the only two that I had to worry about,” Master Splinter said.

            “Leo and Raph are getting better,” Mikey rushed to say.  “They really are.  They’re trying.”

            “Trying and succeeding are two different things,” Master Splinter said.  “If you are in a life or death battle with the Foot clan, which do you think is better, trying not to die, or succeeding?”

            “Not getting killed of course,” Mikey said.  “But it’s not the same thing.”

            “Is it not?” Master Splinter said, eyeing his son.  “Think about it.  That is what I am doing.  I wish to return to my thoughts now, Michelangelo.  Please inform your brothers that I am well and that I do not wish to be disturbed.”

            There was nothing else Mikey could think to say, because he wasn’t sure what his father had been alluding to.  Instead he nodded, bowed, and left the room.

            He desperately wanted to talk to Don alone, but all three of his brothers practically pounced on him when Mikey entered the TV room.

            “Well?  Did ya’ find out what he’s doing?” Raph asked.

            Shaking his head, Mikey said, “He closed the laptop when I went in.  He said he was okay and he was eating soup when I left, so I guess he’s not sick.  He said to tell you guys that he doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

            “That means that whatever is on his mind, he’s not going to tell us until he’s good and ready,” Don said.

            Raph made a noise at the back of his throat, something akin to a growl.  “I am seriously not liking this.”

            “What else can we do, Raph?” Don asked.  “We can’t confront him if we have no idea what’s going on with him.  Even if we did, he’d shut us down.”

            “Donny’s right,” Leo said, lightly touching Raph’s arm.  “We’ll just have to wait.”

            Raph turned to look at him.  “Ya’ gonna be okay with that?  Five seconds ago ya’ were pacing and about to come unglued.  Do me a favor and be honest about what you’re feeling instead of bottling that shit up.”

            “Sure, I’m anxious and I’m worried.  I admit it,” Leo told him.  “But I have to believe what you said, Raph, that things will work themselves out.”

            Mikey figured Raph must have said that when they were on the couch together.  He was glad that Leo seemed to be listening to his brother.

            The marked change in their demeanor and attitude towards each other was notable, but both Don and Mikey had the good sense not to mention it.  Raph’s mask tails were still covering the bite mark and Mikey guessed that he’d glued them to his plastron.  As quickly as they healed from minor wounds, it wouldn’t be long before the mark no longer showed.

            “So, I’ve got plenty of soup,” Mikey announced, interrupting the conversation that Leo and Raph’s eyes were having.  “How about I make some crusty bread to go along with it?”

            “Sounds good, Mikey,” Leo said.  “I think someone should always be close to Father’s room today, in case he calls out for us.”

            Michelangelo wasn’t in the kitchen long before Don joined him.

            “What did Master Splinter really tell you?” Don asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

            “Leo and Raph?” Mikey asked.

            “On the couch,” Don answered.  “Joined at the hip.  This thing with Father seems to have flipped some sort of switch with them.”

            “That and finally having some sort of sex,” Mikey said.  “Waiting for that to happen can be nerve wracking.”

            He stared pointedly at Don, who laughed.  “If that’s a hint, which I’m sure it was, you’ll just have to keep waiting.  I think Sensei is our priority right now.”

            Mikey frowned as his thoughts returned to his encounter with Master Splinter.  He quickly and quietly told Don everything that their father had said.

            “What do you think he meant when he was talking about trying and succeeding and battling the Foot?” Mikey asked.

            Don stood completely still, his gaze frozen at some point just over Mikey’s shoulder.  The younger turtle had seen that before, it meant his brother was deep in thought.

            “Mikey, given how you feel about me, if we were in a fight against one of our enemies, doesn’t matter who, and I was in danger, what would you do?” Don asked.

            “I’d rush in to help you,” Mikey replied immediately.  “You’d do the same for me.  We always have.”

            “Now suppose I was in a precarious position, but Raph was in imminent danger,” Don said.

            “I’d help Raph,” Mikey said.

            “Would you?”  Don stared at him, his expression very serious.  “Could you?  If it required you to take your eyes off of whatever was happening to me in order to come to Raph’s aid, would you be able to do that?  Suppose we were in equal amounts of danger and Leo ordered you to Raph’s side, would you obey him?”

            “Sure,” Mikey answered.  “I mean, I guess . . . I suppose . . . but what if Leo wanted me to help Raph because he cares more about . . . . oh.”

            Understanding suddenly blossomed, the meaning behind his father’s words now making complete sense.  Don nodded.

            “There’s more to our pairing off than the sexual component,” Don said.  “Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me either, not until you told me what Master Splinter said.”

            “Wow, this kinda sucks,” Mikey said.  “I don’t want to worry that our teamwork is gonna get screwed up by this.”

            “Master Splinter has to worry about that though, don’t you think?  He’s our Father and Sensei.  Keeping us safe and alive is his first priority,” Don said.

            Mikey grimaced.  “Making sure that we’re happy isn’t at the top of his list.  How come things have to be so complicated?”

            Don waved a hand across his body to indicate his appearance.  “It’s because of this, Mikey.  Being who we are gives meaning to the word ‘complicated’.”

            “Okay then, then it royally sucks,” Mikey said.  “But we’ve figured out hard stuff in the past, haven’t we?  There’s no reason we can’t work through this too.”

            Setting a hand on Mikey’s shoulder, Don said, “Keep being optimistic.  We should probably wait until we hear what Master Splinter has to say before we take any steps towards the Leo and Raph dilemma.”

            “They seem to be getting along just fine right now,” Mikey said.

            “Because they have a common concern,” Don said.  “It’s too soon to know if this peace is temporary or not.”

            It was for the next ten hours.  The brothers had their lunch and then when evening rolled around, they had dinner, all without seeing Master Splinter.  Mikey didn’t go to his father’s room again, knowing that his previous dismissal had been a final one.

            One of them always remained in the TV room, the closest space to their Father’s.  Even when they were watching an action movie, the turtles kept the volume turned down.  Mikey suggested they play a board game to give them something to do, because he for one was feeling nervous as a kitten.

            His suggestion was turned down.  Bringing a stack of comic books from his room, Mikey settled on the rug and tried to bury himself in them, but even they didn’t assuage his uneasiness.

            It was nearing midnight when Raph finally stood up and stretched.  “I don’t know about the rest of ya’ guys, but I’m gonna rack.  We ain’t heard peep and I’m thinking that’s how it’s gonna be until tomorrow.”

            He looked expectantly at Leo, who shook his head.  “I’ll sleep on the couch.  It’s comfortable enough.”

            “I ain’t gonna argue with ya’ ‘cause even if I talked ya’ into going to your room, you’d stay up the rest of the night worrying,” Raph said.  “I’ll go grab a blanket off your bed . . . .”

            He didn’t get to finish the sentence because it was at that moment that their father made his appearance.  Master Splinter had April’s laptop tucked under his arm and was leaning heavily on his walking stick.

            “My sons, it is time for us to have a serious talk,” Master Splinter told them.


Chapter Text

            “O~kay,” Mikey said in response to his father’s announcement.  “What about?”

            He stared at his father in a near panic, worried that Master Splinter was going to blurt out not only everything that Mikey had shared with him, but the fact that it was Mikey who had spilled the beans.

            “I would like for all of you to be seated,” Master Splinter said.  “I desire your undivided attention.”

            Since Mikey was already comfortable on the rug, he remained where he was.  Leo came off the couch to join him and Raph kneeled close to his older brother.  They all waited for Donatello to leave his computers and complete their circle.  He chose to sit on the rug near Mikey.

            Master Splinter kneeled opposite them, placing the laptop on the rug next to him.  He surveyed the group, seeming to take note of where they’d placed themselves, and then took a deep breath.  “When I accepted the responsibility of raising the four of you, I did so with very little knowledge.  There was much trial and error.”

            “You did a wonderful job, Father,” Leo said, frowning.  “We could not have asked for better.”

            “Nor could I,” Master Splinter said.  “The four of you have completed my life in ways I could not have comprehended.  My commitment has always been to be as knowledgeable as possible so that I might anticipate your needs and guarantee your safety.  In this I believed that I had been successful.”

            “That sounds like a retirement speech,” Mikey said with a laugh.  “Are you moving to Maui?”

            Raph lifted a hand and then realized he was too far away from his youngest brother.  “Hit him for me, would ya’, Donny?”

            Don ignored him, his focus on his father.  “You said ‘believed that I had been’, Master Splinter.  Has something changed your mind?”

            Mikey forced himself to continue wearing a look of mild amusement.  Levity was expected from him and completely dropping the quips and jokes would have appeared suspicious.  His last conversation with his father had not been an auspicious one and Mikey had not liked where Master Splinter’s thoughts had been headed.

            “I have become aware of a certain situation which has apparently been developing for some little time,” Master Splinter said.  “My initial reaction to the changes I sensed was to explain them away as ‘cabin fever’.  Enforced confinement has never been received well by any of you.”

            “Ya’ got that right,” Raph said, a sour look on his face.

            Master Splinter went on as though Raph had not spoken.  “Conversation with each of you in turn has yielded information which has reinforced assumptions that I had begun to make.  Some of you have been more forthcoming and honest, which I appreciate.  I am always gratified to know that you are comfortable in discussing anything with me and that you know I will not share your confidences unless you have given me permission to do so.”

            He looked around the semi-circle, including each of his sons in his glance.  Mikey felt as though his father’s eyes lingered on him a bit longer, but that could have been because he was the last in the line.  Whatever the case, Master Splinter’s assurances helped assuage some of Mikey’s anxiety.

            Before continuing, Master Splinter tapped April’s laptop with a fingertip.  “In order to become better educated about the assumptions I had formed, I required information.”

            “I could have helped . . . .” Don began.

            Master Splinter raised his hand to cut Donatello off.  “It was not information that I wished for any of you to know that I was researching.”  He chuckled.  “You could perhaps say that I was preparing my arsenal.  It would not have done for any of the subjects of my research to have advanced knowledge of the direction my thoughts had taken.”

            Mikey couldn’t resist shooting a look at Leo.  His older brother was being very quiet and Mikey wondered what was going through his head.  As usual, Leonardo’s face gave nothing away.

            “My initial concerns upon finding and rescuing the four of you included sustenance, habitation, and safety,” Master Splinter said.  “The first two were simple enough.  As a rat, I already knew where to find food and where I could find the most sheltered locations within the tunnels.”

            “Our first home,” Mikey said.

            “Stop interrupting,” Raph told him.

            “The third item, safety, was multi-faceted,” Master Splinter continued.  “When you were young it was entirely my job to protect you.  As you grew, more of that responsibility fell to each of you.”

            “Because of that, you began our training,” Leo murmured.

            Mikey noticed that though Leo had finally spoken, his expression hadn’t changed.  He was still wearing an impassive mask.

            “I was well-equipped to provide you with that self-defense training,” Master Splinter said.  “My Master Yoshi had taught me many things.  Tang Shen taught me as well; she showed me how to love and care for others, how to be selfless, and how to see the beauty in a world that could often be harsh.”

            “Right up until she got betrayed for that faith,” Raph growled.

            “That was a lesson for all of us,” Master Splinter said.  “What lurks in the heart can be beautiful, but it can also be bitter.  It can hide its true face until it is too late.  This is partly why I drilled into you not only the physical aspects of Bushido, but also its tenets.”

            “Rectitude, Courage . . . .” Don said.

            Mikey picked it up from there.  “Benevolence, Politeness . . . .”

            “Veracity, Honor . . . .” Raph continued.

            “Loyalty,” Leo said.  “In the conflict between loyalty and affection the code never wavers from the choice of loyalty.”

            Master Splinter nodded, his gaze directed at Leo.  “What I taught you, what I hoped that I taught the four of you, was that your loyalty was to each other above all else.”

            “Of course, Father,” Leo acknowledged.

            “Trust, loyalty, dedication, love,” Master Splinter intoned.  “These are the things I endeavored to instill in each of you.  This connection you have to each other was meant to last beyond a lifetime; it was meant to withstand the ravages of an eternity.”

            He stopped speaking and the room grew quiet.  Though still wondering what else his father was going to say to them, Mikey couldn’t help but to ruminate upon the things he had just conveyed.

            “I have come to realize in the last month that I had failed all of you in one regard,” Master Splinter said, breaking the silence.  “Over the years we have had many lessons together, one of which involved biology and sex education.  I recognized that you needed to understand the workings of your own bodies and relied upon the understanding of mine to relay what I believed to be all of the information you needed.  I now know that I did not cover enough material.”

            “You covered the basics very well,” Don said magnanimously.

            Master Splinter nodded.  “The basics, yes.  How the body functions and the things that occur naturally, such as early morning erections.  What I did not review with you was the biological urges that occur in young males.  You were the only four of your kind and I did not consider that someday you might have certain needs.”

            Raph groaned and pulled a sai from his belt.  The movement caught Leo’s eye and he frowned at his brother.  “What are you doing?”

            “I’m gonna poke out my eardrums,” Raph said.

            “Do not be impertinent,” Master Splinter snapped, glowering at his son.

            “Sorry, Sensei,” Raph replied, looking properly rebuked as he tucked the sai away.

            “I see that I am doing this badly,” Master Splinter said.

            “No you’re not, Master Splinter,” Don said.  “We’re listening.  I think we all understand what it is you’re trying to discuss with us.”

            “When I talked to you about sex and needs, it was not only to educate you, but to stave off any curiosity that might lead to experimentation,” Master Splinter said.  “I knew that you would eventually figure out how to stimulate yourselves, especially when you began to be affected by hormonal changes.  Masturbation is completely normal and quite healthy.”

            “As long as we kept it to ourselves,” Don filled in when his father paused.

            “But you have not kept it to yourselves, have you?” Master Splinter asked, looking at each of his sons in turn.

            No one answered.  Master Splinter clasped his hands in his lap.  “That was not a rhetorical question.”

            Mikey decided it was time to speak up.  “No.  It’s not curiosity or experimenting either.  My feelings are real.”

            He purposely kept the reference vague.  All of the reasons that he and Don had kept their burgeoning relationship a secret still remained.  The last thing any of them needed was for Leo and Raph to feel pressured or obligated to be together.

            While Master Splinter’s attention was on Mikey, Raph leaned close to Leo.  Though Mikey couldn’t hear what Raph said, he could easily read his lips.  He spoke only one word.  Fearless.

            There was a mocking sneer on Raph’s face as he straightened back up, one that was clearly evident to Leonardo.

            But then Mikey noticed that Leo was scrutinizing him.  In a second it dawned on Mikey that Leo and Raph were reacting not to each other, but to what their youngest brother had said.

            Mikey’s comment could easily be construed as having to do with any of his three brothers.  Raph was already a little jealous of Mikey and that was entirely Mikey’s fault.  What he’d just blurted out might have made Raph believe that something had happened between Leo and him.

            Since Leo knew quite well that he hadn’t engaged in anything other than brotherly activities with Mikey, he probably wondered if Mikey was referring to feelings he had for Raph.  All of Mikey’s conversations with his oldest brother of late had been in reference to how Leo and Raph were getting along.  That could have sounded like Mikey wanted to have a shot at Raph.

            Mikey started to open his mouth to explain himself but then thought better of it.  If his brothers wanted to know the truth, then they could just start talking.  That’s exactly what Mikey and Don had been urging them to do all along.

            “Courage takes many forms, I am happy that at least one of you recognizes how important it is to be frank with me,” Master Splinter said.

            A flush rose to Leo’s cheeks.  He had always hated to be censured by his father.

            It was Don who spoke up, giving Leo time to recover his composure.  “You said that you didn’t cover enough material and you hadn’t considered we might someday have certain needs.  Is that why you borrowed April’s laptop?”

            Master Splinter bowed his head once in acknowledgment of Donatello’s question.  “When I found the four of you, all covered in glowing ooze, you were baby turtles.  You all changed so quickly that I had no time to cogitate upon what you had been, only upon what you had become, myself included.  I understood the mating rituals of rats and those of humans, having spent years in their company.  What I knew nothing about was the dynamics of turtle attraction.”

            Mikey’s eyes widened.  He hadn’t thought of that and with a glance at Don, he could see that the genius hadn’t either.  They were so different from every other life form they’d ever met that they tended to forget that at one time they were just turtles.

            “Every species is attracted to their own kind,” Master Splinter said.  “Since you are the only four of your kind and all males, I did not consider that this would become an issue.  Perhaps I believed that the mutation had also changed that aspect of your origin.  Seeing the signs indicating that I was wrong led me to learn more about turtles.”

            “One cannot go against one’s nature,” Donatello murmured.

            “Exactly, my son,” Master Splinter agreed.  “Male turtles, whether in captivity or not, can be attracted to other males, even those from the same clutch or bale.  In confinement, males will mate with other males.  I would consider the fact that there are only four of you to be a type of confinement, do you not agree?”

            “Well sure, that and we’re gonna be stuck down here for the rest of our lives,” Raph griped.

            Master Splinter raised a finger as though to emphasize a point.  “That should not be a determining factor in your behavior or your choices, Raphael.”

            “Guess not,” Raph mumbled in reply.

            Their father’s look softened.  “I know that you find boundaries to be particularly egregious, Raphael.  I am not dismissing your feelings on the subject, I am merely indicating that they are not a basis for making life changing decisions.”

            Raph shrugged.  “Yeah, okay.  I see your point.”

            “Male turtles can be tenacious and competitive during courtship,” Master Splinter said.  “They are single-minded in focus and are sometimes violent.  Courting rituals vary, but often males will bite their prospective mate on the neck.”

            This time it was Raph whose color rose.  His hand lifted to stroke at the mask tails covering his love bite, which was by now barely visible.

            “Having learned these things helped certain pieces of the behavioral puzzle to fall into place,” Master Splinter said.  “Aggression is born of natural instincts.  Acceptance of that aggression, even the welcoming of it, is also natural.  It fulfills a need.”

            In that moment Mikey realized that having that information to start with would have aided him in analyzing Leo’s and Raph’s behaviors a lot sooner.  It would also have helped when Mikey was discussing things with Master Splinter.

            At the same moment as Mikey was having his revelation, he saw Leo lightly touch Raph’s thigh, withdrawing his hand quickly.  Mikey read that as some sort of signal and immediately focused his attention on the pair.

            Raph made no attempt to be artful in the way he responded to that signal.  He turned his head to stare at Leo, his eye ridges raised in what was clearly a ‘go ahead’ message.

            “Father,” Leo said, his voice steady as he got Master Splinter’s attention.  “Raphael and I have something that we would like to tell you.  What you have guessed to be happening between us is true.  We wish to be in a relationship with one another.”

            Raph’s expression morphed into a look of satisfaction at Leo’s declaration and then immediately became a scowl when his brother bowed deeply, touching his forehead to the floor.

            “I have dishonored myself,” Leo said.  “I should have come to you first, rather than to pursue my desires without your approval.”

            Master Splinter contemplated his eldest son.  “Am I correct then that the fighting, the arguments, and all of the disagreements of late between the two of you have been a courtship of sorts?”

            “Yes, Sensei,” Leo said without lifting his head.

            “And you, Raphael,” Master Splinter said, “This is a mutual understanding between you?”

            Raph scratched at his neck, looking both embarrassed by the question and put-out by Leo’s behavior.  “Yeah.  I mean, yes Sensei.  I guess Leo and me, we’ve always sort of had a thing for each other.”

            “I see.”  Master Splinter turned to look at Don and Mikey.  “The reason for the escalation in their antagonistic behavior has not been a mystery to you?”

            “It was at first,” Don admitted, choosing to be forthright.  “I eventually put two and two together.  I’m not as observant as Mikey.”

            “That’s only ‘cause you’re too busy trying to do pretty much everything for us,” Mikey said, resisting the urge to take Don’s hand into his.  “You don’t have time to investigate the stuff that goes on around here.”

            “Have ya’ been spying on us, ya’ little douche nozzle?” Raph demanded, looking furious.

            Mikey avoided giving him a yes or no by saying, “It’s not spying if you guys are doing things right in front of me.”

            “Leonardo, I wish to ask you a question and I would like to see your eyes as you answer it,” Master Splinter said.

            Lifting his head from the floor, Leo sat up ramrod straight, his gaze directed at his father.  “Yes, Sensei.”

            Master Splinter compressed his lips tightly for a moment and then asked, “Do you and Raphael wish to be together merely to have sex?”

            Mikey almost swallowed his tongue.  He had not expected such a direct question from his father.  Leo’s rapid blinking was a good indication that he’d been caught off guard too.

            “No, of course not,” Leo responded.

            “Then if you please, one of you define for me what you mean by ‘relationship’ and having a ‘thing’ for each other,” Master Splinter said.

            Leo frowned.  “I do not understand what you are asking, Father.”

            “Are ya’ asking what it is about Leo that makes me want to be with him?” Raph asked.

            Master Splinter gave them both a hard look.  “If you cannot each honestly tell me how you feel about your brother, then how do you expect me to condone something that at the moment seems an excuse to pursue your carnal desires?”

            Mikey wasn’t surprised that Raph was having a hard time putting his emotions into words.  He was a turtle of action; the feelings happened and he reacted to them.  He’d never been good about verbalizing them and had once actually said that talking about feelings was for sissies.

            Leo, on the other hand, had already known that to hold onto Raph he’d need to have this discussion with their father.  For a turtle who usually thought everything through in advance, his not having an immediate answer was sort of puzzling.

            That didn’t mean that Mikey couldn’t take advantage of the situation.  Maybe if he took the lead this time, then his more alpha type brothers would follow his playbook.

            “I want to be with Donny,” Mikey blurted out.  “Pretty sure I always have.”

            Complete shock was the best way to describe how Raph reacted to that revelation.

            “What the hell . . . ?” Raph began.  He looked from Mike to Don.  “Donny?”

            In contrast, Leo seemed to take the news as confirmation of something that he had already gleaned for himself.

            “Mikey and I have realized that we have been drawn to each other for some time,” Don said.  “He is unique and intriguing.  Mikey’s mind is fascinating and his spirit unrivaled.  I am in love with him.”

            The grin on Mikey’s face was so wide he almost couldn’t talk, but somehow he managed to say, “Donny has everything a guy could want.  He’s smart and gentle natured.  He’s got a great imagination and he can talk about anything.  Oh, and did I mention that he’s really hot?  ‘Cause he is.”

            This time Mikey did reach for Don’s hand and was gratified that his brother had the same notion, meeting him halfway.

            “Thank you for being so candid,” Master Splinter said.  “It is a healthy sign that you are able to articulate the reasons that you want to be together.  Tell me, if I were to forbid such a thing, what would you do?”

            Mikey was hit again by the same drowning sensation he’d gotten during his last private talk with Master Splinter.  The prospect that his father might do that left him slightly speechless.

           “I would . . . uh . . . .”  Mikey stopped, not sure what his father wanted to hear.

           Don didn’t share that difficulty.  “I would ask what the basis for such a decision was and try to meet each argument with an answer that would satisfy you.”

           “Logical, as always, Donatello,” Master Splinter said.  He returned to his perusal of Leo and Raph.  “Were the two of you aware of the shared interest between Michelangelo and Donatello?”

           “I sure wasn’t,” Raph answered quickly.

           Leo responded more slowly.  “I was starting to become aware that something was going on with Mikey,” he said.  “He has shown a keen interest lately in how Raph and I have been getting along.  I began to wonder if there wasn’t an ulterior motive to his antics of late.”

           “Antics?” Master Splinter asked.

           “There seemed to be a hidden agenda in how he interacted with both Raph and myself,” Leo said.  “I’d also begun to read something more between the lines in the conversations Mikey and I had.  He appeared quite invested in getting Raph and I to communicate in a more meaningful way.”

            “In other words, Mikey was butting in again,” Raph said, glowering at his youngest brother.

           “He was trying to help,” Don said.  “So was I.  Do you think either of us likes hearing you and Leo fighting?  Especially when we sense that you are both after the same thing but are too stubborn to be the first to back down long enough to listen to what the other has to say?”

           “I suppose next you’re gonna say it’s all my fault,” Raph said belligerently.

           “Don’t be so self-involved,” Mikey said.  “Don said ‘both’.  He wasn’t calling you out.”

           “Oh, so now we got the two of ya’ up in our faces,” Raph sneered.  “Ya’ discover ya’ got the hots for each other and suddenly ya’ know everything.  You’re a pair of snoops.”

           Master Splinter’s tail smacked the ground hard enough for the sound to reverberate through the room.  “I do not intend for this discussion to devolve into name calling,” he said.  “We are here because there could potentially be dire ramifications due to the changes in your relationships.  Your inability to at least define what you want from each other does not bode well for this family nor for your team, Leonardo.”

           “I do not wish to sound as though I am making excuses, Sensei,” Leo said.  “One of the reasons I haven’t been forthcoming is that I have been pondering the effects on us as a team.”

           “Then why the hell haven’t ya’ just straight up said that to me?” Raph asked, staring at his brother.  “Ain’t I a part of this?  Maybe instead of keeping that crap to yourself and trying to figure it all out on your own, ya’ could share it.  Maybe I might surprise ya’ and have some good ideas or insights.”

           “Hard decisions aren’t burdens to share,” Leo said.  “They are a function of my role . . . .”

           “Bullshit!” Raph shouted.  “It’s just another way for ya’ to say you’re better than me and that my opinion don’t count!  What the hell are ya’ after, Leo?  Is this all about ya’ manipulating me into doing what ya’ want and that’s it?  Are my words only important when they’re an echo of the stuff ya’ say?”

           “You are misunderstanding me,” Leo said.  “I think you do that on purpose.  Just because we’re together doesn’t mean that our individual roles have changed.  We still have to consider the consequences of our actions before those actions lead to bigger problems.”

           “I guess I’m one of those bigger problems,” Raph said.  “Right?  My actions is what ya’ mean to say.  Ya’ got no problem with them when I’m on my back and you’re on top of me, but let me start acting like I got some say so in what happens, and ya’ pull that ‘I’m the leader’ bullshit.”

           Leo glanced at Master Splinter and then back at his brother.  “This is not the place to discuss what we do in private.”

           “Sure it is,” Raph countered.  “Ain’t that the whole point of Master Splinter getting us all in here?  Didn’t he straight up ask ya’ if the only reason ya’ wanna be with me is to have sex?”

           “I answered that question,” Leo said hotly.

           “A flat out no ain’t an answer,” Raph fumed.  “How come ya’ wanna be with me, Leo?  What is it about me that ya’ like?” He snorted a laugh.  “Do ya’ even like anything about me?”

           “He asked both of us to define what it is we’re after,” Leo shot back.  “You didn’t tell him why you have feelings for me either.”

           Raph jumped to his feet, clearly furious.  “Maybe I don’t!  Maybe I don’t wanna waste my time on someone who’s got the emotional depth of a rock!”

           He turned on his heel and stomped out of the room, heading for the stairs.

           “Raphael, Raphael!” Master Splinter called out, standing up quickly.  “Come back here now!  We are not finished!”

           “I’m finished!” Raph yelled without slowing down.  “I am completely done with this shit!”

           “Raphael!” Master Splinter shouted, sounding angrier than he had in a very long time.

           “Let him go,” Leo said as he rose.  Other than the way his jaw was working, it was hard to tell what he was feeling.  “He’ll burn off some steam and be back soon enough.”

           Master Splinter spun on him.  “This situation has gotten out of hand.  You will repair it immediately, Leonardo.  Do you understand me?  I will not have the four of you at odds with one another for any reason.”

           Leo bowed stiffly.  “As you wish, Father.”

           With a last long look at his eldest son, Master Splinter walked away, disappearing into his room.  Leonardo spared but a single glance at his two remaining brothers before leaving as well, his steps taking him in the direction of the dojo.

           Mikey had continued holding Don’s hand throughout the violent exchange and only let go when his brother got up to retrieve April’s laptop.  Hopping to his feet, Mikey moved over to stand close to Don.  The confusion and anxiety that Mikey was feeling could easily be seen in Don’s expression as well.

           “Now what?” Mikey asked.

           Don sighed.  “That is a very good question, Mikey.  Now what indeed.”



Chapter Text

            “It’s all out in the open now,” Mikey said.  “Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing?”

            He and Donatello were in the service bay.  Raphael had been gone for a few hours and no one had a clue as to where he was.  Though Don had tried to locate him through his shell cell’s tracking system, his whereabouts were still a mystery.  Raph’s shell cell had been dropped in the tunnels not far from their home.

            Don shrugged.  “You would think so.  In our family, who knows?”

            Mikey fiddled with some mechanical bits lying on Don’s worktable while his brother toyed with one of his mechanical lizards.  “I mean, how hard is it to say you’re in love with your brother if you are?  Couldn’t Leo have at least given Raph that much?”

            “You’re the one who’s been talking to Leo the most.  Why do you think he couldn’t or wouldn’t say it?” Don asked.

            “I think he’s afraid,” Mikey said, dropping the things he’d been playing with and spinning around on his stool so he could look directly at his brother.

            “You might be right,” Don said, meeting his eyes.  “I wouldn’t have thought that of Leo, but he’s holding himself back and there has to be a reason.  At first I was sure that he was concerned that he’d disappoint Master Splinter.  Maybe he still is.”

            “That’s part of it,” Mikey said, trying hard to hold onto his own train of thought.  Ideas tended to come at him fast and latching onto one in order to ride it out took focus.  “A lot of it is the whole losing control thing.  It’s why Sensei sent him to train with the Ancient One.  Leo bottles stuff up and even meditation can’t resolve everything.”

            “He puts a lot of effort into being stoic,” Don said.  “A lot of energy.”

            “It’s ‘cause he’s like Raph in one major way,” Mikey said.  “Leo’s got really strong emotions, he just doesn’t let them out unless they overwhelm him.  Admitting how he feels means taking down one of the barriers he’s built to contain them.”

            “So it might be that he’s scared that once it comes down, all of his control will slip?” Don asked.  “If he can’t do that, if he can’t say what Raph means to him or even say he’s sorry, those two will never be together.”

            Mikey shrugged.  “That’s the problem in a nutshell.  Right now, Raph needs an apology and a really good one.  I heard somebody on a TV show once say that apologizing is a major threat to identity and self-esteem if you’re somebody who struggles to manage strong emotions.  At first I thought that fit Raph perfectly, but now I think it suits Leo better.”

            “Have you been watching Dr. Phil with Master Splinter?” Don asked with a smile.

            “Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it,” Mikey said, lightly punching his brother’s arm.

            Don returned to his task, but the grin remained on his face.  “And here I thought you were just sucking up.”

            “Actually, it’s my go to method for avoiding having to meditate,” Mikey said with a chuckle.  “Master Splinter and I bond over teen heartache and chemical dependency.”

            “You’re terrible,” Don said, waving a screwdriver at his brother.  A thought struck him and he sobered quickly.  “How long do you think Raph will be gone?  You don’t think he could be . . . .”

            “Getting into trouble?” Mikey asked, finishing the question for him.  “The one thing he knows he’s not supposed to do is hunt down Hun and the Purple Dragons.  If he’s really mad at Leo, he might do that and damn the consequences.”

            “If that’s not a cry for attention . . . .” Don began.

            “A cry for Leo’s attention,” Mikey emphasized.

            “. . . then I don’t know what is.” Don concluded.

            Leonardo’s appearance at the top of the stairs prevented them from discussing it further.  He said nothing until he had walked over to them.

            From his expression, Mikey expected that Leo had some questions of them.  After Raph had run off and Master Splinter had reproved his eldest son, Leo had gone to the dojo.  That he was relieving some of his aggression and anxiety through sword work was a given.  At some point Mikey knew that Leo would demand an explanation from the pair of brothers who had dropped a bombshell on their family.

            That wasn’t what Leo was after.  “We need to locate Raphael,” he said.  “If he’s being reckless, there might be something on the police scanner or even sightings that have been posted to the internet.”

            For just a second the worry on his face was replaced by a flash of real pain.  Don slowly lowered his tools, glancing at Mikey before clearing his throat.

            “Actually, I have another way,” Don said.  “I was saving the big reveal for when I’d completed the entire project, but this sort of constitutes an emergency.”

            Mikey swallowed hard.  “In for a penny, in for a pound,” he thought to himself.  He and Don might as well admit to everything since they’d already fessed up to being in love with each other.

            Striding over to the table which held his robotic lizards, Donatello lifted off the tarp that was covering them.

            Leo’s reaction was much like Mikey’s had been.  “Lizards?  Why are you building mechanical lizards?”

            “For security purposes,” Don explained.  “They can go practically anywhere without being noticed and even if they were, they wouldn’t cause alarm.  People are used to seeing them.  They can patrol the tunnels and alert us if anyone comes near the lair.”

            Mikey decided to pick up the explanation.  “They’re really cool, Leo.  Donny built all sorts of sensors into them and programmed them to act like real lizards.  With the controllers you can see and hear everything that happens near the lizard.  You can even record stuff.”

            He was watching Leo’s face carefully and saw his brother’s eyes narrow.  “Have you tested them?” he asked.

            Nodding, Don said.  “They’ve been field tested.  At least the few that I’ve completed.”  The color in Don’s cheeks rose.  “I’ve even tried them out here in the lair and no one has seen them.”

            Leo was staring hard at him.  There was no way that Mikey was going to let Don take all the heat.

            “I helped,” Mikey said.  “Actually, I sort of started it by sneaking one of the finished lizards off the table and giving it a trial run.”

            “To see if it worked or to satisfy your curiosity?” Leo asked, his sharp gaze now on Mikey.

            “Both?”  Mikey tried to appear ingenuous, but clearly Leo was not buying it.

            “Where exactly did you give it a trial run?” Leo asked, but before Mikey could answer, his brother held up a hand.  “No, never mind.  Let’s table that until we locate Raph.  I have a feeling this needs to be explained to him as well.  How do these lizards provide that other way of tracking Raph that you alluded to, Donny?”

            Don cleared his throat, a good indication of the embarrassment and guilt he was feeling.  “Because they are programmed to protect the lair, any movement near us will attract one of them.  I already have three of the lizards in the tunnels.  They can follow a shell cell signal, but can also follow anyone they’ve alerted to.  I haven’t told them not to track us, so one of them might have gone after Raph when he left here.”

            “You didn’t tell me about that,” Mikey said.

            “Honestly, I didn’t think of it until now,” Don said.  “Raph was moving so fast that I doubt one of the lizards could have followed him far.”

            “Even a general direction would help,” Leo said.  “Check on that now.”

            Don went over to his desk and opened his laptop.  While he was typing in a series of commands, Mikey remained near Leo.  The older turtle was watching Don, but when Mikey started to walk away, Leo spoke.

            “Did that trial run mean you sent one of the lizards into a bedroom?” Leo asked.

            Mikey froze mid-step and glanced at his brother.  Leo was not looking at him, but Mikey could tell that’s where his focus was.

            “How mad will you be if I say yes?” Mikey asked.

            He could see Leo’s jaw working and guessed that his brother was holding back some sort of emotion.  “I’ve been aware that you’ve been watching us,” Leo said finally.  “We all know how curious you are.”

            “Well I’m sorry,” Mikey said, lifting his hands in frustration and then dropping them at his sides.  “What am I supposed to do when I see two of my bros acting all weird with each other?  Did you think that breaking a lifetime of patterns in how you and Raph interact wouldn’t draw some attention?  Mine especially?  You know I don’t like mysteries.”

            “There are boundaries, Michelangelo,” Leo said, still refusing to look at him.  “An expectation of privacy within our home.  We have to trust each other not to invade that privacy.”

            “I always meant to tell you,” Mikey said.  “Sure, a lot of what I did was ‘cause I was being nosy.  I hate not knowing what’s going on around me.  But mostly I just wanted you and Raph to be happy, especially when I realized that you guys wanted what Donny and I had.  You do want that, don’t you?”

            Instead of answering, Leo started to move, walking over to stand behind Don.  Mikey grimaced at his shell.  What did Leo expect to do when he tracked Raph down if he still couldn’t answer that question?

            Mikey was also a little surprised that he still had his head.  Many scenarios had played through his mind about the reaction from Leo and Raph when they found out about the lizards, especially about what Mikey had used them for.

He’d certainly expected at least an angry lecture from Leo.  Mikey had just gotten a scaled down version of a lecture, but Leo hadn’t sounded angry.  In a way, that was scarier than having Leo blow up at him.

            “Two of the lizards were tracking Raphael,” Don said.  Despite the situation, he seemed pleased.  “One of them picked him up as he was leaving the lair and kept up with him pretty well for a little ways.  Another lizard was farther ahead in the tunnels and happened to be along the route Raph was taking.  The first signaled to the second, who picked up the chase.”

            “Did you program them to do that?” Mikey asked.

            “I programmed them to work together when they’re in auto mode,” Don said.  “This was the first practical application and . . . .”

            “Where did Raph go?” Leo asked, interrupting him.

            His words were clipped and impatient sounding.  That he was worried about Raph had been obvious as soon as he’d arrived, but it still irked Mikey that he was being so biting with Don.

            Seeing the excitement die from Don’s body language was doubly upsetting.  It certainly wasn’t his fault that Leo couldn’t say what Raph needed to hear to keep him from running off.

            Mikey moved over to Don’s side and set a hand on his shoulder.  Don gave him a quick, grateful glance and went back to looking at his screen.  Leo was practically scowling at Mikey’s hand, but at that point the younger turtle didn’t give a damn.

            “Raph took to the South tunnels,” Don said, pointing at a map that he’d pulled up on his screen.  His finger traced a tunnel to the place where a red dot containing the number two sat stationary at a spot on the map.  “That’s where he went above ground.”

            “Isn’t that the exit we used to take to get to Casey’s old apartment?” Mikey asked.

            Don looked back over his shoulder at Leo.  “Do you think he was going to see Casey and forgot that he’d moved?”

            “He wouldn’t have forgotten,” Leo said.  “Let’s go.  I know exactly where Raph is.”

            Neither of his brothers asked him where Raph was or how Leo knew where to find him.  In fact, both Mikey and Don kept their mouths shut as they followed Leo through the sewers to the place where Raph had exited the tunnels.

            Quickly scaling a fire escape, the trio used the rooftop highway to travel the two blocks that would take them to Casey’s previous apartment.  They didn’t see Raphael anywhere, but Leo didn’t hesitate to jump from the roof to the window sill of their friend’s old bedroom.  Silently sliding the window open, he climbed through and waited for his brothers to join him.

            Leo went first into the living room.  He stopped when he was halfway across the room, his focus on its occupant.  Mikey and Don stayed to one side of Leo, but their attention was on Raph.

            The red banded turtle was seated on the window sill, looking out over the neighborhood.  Casey’s apartment had always been sparsely furnished, but empty of his belongings it lacked the warmth that their friend’s personality brought to the space.

            “Wondered how long it’d take ya’ to figure out where I’d gone,” Raph said.  His voice was low, containing a touch of melancholy.  “I always liked this place.  The view is craptastic and ya’ can smell fourteen different kinds of foods at once mixed with exhaust fumes from the street.  There’s honking horns, loud music, people laughing and arguing into all hours of the night so ya’ can’t hardly sleep.  But it’s real.”

            “We are just as real, Raph,” Leo told him.

            Raph’s single laugh contained no mirth.  “No we ain’t.  We’re what ya’ call one dimensional.  All we try to do is survive.  Play it safe, don’t attract attention, don’t let the outside world know we exist.  We barely exist.”

            Leo took a step towards him.  “We do more than just exist.  We might not get the recognition for what we’ve accomplished, but we have saved the world more than once.  That counts for something.  That means something.”

            “It means we’re good little soldiers,” Raph said.  “If there’s a war to fight, we jump right in there without hesitating.  We survive the battles and go on to the next one until the fight is over.  Someday we ain’t gonna come out on top.  Someday one of those battles is gonna be our last.  End of story.  In between times, we ain’t living at all.”

            “Don’t say that,” Leo hissed.  “We can make of our lives what we want them to be, what we need them to be.”

            “Words,” Raph said.  “Ya’ got plenty of them when it’s just us and you’re trying to manipulate me into doing what ya’ want.  Whatever ya’ need your life to be, it don’t seem to match what I need.  So how about this.  We’ll just quit--” He waved his hand between them.  “--– whatever this is.  I’ll keep following orders like a good little soldier.  Splinter will be happy and nobody has to worry about me doing something that’s gonna get one of us killed.”

            “That solves nothing,” Leo said.  “You suggest that we go back to the status quo but we’re too far past that.  I want us to work, Raph.  I know you think I don’t understand the emptiness you’re feeling, but I do.  The only time I feel really alive is when I’m with you.”

            There was an anxious tone to Leo’s voice that Mikey hadn’t heard before.  Raph saying that they quit being together seemed to have struck a nerve.

            “Ya’ don’t mean anything ya’ say to me,” Raph retorted.  “Ya’ say it in private ‘cause ya’ know it’s what I want to hear.”

            “I’m saying it now in front of Don and Mikey,” Leo said.

            “Saying what, Leo?” Raph asked.  “What words are coming out of your mouth that should mean something to me?”

            Mikey was watching Leo’s face and saw his lips press tightly together.  That some sort of internal struggle was going on was evidenced by the way his fingers dug into his palms.

            Raph was staring at Leo, his golden eyes piercing straight into his brother.  Despite the obvious turmoil he was feeling, Leo didn’t waver from returning that gaze.

            “I love you,” Leo said, the words clipped.

            Shaking his head, Raph told him, “That sounded like ya’ were reading it from a postcard.”

            Seeing how hard this was for Leo made Mikey decide that he wasn’t going to merely be a spectator any longer.  “From your heart, Leo,” he urged, his voice low.  “It’s there in you.  It’s what you feel when you’re alone and can let your guard down.  You have to be able to lower it for Raph if you truly feel something for him.”

            Leo’s eyes flicked towards him and then back to Raph.  The hope was there on Raph’s face for all to see, but it was also obvious that he was bracing himself for the worst.

            Moving closer to Raph, Leo exhaled breathily and said, “I love you, Raphael.  I love you more than mere words can convey.”

            Raph straightened and stood up.  “Ya’ know ya’ excite me, right?  Ya’ get under my skin in ways no one else ever will.  Ya’ gotta let go of whatever keeps holding ya’ back, Leo.  For this to work, ya’ gotta . . . .”

            He paused, clearly unsure of how to word what it was he was trying to convey.

            “Redefine your function,” Donatello supplied.

            Raph shot him a grateful glance.  “Yeah. Redefine what it means to be our leader.  ‘Cause we really ain’t soldiers, we’re brothers.  We’re more than brothers.  Ya’ don’t have to do it alone either, all of us need to redefine our functions.  Ya’ keep doing what ya’ do best; plan, strategize, bark out orders.  We’ll do what we do best; I’ll mow down the enemies, Don will outthink them, and Mike . . . what is it ya’ do?”

            “Ha, ha,” Mikey said, seeing the glint of humor in Raph’s eyes.

            “You make it sound so simple,” Leo said.  The lighthearted mood hadn’t reached him, Leo’s mind was focused on the bigger picture.

            “It ain’t gonna be simple,” Raph said.  “Just like it ain’t gonna be simple to talk to Master Splinter and tell him what ya’ couldn’t tell him earlier.  Unless you’re shining me on again.”

            “I was never ‘shining you on’ as you put it,” Leo said, his manner resolute.  He was quiet for a moment, almost as if he was doing some soul-searching, before he spoke again.  “We’ve spent years living with the feelings we have for each other and the last few months dancing around them.  We’ve substituted aggravation for desire and anger for lust.  Neither of us have wanted to admit that we could feel such hunger for a brother, much less for each other.”

            “My pride and your sense of honor,” Raph said.  “That’s basically what you’re saying, ain’t it?”

            “My sense of duty,” Leo stressed, and then added quickly, “It’s not an excuse, just an explanation.  Leaving you hanging like I did with Master Splinter, that wasn’t honorable either.  I was . . . .”

            Mikey jumped in when he hesitated.  “Torn.”

            Leo nodded once in acknowledgement.  “Torn is a good way to describe it.  When I’m alone with you, it feels like nothing else exists but the two of us.  You push, I pull, we connect.”

            “Then why don’t we connect that way when it ain’t just the two of us?” Raph asked.  He jerked a thumb in Mikey and Don’s direction.  “If those two can do it, why can’t we?”

            “Because one of us has been placed in a position of leadership and the other resents it,” Leo said, his words slightly brusque.

            “You’re damn straight I resent it,” Raph said heatedly.  “Not for the reasons ya’ think either.  Sure, one of them is that I don’t really like being told what to do, but I accept that somebody has to call the shots.  What I resent is the wall it puts between us ‘cause that somebody is you.  And no, before ya’ say it, I never wanted the job.  I know damn well I’d suck at it.”

            “It doesn’t matter which of us is leading our team, don’t you see?  It’s the fact that we are a team of four and the leader has to make the hard decisions,” Leo said.  “As a brother I’ve had to learn to partition the feelings I have for all three of you in order to take us into battle.  I know that I’m my own worst enemy, but that knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to accept the fact that someday I might have to put one of you in harm’s way.”

            “I think what Leo’s saying is that he’s built walls around his emotions so that they don’t get in the way when he can least afford their interference,” Don said.  “Mikey had an idea that’s partly why you’re having a hard time verbalizing how you feel, Leo.  We can all help to keep your emotions from overwhelming you, if you’ll allow us to.”

            Mikey looked at Leo, his expression and tone vehement.  “It’s okay to lose control, bro’.  It’s all about picking the time and place.  Bet you anything that Raph likes it when you go all dark side on him.  If he didn’t like being bitten or losing the use of his arms ‘cause of your mastery with pressure points, he’d . . . .”

            Don nudged him, hard.  Mikey’s eyes went wide as he realized that his tongue had run away from his brain.

            Leo was staring at him, but he wasn’t the one who Mikey was afraid of at the moment.  The older turtle had already guessed what Mikey had been up to long before learning about the spy lizards.

            Very slowly, Mikey turned his head to look at Raph.

            If they had been in a cartoon, Mikey would have seen the smoke coming from Raph’s ears.  As it was, he could easily imagine it was there based on Raph’s expression and his entire demeanor.

            From between gritted teeth, Raph growled, “You’ve got five seconds to tell me what you’ve done and then I’m gonna turn ya’ into turtle paste.”