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Sunken Ship, Soaring Skies

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Lou Jitsu wandered the empty sewers, trailing the walls with his clawed hands, unwilling to look any other direction except forward. His other hand rapped stained birdie lightly, holding four sleeping children inside. Lou couldn’t even bring himself to look at them, not out of resentment, but shame in his own failure to see the inevitable.

The night of the fire left him in a fit of rage, the hours afterward left him sobbing and broken. Several days have already passed and Lou Jitsu’s only emotion is nothing. He didn’t feel anything, he didn’t want to feel anything. Allowing his mixed emotions to get the better of him felt like it was letting Draxum win.

Lou didn’t even know where he was going, his absentmindedly walking around felt less like a desire to hide and more like an excuse to avoid thinking too much about… him. It was albeit a bit hard, Lou couldn’t ignore the silver fur growing on his once smooth body, nor could he ignore the naked, pink tail sometimes smacking the walls without much thought. In a way, Lou felt violated, his entire body altered and deformed for the sake of one yokai’s obsessive and destructive goal to wipe out people just like him.

After the fire, he had put as much willpower as possible to fight back against the ooze’s sinister capabilities, but over time Lou felt his body weaken, letting the ooze slowly take him over. Wondering the lonely and filthy halls of the New York sewers didn’t help much.

“Pa…. P…”

Lou refused to look down at whichever fidgeting turtle was speaking to him, wanting to only focus on finding the safest spot to rest and finally relax his mind. His hand trailed the walls again, hoping to find some kind of entrance or secret compartment. The man had spent many miserable nights scrounging for food to feed all of them. Well, not for himself, he had been trained to not require food for weeks, the scraps of pizza crust and hot dog bread was to feed his frail… specimen. Calling them children was no problem, but calling them his children was just too much.

Try as he could, Lou couldn’t help but let his thoughts wander a bit, the sewers were simply too drab to stay focused on walking for long. How desperately did he want to be wrapped in a warm blanket, his only bit of clothing worth salvaging was being used to keep the reptiles warm. Or to be surrounded by adoring fans and loving groupies, or even that dreaded arena Draxum hated so plainly.

Draxum.

Lou had tried his hardest to prevent any more thoughts of that miserable scientist, but the cold air and the somber atmosphere made it even harder for him to hide the emotion he had been trying his hardest to suppress.

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“It’s cold,” Draxum bellowed, angrily tapping the walls of the arena.

“Of course it’s cold, you’re out in the cool open air!” Lou smiled.

Both he and Draxum agreed to having their date under the arena, thanks to Lou Jitsu’s unfortunate collar preventing him from leaving. Initially excited and eager to join the beloved champion on the date, Lou could see Draxum’s expression of disgust and frustration.

“An arena feels pretty stuffy when you got 20,000 yokai surrounding you huh,” Lou asked.

“Yes… A shame really,” Draxum muttered. He blinked awkwardly, hoping for Lou to find some solution to Draxum’s foolish decision to join in without any sort of proper clothing outside of the typical armor.

Lou cocked his head and smiled, “I got you covered big guy.”

Lou pulled his arms behind his head and removed the birdie, signalling Draxum to bend down a bit, he wrapped it around his neck, his hands lingering on his breastplate longer than intended. He backed away and stifled a laugh, trying to hide his amusement over Draxum’s goofy appearance. Wearing the menacing armor along with the comically undersized birdie.

“Better?” He asked, hoping that it could at least warm up his back.

“No. And you’re shivering,” Draxum said, his expression unchanging.

“I’m fine, I’m used to this stuff,” Lou joked.

“There’s a better way to warm us up you know,” Draxum sighed, removing the birdie. Lou watched his careful hands go from fidgeting with the costume to leading up to his chest. Lou struggled to suppress a moan as Draxum trailed his hands upward, gently grazing his collar bone, to his neck, to his cheek, to his chin. Holding it up gently, Draxum dipped his head lower and closed the gap between them.

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Sweaty palms gripped the walls as Draxum explored Lou Jitsu’s body. Tight flesh pounding Lou bit his lip gently and pushed Draxum deeper, choking back a sob as Draxum’s powerful hips sped up.

Draxum’s large, clawed hands trailed up his chest and circled his most tender parts lightly, careful not to scratch any part of Lou he deemed the most sensitive. A soft hand pressed itself on Lou’s tear stained cheek, wiping them cautiously.

“Lou…” Draxum started.

“Don’t say anything stupid Draxum,” Lou smiled but unable to look Draxum in the eyes. “I just spent a lot of time here. It was fine ya know? My boss was pretty damn nice and I loved the fans… but… I missed junk like this.”

“Junk? Is that why you can’t look at me?” Draxum asked, his expression suddenly stone faced again.

“No! You’re the best Draxy,” Lou wrapped his arms around Draxum and kissed him gently. “I just… you’re not my first okay? I used to do this a lot--daily in fact!” Lou quickly added. “It’s all the same to me now.”

“I hope I’m at least good,” Draxum blushed, moving his hips once more.

“You’re perfect,” Lou side, resting his head in the crook of Draxum’s neck.

“You’re warm,” Draxum whispered back.

Lou simply hugged him tighter as a response

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“Hello?”

That wasn’t from the children. A voice too low and rumbly to be the voice of anyone’s child. It was another human, an adult human.

“Shit,” Lou hissed under his breath, hoping the children didn’t hear him.

If he ran the man would probably chase after him, he as already at a decent running distance, pointing his light directly at him, but not close enough to get a good look at him. If he stayed the man might grow fearful and attack him and his children, so what could he do?

“Holy shit! You’re Lou Jitsu!” The human exclaimed, Lou watched his hands nervously shake in excitement upon meeting his idol.

“Yes I’m Lou Jitsu!” Lou smiled, suddenly feeling that charismatic wave of love and affection he hadn’t felt in days. Of course he wasn’t falling for the human, but he greatly missed the feeling of warmth and admiration he so desperately desired. “Now could you put the flashlight down, I can barely see anything.”

No response.

“Uh… hello?” Lou struggled to view the human past the blinding lighting. The flashlight was no longer shaking but there was an air of tension between them. Stepping forward, Lou asked, “Is something wrong-”

“Stay back freak!” the man exclaimed fearfully.

I should have ran.

“I don’t mean you any harm, man,” Lou sighed. “I’m just not feeling good-”

“Shut up! I know what you are!” The man’s voice was almost childish, raised to a higher octave the closer Lou stepped.

“You do?”

“Y-yeah! You’re one of those spirit demon aliens! My friend told me all about you!” the man’s voice was nearing a shriek, backing away slowly while his flashlight jittered again. “How dare you pretend to be the world’s greatest action star.”

With the flashlight waving about, Lou was able to get a decent view of the man… or well… boy. A rather fair skinned child, who looked to be about 15-17 years old, and riddled with acne. His sweated, matted black hair failed to hide the fear and confusion in his fearful brown eyes.

“Calm down,” Lou chirped. “I don’t want to hurt you, I just want to give my kids a nice home.”

My kids? These aren’t my kids!

“Y-your kids? What the hell are you talking about? Those are fucking turtles!” the man shouted, shuffling through his jacket.

“Watch your language man, come on,” Lou frowned.

“I-I’ll give you till the count of three, to get out of my sight… before I shoot,”

“Before you what?”

A powerful blast was heard that Lou narrowly avoided, the sounds of gunfire echoed violently in his ears, and Lou struggled not to touch his bloodied cheek, burning hotly after the bullet grazed right by it. This was enough to wake up all the turtles sitting in Lou’s arms, crying and howling for some sort of comfort.

“W-what did you do?” The man cried.

“It’s what you did dumbass!” Lou hissed. “You woke them up!”

“Y-you c-can blame me all you want, but I won’t fall for your alien tricks! You won’t eat my human brain,” The man called out, holding up his gun again.

“I’d need to find a brain to eat first,” Lou growled. He needed to think fast, that man’s nervous posture didn’t worry him in the slightest, but his frenetic movements and nervous hands meant that missing Lou and aiming for the turtles was inevitable. Lou needed to find a way to ease up the situation and fast. “What are you doing down here?”

The boy was still pointing the gun at Lou, but Lou could see that his arms had relaxed a bit, “none of your business freak! Now die!”

“Aren’t your parents worried about you?” Lou quickly interjected. He was really putting his and the turtles life on the line by speaking to the child like this, one wrong misstep could lead to five corpses being found in the sewers. But Lou Jitsu was never known for playing it safe.

“They don’t even know I’m down here, and if they did, they wouldn’t care,” the boy’s arms refused to budge, keeping the gun aimed perfectly at Lou’s heart, but that sense of anxiety and fear slowly began to escape Lou.

“Why do you believe that they won’t care?” Lou asked.

“I called my stupid old man a shitton of names,” the teenager smirked. “Tried to get me to join his stupid fishing business. Like dad, we live in New York, we don’t need to fish!”

“So you ran away?” Lou asked, noticing the gun lowering itself.

“I consider it leaving the family business,” the teen hissed. He brushed his hair slightly. “I heard a bunch of cop cars from above, so I’m hiding down here.”

“Oh, so your parents do care huh?” Lou asked, shoving the box turtle back in his wraps.

“No they don’t! I’m just playing it safe,” the teenager retorted, lifting the gun again. “You can never be too careful.”

“You know, I ran away from my home before,” Lou grimaced. Somehow that was enough to make the child nearly drop the gun in shock.

“The great action star Lou Jitsu is a run away?” the boy said in shocked. “Wait, shit no, you’re just a freaky alien demon.”

“Just listen alright,” Lou said, patting the head of the feisty snapping turtle trying to bite at his fingers. “My parents wanted me to do something I considered stupid. They trained me since day one to face my expectations alone, but I had a feeling that it was all for nothing. So you know what I did in retaliation? Told them they were out of their minds and run away.” Lou looked over to his sad reflection of a beautiful man with terrifying animal limbs being shown back to him in a filthy puddle. “And I’ve never regretted anything more.”

That’s not true… I have greater regrets than that.

“Did they turn you into… that?” the boy asked, pointing to Lou’s pink fingers with his gun.

“No, someone forced this on me,” Lou responded solemnly.

Don’t think about him, don’t think about him!

“But I tried so damn hard to prove to my parents that their plans for me were so foolish that I kept making terrible decisions after terrible decisions for the sake of one upping them,” Lou said, cracking a slight smile. Despite everything, he couldn’t deny how much he enjoyed life as a dramatic action star and an esteemed gladiator. And maybe even...

Yes… even him.

“I get you don’t want to commit to this destiny your parents gave you, but running away and cursing at them isn’t worth it and fixes nothing,” Lou’s gaze softened, not even willing to stare directly in the boy’s eyes anymore. “Maybe you’ll meet some nice people, and have a fun time, but in the end. You’ll regret it. Especially for hurting so many people you pushed away.”

Lou had been so lost in his own memories, that he hadn’t noticed the boy had put the gun away minutes ago. Had the child been smarter, he could have taken advantage of Lou’s moment of vulnerability. The teenager however, was no longer interested in causing any harm, in fact Lou had already gotten the feeling that the poor boy had never used a gun in his life, only swinging it around from threats and self defense.

“Thanks Lou… demon spirit,” the boy muttered, his voice barely audible. “I’ll uh, leave you be… sorry.”

“It’s fine, you’re not the first person who pointed a gun to my face!” Lou laughed. He wasn’t lying, the last time he remembers having a firewarm pointed to his chest, was when he drunkenly broke into Tang Shen’s apartment looking for his own. “Just take care of yourself kid, and don’t be afraid to apologize to your parents.”

The boy nodded awkwardly and ran off, clearly too awkward to continue the conversation any further.

After 10 minutes had passed, Lou found himself alone in the silence again, with the occasional sounds of trucks and cars moving above him. Lou’s eager smile turned to a solemn frown, finding himself envying the young boy.

“Even after one stupid mistake, that kid can return to his family,” Lou whispered, his own voice shaking. “Who can I return to?”

Lou was sick of crying, he was tired of the angry, emptying feeling of pouring your heart and soul out in public. But he couldn’t help himself. He was tired, he was hungry, and worst of all. He was lonely. So desperate for some kind of warmth, some kind of love some kind of--

“PAPA!”

Lou blinked and looked around, “another kid?”

“PAPAAAAAAA!”

Lou looked downward, viewing the tiny green hands pulling at his skin. The soft cries of affection elicited from the young box turtle, desperately trying to climb further up on his clothes. Lou gently put his hand on the child’s head.

“Stop that, I’m not-”

“DADDY!!!”

“PAPA!!”

“BIG!!!”

The four turtles began to fidget aggressively in Lou’s in birdie, prompting the man to sit down and unwrap the children. The pancake like turtle was the only one who chose to roll around in his lap, snuggling close to the birdie, but the slider, box and snapping turtles were all climbing all over their half mutated father. Lou should have guessed these children would consider him their father, but speaking words was new to him.

“Please stop calling me that, I’m not your father,” Lou grimaced. He didn’t even know if he was still going to stick with these children for long.

“PAPA!!!” the box turtle had managed to climb up to Lou’s neck and snuggled under his chin. Almost as quickly as he climbed up his bare skin, Lou could hear the gentle snores of the small child resting under him. Lou patted his shell confidently as the snapping turtle climbed down his leg. He wasn’t sure how to feel at the moment, perhaps these children had adopted human terminology while spending their years underground. Lou had remembered stealing some old french bread and listening to a young girl whining to her father about visiting six flags before caving in.

“Daddy! Big!” the red slider cheered, poking at his abdomen.

“I’m hungry!” the snapping turtle whined.

The softshell failed to join his brothers in the cheering, but stared up at Lou with rather intense eyes.

“Got something to say kiddo?” Lou joked, he was waiting for their insistent yelling and pulling to cease soon. These turles tend to have sudden bursts of energy before falling asleep.

The softshell yawned softly before blinking slowly at the half mutant.

“Love you daddy.”

Lou’s eyes widen with shock, “what...what was that?”

“Love you papa!” the box turtle said drowsily.

“Love you papa aaa!!!” the ear slider quickly added, sliding back in Lou’s lap.

“I love you daddy!! Love you!!!!” the snapping turtle gleamed, nearly sliding off of Lou’s shoulders.

“Love me…” Lou mirrored their words. Taking the box turtle off his shoulders and pushing the snapping turtle back into his lap, he looked at the four children.

That’s right.

They’re just children.

His children.

“You love me?” Lou tilted his head to the side, cracking a soft smile when the boys mimicked his movements.

“LOVE!!!”

“LOVE U PAPA!”

“DADDY!”

“I LOVE YOU PAPA!! LOVE!”

The children attempted to climb Lou’s beaten body again, but the hero wouldn’t allow it this time, forgetting about how disturbing his rat claws looked while rubbing the boys head or how his tail wagged aggressively to the feeling of self worth and understanding he had long since expected to be unattainable.

“I…” Lou took a deep breath. He didn’t know these children, in fact, they’re the reason he’s like this. These small, defenseless turtles turned him into the half beast before them. And yet, Lou couldn’t hide it anymore. No longer did he desire the feelings of affection and love he had once received from the yokai scientist, or the groupies or even the millions of adoring fans. The love he so desperately desired was right where he needed. And the love the turtles so greatly deserved, was hovering over them, eyes glazed and cheeks flushed with emotion and warmth.

“I… I love you too.”