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Gilded Sentiment

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Leo took a deep breath as he squared his shoulders. His brothers were waiting for him by the entrance to the Lair, however, there was one thing he had to do first before they left, something he had been putting off until the last minute.

Lifting his knuckles, he rapped them against the wooden frame of Splinter’s door, waiting with bated breath until he heard the rat call for him to enter. He didn’t look behind him but could feel his brothers watching him as he slid the door open, slipping in through the opening before closing it once more.

“You are going to the surface again?” Splinter questioned.

Leo nodded his head.

“Hai, Sensei,” he said, keeping his eyes focused straight ahead of him, not looking at their father as the rat stood, his cane hitting the floor with each step forward.

“Avoid the streets, stay away from populated areas,” Splinter said, the warning identical to the one he gave every time Leo and the others left the lair. It was a warning none of them, not even Raph, dared to ignore, because no matter what harm would befall them from human hands, Splinter’s wrath would be far greater.

“Hai, Sensei,” Leo said again. “We should be a few hours. Donnie located another Kraang facility that seems to still be operational. We’re simply going to make sure it’s shut down, and that they aren’t trying to infiltrate this world again.”

Splinter narrowed his eyes and Leo continued looking on straight ahead. Finally the rat nodded and turned his back to Leo once more.

“You are dismissed.”

Holding back a sigh of relief, Leo bowed to Splinter, before turning and leaving the room. He joined his brothers at the entrance, none of them saying a word as they left.

Leo, however, did notice Mikey looking back, almost worriedly, until Splinter’s door was fully out of sight.

“What did he say?” Mikey asked, looking to Leo.

“The usual,” Leo stated. “Stay away from humans, don’t be seen.”

“Like we don’t know that already,” Raph huffed, his hand fisted on the sai in his belt. “Ya think he’d give us a bit more slack, we ain’t kids anymore!”

“Raph,” Leo warned, glancing behind him.

“What? He ain’t gonna hear us,” Raph scoffed.

“You don’t know that,” Leo hissed.

“I have a map to the building,” Donnie interrupted, getting their focus back on why they were even leaving the lair that evening.

Leo nodded. “Right, Don, you take the lead then. We’ll follow,” he instructed.

The trek through the sewers was quiet after that. The three turtles followed their purple-clad brother as he led them to the manhole cover closest to the building they were aiming for.

Raph was up the ladder first; being the strongest, he could easily lift the manhole cover up and out of the way without making much noise at all. Lifting his head up and looking around, Raph motioned that the coast was clear before climbing up the rest of the way.

His brothers were quick to follow. Leo went next, Donnie followed with the map, leaving Mikey to take up the rear. The smaller turtle climbed out, his hands going to grip his nunchucks as soon as he was free of the hole.

The building didn’t look like much, covered in boards, bits of it looking as if they were falling off. The whole feel of it screamed ‘condemned’, however, that seemed to be what the Kraang did to blend in; they disguised their bases as old buildings, unwanted or unappealing places, and any human who dared wander into one simply became part of their latest experiments.

“There should be a secret entrance,” Donnie said, walking over to a solid looking wall, looking it over, brow furrowed.

“Looks like a wall ta me, Don.” Raph chuckled. “Ya sure that egg-head of yours ain’t cracked?”

“Cracked or not, my brain clearly gets more oxygen than yours,” Donnie quipped back, ignoring Raph’s responding growl, Donnie pressing his hand against the wall, grinning when it fazed right through it.

“That’s still massively creepy when things do that.” Mikey shuddered.

“You’re just a scaredy-cat,” Raph teased.

“If you had any sense you’d be scared too, bro,” Mikey shot back, and he was running through the wall after Donnie before Raph could come back with a retort, or perhaps just a punch to the head.

“That little...!” Raph growled.

“Leave it, Raph, let’s just go and get this done so we can get home,” Leo said, indicating for Raph to go in ahead of him.

Raph narrowed his eyes at the blue-banded turtle. “Why ya in such a hurry ta get home?”

“Because the less time we’re away from home, the less time there is to make mistakes that we’ll be punished for,” Leo reminded him.

“And if ya didn’t report every damn little thing that happened ta Splinter, we wouldn’t have ta worry about that, now would we?” Raph growled.

“You know that’s not how it works, Raph. Now please, let’s just get this over with?” Leo requested; the last thing he wanted to do was see any of his brothers have to face Splinter that night, as the rat had already seemed to be in a mood.

Without another word, Raph followed his other two brothers; Leo took the rear this time. Looking around to make sure no one had seen them, he slipped through the entrance.

---------x

They had been wandering through the facility for what felt like hours already, however, in reality, Mikey knew it could have only been less than ten minutes. The orange-banded turtle simply didn’t like the feel of the place, his hands gripping his nunchucks, despite the fact they hadn’t run across anything that could be considered armed and dangerous.

Looking behind him, Mikey frowned when all he saw was the empty hallway they had just walked down.

“Is it just me, or is this place like, super creepy?” Mikey questioned, turning his attention back toward his brothers, who were all a few paces ahead of him.

“About as creepy as any other Kraang facility,” Raph stated, looking around them as well, his face pulled into a frown. “About as boring as one too.”

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything here,” Leo warned, moving up ahead of his brothers to come to a stop near a corner. He looked around, checking the hallway ahead.

“See anything?” Raph questioned, coming to stand next to Leo and having a look for himself.

“No, there’s nothing,” Leo stated. “But I think this is where we have to split up,” he said, turning to look at Raph and then the others.

“Split up? What for?” Raph demanded, not looking happy about that idea.

“Because the hallway splits off here, and it looks like the power room might be in that direction, and the labs are usually closer to the top floor,” Leo explained.

“Like I said, why we gotta split up?” Raph crossed his arms over his plastron.

Leo sighed wishing Raph didn’t have to make everything a challenge.

“I need some information from the lab,” Donnie stated, and Raph’s shoulders relaxed a little bit.

It frustrated Leo how easily Raph listened to Donnie sometimes, didn’t question his reasoning behind things. He tried not to let it bother him, at least not while they were outside the lair; he could address his jealousy issues later, in the privacy of his own room.

Leo’s thoughts were interrupted when Mikey suddenly jumped, waving his hand in the air.

“I call dibs on Raph!” Mikey said, wrapping his arms around one of Raph’s effectively latching onto him.

“Wha-Hey!” Raph tugged his arm away, using his free hand to press on Mikey’s face, holding him back when the younger turtle tried to grab onto him again. “Who said I wanna go with ya? Maybe I wanna go on my own!” Raph growled.

“No, you wanna go with me, cause I’m fun,” Mikey grinned, pulling Raph’s hand away from his face and grinning at his brother.

“You’re not going off on your own,” Leo stated.

“No one asked you, fearless,” Raph snapped, narrowing his eyes at the blue-banded turtle.

“Raph, stop being ridiculous.” Donnie rolled his eyes, once again stepping between his siblings, stopping another potential fight before it had a chance to get started.

Leo felt that ugly jealousy rise in him again when Raph turned his full attention onto Donnie, listening to their genius brother as he made his own suggestion.

“I think one team should head to the power room,” Donnie explained. “Our main goal is to deactivate this facility at its source. The other team needs to bring back samples and computer data from the lab. At the very least we should try and figure out what this facility was being used for.”

“Why would that matter if we’re gonna shut it down anyway?” Raph questioned, shoving Mikey half-heartedly to the side when the younger turtle managed to grab his arm again.

“Because Donnie needs a new toy to play with,” Mikey offered with a laugh.

Leo sighed. “We need to make sure the Kraang aren’t still here using these places, it’s our job to shut them down before innocent people get hurt,” he explained, using what his brothers would call his leader voice. He locked eyes with Raph. “Donnie and I will go to the lab, see what we can find on their computers. Raph, you and Mikey are in charge of the power room,” he ordered.

Raph glared at Leo, and had his mouth open to make some kind of snide remark, when Mikey poked him in the side.

“Mikey,” Leo snapped as Raph raised his hand to smack Mikey’s head, clearly getting irritated with the younger turtle.

“Hmm?” Mikey looked curiously at their leader.

“Try not to get too distracted,” Leo stated, smiling when Mikey fixed him with a pout.

“Hey…”

Raph gave Mikey another shove, putting some distance between them. He gave Leo one more glare, looking as if he were debating on saying anything more to the leader in blue, before deciding against it.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Raph said turning his back to Leo, gesturing Mikey to follow him. “If this ends up bein’ a waste of time, I’m gonna be so annoyed.”

Leo watched the two younger turtles walk down the opposite hall, before turning and leading Donnie in the other direction.

“Do you think it’s a good idea to let them go together today?” Donnie questioned. “Mikey is really trying to push Raph’s buttons, more than usual, I mean.”

Leo shook his head. “We don’t have much choice in the matter; we need to find out what the Kraang were doing here.” He gave a worried look over his shoulder, back toward his younger siblings. “Mikey is too distractible, and Raph is too irritable right now. If the Kraang are here, I don’t think either of them would be reliable to watch your back while you get the information from the computers,” he explained.

Leo looked back in the direction they were walking, wincing and doing his best to ignore Mikey’s shout of “Tag! You’re it!” that echoed down the abandoned hallways.

-----------x

Raph kept his fists clenched at his side, trying, and failing, to ignore Mikey’s numerous attempts at starting a game of tag. His little pest of a brother kept running up to him, tagging his arm, shoulder, head, and this time the twerp had the audacity to hit his ass.

“Tag!” Mikey laughed as he smacked Raph’s ass as he ran by, his fingers catching his brother’s tail before he darted out of the way.

“Mikey! I ain’t playin’ tag with ya!” Raph shouted, growling as he dashed down the hallway after the younger turtle, telling himself he wasn’t really giving into Mikey’s taunts; he just knew that if he didn’t keep up with him, the orange-clad turtle would get into serious trouble.

“If you’re not playin’ then why are you chasin’, bro?” Mikey called back, laughing again as he darted around a corner.

Raph growled. “We’re going the same way, you dork!” he snapped but didn’t speed up, knowing Mikey couldn’t get far, even if he was faster than any of them.

He reached the corner Mikey had vanished around, frowning when he didn’t hear his brother’s laughter anymore.

“Mikey?” he called out, hands going to his sai as he rounded the corner, expecting to find that Mikey had in fact run into trouble.

“Boo!” Mikey shouted, jumping right in Raph’s line of sight, he swung his sai on reflex, and only Mikey’s quick reflexes saved him from being run through.

“Ya little shit!” Raph shouted. “Don’t do that! Do ya realize what could’a happened?” Raph snapped, glaring daggers at Mikey as the orange-banded turtle darted down the hall.

“Dude! You should have seen your face! It was so priceless! Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to have a camera!” Mikey laughed, leaning against a wall, one hand clutching his stomach.

Raph turned his head away, cheeks flushed in anger and irritation. He fixated on a spot on the wall, counting to ten to try and calm himself before he really did cause Mikey serious bodily harm.

“Sometimes, I seriously hate you,” Raph said.

“Nah, you totally-” Mikey’s sentence was cut off by a sudden crash and scream.

Raph’s head whipped around just in time to see his brother vanish through a trap door in the floor.

“Mikey!” Raph darted forward, kneeling to look down into the hole.

“Watch that first step, dude,” Mikey called back up.

Raph winced when he saw his brother had fallen at least two floors He looked around the hallway, trying to see if he could locate what had set the trap off in the first place; he didn’t see any lasers or switches.

“Must’ve been weight-sensitive, ‘r somethin’.” he sighed, looking back down at Mikey. “Ya okay down there? Break anythin’?”

“Uh… Depends on what you mean by broken,” Mikey called back up, looking at where his leg was trapped under the trap door that had fallen down with him, in his attempt to grab onto it and stop his fall. “Don’t think I can climb back up there,” he admitted.

“Perfect,” Raph grumbled, standing up and looking around, trying and find something he could use to either get down there himself, or else haul his brother back up.

There was another crash and a pained groan from Mikey and Raph was back at the hole immediately.

“What the hell are ya doin’ down there, man?” Raph asked, leaning further over, squinting his eyes to try and see what could have made that noise.

“My leg is trapped under the stupid door!” Mikey called back up. “I’m trying to move it, but it’s super heavy dude,”

Raph growled in frustration, his brow furrowed as he studied the situation.

“Shit. Just… just hang on!” Raph called down to Mikey, sitting back up again as he weighed his options. There wasn’t anything up here that would help him get down there, and it was only a two-floor drop; he’d done further from buildings before, if he just had something to grab onto.

Leaning back over the hole, this time hanging his head under and looking around to see if there were any wires or ropes on the ceiling he could grab onto. He saw one not too far away and nodded to himself.

“Alright, Mike, I’m comin’ ta get ya,” Raph said. “Just sit tight!”

“Oh, sure, like I was gonna go do something else.” Mikey rolled his eyes.

Raph ignored him, focusing instead on getting down there. He swung himself over the edge; hanging on, he swung his feet, trying to give himself enough momentum to grab the cord, intending to use that to slow his descent.

He swung back and forth, finally letting go of the ledge.

He flipped into the air and grabbed the cord, his hands closed around it, and then he was falling, much faster than intended. Tightening his grip on the cord, he felt his arm jerk suddenly as he came to an abrupt halt. The sudden stop pulled at his arm painfully and he let go of the rope, letting out a short cry of pain as he fell, shell first, onto the door that was pinning Mikey’s leg.

Mikey’s echoed scream told Raph that things were definitely not going the way they should be.

Raph wasn’t sure how long he lay on the floor, breathing through the pain as it went from sharp to a dull throb.

“Okay,” he breathed out, “that prolly wasn’t my best landin’.”

“I’d give it a three-point-two,” Mikey hissed out, rubbing at his leg that had just been bent in a painful direction from Raph’s landing. “Now get me outta here.”

“Quiet. You’re lucky I’m not just leavin’ ya here,” Raph said, pulling himself to his feet and making his way over to Mikey. He inspected where his brother’s leg was trapped and the angle it was bent at.

Mikey didn’t respond, which for Raph was a good indication of how much pain the smaller turtle was in. Without another word, he knelt down and grabbed the metal door. He tried lifting it but, feeling the sharp pain in his arm again, he dropped the door back onto Mikey.

“Aaaugh, damn it!” he cried out, grabbing his arm and holding it tightly. He knew he had done some damage, he had just been naively optimistic that it hadn’t been that bad.

Mikey fell back onto his shell, eyes clenched shut, teeth biting into his knuckle to stop himself from screaming. His breathing was erratic, and Raph felt a pang of guilt for hurting his brother more.

“Shit, dude,” Mikey said when he was sure he could speak again. “That kinda hurt,” he said, leaning forward as much as he could to try and push the door off himself instead of lifting it.

Mikey really wanted to get free on his own, but if this took much longer they were going to be forced to call Leo or Donnie. However, they both also knew that if they did that, there was going to be a lecture for the two of them once Leo heard what happened. Things were already going to be bad enough when they got home and Splinter found out how two of his sons had gotten injured.

“Hang on, lemme just…” Raph was starting to look nervous, using his good arm to grab the metal door this time. “I’m gonna lift it, and ya just slide your leg out fast” he instructed.

Mikey nodded, leaning forward to help Raph lift too.

“On three,” the red-banded turtle said.

The two of them locked eyes and Mikey waited for Raph to count. On three, Raph pulled, and Mikey pushed.

Pulling his leg free quickly, Mikey let go of the door, inspecting the damage; his leg was already bruised and swollen, a large gash along the side of it where he must have caught something sharp.

“Shit, shit, shit, this is totally not good,” Mikey said, removing the wrapping from his hands and started to bind his leg as best he could.

“No kiddin’” Raph replied, though there was no real punch behind it. Taking a look at Mikey’s injuries, the red-banded turtle let out a sigh. “Think you can stand?” he asked.

“I’m gonna have to if we want to get our job done,” Mikey said. Finishing with his leg, he looked up when Raph offered him a hand.

Using his good arm, Raph grabbed Mikey’s, hauling him to his feet, wrapping his arm quickly around Mikey’s waist when he thought the younger turtle might tip over.

“Let’s hope we don’t gotta fight tonight,” he said.

“You mean let’s hope this place is really abandoned,” Mikey said.

“That’s what I said.” Raph rolled his eyes, looking around for a way out, when he spotted a door not too far from where they were. “Lean on me, we’re gonna have t’ find Leo and Donnie, get ya home ASAP,” Raph said.

“I’m totally fine, dude, I dunno what you’re talking about,” Mikey said, though he did lean on Raph as they made their way over to the door. “Seriously though, I’m fine, we should at least find that power room, set it to explode or something.”

“Yeah.” Raph looked Mikey over. “Yeah, good idea,” he agreed, leading Mikey to the door.

He never liked seeing any of his brothers hurt, it always made him feel guilty, as if he could have prevented it somehow. This was made a hundred times worse when he was the cause of their pain and or injury. Or in the case of Mikey’s leg, made it worse than it would have otherwise been.

He knew Donnie was going to have to have a proper look at Mikey’s leg once they got out of there, and a sharp pain in his arm reminded Raph that he’d need that looked at too. However, for now, Mikey was right; the least they could do was get the mission done and prove that, even injured, they weren't entirely incompetant.

“We’re gonna have ta find our way back upstairs,” Raph said, looking around, knowing it was unlikely that the Kraang of all people would have an ‘exit this way’ sign.

“Maybe there’s an elevator or something,” Mikey suggested.

“Even a fucking set of stairs would be nice,” Raph said.

Mikey shook his head. “Dunno if I can do stairs with this leg, bro, at least not fast enough to outrun an explosion,” Mikey reminded him.

“Shit.” Raph stopped and leaned Mikey against a wall for a moment, looking around, trying to get his bearings. “Okay, you wait here a sec, I’m gonna go on ahead, make sure there ain’t no more traps,” he said.

“Oh, sure, I see how it is,” Mikey said teasingly. “I’m just the baggage now, haul me around, drop me wherever, not like I have feelings,” Mikey rambled on.

Raph shook his head. “Stop being stupid,” he snapped.

“Not gonna happen.” Mikey grinned at him.

“I’ll be right back,” Raph said and was gone, hurrying down the hall, being careful. He didn’t think there would be any more trap floors, falling two floors down, but with the Kraang, you never knew.

Raph went down the hallway, trying one door after another, finding, unsurprisingly, that most of them were sealed.

“Where the fuck is a Kraang head when ya need one,” he grumbled to himself.

He went to where the hallway split off, looking one way then another. Shrugging he pointed between the two.

“Eeny meeny miny moe,” he whispered under his breath, choosing a direction and started trying those doors until he finally found one that was open. “Finally!” he huffed, hurrying back to where he had left Mikey.

“Found our way outta here,” he said.

“Oh good, more walking,” Mikey said, lifting his arms to be helped off the floor.

Raph hauled him up, supporting Mikey back to the door he had found.

“That doesn’t look like an elevator, bro,” Mikey said flatly as he hobbled through the doorway with help from his red-banded brother.

“It was the only door that was open, so quit your bitchin’,” Raph said, looking around properly once they were in the room. “There’s a computer over there, I’m gonna see if I can find a map of this place,” Raph said, letting go of Mikey and making sure his brother could stand properly before hurrying over to the console. “Alright, now, where’s the on switch…” Raph sighed.

Mikey watched his brother for a moment, deciding he could make himself productive and find something to use as a cane or crutch. Limping around the room, Mikey looked in the corners first, thinking that there might be a mop or a broom.

“You know, that’s one thing that always confused me about the Kraang,” Mikey said as he continued looking. “Every place we’ve ever been has always been so clean.”

“Your point?” Raph questioned, having found the power button.

“So, why haven’t we ever found a broom cupboard?” Mikey questioned.

“They probably got robots ta do that shit for them,” Raph said dismissively.

“What? Like a kraang roomba?” Mikey suggested.

“Yeah, sure.” Raph was typing away on the computer trying to find something that resembled a map, a difficult thing for him to achieve as he wasn’t overly fond of computers. “Where the fuck is Donnie when ya need him!” Raph punched the console.

“Not breaking computers,” Mikey replied, finding a button next to another door. “Oh, I think I found that broom cupboard!” he called out, hitting the button and watching the door slide open to reveal another smaller room inside. The lights flicked on, lighting up a large tank built into the floor.

“Uh… okay, not a broom cupboard,” Mikey said, going into the room. “Raph! Come look at this, there’s like, some kind of black and green goop here!” he called out, kneeling on the floor to get a closer look at the substance.

“Don’t touch anything!” was Raph’s reply as a moment later he came into the room Mikey had found.

“It kinda looks like, I dunno, tar, mixed with mutagen.” Mikey frowned, watching bubbles appear on the surface.

“Looks like the kraang left somethin’ cookin’,” Raph said, coming to stand next to Mikey, staring at it as one of the bubbles came to the surface and popped. “Well, whatever it is, we should prolly get rid of it. Who knows what they were tryin’ ta use it for.”

“Think Donnie will want some?” Mikey asked, his hands on the edge of the tank as he looked at it.

Raph rolled his eyes, squatting down to get a better look at the liquid. “What could he possibly want with black mutagen?” Raph questioned.

“I dunno, dude, he could use it for a cool lava lamp or something,” Mikey suggested with a grin.

“What Donnie don’t know won’t hurt his feelings. We don’t even got a way to transport it,” Raph pointed out.

Mikey sighed nodding his head in agreement.

“True,” he said. “Did you find that map?”

“Nah, if we can’t find our way outta here soon, we’ll just call Don and have them haul us up outta that hole,” Raph said, shifting to stand up. “Let’s try a few more doors, and if we don’t find the power room, we’ll call in for help,” he said.

“Okay,” Mikey said, reaching up and grabbing onto Raph’s belt to help haul himself up.

This would have been a wise idea, had Raph been fully standing himself; however, as it was, the unexpected tug on his belt had Raph pitching backwards, his eyes widening as he felt himself falling, pulling Mikey down with him.

They both tumbled straight into the black and green liquid, instantly sinking fast. Raph kicked out with his legs, his head quickly breaking the surface of the thick liquid before he sank too far, gasping as he pulled in a lung full of air.

“Mikey?” he called out, turning his head one way then the other. “Mikey! You still with me, bro?!”

Raph’s worry was growing by the second when he didn’t see his little brother at all. He was just thinking he would have to dive for him, and hope he found him in the large tank when something brushed his foot.

“Mikey!” Raph called, diving and wrapping his good arm around his brother, hauling him to the surface with him.

“Oh that shit’s nasty!” Mikey complained, sputtering as he spat out what little he had swallowed.

Raph said nothing, getting the two of them to the ledge. He made sure Mikey got up and out first, then with his brother’s help, got out as well. Mikey was still coughing, shaking his head.

“So-sorry, dude,” Mikey said, looking at Raph, who was more worried about checking himself over. He patted at his face, arms, plastron, everything felt like it was still in place, and no weird growths were spouting out anywhere.

Seemingly satisfied that he was fine, Raph finally turned a heated glare onto Mikey.

“Ya should be more careful next time! That stuff coulda melted our skin off for all we knew!” he snapped.

Mikey winced and ducked his head. “I said I was sorry…” he mumbled.

“Sorry wouldn’t have fixed it if that stuff had an extra arm growin’ outta my head,” Raph growled, wiping away some of the stuff that was still on his face.

“True, but then you would have had an extra hand to throttle me with,” Mikey pointed out, shifting to stand up, avoiding using Raph as leverage this time. “But, no harm done, right?

“Right,” Raph reluctantly agreed.

“Let’s go find that power room and get outta here,” Mikey suggested.

Raph pushed himself to his feet as well, nodding his head. “Fine with me.”

He kept a slow pace for Mikey’s sake as he made his way to the door on the opposite side of the room.

“Sooner we leave this craphole, the better.”

“Look at the bright side,” Mikey offered. “This place isn’t as boring as you thought it would be.”

“Mikey,” Raph growled out warningly.

-----------x

Leo remained close to Donnie as his brother worked to get whatever information he could off the Kraang computers, however, they had already been there too long in Leo’s opinion. Even if they hadn’t run into any Kraang there, Leo felt like they were pushing their luck by staying so long.

“Wrap it up, Don,” Leo ordered, scanning the area, his mind drifting to their other two brothers, who were somewhere on the lower levels of the building. He hadn’t heard from them and he was beginning to wonder if letting them go off on their own had been such a good idea.

“How much longer, Donnie?” Leo asked, looking behind him at the purple-banded turtle.

“Almost done…” Donnie stated, watching the screen intently.

Leo sighed and turned his attention back to the room. He was finding this whole thing a bit to easy, though he assumed that was because he was still far too used to these places crawling with Kraang, and the fact that he hadn’t seen any, or any traps, or heard any alarms was unnerving. Of course, turtle luck at it’s best, no sooner had he thought that did the entire room light up with red flashing lights, and a loud siren started buzzing in the distance.

“Time’s up, Don!” Leo said, pulling his second sword from its sheath.

“It’s almost…” Donnie trailed off, as Leo turned to look at him. “Got it! Let’s go!”

He grabbed the thumb drive he had been using, putting it in the pocket of his belt before grabbing his bo staff, which had been set aside while he worked.

Leo was already heading quickly toward the door, keeping an eye out for any self-defence system droids. Donnie was right on his heels.

Once they had made it down the hallway to the stairwell, Leo put one of his katana away. Pulling his phone out, he dialled Mikey. He didn’t give his little brother time to say anything when he heard the line click on.

“Where are you two?” Leo demanded.

“On our way, Bro!” was Mikey’s reply. “We’re pretty sure we’ve managed to rig the power room to blow, but… uh, yeah, we managed to trip the alarm in the meantime. Raph and I found a quick way out, thought a window, so uh… yeah, gonna hang up now, cause this is seriously gonna hurt,” Mikey said and the line went dead.

Leo stared at his phone, a frown on his face as he glanced over toward Donnie.

“We need a way out, fast, Mikey and Raph rigged the power room, so at best we’ve got a minute to get out of here.”

Donnie nodded, quickly pulling up the blueprints he had of the building. He scanned the area where they were.

“We’re on the fourth floor, there should be a chute for discarded kranngdroid parts.” He looked around where they were and nodded to himself. “We have to backtrack, but it’s not far,” he said, turning and heading out of the stairwell again.

Leo nodded and followed his brother. He hated escapes like this, especially when they were escaping from empty, nearly harmless buildings. He knew he was going to have to have another talk with Mikey and Raph about team communication when they got home, and hope Splinter didn’t find out about this mishap.

“Here!” Donnie called out.

Leo sped up to join his brother at the chute.

“It’s a long way down. It would be nice if we had something to slow our descent a little, as I’m sure landing on droid parts, or even an empty dumpster isn’t going to be pleasant,” Donnie said.

Leo nodded in agreement, handing Donnie one of his swords. “Use that to slow yourself down,” he said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s less likely to break than your staff.”

Donnie nodded his head in agreement.

Watching as Donnie went in first and slid out of sight, Leo waited a moment, making sure his brother would be a fair distance away, and there was no risk of him landing on Donnie’s head. Only then did Leo follow.

As he slid down the chute, Leo waited until he could see light before sticking his katana into the side. He winced as his arm was jerked painfully, but thankfully it felt like nothing more than perhaps a pulled muscle. Using his sword, and padded knees he slowed himself down more, the sound of metal scraping against metal echoed around them, and then the chute was gone and they were free falling the last five feet into a pile of broken droids.

Leo landed next to Donnie with an ‘oof’, watching as Donnie rolled himself off the pile and down onto solid ground.

“We gotta keep moving!” he said urgently.

Leo was already moving to follow him before Donnie had finished speaking, the two of them making a mad dash down the alleyway, and away from the building. Neither of them knew how powerful the explosion was going to be, and they put as much distance as they could between them and the building.

Climbing up onto the nearest rooftop, they kept running, jumping between one building and the next, Leo now scanning the area, looking for their two missing siblings, hoping they were smart enough to be doing the same.

The explosion shook the buildings around them, and even a fair few blocks away, Leo could feel the heat from the flames as various kraang experiments went up in flames. Knowing they were safe for a few minutes, the two of them came to a stop to get their bearings.

Donnie handed Leo’s sword back to him, pulling out his phone.

“We should find where Mikey and Raph got to,” he said, even though he hadn’t needed to as Leo had been thinking the exact same thing.

“Don?” Raph’s voice came over the phone, a mixture of excitement and relief in his voice. “Ya made it out!”

“Yeah, we made it out,” Donnie answered, and that was enough to tell Leo that at least Raph knew how close a call that had needlessly been.

“Say, Mikey had a little accident with some metal, so he’s not in the best a shape right now, could ya maybe come pick us up? We’re on the south end of the building,” Raph requested and Donnie’s expression fell.

“They need us to pick them up,” Donnie told Leo when the blue-banded turtle gave him a questioning look. “Yeah, we’ll be right there, Raph, just sit tight,” Donnie said and hung up the phone. He looked at Leo again. “Mikey’s hurt,” he answered the unasked question.

“Let’s hope it’s nothing serious,” Leo said.

Donnie nodded in agreement.

An air of apprehension settled over them as they set off to find Raph and Mikey, having to take the long way around the fire, and avoid being seen by any humans that were coming to put out the flames.

Landing on the roof Leo looked around, easily spotting his brothers sat together, hidden by the shadows of the air vent. Even from this distance, Leo could see how pale Mikey looked.

“Yo, some explosion, huh?” Raph questioned, shifting to stand up and greet his brothers.

“What happened?” Leo demanded, his eyes fixed on the orange-banded turtle, who seemed barely conscious.

“He fell down some crazy big trapdoor,” Raph explained. “Got his leg stuck under it somehow, so I went down ta help him and think I pulled my arm outta joint or somethin’ cause it hurts like crazy,” he said the last part quietly.

Leo stood there quietly, looking at Raph now as Donnie went to check on their fallen brother.

Leo was at war with himself; he wanted to scold Raph for his reckless behavior, but everything he had to say would be wasting valuable time they could be using to get Mikey home, and then he was also worried about Raph’s arm, another thing he wanted to deal with and fix. So he didn’t say anything, just stared at Raph, waiting to see if his brother would tell him more. Raph, however, just lowered his head and turned away slightly. It was a stance Raph took when he knew he’d seriously fucked up. Leo decided to leave it at that for now, turning instead to look at Donnie, who was knelt in front of Mikey.

“Don, how is he?” the blue-banded turtle asked.

“I couldn’t lift him any more,” Raph stated. “I got him as far as I could, then ya called and…” Raph trailed off as Leo wasn’t even looking at him anymore.

“He’s lost a lot of blood, he’s got severe bruising, and this gash on his leg would account for the blood loss. He’s going to need stitches,” Donnie said. “We need to get him home.”

“That’s what I was tryin’ ta say, I couldn’t carry him further, I was gonna try and get him home but…”

“No more excuses, Raph,” Leo told him sharply, his brother snapping his mouth shut. Leo stepped forward, kneeling in front of Mikey. “Hey,” he said.

Mikey blinked slowly at Leo, giving him a lop-sided smile. “I really messed up, bro,” he said.

“Yeah, sounds like both you and Raph messed up,” Leo said softly. “I’m going to carry you on my back. Think you can hang on while we get you home?” he questioned.

Mikey shrugged. “Don’t got much choice,” he said, watching as Leo turned around, shell to Mikey now and looked towards Don. “Help him onto my back,” he ordered.

Raph moved to help Don lift Mikey, but stopped when Leo fixed him with a stern look.

“Not you,” Leo snapped. “You try and lift him, you’re going to hurt yourself more too,” he explained, knowing it sounded far more like he was trying to tell Raph that he’d done enough damage already.

Donnie ignored his two older brothers, focusing on helping Mikey get onto Leo’s back, wincing when Mikey cried out as his leg was jarred.

“Oh shell, my head feels all wobbly,” Mikey complained as he wrapped his arms around Leo’s shoulders.

Leo turned his head slightly, a worried expression on his face as he looked towards Donnie.

“How much blood do you think he’s lost?” he asked.

“Enough to be worrying.” Donnie frowned. “We may need to perform a transfusion when we get back to the lair, as long as we can do that, and stop the bleeding, he should be okay.”

“We wrapped his leg really tight,” Raph offered.

“Which certainly has helped, but we still need to get him home,” Donnie said, making sure Mikey was steady as Leo stood up. At this angle, Donnie was able to examine Mikey’s leg again quickly, satisfied that it was in fact wrapped tight enough to stop any more serious bleeding.

Getting down the building was slow progress, as Leo didn’t want to hurt Mikey more, or risk dropping him, and getting him down into the sewers themselves was a tricky affair as well, however, between Leo and Donnie they managed it.

Raph stood back feeling helpless and guilty that he had let Mikey get so hurt, and there was nothing he could do to help fix it right now.

Leo thankfully was holding his tongue from chewing Raph out, even though he wanted to demand an answer to why they hadn’t called, why he and Donnie had found out after the fact that Mikey was severely hurt, because right now was not the time for that particular argument. Because all of them knew that as soon as they got home, Leo was going to have to report to Splinter; that fact alone settled over all of them like an icy blanket of dread as they could only guess and speculate what their punishments would be.

TBC

Chapter Text



Part 2

Upon arriving back at the Lair, Donnie ushered Leo into the lab, along with Mikey. Between them, they managed to lay their baby brother out on the workbench, which, more often than Donnie liked, doubled as an examination table. Once Mikey was lying down, Donnie went over to the cooling unit he had salvaged and pulled out his scarce supply of blood.

Lamenting that they had so little, he closed the door once again. This situation did call for it, and he was fairly sure that what little supply they had would be enough for Mikey, but he did make a mental note to replenish it as soon as possible.

Turning back towards his brothers, Donnie noticed Raph leaning against the wall just inside his lab, hand still clutching at his arm. Donnie hadn’t forgotten about him but Raph’s injuries were far less dire than Mikey’s, so the red-banded turtle would have to wait.

Going back over to the table Donnie started setting up everything to give Mikey the blood. Leo stepped out of the way to give Donnie space to work, though Mikey didn't let him go far, grabbing his hand when he saw the IV Donnie was setting up.

“I hate needles...” Mikey whined.

"It'll be okay," Leo assured him, keeping hold of Mikey’s hand, frowning when the younger turtle turned his head to the side and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.

“Is it okay for him to sleep?” Leo questioned looking to Donnie. He wasn’t sure if that was what Mikey was doing, or if he was just avoiding looking at the needle, but thought it was a good idea to check.

“He should be fine to sleep.” Donnie nodded, making sure the IV was properly in place before he moved onto the next task. “I need to reapply his bandages, and see if I have anything left for his bruises. I should also make sure there’re no other injuries I might have missed. I’ll need to make him a splint for his leg so he doesn’t cause further damage to it as well.” Donnie headed toward his medicine cabinet. “I’ll administer some anesthesia, or else the pain might keep him awake all night.”

Leo could tell Donnie wasn’t really talking to him any more, so he simply nodded, petting Mikey’s head gently. Sure, now, that his brother was going to be okay, he let go of Mikey’s hand, finally turning toward Raph, who was still stood silently by the door.

“Come here, I’ll look at your arm,” Leo said, motioning Raph forward. He knew he wasn’t as good, or gentle as Donnie could be with the medical stuff, as he hadn’t had the amount of practice Donnie had, however, he did know the basics that had been taught to them; how to set bones, wrap them properly, stop heavy bleeding.

Raph didn’t look to thrilled about the idea, but he complied all the same, walking over to Leo and reluctantly showing him the damage done, mumbling something that might have sounded like a ‘thanks’, if one were to listen carefully, with a hearing aid.

Raph didn’t look at Leo as the blue-banded turtle started looking it over, focusing on where it was swollen, up near the shoulder, along with the obvious rope burns on his hand. The two of them sat in silence as Leo worked, until the blue-banded turtle finally let out a soft sigh, not looking at Raph as he spoke.

“Why didn’t you call when Mikey first got hurt?” Leo asked, feeling around to see if there were any broken bones, or if it was just a dislocated shoulder.

“Cause I thought I could handle it!” Raph said, already on the defensive, wincing when Leo started prodding at his sore arm. “I figured I’d land down there just fine, move the friggin’ metal scrap and we’d be on our way to-oh! Ow ow ow ow! Y’ found it genius! Stop pokin’ it already!” Raph glared at Leo, the pain from the few pokes up near his shoulder hurt far more than he had expected them to.

Leo gave Raph an apologetic look, placing his hands on Raph’s shoulder. He didn’t warn him more than that, didn’t count to three, just snapped it back into place.

“It’s one thing to gamble with your own safety,” Leo said. Grabbing the bandages and he started securing Raph’s arm and shoulder in place so it wouldn’t pop out of joint again. “Or gamble with mine. But never do that again with our brothers.” Leo’s voice was calm as he worked, and it was hard to tell if he was more angry, or disappointed.

Raph bit back a growl, partly at the pain, and partly at Leo’s statement. He was working up to deny that he was gambling with anyone’s life at all when Leo continued talking, taking advantage of Raph’s pained silence.

“What would you have done if Mikey had cut an artery?” Leo asked, finally looking up to lock eyes with Raph.

“I would have called ya then!” Raph protested, torn between going off on Leo, or just running away to compose himself when he felt the sting of tears in his eyes. “I ain’t stupid, Leo. If it were really bad, I wouldn’t ‘a let it…” He trailed off, looking away as he felt his throat tighten; too many emotions were swirling around inside him right now for him to keep them all in check, and it was starting to affect him.

“He seemed fine, til we got to the power room, then he started havin’ problems,” Raph finished, forcing his voice to stay calm so he wouldn’t do something stupid, like start crying in front of Leo of all people.

Leo finished tying up off the bandages, making sure they were tight enough to restrict any movement, knowing it was all he could do to prevent Raph from using his arm too soon.

“Mikey ‘seeming fine’ is usually a red flag that he’s worse off than he’s letting on,” Leo stated.

“I told him ta stay back!” Raph insisted, picking the old familiar emotion of anger and directing it at Leo. “What do ya want from me, huh? Ta say I fucked up? Cause I fucked up! Okay!? There! Now can you can shut up about this and get off my shell?”

“I want to know that this won’t happen again,” Leo shot back, narrowing his eyes and looking very unimpressed by Raph’s outburst. “I want to know I can still trust you to not get any of us killed because you didn’t think!”

Raph was already feeling overwhelmed by the nights events; upset, guilty, in pain, and now having Leo standing there, accusing him the way he was, was tipping the scale for Raph. The red-banded turtle clenched his free hand into a fist and, feeling his eyes mist up suddenly, he turned around and stormed from the room.

Fighting with Leo wasn’t an unusual occurrence in the Lair, and neither was Raph’s anger towards him. However, the nearly bursting into tears was new and Raph knew he had to get away from his brother before he did something stupid, like start truly crying, or punch him, or perhaps a combination of the two. So instead, Raph went to his punching bag, using his good arm to start hitting it, focusing on how tightly he clenched his fist, nails digging into his palm, feeling how it connected with the bag, the familiar vibration of the impacted helping him focus and calm down.

Leo thankfully didn’t follow him, though Raph did glance over his shoulder to make sure of that at least once, and he saw his blue-banded leader turning to go back into the lab, most likely intending to check on Mikey.

-----------x

Donnie was just finishing wrapping Mikey’s leg when Leo came back to stand by the table and watched him.

“I’m going to keep Mikey in here tonight, I’ll watch him until he wakes up,” Donnie explained.

Leo continued to silently watch him as his purple banded brother finished with the bandages and started getting ready to put things away.

“He didn’t have any other injuries,” Donnie informed him, “so I think he’s going to be fine in a day or two. Though, he should probably be kept off his leg for a couple weeks at least, it’s really bad, and even with our accelerated healing, it’s going to take time for broken bones and a cut like that to heal properly.”

“Wonderful,” Leo said sarcastically with a roll of his eyes, but he still smiled at his brother. “Good work tonight, Don.”

Donnie smiled at him, and Leo pretended not to see how his brother perked up very slightly at the praise, before dismissing him.

“I have some more work that I need to get done, so I can stay up with Mikey,” he said again, turning his shell to Leo and going back to his work.

“Don’t forget to get some rest yourself,” was all Leo said, knowing the request was falling on deaf ears as Don went straight for his computer, pulling open multiple projects that he clearly had lined up. Shaking his head at him, Leo turned and left the lab, knowing Mikey was now safe and in good hands, he closed the door behind him.

Standing in the main room of the Lair, Leo let his focus drift to Raph still by the punching bag, before letting his eyes drift to Splinter’s door.

Their father obviously knew they were home, and knew that something had happened, however, as the rat hadn’t come out to question them or demand an update on that night’s mission, Leo was inclined to leave that alone for now, and write this off as an evening of narrow escapes.

So instead, he looked back at Raph, watching as his brother worked at beating the shit out of the punching bag, taking out his frustrations on it. Leo was fairly sure his red-banded brother was imagining his face on that bag this evening.

He hated fighting with Raph, hated making his brother feel worse than he already did, he hated pointing out his faults, but Leo also knew he couldn’t just let Raph do what he wanted, knew that he had to keep his brother in line, had to make sure he knew what he had done wrong. Their life was a complicated one and Leo truly hoped Raph knew why he pushed him so hard.

“Screw this,” Raph suddenly said.

Leo blinked at him, his brother’s tone lacking the normal bite to it when he usually suddenly gave up on things.

“I’m going to bed,” Raph’s voice sounded shaky to Leo’s ears, and even his posture seemed off as the red-banded turtle went down the hall to his own room.

Leo half expected to hear the slam of a door, and was not expecting the soft click. His heart clenched painfully in his chest and he was following Raph before he’d even fully thought about what he was doing, only to stop when his hand was on the door. The need to comfort his brother was pulling at him, the need to apologise, because he had been the one to upset Raph this time, he had been the one to push his brother to tears. However, Leo forced himself to let go of the handle and back away from the door, pushing his feelings for Raph back again.

“I’m sorry…” He whispered the words, half hoping that somehow Raph could hear them through the door, hoping that his brother didn’t need to actually hear the apology, that he just somehow knew that Leo was sorry for what he’d said, sorry for how he was forced to treat him, and understood that it really was for his own good.

Sighing Leo turned and went to his own room, pausing at the door to look over his shoulder at Raph’s door once more before slipping inside, intending to get some sleep before he had to report to Splinter in the morning.

---------x

Mikey woke early the next morning, early for him anyway, and was curious as to what could have possibly woken him up from such a deep sleep. Shifting slightly to get a look around at where he was, Mikey realized then what had woken him.

His stomach growled loudly, reminding him that they hadn’t eaten dinner last night, or at least, he hadn't. That and the sudden need for the bathroom, had Mikey sitting up on the examination table rather quickly, stopping with a groan when he felt the room spin around him.

“Oh, bad idea,” he said to himself.

“Morning, Mikey,” Donnie greeted.

Mikey looked between his fingers at the purple-banded turtle, who was standing up from his desk.

“You slept through the night alright,” he said, taking on his ‘doctor’ tone.

Mikey inwardly groaned.

“Yeah, slept totally fine dude,” Mikey said.

“How are you feeling this morning? Any dizziness? Pain?” Donnie questioned.

Mikey shook his head slowly.

“Well, a little dizzy, but that’s only ‘cause I sat up too fast, but I’m totally starving this morning, bro, and I seriously need the toilet, so if I could just…” Mikey trailed off, already moving to slide from the table, only to be stopped by Donnie’s hands on his shoulder.

“Tut tut tut!” Donnie exclaimed, holding Mikey where he was. “Not without a crutch you don’t,” Donnie informed him.

Mikey groaned outwardly this time as Donnie let him go and went to retrieve one of the crutches he’d salvaged from the dump.

“Your leg should stay in place with that splint, but I don’t want to see you set that foot anywhere near the floor for at least the next week, possibly two.”

Mikey made a face as he took the crutch from Donnie, slipping from the table and testing it out by walking a few steps under Donnie’s supervision.

“So, on a scale of one to ten, how upset is Leo?” Mikey questioned, already making his way to the bathroom Donnie had installed in his lab.

“Oh, I’d say only about an eight,” Donnie said, turning to begin sanitizing the examination table, clearly getting ready for the next time one of his brothers inevitably needed it. “He and Raph fought last night after you fell asleep, but that’s not surprising I suppose, not with how bad your leg is banged up.”

Letting out a small sigh Mikey didn’t comment on that. He hated how rare it was that Leo and Raph didn’t fight after any missions lately, but he chose not to comment on that, at least not in the Lair where Splinter might hear.

Slipping into the bathroom, every thought on his mind was suddenly gone as he prepared to relieve the pressure on his bladder.

He let out a high-pitched shriek. “DONNIE!”

He turned, just as the bathroom door flew open, and Donnie was there, pale and eyes wide.

“What happened?” Donnie demanded, knowing none of his brothers screamed like that for no reason, not even Mikey when pulling a prank.

“I… Don,” Mikey began, his voice trembling as he stared at his brother. “I think I’m sick. It… it’s gone.”

Color came back to Donnie’s features as he realized that there was nothing immediately wrong with Mikey, or rather, the smaller turtle hadn’t injured himself further by falling or hitting his leg.

“What’s gone?” Donnie questioned, locking eyes with Mikey.

A blush spread over Mikey’s cheeks as he gestured to his lower region. “IT is gone, it… I went to use the bathroom and… Don, there’s nothing THERE!” Mikey explained, panic rising in his voice.

Donnie gave Mikey a skeptical look. He didn’t think Mikey was lying, but he thought perhaps his brother might have hit his head in his fall the previous night and might be seeing things, or be a little confused.

“I can assure you, Mikey,” Donnie said in a calm, yet skeptical voice. “You did not lose your penis in the accident.”

“I’m serious dude! It’s not there!” Mikey insisted, walking forward and staring pleadingly at Donnie.

“Alright, alright.” Donnie held his hands up. “Get back on the table and I’ll examine your cloaca,” he said, helping Mikey back to the table before grabbing a box of gloves from nearby.

Mikey was trembling as he pulled himself back up onto the table, his mind was racing as he watched Donnie get his gloves, pull one on and slide a chair up close to the table.

“Now, spread your legs… yes, like that,” Donnie said, one hand was placed on Mikey’s inner thigh, the other was slowly spreading his cloaca. “It could be it’s just gotten stuck, that’s happened to all of us before,” Donnie said, his finger slipping inside Mikey to try and unstick his penis from where it was clearly trapped.

Several things happened at once; Donnie’s finger was going deeper than Mikey knew it should be able to, before it hit something that caused Mikey to gasp, a strange chirping noise escaping him when Donnie suddenly jerked back, his own cheeks bright red as he stared up at Mikey with wide eyes.

“D-Don?” Mikey asked, not liking the way Donnie was staring at him, looking just as confused as Mikey felt.

“Mikey,” Donnie said, swallowing almost nervously as his eyes shifted down to stare at Mikey between the legs once more, before seeming to catch himself and standing up quickly, putting another step between him and the turtle on the table. “I don’t know how to say this but… um, you’re... I think, no, I know you’re right, you no longer have a... um… your phallus is gone because...”

Mikey got the feeling that it was really bad news if Donnie was having a hard time telling him what had happened, and in true Mikey fashion, his mind jumped to the worst possible outcome.

“... am I dying?” he asked.

“What?! No, no of course not, Mikey, you’re completely healthy, all things considered,” Donnie said.

“Last I checked, bro, a healthy person’s dick doesn’t just vanish!” Mikey exclaimed, his voice a little more high pitched than usual. “How is this even possible?” he asked.

“That’s what I want to know!” Donnie exclaimed, turning away from Mikey as he started to pace back and forth. “One’s entire biological makeup doesn’t just change overnight, it’s just not physically possible, but then again, scientifically speaking, from what we know about the Kraang and the mutagen, we shouldn't even be physically possible. Our understanding of it is so limited, I’ve only ever managed to study that one cansiter father didn’t immediately take away from us. Though he was right that the mutagen is dangerous, it’s the only explanation I have for why you would suddenly be changing genders like this.”

Donnie was rambling and Mikey was doing his best to follow what his purple-banded brother was saying, however, he was still very confused about everything, and his brothers musings weren’t helping.

“Some reptiles have been known to slip genders in an all male environment, but I’ve never known turtles to do that before…” Donnie trailed off, but kept pacing.

Mikey could only assume his brother was now tuning him out as he continued his musings internally.

Accepting that he wasn’t going to get any answers from his brother at that moment, and needing someone to talk to about this and calm himself down, Mikey thought about informing Leo about what had happened. However, as he grabbed his crutch and slipped from the table, another scream echoed through the Lair, similar in pitch to Mikey’s earlier one. This broke Donnie out of his thoughts as he and Mikey stared at each other.

“WHERE THE FUCK DID MY DICK GO!?” Raph’s voice, loud and clear indicated that the situation had just gotten worse.

Donnie was already running from the room as Mikey turned to follow.

“Oh fuck…” the orange-banded turtle whispered to himself, moving as fast is he could through the lair to locate Raph, the gears in his mind already turning, and the memory of falling into that tar like mutagen the night before was vividly replaying in his mind over and over again.

Mikey caught up with Donnie, his brother standing at the bathroom door as Raph opened it.

“Raph, what happened?” Donnie asked, even though it was obvious he already knew as he was looking Raph over much like he would a science project.

“Is yours gone too?” Mikey interjected before Raph could answer, gaining the attention of the red-banded turtle as Leo’s door opened down the hall, their older brother coming out to see what all the yelling was about.

“Too?” Raph demanded, his breathing picking up as he was obviously starting to panic. “What do ya mean too!? You sayin’ your junk is don’ a disappearing act?!”

“It’s not that,” Donnie cut in. “Mikey’s entire body has changed. It may not be obvious right away, and I'll need to run some tests, but it seems Mikey, and perhaps you too, have slipped genders,” Donnie explained.

“What does that mean, Donnie?” Leo questioned, coming out of his room further, the situation seeming dire enough to warrant his full attention now.

“He means we’re both chicks,” Mikey offered, looking over to Leo, then to Raph again. “Do you… um… was it the stuff we fell in last night?” he offered tentatively to Raph.

“Stuff? What stuff?” Donnie demanded, looking to Raph, and then Mikey. “You didn’t tell either of us about any ‘stuff’,” Donnie said, looking to Leo to find out if Raph had mentioned anything, though he was sure he hadn't.

“That… fuck, I forgot all about that…” Raph admitted, his eyes having widened further after Mikey’s comment. The red-banded turtle’s hands clenched into fists, however neither he nor Mikey were very forthcoming with this information they both had somehow forgotten to mention to either Leo or Donnie.

“Was this another thing that wasn’t ‘too bad’ until recently?” Leo questioned, his eyes fixed on Raph as he spoke.

“It wasn’t Raph’s fault, I forgot about it too. Nothing happened after we fell into it, we didn’t feel any differently,” Mikey offered, coming to stand between Leo and Raph as he began explaining what had happened. “It was just an accident, Leo, and it was totally my fault too, not Raph’s, I had already busted up my leg, and I was looking for something to help so I could walk okay without Raph carrying me, and… I got too close to the black mutagen stuff, and when I tried to stand again, I made Raph lose his footing and we both went under,” the younger turtle explained in a rush.

Leo stared down at Mikey, then looked to Raph again, obviously contemplating what he should do with this new information. From Mikey’s story, Leo had to admit it sounded as if it was Mikey’s fault, and Raph was doing the best he could not to really look at Leo at all.

“I’m going to need to run some tests on both of you,” Donnie said, breaking the tension building in the air. “And I’m going to need a sample of that substance you two fell in for a proper analysis,” he stated.

“Oh great,” Raph started, “we’ll just go dig some up from the building we blew up last night!” he growled.

“Raph,” Leo said, stepping forward and reaching out to place a hand on his brother’s shoulder, and Mikey wasn’t sure why his elder brother thought this would calm Raph down. “Getting angry about this isn’t going to help anyone, least of all you or Mikey.” His voice was calm, and nothing about his stance was really trying to provoke a fight with Raph.

However, Raph didn’t seem to take it that way as the red-banded turtle growled, shrugging Leo’s arm off his shoulder.

“I ain’t angry,” he insisted, though his posture and expression said differently.

Leo simply nodded, letting his hand fall back to his side as he looked to Donnie.

“There has to be something on the information you got from the computer last night, maybe with some blood samples you could figure something out?” Leo suggested.

Donnie looked thoughtful, tapping his chin as he hummed. “It’s possible, but it’s equally possible that I may need a sample of the substance to produce the antidote,” he answered honestly.

“So ya can fix us?” Raph questioned.

Donnie shook his head. “It’s too soon to promise anything, all I can say is I’m going to try. I’ll need a blood sample from you first, Raph, as Mikey just got a transfusion, and your blood hasn’t been tampered with,” Donnie said motioning for Raph to follow him.

“I’ll be right there,” Raph said turning to go back into the bathroom, his cheeks tinted pink. “I gotta clean up,” he explained when he got a questioning look from his siblings, though Mikey seemed to realize what had happened.

“That reminds me,” the orange-banded turtle said, a blush coloring his own cheeks and he left out a slightly nervous laugh. “I kinda still need the bathroom,” he explained.

That seemed to be enough information for his two other brothers, so he turned and headed back to Donnie’s lab to use the bathroom there.

Leo watched him go, looking at Donnie when his brother motioned for him to follow him into the living room. Leo assumed it was so Raph or Mikey wouldn’t hear what Donnie had to say.

“You can fix this, can’t you, Don?” Leo questioned once they were out of earshot of the bathroom.

“Honestly?” Donnie asked, turning to look at Leo. “I don’t know, but I’m going to do everything in my power to,” he promised, letting out a long sigh. “I really wish they had gotten a proper sample of the stuff, it would make this so much easier,” he admitted, leaning against the back of the couch. “I don’t know what is even in those files I got.” He sounded a little frustrated.

Leo stood there, arms crossed over his chest as he looked at Donnie, feeling just as lost as his brother seemed to be.

“I’m at a total loss on how to handle any of this,” Leo stated, though he wasn’t expecting Donnie to have the answer to this problem, or even any words of wisdom, Leo had always felt like he could talk to Donnie openly and honestly about what he was feeling, and his misgivings about how he performed as a leader.

“If we’re lucky this wasn’t the only place that was running this experiment. If nothing else, the information I gathered might have other places listed that we could raid.” Donnie said.

Leo nodded once again, glancing at the dojo door that had remained shut the entire morning, despite the noise and commotion.

“I should tell Sensei, shouldn’t I?” he asked, though he was reluctant to do so.

Donnie followed Leo’s gaze to the door, biting his lower lip. “He might have good advice about how we could be handling this problem,” he said, however, Leo knew Donnie was just as reluctant to talk to Splinter as he was, for numerous reasons.

Leo looked to his brother when Donnie turned to him once more, placing a hand on his arm and patting it gently, apologetically.

“I’m afraid you probably have to get this over with,” Donnie said, his lips quirked up into a half smile, one that Leo didn’t return as he patted Donnie’s arm.

“You go check on Mikey and Raph, maybe keep them in your lab for now, while I get this over with,” he said quietly.

Donnie nodded in agreement and Leo watched him head off to the lab, hopefully to round up their brothers. Leo squared his shoulders and took a deep calming breath, walking in the opposite direction to Donnie, heading for the sliding door of the dojo.

Leo stopped in front of the door as he usually did, taking another deep breath to prepare himself for what he was about to face. Raising his hand, he knocked, his heart hammering in his chest as he waited for his father to allow him to enter.

Standing there for nearly a minute, Leo knew better than to leave his new post; Splinter could, and had left him standing here for up to an hour before. It was one form of punishment the rat inflicted on all of them, letting them work themselves up into a state before agreeing to talk with them.

Leo hardly remembered a time when Splinter wasn’t like this. Although Leo was sure the rat had gotten worse over the years, he couldn’t pinpoint a single moment when his father had become almost cruel and controlling the way he was now.

“Enter,” Splinter finally called out to him nearly a full ten minutes later.

Leo kept himself from sighing in relief that he hadn’t been made to stand there all day. Sliding the door open, he slipped inside; closing it behind him once again, he turned and bowed politely to Splinter.

“I assume you are here to discuss the disturbance in the lair this morning, Leonardo,” Splinter said, getting straight to the point.

Leo knew then how closely Splinter had been monitoring the going-ons of the morning commotion.

“Hai, sensei,” Leo said, keeping his eyes fixed straight ahead, but not looking at the rat as Splinter sat by the self made shrine in a meditative pose. “It would appear our mission last night, while successful, had… complications,” Leo informed him, and waited to see what Splinter made of that.

Splinter remained where he was, seemingly calm despite the news, though one of his ears twitched ever so slightly when Leo had finished speaking.

“Complications, I see, and are you going to explain what these… complications, which caused our morning so much unrest, happen to be?”

Leo swallowed hard and hoped his father hadn't noticed his momentary lapse as his eyes flicked down to look at him before returning to their previous state of staring straight ahead. He kept his hands clasped behind his back and took a deep breath.

“There was an accident, which affected both Raph and Mikey, physically,” Leo said, his voice not betraying his nervousness. “They appear, according to Donnie, they are now…” Leo trailed off, the word catching in his throat as he saw Splinter stand up from his position.

“They are what?” Splinter prompted, locking eyes with Leo.

“...female, sensei, Raph and Mikey are now female,” Leo said, his voice wavering slightly despite himself.

Splinter didn’t show any outward sign of his surprise, though Leo was sure he’d seen his eyes widen a fraction.

“Female?” Splinter questioned, stroking his chin. “And how, may I ask, did you allow such a thing to happen, Leonardo?”

Leo knew Splinter would see this as his fault, he was the leader after all, so he answered truthfully.

“We had to seperate, it was more efficient, Donnie needed to get information off the computers located on the top floor, while Raph and MIkey went to the power room,” Leo explained, purposely looking at Splinter now. “Donnie is fixin things now,” he said.

Splinter’s eyes remained locked on his eldest sons’, his stare cold yet intense. “There should be nothing to fix, regardless of how it happened. You are the eldest, and the leader of your team, were you able to do your job and lead your team properly, your brothers would not have been inflicted with this… condition,” Splinter said.

Lowering his head, Leo broke his gaze with Splinter, his brow furrowed at Splinter’s choice of words, but didn’t dare question it.

“I am truly sorry, Sensei, I will try harder, I will fix this-”

“Yes,” Splinter interrupted. “You will.”

Stepping forward the rat placed a hand on Leo’s shoulder; from an outside perspective it would have looked like a kind fatherly gesture, however as Splinter gripped Leo’s shoulder tightly, the turtle flinched.

“I think we will start with you taking over training lessons for the next week, while I supervise,” Splinter said.

Leo wanted to protest, however, it was Splinter’s particular punishment for Leo, making the blue-banded turtle the one to inflict pain on his siblings he had sworn to protect.

“H-hai, sensai,” Leo said, feeling a lump in his throat as he nodded once more.

“You are dismissed,” Splinter said.

Leo turned to leave without another word, pausing at the door to turn and bow politely to Splinter as they had all been taught, before turning and doing his best not to run from the dojo. He didn’t breathe easier until the door was closed behind him and he was a few paces away from the dojo, and out of reach of his father, for now.

TBC

Chapter Text

 

Part 3

Raph made his way into Donnie’s lab as promised. Stepping inside and looking around, he saw Mikey had already made himself comfortable. For once, though, the turtle-in-orange wasn’t poking or prodding at things in the lab, his attention on the door to the lab, even after Raph had moved away from it.

“How are you feeling?” Donnie asked, motioning Raph over to the table Mikey had spent the night on.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Raph said, avoiding answering that particular question because he didn’t really know how to answer it.

Donnie simply nodded, put on a fresh pair of gloves, before setting up the needle. Raph offered his arm to Donnie and the purple-banded turtle looked at him.

“Okay, you’re going to feel a slight pinch--” Donnie started.

Raph couldn't stop himself from growling at his brother.

“Just hurry up already an’ stop actin’ like I’ve never given blood before,” he said, huffing a bit, but he still flinched slightly when Donnie administered the needle. It was moments like this that Raph could fully understand Mikey’s dislike for needles, he himself wasn’t overly fond of them; however he also knew if he fought back he would hurt himself, and most likely Don too, so he held his arm still as he could while the purple banded turtle worked.

It thankfully only took a few seconds, then Donnie was finished, and was placing a bandage over the still bleeding hole. Raph looked at the syringe then, snorting and rolling his eyes at how much Donnie had taken this time.

“Yeesh Don, are ya a vampire or somethin’? You tryin’ ta drain me of all my blood?” he joked.

“This is hardly all your blood, and it’s not like I haven’t taken more before to stock up our supplies,” Donnie said, making quick work of cleaning the area before returning to his work table with the blood sample.

Raph simply rolled his eyes again and looked over to Mikey, who hadn’t said a word since Raph had walked in.

“What’s up with him?” Raph asked, looking to Donnie for answers.

Donnie glanced at Raph, then Mikey and sighed, turning his shell to his brothers again.

“Leo’s in the dojo talking to Splinter,” he informed Raph.

This had the red-banded turtle looking quickly to the door of the lab as well, watching it almost as intently as Mikey was. As if expecting to be able to see through the solid metal to the dojo door on the other side of the lair. For the next few minutes the only sound in the lair was Donnie working, or the occasional squeak of a chair as Mikey shifted around in his seat. For Raph it felt like an eternity passed before the door opened and Leo came in.

“Hey guys,” he said, joining them in the lab.

Raph heard Mikey sigh, and with a quick glance he saw his younger brother had visibly relaxed. Raph, however, couldn’t make himself relax, waiting to hear what Leo was going to tell them, as he was sure Splinter hadn’t had anything good or helpful to say.

Leo stayed by the door, looking mainly at Donnie. “How you getting on?” he questioned, Raph refrained from snapping as Leo blatantly ignored his and Mikey’s questioning looks.

“I’ve taken the blood sample from Raph,” Donnie informed him, turning from his work desk to face Leo. His eyes flickered to Raph, who was shifting to sit further on the table, legs splayed and arms crossed over his chest as he continued staring at Leo. Shaking his head at the pose, Donnie looked back to Leo.

“I’ve only just had my first look at it, so it’s going to be a while before I have any answers regarding what’s going on, or how that stuff worked to change them,” Donnie said. “I also haven’t had a chance to even look at the data yet.”

Leo nodded, listening to Donnie’s report, before finally looking at the other two.

“While Donnie works on that, Sensei wants to start morning training. I…” Leo trailed off, noticing the tense stances from each of his brothers. “He wants me to lead the training session this morning,” he explained.

“Wait…” Mikey said. “We’re not getting the day off?”

“I’m afraid not.” Leo gave him and then Raph an apologetic look. “I think, Donnie, you’re first this morning, that way when you’re finished, you can come right back here and get to work. Then Raph, you’re after Don. And, I’m sorry Mikey, you’ll be last today,” Leo said.

“Fine by me,” Raph shrugged, seeming unphased by the news he’d be training, even with a dislocated arm. However, in reality, Raph knew whether he was on board with the idea or not, he’d be dragged into the dojo, so he decided to look at this as a way to vent his frustrations.

“Leo, I can’t just…” Donnie started to say but he trailed off with a sigh and shook his head, looking back at the work he'd only just started on. “Alright, I guess it would be better if I went first, then I won’t be interrupted halfway through,” he said, stepping away from his table and grabbing his bo staff from where he’d left it the night before. “You two should probably go hang out somewhere else for now, I’ll come and get you if I find anything later,” he said, following Leo back to the dojo.

Raph took that as dismissal from the lab, which made sense; he knew Donnie hated anyone in his lab, with the dangerous things he kept in there, while he wasn’t there. He didn’t say anything as he slipped from the table and went to the door of the lab, hearing a chair scrape on the floor as Mikey stood to follow.

“Raph,” Mikey said as the orange-banded turtle caught up to him. “Do you think Splinter is really angry with us?”

It was a fair question, but Raph couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

“He’s makin’ us train with a busted arm and leg. What do you think?” Raph demanded, heading toward the kitchen. “I bet Leo went and told him everything that happened,” Raph grumbled as Mikey continued to follow him.

“Splinter would have found out anyway, he always does,” Mikey said, moving to the kitchen table.

He set his crutch against the side of a chair before sitting down, watching as Raph grabbed two bowls and a box of cereal, biting on his lower lip as the red-banded turtle fixed them both something quick to eat.

“Are you mad?” Mikey hedged.

Raph paused in what he was doing, looking at Mikey. “Why would I be mad?” he replied. “Just ‘cause my wrist is busted up, we got splinter on high alert, I feel like Donnie took a pint of my friggein’ blood, Leo’s bein’ a pain in the ass, and oh yeah, I’m a fucking girl now!” Raph inhaled sharply turning his shell to Mikey, grabbing one of the bowls, he practically dropped it onto the table in front of the younger turtle before grabbing his own. “No, I ain’t mad, I feel like a million bucks,” he said, his voice dripping with heavy sarcasm.

As he headed to the fridge to get the milk, a sniff caught Raph’s attention. He turned to blink at Mikey.

“I’m sorry,” Mikey sniffed again, rubbing fiercely at his eyes to stop the heavy flow of tears, however, no matter what he did, it didn’t seem to help as more tears just seemed to replace the one’s cleared away.

Raph wasn’t a fan of crying, he hated every aspect of it, but mostly he hated that he never knew what to do. If it was him, he’d usually lock himself in his room so others didn’t see him. When other people were crying, he’d usually do the same thing. However, on the rare occasion he was forced to deal with it, all he could think to do was give them a small pat on the shoulder, a reluctant show of concern, or the majority of the time, he’d just stand there in an awkward silence, waiting to see if the problem resolved itself.

Mikey seemed to be doing his best not to cry too loudly, rubbing at his eyes at first in an attempt to stop the tears, and when that failed, he simply hid his face in his arms, shoulders shaking as his crying seemed to increase in severity.

Seeing Mikey cry like that put Raph on edge, mostly because it was Mikey, but also because it made Raph feel guilty; he knew it was at least partly his fault the younger turtle was so upset, simply because Raph had taken his bad mood out on him. Overall it wasn’t entirely Mikey’s fault he was having a bad day.

“Hey, hey,” Raph started, stepping forward and placing a hand on Mikey’s shell, gently rubbing it like he’d seen Leo and Donnie do plenty of times while they were growing up. “Look, it’s okay. It’s just been a really bad day so far. I didn’t mean ta make ya cry, so… I’m sorry, okay?” Raph said, looking around awkwardly, already knowing no one other than Mikey was around to hear his apology, but he still had to make sure.

Mikey sniffed, lifting his head to look at Raph.

“I just… I didn’t mean to make this happen, it was an accident, and now… now we’re both girls, and Donnie can’t fix this, and splinter is mad at us and… and…”

Mikey didn’t seem to be able to get out whatever else he wanted to say, he simply turned in his chair and wrapped his arms around Raph’s waist, his face buried against Raph’s plastron as he cried harder.

Raph froze, feeling his brother grab onto him, before sighing and wrapping his good arm around him. He didn’t say anything else, just let Mikey have his moment, figuring it was just something Mikey had to get out of his system, and then things would go back to normal. He wracked his brain trying to think of something, anything he could say to make it better, hating that he was so bad at talking, and feelings. If it were Leo or Donnie, they would know what to say to stop their baby brother from being so upset, or at least they’d be able to think of something to distract him.

Mikey’s cries tapered off on their own, but he didn’t pull away from Raph just yet, his breathing slowly returning to normal.

“... I don’t want to be a ninja anymore…” he said, taking Raph by surprise.

“C’mon, ya don’t mean that, and everythin’ else ya said too, Don said he’s gonna fix us, and I don’t know anyone who’s smarter than him,” Raph pointed out. “Donnie also said he might be able ta make an antidote usin’ the samples he just took from me, so I bet ya he’ll have somethin’ for us by tha end of tha day.”

Both Raph and Mikey knew that wasn’t very likely, but it had Mikey smiling, pulling back to look at Raph, wiping his eyes and nodding.

“Sorry, I don’t know where that came from. You’re right, things will be fine,” he said. It was the one simple truth they all clung to, whenever a mission went wrong, whenever Leo was forced to spend hours in the dojo with Splinter, when any of them had lessons with Splinter; the simple truth was, things might suck now, but in the end, they were all going to be okay.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it,” Raph replied, patting Mikey’s shell before going to finish fixing his bowl of cereal, handing Mikey the milk so he could do the same. “I didn’t mean ta getcha all worked up like that, it’s just been a crazy mornin’ and I guess I ain’t takin’ it too great either.” He returned to the table and sat down to finally eat his meagre bowl of cereal.

The two of them ate quickly and quietly, knowing that if their father saw them eating anything before practice, they would be in serious trouble. It wasn’t as if food was scarce in the lair, or even off-limits, however, Splinter had always been under the opinion that you had to earn everything, including food. To do that, you had to do well in lessons for the day, no matter whether it took half an hour or five hours.

When they finished, Mikey moved to put the bowls in the sink to wash them, however, Raph got them first.

“Ya ain’t supposed ta be standin’,” he said.

“Oh, right,” Mikey said, sinking back into his seat as Raph washed up quickly. “Hey Raph, what happens if Donnie can’t fix us? We’ll have to be girls forever.” Mikey lifted his head to look at Raph. “Do I have to start calling you ‘sis’?”

“You’ll never have ta call me sis,” Raph said dismissively, trying not to let his annoyance show, in case it sent Mikey into a crying fit again. “And I don’t wanna think about him not fixin’ us. I mean, somethin’ made us inta girls, so something’s gotta turn us back, right?”

“Something turned us from normal turtles into this and there’s no way back from that,” Mikey pointed out.

“We weren’t lookin’ to turn back into normal turtles, Mikey,” Raph stated, though the truth was he’s never even considered the possibility, he was just happy to see Mikey acting a little more like normal, even if he was asking dumb questions.

“True,” Mikey said. “You’re probably right. Donnie is totally gonna find a cure for us.”

Raph grinned. “Glad you’re seein’ it my way. Just give Donnie his lab and a bit a time, we’ll have our junk back soon enough.”

Their conversation was halted by the sound of the dojo door opening and the two turtles looked at each other. Mikey grabbed his crutch and stood up, following the red-banded turtle out of the kitchen. They didn’t know if it was a good or bad thing that Donnie had been allowed out of the dojo so soon.

Donnie made his way slowly across the lair to his lab, head lowered. He didn’t even look at his other two siblings standing by the kitchen door as he slipped into his lab and closed the door behind him.

“Raphael!” Splinter’s voice carried through the lair. The rat didn’t shout but the tone he used was stern, and told Raph everything he needed to know about how the remainder of his morning was going to go.

Any enthusiasm he had gained about finding a cure was gone upon hearing Splinter calling him into the dojo, he gave Mikey a look, the orange-banded turtle not being very helpful with the nervous smile he gave Raph in return. Turning back around, Raph didn’t make Splinter wait any longer, making his way through the living room area, up the steps into the dojo where the door was closed behind him.

------------x

Raph stepped into the dojo, looking at Leo who was standing behind and to the left of Splinter. The blue-banded turtle was staring straight ahead, though he did lock eyes with Raph for a moment before Splinter spoke, drawing both their attention to him.

“Raphael, your brother has informed of what happened last night. I now wish to hear it from you,” Splinter said, looking sternly down at Raph.

Inhaling sharply, Raph stepped forward, closer to the center of the dojo. He took his usual expected position, kneeling on the floor, hands, or rather hand, resting on his lap, as his other arm was still strapped to his plastron to limit movement. He glanced up at his father, then to Leo once again, unsure why he kept looking to his older brother, as there was nothing either of them could do.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Raph tried to at least appear calm, even though inside he was a whirling mass of fear and anxiety.

“Mikey an’ me, we had an accident, Sensei.” He did his best to sound stern, confident, looking straight ahead and not looking at anyone. “On the mission, we fell into a trap door, an’ then… then we fell into some weird goop which did somethin’ ta us.” His eyes flicked to Splinter’s tail, which was twitching in agitation. “It... it turned us inta girls… I guess,” Raph finished.

“You guess,” Splinter repeated, his tail flicking again, however, the rest of him remained unmoving as he narrowed his eyes at Raph.

The red-banded turtle flinched, realising he had already messed up as Splinter continued speaking.

“Leonardo, as leader of this team, it falls to you to pick a suitable punishment for your… sister,”

Raph’s head snapped up, staring at Splinter in shock, his gaze quickly going to Leo next, only to find the blue-banded turtle looked just as surprised.

“Sensei, I’m not,” Leo began, only to freeze when Splinter turned to look at him, Raph couldn’t see the look the rat gave Leo, but it seemed to do the trick as Leo bowed his head, “H-Hai, sensei.”.

Raph felt his heart clench and his body freeze up at Leo’s agreement. However his hurt was mixed with anger at being called Leo’s sister, and there was nothing he could do to argue that point, at least not in front of Splinter.

Leo stepped forward, until he was standing in front of Raph.

Raph clenched his good hand on his thigh, clenching his eyes shut tightly for a moment, before lifting his head to glare at Leo. This was his brother, not Splinter, and he had no problem showing his anger towards him.

Leo took a deep breath, focusing on Raph, narrowing his eyes and returning the look.

“Raph, your actions last night were unacceptable, you put yourself, and Mikey, in danger, had you called Donnie, or myself, neither of you would be in this position now,” Leo stated.

Raph had to clench his jaw shut, reminding himself not to start an argument with Leo in front of Splinter.

“For the next two weeks you are confined to the lair,” Leo stated, putting as much authority into his voice as he could muster.

Raph waited for more, and when nothing else came he blinked, his glare fading slightly at such a lenient punishment.

“Do the lives of two of your siblings mean so little to you, Leonardo?” Splinter asked.

Raph lowered his head, mentally kicking himself for thinking this was too easy.

“No, Sensei, I just thought, Raph is already injured and dealing with such a drastic body change, I simply thought he-”

“She,” Splinter corrected.

Leo stared at him, while Raph stared at Leo. The blue-banded turtles’ shoulders sagging as if in defeat before he nodded.

“I simply thought she has had enough punishment,” Leo finished.

Splinter rubbed his chin, nodding once. “I see,” he said, seeming to contemplate something. However, in the next moment, he spun around, his foot connecting with Raph’s shoulder, catching the red banded turtle by surprise.

Raph bit back a cry of pain as his bad shoulder connected with the floor, unwilling to give Splinter the satisfaction of making him scream.

“It is time to move onto the next stage of this punishment, making sure she understands fully what she has done. Brute force has always worked best with Raphael, has it not?” Splinter directed his question to Raph.

The red-banded turtle refused to answer, pushing himself up from the floor.

Leo made to rush forward, worry clear on his face, however, he was stopped by their father.

“You two will spar,” Splinter instructed.

“Master Splinter, Raph is too hurt-” Leo was cut off when the rat backhanded him across the face, his head turning swiftly from the impact.

“If she has enough energy to scream, she has enough to fight,” Splinter said firmly. “Is that not correct, Raphael?”

“Yeah,” Raph forced himself up, biting back a hiss of pain as his shoulder was jarred painfully. “Yeah, I can spar, no problem,” he lied, turning to face Leo, his good hand clenched into a fist. He knew if he objected things would only get worse from there on, so even with a dislocated shoulder, this was still the best solution.

Leo reluctantly turned to face him, getting into a fighting position, mouthing an ‘I’m sorry’ before starting the attack.

Raph dodged as best he could, made a little easier, he noticed quickly, given Leo wasn’t giving his all. Raph knew Splinter wasn’t going to let that slide for long though, so he kicked out, forcing Leo to block him and retaliate, sending Raph to the floor painfully. Ignoring the hand offered him, Raph pushed himself back to his feet and started the next attack. He didn’t hold back, forcing Leo to up his defensive and offensive moves, which sent Raph down to the ground again and again.

Raph made no attempt to get out of the sparring match, it would be futile, with their Sensei watching their every move. He did do his best to avoid his injured arm, just as Leo was trying his best not to hit it, however, every knock to the floor jarred it painfully. It was sapping the energy from him faster than normal, so by the sixth time he was pulling himself from the floor, he was already quite winded.

Making another clumsy attack, Raph stumbled, tripping himself and landing back on the floor. He lay there unmoving this time, breathing deeply as he rode out the pain shooting down his arm. He felt extra pressure on his back then, keeping him pinned to the floor.

“One more toe out of line, Raph, one more slip up, and I will seriously consider removing you from this team,” Leo stated.

Raph nodded his head quickly in understanding, ignoring the stinging behind his eyes as Leo put more pressure on him.

“Okay!” Raph shouted.

“Yame.” Spinter cracked his cane against the floor, stopping the fight and Leo backed off.

Raph used his good arm to push himself back into a sitting position, keeping his head lowered, partly because he didn’t want to look at either of the other occupants in the room, and partly because he didn’t want to see him near tears.

“That will be all for today, Raphael. Send your sister in,” Splinter ordered.

There was nothing more Raph wanted to do in that moment than scream, yell, throw another punch; at who he wasn't sure, but he certainly wanted to hit someone. However, given the warning he’d just received, he didn’t dare do anything more than push himself to his feet, turning abruptly, ignoring the worried look Leo was giving him, Raph left the dojo without a word, slamming it shut behind him, hoping to convey enough of his anger and hurt in the actions, without risking another punishment.

He returned to Donnie’s lab, figuring that’s where Mikey would have likely retreated to. Sure enough, he found his orange-banded brother… sister, seated in a chair next to Donnie’s desk.

“You’re up,” Raph said, his voice cracking with emotion, making his way to the examination table. Raph hopped up onto it and stared at the floor, his good hand clutching his throbbing arm.

Mikey grabbed his crutch, looking at Raph and then to Donnie. The purple-banded turtle waved Mikey away, indicating he could handle whatever had happened. The silent conversation between the two brothers didn’t go unnoticed by Raph, he just didn’t care.

Mikey slowly left, and Donnie came over to stand next to Raph. He opened his mouth to speak, however, Raph cut him off before he could.

“No, I don’t wanna talk about it, so, just check me over so I can go to my room.” Raph sniffed.

Donnie simply nodded and set to quietly work on Raph’s arm, removing the bandages, checking it over, adding some cream to help numb the pain before re-wrapping it.

Raph was grateful to Donnie for not drawing attention to the sniffs now and then as Raph tried to fight back the tears threatening to spill over. It wasn’t the physical hurt that had him so upset, it was the betrayal, the abandonment Leo had shown him in that room. Logically Raph knew Leo had as much control over the situation as he did, however, knowing that and really believing it were entirely different things.

“Thanks,” Raph muttered under his breath when Donnie had finished.

“Raph, you know you can talk to me, right?” Donnie said.

Raph nodded his head once as he hopped down from the table.

“I know, Don, I just… I need ta be alone. I… I got a lot ta think about,” he said, turning and heading back to the door. “Thanks again, for fixin’ me up,” he said without turning back around, and he left.

---------x

Mikey hobbled his way into the dojo, using the crutch to lean on as he opened the door, slipping inside and closing it behind him like Raph had done before him. Instinctively Mikey looked to Leonardo, silently asking his blue-banded brother what had happened with Raph, However, Leo simply shook his head and gestured for Mikey to pay attention to their father.

Swallowing hard, Mikey finally turned to look at Splinter. The rat didn’t look pleased about the current situation at all and it took everything Mikey had not to shrink back.

“Michelangelo.” Splinter motioned him forward.

Mikey felt as if there were lead bricks tied to his feet as he moved to stand in front of his father, happy that he wasn’t being made to kneel on the floor at the moment, he was sure he had Leo to thank for that small blessing and made a mental note to thank you later. For now, Mikey put every ounce of self control he had into concentrating on what Splinter was saying.

“Leonardo has already made it clear to me that last night’s mission was successful, but not without its drawbacks,” Splinter began, his eyes narrowing as they stared down at Mikey, who slumped his shoulders, chewing worriedly on his lower lip as he waited for Splinter to finish speaking. “I expect you to tell me exactly what those drawbacks may have been.”

Mikey stared up at Splinter, forcing a small smile, trying in vain to hopefully put their father in a good mood.

“Um, well, I sorta fell through a trap door…” he admitted, knowing Splinter most likely knew this information, and was just looking to have Mikey clarify it. “I got stuck under the door and, umm… Raph got hurt trying to get me out,” Mikey summarized.

Splinter’s ear twitched, as he remained in the same pose, indifferent to Mikey’s nervousness as he stared directly into Mikey’s baby-blues. “Is that all that happened?” he demanded, his voice cold and stern, clearly not pleased with Mikey’s short version of what had transpired.

“Sort of?” Mikey offered, his eyes darting towards Splinter’s tail as it flicked in agitation. “I mean, I just couldn't walk very well after that, and Raph’s arm was busted up,” he said looking back up at his father. “We also fell into this green goop stuff…” Mikey trailed off.

Splinter was clearly aware that Mikey was intentionally leaving out details, as the youngest was wont to do. Mikey just never understood this practice of telling Splinter everything that happened, when the rat already knew the full story, having heard it from Leo, and most likely Donnie and Raph as well. Mikey, however, was smart enough not to point this out to their father when he was already this agitated.

“Leonardo,” Splinter said, his eyes still fixed on Mikey for a moment before turning to look at the blue-banded turtle. “Do you always allow such flippancy and indolent reports amongst your team? A lie by omission is still a lie.”

“No, Sensei,” Leo said. “Mikey is just easily distractible, so I don’t usually rely on him for giving reports,” he explained, turning to look at the younger turtle. “Mikey, Splinter wants to know everything that happened, every detail.”

“I… that was every detail,” Mikey protested looking to Leo. “I mean, other than the fact that Raph and I are chicks now… but Donnie’s fixing that, so it doesn’t really matter…” Mikey turned his attention back to Splinter. “Does it?” he asked. However, from the look the rat was giving him, it apparently did matter.

“Even the most minute detail can make all the difference to the larger picture,” Splinter scolded, turning finally to fully face Leo. “Leonardo, it is your responsibility, as leader, to administer a proper punishment for Michelangelo’s disobedience.”

“What?” Mikey blinked, looking at Splinter then to Leo. “But I didn’t do anything wrong!” he protested.

“Mikey,” Leo warned.

“No! I didn’t do anything wrong! We still completed the mission! We did what we were supposed to do! I… so I got a little hurt, Raph got a bit hurt, it won’t happen again!” Mikey promised.

“Michelangelo!” Splinter’s voice boomed, the turtle falling silent now as the rat turned to face him again, his tail flicking again. “Such mistakes should not have happened to begin with.”

Mikey shrank back from Splinter as the rat looked back to Leo once more. “Her punishment, now!”

Leo nodded, stepping forward and Mikey could only stare at him now, leaning heavily on his crutch as he waited to see what Leo was going to do.

“Mikey, we’re going to work on your balance now,” he said.

Mikey saw Splinter’s tail flick again at the gentle tone Leo was using with him, but he didn’t contradict it just yet.

“My balance is the best, bro,” Mikey offered, forcing another smile as he focused just on Leo.

Leo’s lips twitched into a ghost of a smile in return, before it was gone, hidden behind a stoic mask.

“You will balance on a bamboo stock, and you will not be allowed to move for one hour. If you fall off, the hour resets,” Leo said.

Mikey felt as if something heavy had just landed in his stomach, his face falling as the severity of the situation was finally becoming clear to him. Mikey knew Leo was being forced to pick a suitable punishment, however, he had underestimated how angry Splinter was about the situation.

“What about my leg?” Mikey asked, looking from Leo to Splinter.

“You have one that works, do you not?” Splinter asked almost quizzically, though the frustration could be clearly heard in his tone.

Biting his lip, Mikey nodded and stood there as Leo set things up, instructing Mikey to get onto the bamboo shaft, taking his crutch away from him, forcing Mikey to figure out how he was going to get up there without hurting his leg more. He was unable to ask for help, as this was supposed to be punishment.

It took him nearly ten minutes just to get onto the bamboo shoot without hurting his leg or doing any more damage, which Donnie would surely scold him for. He positioned himself and focused, staring down at Leo for a moment and nodding once, indicating he was ready, even if he wasn’t mentally ready, he wanted to get this over with, and go back to Donnie.

Leo started the timer for the hour, before grabbing a bo staff from nearby, and that’s when Mikey realized that this wasn’t going to be a normal balance exercise. He was being tested. Leo would prod at him when Mikey least expected it, putting him on high alert, trying to focus on what his brother was doing, while also focusing on his foot, and not hurting his already injured leg.

It was fine to start with, and Mikey thought things were going fairly well, until Splinter’s tail knocked the bamboo shoot, the rat’s involvement taking Mikey by surprise just enough that he didn’t notice Leo until it was too late.

His first tumble to the ground was a painful one; instinctively trying to catch himself, he put too much pressure on his leg and he screamed, crumbling further to the floor as he gripped at it.

Leo stepped forward quickly to try and help him up, but was stopped by Splinter.

“She can do this on her own, unless you plan to coddle her the rest of her life,” Splinter hissed.

Mikey fought back tears as he pushed himself back to his feet, getting back onto the bamboo shoot. He watched as Leo reset the timer and started it again, both of them seeming to know and understand that this was going to be a very long day, and Mikey was suddenly regretting eating that bowl of cereal before ‘training’.

-----------x

Donnie let out a long frustrated sigh as he leaned back in his chair, rubbing at his eyes he looked over to the clock on the wall. Though the time did nothing to ease his mind, as he calculated Mikey had been in the dojo for nearly three hours, which was worrying enough on a normal day, but today Donnie was truly worried for Mikey’s safety.

He turned his attention back to the sample of blood he had been examining. It was frustrating to say the least. Whatever Raph and Mikey had fallen into had merged with the mutagen already in their system, making it harder to detect, and even when Donnie had found what he was looking for, it was hardly enough to do anything with.

Letting out another long sigh, he leaned forward to have another look in the microscope, before glancing at the notes he’d been taking all morning.

“Any luck?”

Leo’s voice startled him and Donnie spun around in his chair, looking at Leo and Mikey. The orange-banded turtle openly crying as Leo helped him onto the table, though Mikey didn’t look too happy about it as he finally jerked his arm away from their older brother.

“What happened?” he asked. Standing up, he made his way over to his brothers.

Leo shook his head, clearly unwilling to talk about it, or perhaps deciding to leave the explanation to Mikey. Donnie frowned but nodded his understanding. He looked over his shoulder at his work table.

“Things are going as well as could be expected, with only one blood sample, and no way to possibly separate things from it,” he said.

“Meaning…” Leo offered.

“Meaning I can’t even begin working on an antidote until I can figure out what is even in their blood system,” Donnie explained, moving to help Mikey lay down on the table so he could examine his leg. He didn’t try talking to his orange-banded brother, as Mikey looked like talking was the last thing on his mind at the moment.

“What do you need to make that happen?” Leo questioned.

“It means I have a lot of studying to get done, or I need to find out its origins,” Donnie replied, unwrapping his brother’s leg to look at the damage inflicted on it.

“My guess would be it came from dimension X,” Leo commented.

Donnie knew his brother was just trying to be helpful, however, he also knew Leo knew little-to-nothing about what he was talking about.

“That would be a good assumption if there weren’t properties that were found here on earth already,” Donnie explained. “Like I said, I have a lot of studying to do, and I have to figure out what is alien, and what is part of us already… so it could be a while longer before I can change Raph and Mikey back,” he said, giving Mikey an apologetic look, not that the smaller turtle was even paying attention to them.

Leo sighed and didn’t say anything else as he looked around the lab, the frown on his face growing.

Donnie couldn’t help but give Leo a knowing smile.

“He’s in his room, likely locked himself in there at the moment,” he said.

“I’m going to go see how… how he’s doing,” Leo said.

“You mean ‘she’ don’t you?” Mikey asked, the first thing he’d said to Leo since leaving the dojo. “Better get it right, just in case Splinter is listening in.”

Tthere was no humor in Mikey’s voice, and Donnie couldn’t help but notice he sounded hurt and perhaps more than a little angry. However, the purple-banded turtle couldn’t tell if Mikey was angry at Leo or Splinter, either was viable today.

“He’s making you call them…” Donnie trailed off shaking his head in disbelief, though in all honesty he shouldn’t have been as surprised as he was, with how Splinter had been acting that morning.

Leo sighed, nodding his head, his shoulders slumped slightly.

“Yeah, Splinter wants us to be prepared for…for when you don’t find a way to fix this,” he explained.

Donnie knew Leo was simply repeating what Splinter most likely told him, as it was only their father who didn’t believe in his ability to get things done. Donnie tried not to let it show how much that hurt, far too used to being put down by Splinter.

“Donnie will fix us!” Mikey shouted, glaring at Leo, kicking out at their older brother with his good leg, not that he could reach him as Leo stepped back, but it didn’t stop the younger turtle from trying.

“I never said he wouldn't,” Leo argued back, “but Splinter is right, we should also be prepared for the possibility that he might not find anything.”

Donnie stood there and half-heartedly listened to his brothers argue, while he tried looking at Mikey’s leg, his mind already pulled in too many directions to pay proper attention to their bickering. He wanted to see if Mikey had done irreversible damage to his injured leg, but that was difficult with him repeatedly trying to kick Leo.

“Leo! What would be more helpful than you being here, is going to check on Raph. I’m really worried about him,” he said.

“Her,” Mikey corrected again.

Donnie ignored him for now, keeping his focus on Leo, who nodded.

“Yeah, sure thing,” Leo said, looking back at Mikey. He opened his mouth to say something but clearly decided against it.

Donnie turned his attention to Mikey, who was still giving Leo a look that would’ve make Raph proud. “Mikey, you’re welcome to stay in the lab with me, I’d appreciate the company.”

Leo took a deep breath and nodded his head, looking once more to Mikey. “Try not to move around too much, and hurt yourself any more,” he said, trying to sound reassuring, though it was clear to Donnie that Mikey didn’t take it that way.

“I don’t need your advice, or help, Leo,” Mikey snapped.

“Mikey…”

“Leave me alone!” Mikey shouted, picking up his crutch and throwing it at Leo.

Donnie was shocked by his little brother’s behaviour, and looked to Leo.

“I’m going,” Leo said before Donnie could say anything else. Once his blue-banded brother was out of the lab, Donnie turned back to Mikey.

“You shouldn't take things out on him like that, it’s not his fault things are like this,” Donnie said, knowing that Leo was just as much a victim, if not more so, than any one of them. It was something Donnie had discussed with both Raph and Mikey before, and he also knew that at times like these, the two of them needed reminding of that.

Mikey stared at Donnie. Letting out a huff, he flopped back onto the table, staring up at the ceiling. Donnie sighed, patting his brother’s arm, before returning to his desk; he still had a lot of work to get through and all the data from the Kraang computer to get through as well.

“... why does father hate us?” Mikey asked.

Donnie had barely started typing when Mikey spoke. He froze up immediately, brow furrowed and lips pursed. He looked nervously behind him at Mikey then towards the open lab door. Slipping from his chair he hurried over to the door, closing it. His quick movements caught Mikey’s attention and curiosity, had the younger turtle sitting back up.

“Donnie?” Mikey asked.

Donnie glanced nervously towards the door before going over to sit next to Mikey on the table.

“If he truly hated us, Mikey, we wouldn't still be here,” Donnie argued, though kept his voice low as he spoke. “Look, I hate the way we’re treated just as much as you do.”

He hoped he could share some of his worries with Mikey, and yet keep his brother unaware of the few crucial details he wasn’t ready to share, at least not yet.

“Okay, he might not hate us, but he doesn’t love us,” Mikey argued back. “And… he was different today. He… he hardly talked to me, Donnie. He had Leo do most of the talking and… and…”

“And had Leo dole out punishment for you and Raph,” Donnie said, giving Mikey an understanding nod. “I know you and Raph haven’t really gone through that before, but… that’s how things have been for me for a long time,” he explained, looking away when Mikey’s eyes widened further.

“Sensei made Leo punish you?” Mikey asked.

“Not today, but on numerous occasions for… quite a number of years now. I’ve honestly lost count of how long it’s been going on.” Donnie looked down at his own lap, the two of them falling silent for a few moments, Donnie thinking and Mikey processing the information he’d just been given.

“I hate him,” Mikey said, taking Donnie by surprise.

The purple-banded turtle looked at him.

“I hate him!” Mikey said a bit louder.

Donnie was worried it would draw unwanted attention, however, Mikey was apparently finished as the orange-banded turtle laid back down on the table to resume staring at the ceiling.

“...I’m going to hope you were talking about Splinter and not Leo,” Donnie said, smiling at his poor excuse for a joke when Mikey glanced at him. Sighing once again, something he knew he’d been doing a lot lately, he slid from the table and went to retrieve Mikey’s crutch, leaning it against the table once more.

“There’s nothing we can really do about our situation right now,” Donnie said, hating how true his words were, and wishing there was something more he could do than stand here and be the pacifist brother. “All we can really do is try and find a solution to your’s and Raph’s problem, and hope that helps put Splinter back in a good mood.” Donnie smiled at Mikey’s snort of disbelief and he had to agree, that was a bit of a far fetched dream. “At least placate him enough to leave us alone for a little while,” he corrected.

Mikey sighed, rolling over on the table. “I still hate this…” Mikey repeated.

Donnie placed a hand on Mikey’s shoulder.

“I know. Do you feel better for your outburst though?” Donnie asked, wanting to make sure Mikey wasn’t still bottling anything up inside that could get him in more trouble.

“No, I don’t feel better,” Mikey admitted. “I’m still really upset, I’m not used to being this irrational, that’s usually Raph’s job.” Mikey forced a smile as he rolled over to look at Donnie. “Can I nap in here while you work?” he asked.

Donnie nodded.

“Of course. Let’s get you some place more comfortable than the examination table,” he said, helping his little brother off the table and over to the cot in the corner.

He didn’t say anything about Mikey acting irrational, suspecting that was more to do with the sudden change in hormones he and Raph were going through at the moment. He mentally compared it to what he had read about PMS in humans, however, he didn’t voice that opinion, because then he would have to admit to where he had gotten that information, and that was something his brothers didn’t need to know about, yet.

tbc

Chapter Text

 

 

Part 4

Raph was lying in his bed, curling up around his pillow before rolling over to stare at the ceiling for a while. He had no intention of sleeping; he wasn’t tired, just angry, frustrated and hurt.

All he could do was play the last twenty-hours over and over in his mind. Mikey’s injured leg, their accident in the goop, the panic in the morning, the humiliating display in front of their father; everything about it was overwhelming. He just wanted to stop thinking about it, but every time he closed his eyes another image was there, haunting him.

He had contemplated working out, leaving his room and going at his punching bag until there was nothing left of it, or perhaps go run the rooftops or the sewers until he was feeling more level-headed. However, he knew that if he left the lair now he was going to be in more trouble then he already was, and even he knew better than to push Splinter too far.

The knock on his door was soft and, while not unexpected, Raph wasn’t sure it was welcome. The person on the other side didn’t wait for an answer before pushing it open and Raph’s eyes narrowed when he saw Leo poke his head inside.

“Raph, can we talk?” Leo requested, keeping his eyes fixed on Raph.

“Go away,” Raph said, though there was no real bite to it, and he flopped back down on the bed, rolling over to curl around his pillow and blankets again. He knew he must look pathetic, but hoped Leo would get the message, that he really, really did not want to talk to anyone, least of all him.

“You don’t have to say anything, just… can you listen?” Leo asked, stepping further into the room. “Please Raph, I need you to listen,”

Raph didn’t answer, however, he also didn’t tell Leo to go away again, and that seemed to be enough of an invitation for Leo to close the door and say what he came to say.

“Raph, I just wanted to… I wanted to apologise, and make sure you know what I said, what I did in the dojo, I didn’t mean it…”

The comment only made Raph curl up more, wrapping his arms tighter around his pillow and turning his face to hide it. He still refused to speak, but he didn’t cut Leo off or protest his presence either.

There was the sound of shuffling feet, and a moment later, Raph felt the bed shift as Leo sat on it with him.

“Raph, I swear, I didn’t mean any of that… if only I were stronger… if only I could do something, stand up to father…” he trailed off.

Raph turned his head to glare at Leo over his shoulder.

“You can’t stand up to him,” he said flatly. “None of us can.”

He hated how defeated he sounded, but it was a truth he had long come to accept, that this was their life, no one else in the world would be kind enough to take in four mutant turtles, unless it was to slice them open and find out how they worked.

He turned his head away from Leo once more, a shudder running down his shell.

Leo placed a hand on Raph’s shoulder then, most likely an attempt to comfort him. Raph’s first instinct was to shrug it off, however, the warmth of Leo’s hand felt nice, so he decided to leave it, for now.

“That might be true… but we still have each other,” Leo stated. “Whatever happens in that dojo, whatever we do, or say in there… it doesn’t count, it never has, because that’s not us, that’s… that’s not me,” Leo said firmly.

Raph tried to hide his face from Leo, sniffing softly and hoping Leo hadn’t picked up on it. Leo however, sighed softly, and Raph didn’t object to the extra shifting on the bed as Leo laid down behind him, wrapping his arm around Raph’s waist and pulling him close.

“This is so stupid,” Raph said, his voice strained from suppressed emotions, cursing himself mentally as he sniffed again and felt the need to cry building. He was, however, was unwilling to pull away from Leo’s comforting embrace, finding it oddly nice.

“What’s stupid?” Leo questioned.

“Why does Dad even care so much about stupid shit like this? I get bein’ mad if we failed the mission, and that my arm and Mikey’s leg are basically useless right now, but he seemed…” Raph grit his teeth as he tried to put his anger into words, tried to make sense of what was going on around him, which wasn’t one of his strong points. “He seems ta be more pissed that we’re girls,” Raph said. “I just wanna know what his fuckin’ deal with that is.”

“I… I don’t know, Raph,” Leo admitted. “I really don’t.”

He tightened his hold on Raph, nuzzling into the back of his neck, causing the Raph to shudder again, tilting his head forward, giving Leo more access to his neck. The current situation was strange to him, not just from the events of that morning, but laying there, in his bed, with Leo’s arms wrapped around him. It wasn’t as if they had never hugged before, but something about the embrace felt different. Raph couldn’t place if it was a good or bad thing, he just knew a part of him liked having Leo this close.

“Hey, Raph?”

Leo’s voice broke through his thoughts and Raph blinked, turning his head to look at the blue-banded turtle.

“Hmm?” he questioned, unable to see Leo too well from this position. His brow furrowed when Leo didn’t respond right away, so Raph shifted a bit more to try and get a better look at Leo, but his brother tightened his hold on him, stopping him from moving so much. “...what is it?” Raph questioned.

“I…” Leo sighed. “I care about you,” Leo stated.

Raph blinked, a frown pulling at his lips as he was tempted once again to turn around to face Leo, but the tight hold Leo had on him would make it too difficult so he remained where he was, his mind working over what Leo had just said.

“I know,” Raph finally said, reaching up and patting Leo’s hand that was draped over his chest. “Ya wouldn’t a checked on me if ya didn’t, so… thanks.” .

Emotions and declarations of affection weren’t beyond the realm of Raph’s understanding, they were just difficult for him to express, or even accept. Dimly, he was aware that might be the result of his upbringing, but he had already stated, there was nothing to be done about their situation.

The two of them lay there in silence, and Raph kept expecting it to get awkward, or uncomfortable, but was happily surprised when it didn’t. Leo seemed quite content to continue laying there holding Raph all day if he was allowed. Though they both knew they couldn't afford such a luxury.

“We’re going to have to get up soon,” Leo stated. “I’ve left Donnie to deal with an over-emotional Mikey,” he explained.

“He’s used to that,” Raph stated.

“We had to work on Mikey’s balance today,” Leo said, knowing that Raph would understand what that would entail; all of them had gone through the rigorous training of having to balance on the bamboo shafts while Splinter did everything he could think of to knock them off.

“I can’t believe how pissed Sensei is over this…” he said, restating his observation from earlier, tilting his head back to rest it against Leo’s shoulder.

Leo took a deep, even breath, stopping himself from nuzzling into the exposed area. He did, however, lower his head, taking the rare moment with Raph while he could, knowing that things would be back to normal once they left this room, and he would once again have to pretend he didn’t care about Raph as much as he did.

“Hmm, this is nice,” Raph breathed out, the sudden admission seeming to snap both turtles out of whatever was happening between them. “Uh… right, we should get up,” Raph said suddenly, rolling out of Leo’s arms as he sat up. “Can’t imagine Mikey is makin’ things easy for Donnie right now.” Raph smirked.

Leo frowned but nodded his head, trying not to show his disappointment at Raph moving away from him so suddenly. Reluctantly, Leo sat up too. Standing up from the bed, he watched Raph shift around before standing as well, heading for the door. Leo couldn’t help but notice it looked as if Raph was trying not to run. ‘

“Raph, wait,” Leo said.

The red-banded turtle stopped and looked questioningly over his shoulder.

“Look, I know you and Mikey, and even Donnie might not want to hear this, but we really should put some thought into what happens if this ends up being a forever thing,” Leo said, keeping his eyes fixed on Raph as his brother narrowed his eyes, a frown quickly replacing the content look he had been wearing moments before.

“It ain’t a forever thing, we’re gonna work together and fix this,” Raph insisted firmly. “And we’ll do whatever it takes!”

Leo couldn't tell if Raph’s sudden enthusiasm was a cover for something else or if he really did feel that confident Donnie was going to fix things; whatever the reason, Leo wasn’t going to ruin this sudden good mood for Raph, so he simply nodded his head and allowed his brother to lead the way.

Following behind at a slower pace, he glanced toward the dojo as they passed. The door open slightly and Leo knew their father was watching them. He really hoped Raph was right and that things could get back to normal in the lair soon.

-----------x

As hard as the first day in their new female life had been, the next few days didn’t prove to be any better.

Mikey had taken to spending a lot of time in Donnie’s lab. He, or rather, she, as Splinter had taken to reminding them several times daily, tried to keep busy without distracting Donnie too much. This was something easily done as Mikey was still confined to wearing a cast on her leg, limiting her movement.

Of course, limited movement didn’t stop Splinter from insisting they continue their training. So, as the day before, Mikey settled herself in Donnie’s lab, waiting for her turn to be called into the dojo so she could be humiliated and put down by their father.

“Hey Donnie, do you think Splinter will be having lunch with us again today?” Mikey asked.

She knew her purple-banded brother didn’t have the answer, but was growing bored of sitting there in silence, with nothing but the sound of Donnie’s typing to fill the room.

Donnie didn’t look up from the computer screen, simply shrugging his shoulder as he browsed through the files on the thumb-drive.

“It’s hard to say, Mikey, though he has been joining us for dinner the past couple days…” Donnie trailed off leaving his sentence hanging there as he clicked on something, opening another file and started to read the contents of that one.

Letting out a long sigh Mikey tilted her head back to stare at the ceiling, already having every crack and bump memorized from her days spent in here.

“I just don’t get it,” she said, swinging her good leg back and forth. “I’ve tried talking to Leo about it, and he seems to be just as confused about Splinter’s actions as I am,” Mikey said huffily, looking back at Donnie, who seemed engrossed in his computer now and not overly interested in what Mikey was saying, or at least not fully focused on it.

Slipping from her seat, Mikey grabbed her crutch and made her way over to Donnie’s desk, practically draping herself over his shoulders as she looked at the computer screen.

“You know, I still don’t understand what you’re doing,” Mikey admitted, looking at the blocks of folders and files spread across Donnie’s screen. “How does this help fix Raph and me?”

Donnie smiled, glancing at Mikey before returning his focus back to the computer.

“I’m looking over the various experiments the Kraang were performing at the lab before it was abandoned,” he told her, typing a few more things into the computer before he started clicking on another file. “I’m hoping they’ll have information on what the experiment was, its purpose, chemicals used… if I can replicate them, I may be able to reverse engineer an antidote.”

“That sounds complicated,” Mikey said.

She frowned when Donnie let out a long sigh and rubbed his eyes, which Mikey was sure must be getting tired from how long he’d been staring at the screen.

“It would be less complicated if the Kraang had any semblance of organization. All these files and everything just seems to be lumped together, and to top it off these seem to go back decades,” Donnie said.

Mikey frown deepened. “Should I leave you alone then?” she asked. “I know it can’t be easy to concentrate with me in here all the time recently…”

Donnie shook his head. “No, it’s not you. Honestly, I like the company,” he stated.

Giving Donnie a skeptical look, Mikey shrugged, nuzzling into him and wrapping her arms around him tighter. She knew Donnie was most likely just trying to be nice to her but she wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to spend time with him, not when the other options were sitting and waiting for her turn to be called into the torture chamber of a dojo.

The lab door slid open and Mikey was in the process of turning around to see who it was when Splinter called to her from the doorway.

“Michelangelo.”

The voice sent a cold chill through Mikey as she stood up straight, turning to look at the rat standing there. It was strange enough seeing Splinter at dinner every night so far that week, it was even stranger seeing him standing in the doorway to Donnie’s lab of all places.

“Sensei?” Mikey asked, looking confused by his presence there.

“Why is lunch not on the table?” Splinter demanded.

Mikey blinked at him, turning her head around to look at the clock on Donnie’s computer, seeing that it was gone two in the afternoon. Her shoulders slumped.

“I… Sorry, I didn’t hear you or Raph come out of the dojo, and I wasn’t sure when you were going to be finished with his lesson…” Mikey froze. “I mean her lesson!” she corrected quickly, looking nervously at Splinter, who did not look pleased with her slip up. “So…um, is it my turn?” she asked, hoping Splinter would let it slide this one time.

“No, I think you will be better suited in the kitchen,” Splinter commented.

Mikey frowned, unsure why she didn’t feel at all relieved hearing she was getting out of training for the day. But she nodded her head regardless and made her way toward the door, being careful not to put pressure on her leg as she walked.

“I am quite disappointed in all of you,” Splinter commented, looking from Mikey to Donnie and back again. “You all seem to be having a difficult time remembering things recently. I find it vexing that I must remind you multiple times a day of your new roles in this family.”

“Well, with all due respect, Sensei, it’s not exactly easy to remember when you’ve spent your whole life as a dude,” Mikey shot back before she could stop herself.

Donnie turned sharply in his chair, clearly surprised that Mikey would choose now of all times to speak back to Master Splinter.

“It will certainly take more than three days to get used to,” Donnie cut in, hoping to lessen any punishment Splinter might be thinking for Mikey if she had back up. When Splinter didn’t say anything, Donnie continued. “While it is a drastic change, the use of different pronouns is also a change that will not be easy to remember offhandedly.”

“For someone as smart as you, I thought it would have been easier than it is appearing to be,” Splinter commented, looking then back to Mikey. “I suggest you get to the kitchen and start sorting lunch, Raphael is already in there waiting for you.”

Donnie chose to ignore the comment about how smart he was, knowing that it had been intended to hurt him. He was however, far too used to such comments from their father, so they, for the most part, no longer fazed him. He instead chose to focus on the amusing image of Raph trying to help Mikey cook lunch, as confusing as it was.

He shook his head, turning his attention back to his computer, partly so no one would see him snickering, and partly because he was sure Mikey was no longer in any danger of an immediate reprimand for her smart mouth.

“Well, I suppose Raph is better than Leo in the kitchen,” Mikey joked, making her way passed Splinter, who was watching her closely.

She braced herself for some kind of smack, or harsh comments as she passed him, only relaxing when she was a few paces away and out of his reach once again. Only then did she look over her shoulder at him, frowning when she saw him watching Donnie now. Knowing now was not the best time to question what the rat was doing, Mikey made her way quickly into the kitchen where Raph was waiting as she had been told.

“So! I’ve got a helper today?” Mikey asked, trying to make light of their situation.

Raph merely grumbled in response to Mikey’s false excitement, dumping the few things she had gathered up onto the counter.

“I’m prolly just gonna watch ya cook, if that’s cool,” Raph said.

Mikey frowned at her and glanced over her shoulder again, seeing Splinter vanishing back into the dojo. She sighed and looked at Raph.

“No, that’s okay, but if you could maybe chop some things for me? I really could use the help,” Mikey stated, glancing at Raph’s injured arm. “If your arm is okay to do that, of course.” She knew Raph had spent the morning with Splinter and wasn’t really sure what the training session had been; however, Raph didn’t look too bad overall.

Raph glanced at her own arm, shrugging the other. “I’ve got one good one still, no problem,” she said, though she still didn’t look too thrilled about helping.

“Perfect!” Mikey said happily. Heading over to the fridge, she started gathering out a pile of vegetables she usually kept in the bottom drawer. “If you could cut these up for me, I’m thinking a vegetable stew would be really good today,” she said, dumping the pile on the table in front of Raph.

Raph made a face at the pile presented to her but nodded anyway. Sitting downshe used her bad hand to hold the veggies still while she started chopping with her good hand.

Mikey stood by and watched, shaking her head she stepped forward.

“No, like this,” she instructed, ignoring the annoyed sound Raph made when she took the knife from her. “They don’t have to be neat, but at least try and get them about this size, otherwise there will be some that don’t cook properly and the last thing you want is crunchy stew.”

Nodding her understanding again, Raph took the knife back from Mikey, the orange-banded turtle standing by to watch Raph once more. Satisfied with Raph’s work now, Mikey turned and started getting out the large stew pot, setting it on the stove and starting to make the broth, cutting up a few vegetables herself before dropping them into the water.

Humming to herself, Mikey bustled around the kitchen as best she could with her crutch tucked up under her arm, making sure she didn’t use her injured leg. It was, in general, feeling much better than it had been, but Donnie was still insistent she stay off of it for now.

“You two look busy,” Leo commented from the doorway.

Mikey glanced over at their blue-banded brother.

“Sensei wanted lunch,” Mikey explained, returning to her own task.

Leo frowned, looking a little confused as he glanced over his shoulder towards the dojo door.

“You sure about that?” he asked, looking back at his siblings.

“He’s makin’ us cook it, that’s all I know,” Raph replied, sounding more than a little irritated as she continued cutting the veggies, cursing when one of the bits of potato slid from the table to the floor.

Mikey sighed, putting down the spoon she was using to stir the broth. She picked up the potato, rinsed it off in the sink, before tossing it onto the small pile Raph was making.

“Well, it’s not like it was going to cook itself, and if I tried doing this on my own, we wouldn’t be having lunch until dinner,” Mikey said.

“Someone else could’a helped ya,” Rpah insisted.

“Who? Donnie? He’s already overworked trying to fix us, and Leo is basically useless in the kitchen; you’re at least passable,” Mikey argued.

“I feel like I should be insulted,” Leo said, sitting down in the chair across from Raph.

A ghost of a smile crossed Raph’s face when Leo sat down, and she watched as Leo took the extra knife, and one of the carrots, starting to cut it up, each piece the same width as the last. However, this was more amusing to Raph than irritating.

“Figures, cuttin’ veggies would be the one thing you’re good at.” Raph rolled her eyes, pushing the last of the potatoes aside and grabbing a carrot too.

Leo smiled at her and finished with the first carrot, quickly starting on the second.

“So, why are you helping Mikey cook?” Leo questioned, though he had already technically asked the question before and gotten the answer, he was more curious why Raph wasn’t putting up more of a fight over it.

“Dad’s makin’ me,” Raph grumbled a bit, cutting the carrot in half before starting to slice it up properly.

“Maybe he’s trying to help you find another outlet for your anger?” Leo offered, though it didn’t sound like he believed that reasoning himself.

Raph shook her head, keeping her focus on the carrot in front of her, trying to stop the pieces from flying off the table as she cut them.

“Seems more like a punishment if ya ask me,” Raph hissed, another bit of carrot going flying off the table.

“Not everything Splinter does is for punishment, Raph,” Leo said. “I’m sure all of this is just as weird and confusing for him too.”

Leo hated that he was defending their father like this, to Raph of all people, who had spent the morning in the dojo with the rat. But Leo had to keep believing that there was a reason behind all of this, that Splinter was testing them, pushing their limits, making them stronger so perhaps one day they could survive on the surface.

“I don’t see what good it is for me, of all friggin’ people, ta be makin’ our food!” Raph growled, pointedly cutting off the end of another carrot. “This ain’t what I was built ta do, and you know it.”

Leo caught another bit of carrot before it could go flying off the table, setting it into the pile with the rest.

“I know you don’t like it, I know this isn’t what you want to be doing, but maybe it’s time you start learning that brute strength isn’t the only thing out there,” Leo stated. He wasn’t intentionally trying to start an argument with Raph, but he felt as if that was where things might be heading.

Raph glared at Leo, opening her mouth to say something, before snapping it shut. She wanted nothing more than to chew him out, tell him that strength, fighting, brute force as he called it, was the only thing Raph had every really know, was the only thing she had ever been good for. And suddenly having that taken away, hurt.

Unfamiliar emotions welled up inside her again, and she snarled, finishing off the carrot she had been chopping and grabbing another, gritting her teeth together as she hacked at the poor vegetable.

The chair across from her scraped over the floor as Leo stood up. Raph kept her focus on the carrot in front of her, still struggling to hold it still and not let any of the pieces fall off the table as they had been since she started.

“Let me know when lunch is ready,” Leo said.

Raph glanced up as a pile of finished carrots was added to the existing one.

Raph thought Mikey might have said something in reply to Leo, but she didn’t hear it as anger overwhelmed her. Standing up fast enough to send her chair crashing to the floor, she stabbed her knife into the table.

“That jackass!” she shouted, “thinks he can tell me what’s good for me! He’s no better than father! Tellin’ me what ta fuckin’ do! Tellin’ me what I’m allowed to do, what I’m allowed ta like!” She was pacing back and forth. “Treatin’ me like I’m some fucking chick!” she grumbled.

She growled to herself before returning to the table, grabbing the knife and starting to chop the rest of the carrots.She didn’t care about the size anymore, just wanting to get this stupid job done so she didn’t have to be stuck in this room anymore.

“Raph… please be careful with the knife,” Mike requested, sounding worried. “I’m sure Leo didn’t mean it the way it sounded.”

“I bet he did,” Raph huffed, though she did slow down her chopping at Mikey’s request, at least accepting the fact she was being reckless with the knife.

Mikey sighed, coming over to stand next to Raph, inspecting what had already been cut.

“That should be enough carrots,” Mikey said, placing a hand on Raph’s arm to stop her from selecting another carrot to cut. “I can… if you wanted to go do something else, I can handle the rest in here,” she offered.

Raph blinked at Mikey, a frown pulling at her lips as she looked down at the carrots she had mutilated. She wanted to take Mikey up on that offer, would have loved to go punch her bag for a bit, or lift some weights, or perhaps sneak out for a quick jog around the sewers, anything to siphon off the pent up anger that just kept building.

“I’ll cover for you,” Mikey said, taking the knife off Raph and setting it down on the table.

Raph stared at Mikey, the other turtle’s expression unreadable, but if Raph had to pick a word, she would have said Mikey looked dejected. Shaking her head, Raph picked the knife up again. Sitting down in the chair, she grabbed one of the potatoes.

“Nah, I’ll finish these first, shouldn't take too long anyway,” Raph said.

Mikey grinned at her.

“Just try not to throw anymore on the floor, though, if you do, put those aside, we’ll feed them to Splinter and Leo,” she joked, winking at Raph as she turned back to start putting some of the veggies into the pot on the stove.

Raph chuckled at Mikey’s statement, nodding her head in agreement as she continued to peel and cut the potatoes. The two of them continued in silence, but Raph felt as if there was a lot less tension in the room now.

Cooking, or helping with the cooking, was never going to be Raph’s favorite thing, and it would never replace the calm feeling she got from having a good work out, but she could possibly, maybe a little, understand why Mikey enjoyed cooking so much. It gave her the space to be herself, there always seemed to be so much to do, even for a simple stew, and Mikey’s ability to have her attention in ten different directions certainly seemed to come in handy.

Finishing cutting up the potatoes, Raph picked up the pile and carried them over to Mikey.

“Just drop them right in there, bro,” Mikey said, distracted with chopping up what looked like celery. “And you’re free, go do whatever you need to, I got the rest of this,” she said not looking up from her self-appointed task.

Raph wanted to protest, insist that there might be something more she could do, however at Mikey’s insistence, Raph did eventually leave the kitchen. She glanced nervously in the direction of the dojo. Seeing the door closed and not spotting Leo anywhere, she assumed the blue-banded turtle was in there with Splinter.

Letting out a huff, Raph made her way to her room, deciding she could at least use her good arm to lift some weights. She wasn’t as angry as she had been half an hour ago, but she was still irritated at Leo, and knew it would be best to work off the rest of her pent up energy before the two of them wound up in a serious fight before the end of the day.

TBC

Chapter Text




Part 5

Leo slipped into the dojo, the same as he did every morning while his siblings were still sleeping. As much as he dreaded his time alone with Splinter, he still realished their morning meditation sessions; it was the only time he ever felt at ease in the lair, especially that week, with everything else going on.

“Your siblings are still sleeping?” Splinter asked, not looking up from where he was sitting on the floor.

“Everyone except Donnie; he’s still working on fixing Raph and Mikey,” Leo stated, kneeling on the floor in front of the rat.

Splinter opened his eyes to look at Leo, eyeing him for a moment. He let out a soft sigh.

“Tell me, Leonardo, what is your honest opinion on the latest fiasco that Michelangelo and Raphael have brought upon this family?” Splinter asked.

Leo pursed his lips. He knew it was a fair question, however, the last thing he wanted was to get his brothers... no, his sisters, in even more trouble than they were.

“I don’t appreciate that they got themselves injured, when it would have been far easier to just call for help,” Leo said, knowing this most likely wasn’t what Splinter was asking, but Leo knew he couldn’t give an honest opinion on the situation without outing himself in the process.

“Yes, their injuries were unfortunate,” Splinter agreed.

Leo relaxed a bit more. “They set us back on searching other facilities for at least two weeks.”

“This is not the first time such a thing has happened. I believe it was only two months ago that Raphael was left at home because of a sprained ankle, and before that, did Michelangelo not suffer a head injury?” Splinter said.

Leo lowered his head. He didn’t say anything because there was no need, he knew Splinter wasn’t truly looking for an answer, more just making a point. So Leo sat there in silence and listened to what the rat had to say.

“I would have thought,” Splinter continued, “by placing you as leader of this team, you would be able to take them in hand better than you have.”

Leo forced himself not to flinch, recognizing the reprimand for what it was. “My apologies, sensei, I would have assumed the same. All I can promise is I will try harder to keep them in line next time.”

“I am beginning to wonder if there should even be a next time,” Splienter stated flatly. “This latest mission has brought dishonor on this family, and I am not pleased with your conduct as leader.”

Leo lifted his head to blink at Splinter, his brow furrowed as he processed what his father was saying. He ignored the part about dishonor, knowing Splinter was right; he had failed as a brother, as a leader, and had allowed his brothers to bring about such a drastic change to their family that it was proving difficult for all of them to ignore. That was a problem, which was already being dealt with, what concerned Leo, however, was what he thought his father might be suggesting.

“Sensei, the information in those abandoned labs could lead to danger for the humans on the surface, and in the wrong hands it could be troublesome for us as well… if you forbid us from continuing with these missions…” Leo trailed off as Splinter raised his hand to silence him.

“I am saying, your sisters have not proven to be beneficial to this team,” Splinter said firmly. “Their actions over the past few months have shown me they do not take this as seriously as you do.”

“Raph is incredibly powerful,” Leo said, his instinct to defend Raph taking over before his rational mind could even finish processing what Splinter was trying to say.

“And Michelangelo?” Splinter questioned.

“Mikey is very intuitive,” Leo insisted, fighting off the faint blush tinting his cheeks as he had let his emotions, and feelings for Raph, overpower him for a moment. He sincerely hoped it wasn’t a moment he wouldn’t regret.

Splinter raised an eyebrow at him. “Is that so. While I am reluctant to agree that Raphael is indeed strong, I do not think her strength has fared well with this recent change, furthermore, I have taught you that there is more to being a master ninja than strength alone.”

“With all due respect, Sensei, Raph displays great strength when she is not injured, and Mikey…” Leo paused for a moment, wanting to find the right words to paint his sister in a better light than what Splinter obviously saw. “...Mikey’s skills are very useful to the team, outside of combat. However, I know first hand she can hold her own in battle, as she is the only one of us who has ever managed to master the nunchucks; that much I know you have seen for yourself,” Leo said.

“I respect you for defending your siblings, for overlooking their flaws to defend them,” Splinter said. “However, even without injuries, I have not seen Michelangelo perform flawlessly. And Raphael, you yourself have claimed her to be irrational at times, long before this new change took place.”

Leo locked eyes with Splinter as his father spoke. He had a feeling he knew where the rat was going with this, and he hated being put in such a position.

“As a leader, what makes you think, in their current state, that either of your sisters will continue being an asset to the team?” Splinter questioned.

Even with sensing it coming, Leo still felt as though the floor had just dropped out from under him.

“I…” he began, swallowing hard as he lowered his head, his hands clenched into fists. “I don’t know, sensei,” he admitted reluctantly.

He knew Raph could be irrational at times, but he trusted the other turtle with his life. However, Leo was now forced to examine why that was, given recent actions, and despite the fact that Raph had admitted, quite reluctantly, that she had fucked up on the mission and put Mikey’s life in danger; the fact of the matter was that Raph had put one of their lives in danger.

Leo heard Splinter standing from his position, though he kept his attention on the floor as his father shuffled around the room, returning a moment later with the incense they used for their meditation.

“I am concerned for you,” Splinter said.

Leo had to hold back the retort to that; it had been a long time since he’d felt true concern from Splinter, but he held his tongue as the rat continued.

“We will meditate on this. I want you to truly think about what it is you are defending. Is it your sister’s place on the team? Do you truly believe they will be an asset to you?” Splinter questioned, lighting the incense.

Leo watched the smoke start to billow up between them, listening to Splinter as he focused on the swirling smoke for a moment longer, before closing his eyes.

“I have warned you since you were a child, that there would come a time when you would have to put aside your sibling bond. You must stop viewing them as your family, they are your subordinates,” Splinter said softly as the room started filling with the dizzying scent. “Clear your mind, put aside meaningless emotions.”

Leo took a deep breath, knowing that last part was something he had never been able to do, especially where Raph was concerned. He felt the fog filling his head, clearing all background thoughts from his mind, the lightheadedness soon following. It was a feeling he was far too used to. Breathing in deeply, he exhaled slowly as he inhaled more of the scent surrounding him, making him feel almost sluggish.

Breathing in deeply once more, Leo focused mind focused on his siblings, the good things they had managed to accomplish as a team, mentally removing Raph and Mikey from the team and replaying scenarios over and over.

Leo was still convinced that for some missions, Raph and Mikey would be necessary, however, overall, if you took out the time spent arguing with Raph, the time fixing Mikey’s mistakes, or Raph’s for that matter, the time spent trying to keep Mikey focused on the task at hand, Leo was finding that perhaps things might start going smoother. Though he was still convinced that Raph’s strength was needed. Raph had spent time building up his muscles, lifting weights whenever anyone even hinted that he might not be strong enough.

Leo thought about the way Raph’s muscles flexed when he lifted something, or moved something that was far too heavy for any of them to manage on their own; the smell lingering in the air after a heavy workout; the way her legs looked now with the new body change.

Leo’s eyes snapped open suddenly, and he looked to Splinter across from him. The rat didn’t seem any wiser to Leo’s personal thoughts, so the blue-masked turtle closed his eyes again, trying to meditate on the problem at hand, and not the one forming between his legs.

-------------x

Lunch that day was a quieter affair than the day before. Raph had come in to help briefly, before Mikey had decided she was being more of a hindrance than a help. There was also the fact that there wasn't a whole lot to do as Mikey had opted to simply heat up the leftover soup, as hardly anyone had touched it.

Mikey hadn’t even bothered calling anyone to the table, opting to sit and eat on her own.

Raph had locked herself in her room again, and while Mikey hated it, she thought it was perhaps for the best, as Raph was still confined to the lair until Leo, or Splinter said otherwise. Leo was once again locked in the dojo with their father, and that always made Mikey a little nervous, because it usually meant something big was going to happen.

She was fairly sure that was another reason Raph had locked herself in her room, perhaps she also sensed something unpleasant was coming.

Mikey sighed as she stirred her soup around in her bowl, thinking about the events of the past few days. She was sure that was what Leo and Splinter were talking about, and why they’d spent hours in the dojo that morning already.

Mikey however couldn’t help but wonder if all this fuss was even worth it. She didn’t feel any different to how she had been before; as far as she was concerned, she was still the same turtle, just with lady parts instead of what had been hidden in her shell before. But, Mikey also knew Splinter didn’t see it that way. Mikey had known for a long time that Splinter wasn’t really all there, and though none of them really knew what had happened to change things, the truth of the matter was they were all stuck together, Splinter was still their father, and what he said was final. And that included the problem of fixing her and Raph, changing them back to how they used to be.

Nothing had been outright said, or even fully decided yet, but Mikey got the sinking feeling that even if Donnie did find a cure, Splinter might find a way to stop it. It hadn’t been as if the rat had said anything, or even hinted openly at what his plans for them might be, however, Mikey had noticed the subtle, and not too subtle ways, that their father had been trying to force both her and Raph into traditional female roles.

Mikey of course hadn’t minded overly much; she was already used to doing the majority of the cooking, and while she wasn’t the cleanest around the rest of the alir, she did take pride in having a fairly clean kitchen.

Letting out another sigh, Mikey looked down at her bowl, and the contents that she had hardly touched, before deciding she wasn’t that hungry after all. Sighing, she stood up, taking her bowl with her. Mikey poured the contents back into the pot, replaced the lid, and turned to the coffee maker. A small smile formed as she decided Donnie had been working so hard, he deserved an extra treat. So she set it going for her brother, brewing the darkest coffee they had, knowing he would want something extra strong if she was right in her assumptions that he hadn’t properly slept yet.

She made a mental note as she grabbed his favorite mug off the shelf, to remind him power naps at the desk didn’t count as sleeping,

Fixing up a quick cup of coffee just the way she knew he liked it, she turned to get him a bowl of stew. Setting everything onto a tray, she went to grab her crutch and then the tray before realizing that she had a dilemma, she had no way to carry the tray, while using her crutch.

Letting out a frustrated sigh Mikey put the tray down, leaned her crutch against the counter before testing her leg out. There were tiny pin pricks of pain, however, nothing overtly agonizing. Deciding it would be fine for the short trip to the lab, she left her crutch there, picked up the tray and made her way quickly and carefully to Donnie’s lab.

Reaching the door she was happy to see it open enough for her to slip in without having to put the tray down. Making her way to his desk she set everything down in the only clear spot she could find, before sitting down in the chair next to him.

Donnnie didn’t even seem to have noticed her sudden presence as he kept typing away, his eyes squinting as he stared at the computer.

“I brought you lunch,” she announced.

“Huh?” Donnie blinked, looking over at the tray that had appeared on his desk. “Oh, thanks,” he said, reaching first for the cup of coffee, sipping at it and sighing. “I didn’t realize it had gotten so late,” Donnie said, glancing towards her when he put his cup back on the tray. A frown pulled at his lips as he glanced around her.

“Where’s your crutch?” he asked.

Mikey smiled sheepishly at him. “Well, I couldn’t carry everything while using it so…” she trailed off.

“Mikey!” Donnie exclaimed, turning in his chair to look at her. “You shouldn’t be off your crutch! Even if we heal quickly, I told you before, it should be about two weeks before you’re feeling well enough to walk without it,” he scolded.

Mikey simply shrugged. “It doesn’t hurt much,” she dismissed. “Besides, if there was going to be any more damage done to it, Sensei’s seen to that already,” she pointed out. Turning her attention to the computer screen, she decided to change the subject before Donnie could continue to chew her out. “Any progress?”

Donnie continued looking at her for a moment, shaking his head. “Next time, just come get me to eat,” he requested, turning his attention back to the computer as well. “And I wish I could tell you something different than the last time you asked, but no… I’ve not made any progress,” he said, picking up his mug and sipping at it once again. “Looking through these files hasn’t been easy, and with how poorly they were maintained, I can’t even give you an idea of how much I’ve gone through and what I haven’t.”

“Father isn’t going to let you keep looking for a cure,” Mikey said. “If you can’t even show any progress, show him you’re at least making some headway with it…”

“I know, Mikey, I know.” Donnie narrowed his eyes, though he kept his attention on the screen, indicating he was far more frustrated with the situation than with what Mikey had said. “Unfortunately, I can only work as fast as I’m able. If the files weren’t such a mess…”

“You keep going back to that, are they really that much of a problem?” Mikey asked. “If that’s the only thing holding you back, maybe I can help you sort them out?” she offered, unsure if Donnie would even let her near his computer, not after the last time she’d offered to help with it and nearly crashed the whole thing, almost losing years worth of work.

“Mikey… that’s a very sweet offer but…” Donnie trailed off as Mikey shook her head.

“Say no more, bro, I get it,” Mikey said dismissively.

“I’m sorry, Mikey, it’s just this is really important, and if I lose any of this information I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to find anything to help change you two back…” Donnie explained.

Mikey was amused at how worried Donnie was about offending her. She leaned forward and pushed the soup closer to him.

“Your food is getting cold,” she said, smiling widely when Donnie continued looking at her, giving her an apologetic smile in return before pulling the bowl closer. He started eating, his attention returning to the screen.

“You know, I really like your cooking,” Donnie said.

Mikey let out a short laugh. She knew Donnie was sincere about his compliment, but she also felt as if he was trying to make up for the fact that he’d turned down her offer of help. But, no matter what had prompted it, Mikey took it the way it was meant.

“Thanks, it’s still nice to know I’m at least good for something around here,” she said, frowning as she hadn’t meant to sound like she was putting herself down quite as badly as she had.

Donnie glanced at her, his own frown returning.

“Mikey.” He put the spoon down and turned to look more directly at her. “I hate it when you’re so hard on yourself, just because dad says something doesn’t make it true.”

“I know that,” Mikey said.

“I’m not so sure you do.” Donnie sighed. “I don’t know why he puts us down so much, but listening to him has never served us a lick of good.”

Mikey shook her head. “I didn’t say that because of anything Sensei has said recently, I said it because it’s true. I mean, I know I’m never going to be in the same realm as Leo when it comes to the fighting, and I’m a far cry from being as strong as Raph, and you’re so smart, I bet humans would have to invent a whole new way of leveling smartness if they met you,” Mikey said.

Donnie flushed, flattered by Mikey’s praise, though tried not to look it as he chuckled, reaching over to pat Mikey on the head.

“While that is possible, you’ve got a lot of attributes yourself that make you worth being around,” Donnie said. “You’re sociable, despite how we’ve been raised; you’re skilled at ninjutsu, you might not have to focus that Leo does, or the strength of Raph, but you learn new moves faster than any of us; you’re funny.”

It was Mikey’s turn to blush as she looked down. She had been unaware Donnie saw her in such a way, and it made something inside her feel very warm.

“I think you are an amazing person, just the way you are. Cooking aside, you, as a person, are nothing short of amazing,” Donnie said.

Mikey had moved from her chair before she could stop herself, wrapping her arms tightly around Donnie’s neck, hugging him.

“Mikey! You’re leg!” Donnie exclaimed, wanting to make sure his sister didn’t hurt herself more. The blush coloring his cheeks deepened when Mikey solved the problem of putting too much pressure on her leg, by sitting herself in his lap.

Donnie always knew Mikey was more spontaneous and emotional than any of them, so he sighed, tightened his grip on Mikey and rested his head against her shoulder. When he heard the soft sniff come from Mikey, he smiled softly, rubbing her shell. He didn’t say anything, just wanted Mikey to know he was there for her. He made a mental note to try and inform the rest of his siblings how important they were as well, realizing now that their father was doing far too much mental damage to be healthy.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, a frown quickly pulled at his lips when a very powerful and intoxicating scent filled his nostrils. Inhaling again, Donnie let the breath out in a satisfied and contented sigh. He didn’t immediately register where the scent was coming from, until Mikey shifted slightly and he nuzzled into her neck a bit more, inhaling deeply once again.

His brain was flooded with the smell, and he jerked back suddenly as something clicked and he registered what it was.

“Mikey!” he exclaimed, his hands on her shoulders, holding her back as far as he could without shoving her from his lap.

Mikey’s face fell as she stared at Donnie’s shocked expression.

The two of them looked at each other, Donnie breathing deeply, trying not to inhale more of the scent coming from Mikey, and Mikey waiting for an explanation on what she had done wrong, one Donnie couldn’t bring himself to give with his sister sat on his lap.

“I… I have work…” Donnie said, clearing his throat when his voice sounded a bit more strained than he had meant it to. So he tried again. “I have work to do, Mikey,”

Her expression was heartbreaking, as Mikey slipped from Donnie’s lap, being extra careful of her leg.

“...Sorry…” she said.

Standing up straight, she looked around, and Donnie felt horrible for making Mikey look so lost all of a sudden.

“I should let you get back to work… I… I need to clean the kitchen anyway,” she said, rubbing her eyes to clear away any tears that might have been there.

“Oh, Mikey,” Donnie sighed, reaching out and taking her free hand. He didn’t pull her back onto his lap, didn’t indicate for her to sit either. “Mikey, it’s not you, whatever you’re thinking, I’m not mad at you or anything, I really do enjoy having you around,” he assured her.

“Then what…?” Mikey trailed off.

Donnie sighed again. “Well, I guess I should tell you,” he said, sounding reluctant to his own ears, because in truth he didn’t know how to explain to Mikey. This wasn’t really something they had ever discussed, at least not this aspect of their teenage hormone years. “Mikey, right now, you smell really really good,” Donnie said, deciding to stick with the simplest explanation.

This didn’t seem to work though as Mikey frowned, clearly confused.

“Well, I was working with food before I came in here…” she trailed off when Donnie shook his head.

“It’s not the food. I mean, you’re emitting a scent that’s inherently stimulating to male turtles. At least, for me you smell really good, and perhaps to Leo too,” Donnie tried to explain. He was sure he wasn’t doing a very good job at it, his brain feeling like a foggy mess the longer Mikey stood near him.

Mikey tilted her head, her frown deepening. “You sure it’s not the soup you’re smelling?” she asked.

Donnie had to resist the urge to either laugh, or sigh in frustration.

“I’m certain, Mikey, it’s not the soup,” he replied, letting go of Mikey’s hand and leaning back in his chair. “I suppose this makes sense though. I was never sure how much of our human DNA affected us over our turtle DNA, with all of us being male it was hard to tell, but I suppose these certain instincts to mate are still intact…” he trailed off, his own cheeks turning bright red as he realized exactly what he was saying.

“So, wait, let me get this straight, are you saying I turn you on?” Mikey asked bluntly.

Donnie felt like he could crawl into a hole and stay there for the next fifteen years of his life, instead he picked up his coffee and took a huge gulp.

“While I wouldn’t have put it in such an upfront way… yes,” he finally said, looking up at Mikey to see how she would take that information.

“Oh…” was all Mikey said. “Then… maybe I’ll go…” she trailed off looking around, looking even more confused and lost than she had before Donnie had attempted to explain.

As she turned, making her way slowly to his door, attempting not to walk too much on her leg as she limped across the lab, he wanted to ask her to stay, but he didn’t know what the repercussions of that would turn out to be if he allowed it.

“Just, when you’re finished eating, leave your dish by the door,” Mikey said, not even turning around as she slipped out, closing the door behind her.

Donnie could have hit himself repeatedly in the head, but he knew this was the best choice, knew Mikey would be far too much of a distraction if she stayed. He didn’t want Mikey to think she was a nuisance, and he made a promise to himself to reassure her of that later, he just knew that now was not the time to push the boundaries and test their turtle instincts.

----------x

Leo stepped out of the dojo, taking a deep breath. His eyes snapped in the direction of Donnie’s lab, frowning when a moment later he saw Mikey step out of it. The two of them locked eyes for only a moment before Mikey scurried off to the kitchen.

“Your sister has been spending a lot of time in Donatello’s lab,” Splinter commented from behind him.

The blue-banded turtle was proud of himself for not jumping in shock, his focus still fully on the door Mikey had just vanished through.

“She has,” he agreed.

“And you, yourself, were far too distracted to properly meditate this morning,” Splinter said.

Leo knew he was making some sort of observation, but he didn’t dare guess what it was.

“I am sorry, Sensei, I will do better in the future. If it is alright with you, I had fully intended to retreat to my room to continue my meditation,” Leo said, turning to look at their father. “You have given me a lot to think about.”

Splinter didn’t say anything, just gave Leo a suspicious look, and nodded his head once.

Leo took that as being dismissed. Turning, he walked away from the dojo, heading straight for his bedroom. He had a lot to think about, and a lot of his own feelings to work out, mostly how he was going to bottle them up even more, as his father told him to. He couldn’t allow his emotions to be in charge when he decided what Mikey and Raph’s fate would be.

It wasn’t easy to do, because Leo still truly believed Donnie was going to find a cure and fix their siblings, put them back to the way they were supposed to be, and then all this would just be another bad dream. However, as a leader, Splinter was right, he had to put his emotions aside, look at it from the point of view of a leader and make the choice that was going to be best for the team.

As he neared his door, he paused, looking at Raph’s. It was open a crack and he could hear soft grunting coming from inside. He knew what Raph was most likely doing, but the sound pulled Leo toward the door. He looked inside, telling himself he wanted to make sure Raph wasn’t hurting her injured shoulder.

Raph was sitting on her bed, her bad arm still strapped securely to her side, her good one lifting a dumbbell up to her chin, a scowl firmly in place as she lowered her arm, only to lift it again. The same grunting noise came from her with each lift. Leo was curious how long she’d been at it to break such a sweat.

The red-banded turtle didn’t seem to notice she had company, lost in her own thoughts, and Leo took the time to admire his sibling, something he was guilty of doing far too often, even before this change. He had always had an unhealthy obsession with watching Raph, telling himself he was just spotting him, making sure his sibling didn’t hurt himself with how ferociously he worked out. Leo knew there was far more to it than that, there was no excuse for how his eyes were drawn to those muscles, the way they flexed, the expression Raph wore whenever working out, or the intoxicating scent that was just pure Raph, which always seemed to linger in the air after.

Leo bit his lip, his eyes trailing down more of Raph’s body, taking in the subtle changes, they were easy for him to pick out. While Raph’s overall size hadn’t changed, she had a softer look to her, her hips were a bit wider, her ankles a little slimmer. Leo’s eyes raked over Raph’s whole body, from head to toe.

He had no idea how long he had stood there, only backing away when Raph was done with her workout, dropping the dumbbell back to the floor and pushing it under her bed with the set she kept under there.

Swallowing hard, Leo quietly backed away from the door, retreating to his own room. He did his best not to slam the door, not wanting Raph to know he’d been watching her, unaware he had also been watched.

TBC

Chapter Text

 

 

Part 6

The night was quiet. All four turtles were sleeping for a change.

Splinter left the seclusion of his dojo, his ears flat against his head, his nose scrunched up as the air was filled with an unfamiliar perfume. It had been building all day, and Splinter, while not entirely sure what it was, had a few ideas just from watching the way his sons had been watching their new found sisters.

He walked down into the main part of the lair, something he had hardly done as the turtles got older, giving them mostly free rein of their ‘home’ while he secluded himself in the dojo, taking food and tea there. He couldn’t allow himself to form the same family bonds these boys had; he had a greater purpose in mind for them, a purpose that had been ruined by the youngest one’s mistake.

Walking quietly down the hall to the four bedrooms, Splinter stopped first at Michelangelo’s.

Cracking the door open, the rat narrowed his eyes, his nose scrunching up as more of that scent filled his nostrils. He knew it had been coming from his daughters, and while he had his suspicions on what it was, he had yet to decide how he was going to handle such a thing.

The young turtle made a soft sound, rolling over in her bed, pulling the blankets with her, her foot draped off the side.

Splinter watched her for a moment longer. Out of all of them, this child had been the least equipt to ever be a ninja; such raw talent but, try as he might, Splinter had never been able to hone those skills, and now with this latest problem he was left deciding if he should even continue. Regardless of what he chose to do, however, for him, the last fifteen years had been wasted because of this.

Slipping back out into the hall, Splinter closed the door behind him, and moved onto the next room, Raphael.

Splinter had pushed and pushed this child, forcing her to become stronger, knowing Leonardo would need the strength as backup when the real battle began. However, with Raph as she was now, the real battle was going to be a long way off. While overall she didn’t seem to have lost much muscle mass, she was softer, and if Splinter were to continue her training, he would have to once again rethink everything he had planned. Mostly because Raph’s body, as it now was, would not be able to hold out against the training Splinter usually pushed her through.

Letting out a frustrated sigh, Splinter left the room and turned to his third child’s bedroom.

Donatello was very logical and far too smart for his own good. Splinter had learned the hard way that he had to always stay two, sometimes five, steps ahead of this one. Once Splinter had realized how much Donatello had been learning, about him, and about the surface world, he had tried to put a stop to it. However, it had been too late. And now, all he could do was continue running damage control.

Splinter was also sure Donatello had plans of his own, but he had given no indication he was going to be acting on them anytime soon, or at all. So Splinter just kept his eye on him for now, and let him do things in his lab, because when the time came, he was going to need his brains if they were ever going to succeed.

Finally there was Leonardo, the one who had shown so much more promise than the others. He wasn’t as smart, strong or naturally talented, but he was malleable. He listened to what he was told, and worked hard to be as perfect as he could possibly be. The only problem Splinter had with him was that Leonardo was too hung up on the idea of family. Splinter had to somehow get the point across to him that family would only hold him back from his true purpose and potential.

Splinter knew a battle was coming, and these four were far from ready and now, with the prospect of having to start over, it made him want to scrap everything, burn it all to the ground once again and find someone new. After all, there was no shortage of mutants in the world.

Leaving the hallway where his sons’ rooms were, Splinter went back to the dojo. He had a lot to meditate on, and a lot to decide.

----------x

Over the following few days, Splinter made a point of watching each of his children very closely. It of course meant coming out of the dojo more often, though he did not interact with them beyond the occasional remark if they did something he disapproved of.

“Michelangelo,” Splinter snapped, narrowing his eyes at his troublesome child.

She had been causing the most issues that morning, relentlessly teasing Raphael. Splinter recognized the signs of someone vying for attention.

The orange-banded turtle ducked her head, glancing in his direction and muttered a soft “Sorry, Sensei,” before vanishing into the kitchen again. Raphael for her part let out an annoyed huff, glancing towards Splinter, her own eyes downcast before turning and making her way down the hall, slamming the door to her room.

Splinter let out a long sigh, closing his eyes as he attempted to get a few moments of meditation in before Michelangelo disrupted the peace once again.

A soft knocking on a door drew Splinter’s attention. Cracking open an eye, he looked towards the hallway. His brow furrowed when he saw Leonardo standing in front of Raphale’s door. A moment later it opened, and his blue-banded son stepped inside, the door closing behind him.

He frowned in disapproval, not liking how distracted Leonardo was, thanks to the presence of his sister. Though Raphael had always been somewhat of a distraction for Leonardo, the blue-banded turtle had never been motivated to act on his unnatural affections, either knowing or suspecting Splinter would disapprove.

However, that no longer seemed to be the case, if the teen was locking himself behind closed doors, sneaking around behind Splinter’s back.

The deviousness reminded the rat of how he had been betrayed by family once before. Tang-Shen, his once beloved wife had been very apt at sneaking about, as had his deceitful brother. It certainly wasn’t a trate he would accept or tolerate in his children.

Standing swiftly from his position, Splinter made his way towards the door. As splinter approached, it opened again, Raphael stepping out first, followed by Leonardo, the two of them smiling, looking as if they had reached some sort of understanding.

Leonardo froze when he saw Splinter, and the rat was satisfied that his son seemed to realize they were in trouble.

“What were you two doing?” Spinter demanded, his ear twitching at the puzzled look Raphael sent his way.

“We were just talkin’, Sensei,” Raphael answered, shrugging a shoulder.

Splinter fixed the red-banded turtle with a firm look, waiting for her to elaborate more.

“About tryin’ ta fix the, y’know, the girl… thing.”

Splinter studied her for a moment, then looked to Leonardo, who was still staring at him apprehensively. He had to make a decision then and there about what to do concerning his daughters.

“Yes, I have also been thinking about how to fix this, girl thing, as you so eloquently put it,” Splinter informed them.

“How so?” Leonardo questioned, a hint of worry in his tone.

Splinter looked from Leonardo to the bedroom they had just exited.

“You four have grown accustomed to sharing a living space, which has been fine as you were all the same gender. However, in light of this new… situation, I thought it would be best that your sisters turn the large store room into their new bedroom,” Splinter said.

“What?” Raphael exclaimed, looking ready for a fight. “No! I mean, Don’s gonna change us back!” The red-banded turtle quickly covered her mouth, catching herself too late for not only speaking out of turn, but for speaking out against Splinter.

Splinter was not impressed with such a show of defiance, narrowing his eyes at his daughter.

“While I find it admirable that you have such faith in your brother, I do not,” Splinter said bluntly. “I also do not trust that your presence here will not distract Leonardo from his own training.”

“Father,” Leonardo spoke up, stepping forward, putting himself between Splinter and Raphael. “I promise, whether they change back or not, they will not be a distraction.”

Splinter’s ear twitched again, his tail twitching this time too at more defiance being shown to him by Leonardo, his most loyal, most obedient child.

“I have made my decision, now, you will either help, or you will be confined to your room until the move is finished.”

Splinter watched their reactions closely, Raphael’s tensing muscles, the clenched fists. She was ready to fight him, and yet she still lowered her head, knowing she had caused enough trouble for the family as of late, seemingly unwilling to cause anymore and risk being confined to the lair for the remainder of her life.

“We’ll help,” Raph mumbled.

Splinter nodded his head once in satisfaction. “Then grab your sister. You two will start by cleaning out the storage room. Move everything into Donatello’s lab,” he ordered.

“Sensei,” Leonardo spoke up again, drawing Splinter’s attention. “Both Mikey and Raph, I don’t think they should be moving things, not with their injuries.” Splinter knew he shouldn’t be surprised to have such Leonardo arguing against this, however his defiance only made Splinter even more certain he was in fact making the right choice.

“These rooms will be finished by tonight,” Splinter insisted, narrowing his eyes at both his children. When neither spoke right away, he turned to leave, thinking the matter was now settled.

“No.”

The simple word had Splinter freezing in his tracks, turning slowly to stare at Leonardo, locking gold eyes with the vividly blue ones. Leo squared his shoulders, not flinching as Splinter turned fully to face him.

“As their leader, I forbid them from doing anything that could possibly hinder their recovery, and be a potential threat to this team,” Leo stated, the authority he used in his voice was something Splinter had never witnessed outside of the dojo before, and his eldest son had never dared to use it against him.

“Dojo, now,” Splinter said in a dangerously calm voice.

“I…” Raph started speaking then, pausing as Splinter locked eyes on her next. “I’m with Leo,” she finished. “I mean, I’ll move whatever y’ tell me to, but Mikey can’t move shit right now, not with a busted leg! So… let him sleep it off for a few days, and I’ll do the movin’ for the both of us,” Raphael insisted.

“Enough!” Splinter shouted. Raising his hand, he backhanded Raphael across the face, at the same time his tail whipped out and wrapped around Leonardo’s neck before the blue-banded turtle could even react.

As Raphael fell against the wall, Splinter turned. Tail still wrapped around Leonardo’s neck, he forced his son to follow him through the lair and into the dojo, where the door was slammed behind the two of them.

Once behind closed doors, Splinter threw Leonardo to the floor.

“Never undermine my orders!” Splinter said, rounding on Leonardo as his son quickly got to his feet. “You may be the leader of this team, however I am still the leader of this family!” Splinter shouted.

“You have not been acting like much of a father. You never act as if you even want us as a family! So why does any of this matter to you!?” Leo hissed, bracing himself for the kick swung his way, sending him crashing to the floor.

“I have never seen you show this kind of disrespect towards me, Leonardo, though I have a fairly good idea of where it’s come from. I do not approve,” Splinter said, walking towards Leo, only to stop and step back when Leonardo came on the attack, swinging and kicking out at him.

Splinter could practically taste the fury and anger seeping from his son, something he was far more used to senseing from Raphael.

Splinter wasn’t on the defensive for long, even though Leonardo was better at controlling himself, he was still acting out of anger, which blinded him. Splinter used that to his advantage, striking out and sending Leo slamming into the wall once more.

The blue-banded turtle cried out as his shell connected with the wall and he slid down. He only stayed down for a moment though, before he was on his feet once more. Splinter was impressed with his son, as always, however, he wouldn't allow this to go unchecked. His plans had already been set back by two of his former sons, and he would not allow his prized pupil to stand against him now.

“You should know by now, Leonardo, that everything I do, I have done to protect you,” Splinter said.

“You don’t seem to be very worried about Raph or Mikey at all,” Leonardo shot back.

“That is true,” the rat admitted, deciding right now was the best time for a bit of the truth. “I have tolerated them, your siblings, but you, you are the leader that I chose, the one I hand trained to take over this clan when I am gone, it is you I am protecting,” Splinter said.

Leonardo seemed taken aback by this information, however, he still had enough of his senses to block the blow aimed at his chest.

“I have taught you to remain loyal to this clan, small as it is,” Splinter said. “However, there are times when hard choices must be made, and while you might not approve, or accept what I am doing, but my decision is final, Raphael and Michelangelo will move rooms, tonight, and you, Leonardo, are to be punished for questioning my orders in front of your sister.”

Splinter struck out with all his might, giving Leonardo a taste of how far he still had to go before he was a master ninja.

--------x

Leo hit the floor hard for a final time. He wanted to get up, wanted to show he had more in him, but he was aching all over, and right now he just wanted to get back to his brothers, wanted to assure Raph that this wasn’t her fault. So he collapsed further, hoping Splinter would take that as a victory and leave him alone now.

Leo heard shuffling across the mats, and a moment later the door to the dojo was open.

“Donatello,” Splinter called out and Leo held back a sigh of relief. “Come collect your brother,”

There was a long pause in which Leo heard soft footsteps approaching, before gentle hands finally touched him. Leo attempted not to flinch away, coughing softly as Donnie helped him sit up.

“Where…” Leo tried to speak, frowning as his voice sounded a bit rough, most likely from how much he’d been shouting, and how many times Splinter had grabbed him by the throat and slammed him into the wall, or pinned him to the floor. Coughing again to clear his throat he tried speaking again.

“Where are Raph and Mikey?” he questioned, keeping his voice low as Donnie helped him to his feet.

“They’re in my lab,” Donnie informed him. “Which is where I’m taking you to get patched up.” the purple-banded turtle insisted.

Leo shook his head. “We have to move their rooms…” he informed Donnie as they left the dojo, the door closing sharply behind them.

“I know, Raph told me,” Donnie said, leading Leo across the living room towards his lab. “I sort of expected something like this… and I can see where Sensei is coming from,” Donnie informed him.

“Don’t tell me you agree with this,” Leo growled, turning a sharp look onto his brother.

“Now hold on, I never said I agreed with anything,” Donnie defended, pulling Leo to stop for a moment. “I just said I could understand where Splinter was coming from, and once I noticed more changes with Raph and Mikey… I sort of suspected Splinter might notice too and do something about it.”

“What changes?” Leo asked, looking confused.

“What…? You mean you haven’t noticed anything different about Raph and Mikey?” Donnie stared at him.

“Besides the obvious?” Leo questioned with a half smile. “Can’t say that I have,” he said with a shrug, wincing as he discovered that was a bad idea.

Donnie frowned at him, looking curious and thoughtful.

“So, you haven’t been able to tell? Huh…” Donnie rubbed his chin, glancing towards the lab for a moment.

“Just tell me, Don, I’m really not in the mood to play ‘guess what Donnie’s thinking today’,” Leo said flatly.

“Sorry.” Donnie looked back at him. “The only reason I ask is because I’m fairly sure both Mikey and Raph are emitting pheromones, albeit not in massive quantities, but definitely enough for me to have noticed, and I’m sure Splinter, with his nose, also picked up on something.”

Leo continued staring at him, nodding his head slowly as if he understood.

“You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” Donnie questioned.

“Sorry, Don, my mind is a bit more occupied today and doesn’t seem to have much space for trying to figure out what you’re trying to say,” Leo informed him. “I got the gist of it, Mikey and Raph smell funny, Splinter doesn’t like it, so he’s locking them up,” Leo said bluntly.

“Locking them up?” Donnie questioned. “I thought they were just moving rooms!”

Leo shook his head. “He wants to keep them away from us, that’s all I know, I don’t think they’re going to be confined to their room or anything, but shoving them both into the same room together on such short notice? What else would you call it?”

“I would call it, Sensei being worried about certain things escalating and getting out of hand,” Donnie said, smiling when Leo stared at him. “Sorry,” he said. “Well, with any luck, this won’t be an issue for long, as soon as I find a way to reverse this.”

Leo didn’t say anything else as he was led into the lab. He gave Raph a weak smile, and brushed off any concerned comments from Mikey as he was led over to the table where all of them seemed to be landing recently. He refused to lay down, insisting that sitting was less painful. He looked over at Raph.

“You look like crap,” Raph stated bluntly.

“I’ve seen you look worse,” Leo said with a shrug as Donnie started looking over his injuries.

Raph huffed and looked away, and Leo smiled at her, wincing as Donnie prodded a particularly sore area.

“Well, you have a few welts, a lot of bruises, and your shell is scuffed, but I don’t think anything is broken,” Donnie said, leaving Leo’s side and going over to the medicine cabinet. “I have a bit of iodine we can put on the welts, I’ll wrap them after and you should be okay,” Donnie said, pulling out the small bottle.

“So…” Raph started, drawing Leo’s attention towards her again. “What’s the verdict?”

Leo looked over to Mikey. Their youngest sibling had been quiet, watching him with wide eyes. Then he looked to Raph again.

“Donnie and I are going to move your rooms, you… you can help, Raph, but Mikey, you’re grounded from doing any heavy lifting,” Leo said.

“So, we really have to move rooms?” Mikey asked.

Leo nodded his head. “I'm afraid so,” he said, giving each of them an apologetic look, though he let his eyes linger on Raph for a bit longer.

“Raph, if you promise to stick to lighter loads, you can go start pulling some of the stuff out of the storage room,” Leo said.

“You’re kiddin’, right? I’m the strongest one in this room and y’ wanna reduce me to light loads?” she asked indignantly.

Leo rolled his eyes. “I don’t want you to hurt yourself further, so, lift whatever you want, just don’t use that arm,” he pointed to Raph’s bandaged one.

“Like I could anyway,” Raph huffed, standing up and looking to Mikey. “Come on, ya can at least carry some of the small stuff, like a picture frame or somethin’,” she said.

Mikey looked to Leo for permission, and the blue-banded turtle sighed once more and nodded.

“Small items, Mikey,” Leo insisted as Mikey grabbed her crutch and started after Raph.

Leo’s eyes followed them, his nostrils flared as Raph passed by, followed soon after by Mikey. The blue banded turtle, now he was looking out for it, was sure he did smell something.

Leo waited until they were out of the room before looking to Donnie. He sat still so his brother could work at bandaging his more sore areas, and put some cream on the bruises to hopefully stop them from getting too bad.

“Don, can I ask you a question,” he started, looking down at the floor as his brother worked.

“Hmm?” Donnie said, indicating he was listening.

“I know none of us really want to think about what happens if we can’t change them back, but… those pheromones you mentioned before… could they become a problem?” Leo asked.

“Hypothetically,” Donnie answered honestly, though didn’t sound like he was comfortable talking about it. Still, he continued, never one to leave his brothers in the dark if they had a question for him. “Without observation, I couldn’t guarantee it, but if we carried over enough biological traits from regular turtles, it’s possible the two of them could eventually go into heat,” he explained, clearing his throat as he tied off the bandage on Leo’s upper arm.

“And…” Leo continued, aware of how uncomfortable and awkward this conversation was, however, he felt as if it was one they should probably have sooner rather than later. “What if, what if I was already drawn to one of them…?” Leo questioned, a blush coloring his cheeks. He knew Donnie was discreet enough that he wouldn’t tell anyone, but Leo had never admitted his attraction to any of his brothers.

He must have done a good job hiding it too, if Donnie’s surprised expression was anything to go by, before it became more calculating. Leo sighed and looked elsewhere, not wanting to see his brother studying him.

“I would have assumed that a change like this would have been more notable if that was the case, or at the very least drawn you in more,” Donnie said.

“I feel more protective over both of them, does that count?” Leo offered, hoping to hide exactly who it was he had been attracted to before this change. “I mean, I’ve always thought he smelled nice and…” Leo trailed off shaking his head. “Never mind, forget I said anything.”

He slipped off the table, testing his arms and making sure he could still move without hurting himself further.

“I should go help Raph before she really does try and do all the heavy lifting on her own.” Leo said, leaving the lab, ignoring the knowing look Donnie was giving him.

“I need to come supervise Mikey anyway, keep her off her feet,” Donnie said, following quickly after the blue-banded turtle.

TBC

Chapter Text

 

 

Part 7

Clearing out the storage room had taken longer than Leo had originally thought it would with four of them working on it together. However, working in such a small space with two female turtles, who were definitely letting off some kind of scent, one Leo wished he hadn’t noticed at all, added to the fact that only he and Donnie were really capable of lifting things, meant the room wasn’t even close to being done until gone two in the morning.

Leo put the last box into Donnie’s lab to be sorted through later and stretched his now aching body. He turned to look at Raph in the doorway just behind him, the red-banded turtle having followed him, carrying a stack of papers under her arm.

“Don said ta put this on his desk,” Raph said.

Leo nodded, moving aside to let Raph pass. He couldn’t help but inhale deeply as she walked by him, and was unable to tear his eyes from his sister as she went to the desk, depositing the papers where Donnie had told her.

“What are ya doin?” Raph demanded.

Leo blushed, having been caught.

“Nothing,” he said, defending himself quickly. “We should get back to the others.”

He turned and practically ran from the room, cursing himself for such a stupid thing, and cursing Donnie for telling him about their scent, convinced he could have just ignored it competly and would have never known. Though Leo was sure things like this didn’t really work that way.

Leo didn’t even look behind him to see if Raph was following, making his way back to the storage room. He paused in the doorway, watching as Donnie held Mikey by the hips, the smaller turtle up on the step-ladder dusting the cobwebs off the ceiling.

“Should she really be up there like that?” Leo asked.

Startled, Donnie jumped, his fingers accidentally tickling MIkey’s sides in the process, causing her to lose the precarious balance she had with the use of one leg. Leo winced as Mikey’s laugh turned into a shout as she fell back, landing on top of Donnie, who did his best to catch her.

“What the hell was that?” Raph demanded, coming to stand next to Leo.

“Leo snuck up on us!” Mikey accused.

Raph gave the blue-banded turtle a sideways look.

“I didn’t,” Leo protested. “I came in and saw you on the ladder, with a busted leg, I thought it might have been dangerous.” Leo moved to help Mikey get off Donnie. The purple-banded turtle’s face was bright red as he scurried out from under Mikey and stood up quickly.

“She wasn’t going to fall, or at least wouldn’t have if you hadn’t startled us,” Donnie insisted.

“You knew we’d be coming right back. Why were you so startled?” Leo questioned, giving Donnie a suspicious look.

Donnie’s cheeks turned redder and he looked away.

“So, we were thinking of hanging some hammocks in here,” Donnie said, changing the topic abruptly. “This room isn’t really big enough for beds. Unless the two of you want to share a bed?” he offered, looking from Mikey to Raph.

“No way!” “Yes please!” were the two simultaneous replies.

“Hammocks it is then,” Leo said smiling at Mikey’s pout.

Raph huffed and leaned against a nearby wall. “Still think this is stupid, and pointless.”

Leo glanced at her and sighed. “We have to, Raph, Sensei-”

“I don’t give a fuck what Sensei says! This is bullshit and ya know it!” Raph insisted.

“There is a reason for this, Raph, and yes, it is bullshit, but… it might be for the best, until Donnie can fix you two,” Leo stated.

Raph’s face contorted in anger. “Why!?” she shouted. “Ya know somethin’ don’t ya! What are ya keepin’ from us, huh?” She looked from Leo over to Donnie, who was also looking slightly guilty.

Leo wasn’t sure what to say, or even where to start. This wasn’t his place, though in truth it wasn’t Donnie’s either.

“It’s because of how we smell, isn’t it?” Mikey questioned, her soft voice breaking some of the tension in the room.

Raph turned to glare at her sister. “What are ya tryin’ ta say?” she demanded.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Leo said, this time earning a look from Donnie. “What? It’s not, is it?”

“If ya don’t stop talkin’ circles around me, I’m gonna punch someone,” Raph growled.

Donnie sighed loudly, looking anywhere but at his siblings. “I was hoping to avoid this conversation until I had done some tests,” he admitted. “But the reason you two have to move rooms, and what Mikey was talking about… it has to do with hormones.”

“Hormones?” Raph snorted. “Ya already had this talk with us, the mornin’ Mikey screamed bloody murder when he woke up with a stiff one,” she teased.

“Raph, females have different hormones than males,” Donnie explained. “And… I never knew how much of us was human, and what turtle aspects we’ve carried over from our mutation.”

“What are ya tryin’ ta say?” Raph demanded.

“Your hormones are that of a female turtle, so for Leo and I, as male turtles, you both smell different than normal. My theory is that it is because of this, Master Splinter believes you two, now being entirely biologically female, will be a distraction to Leo and I,” Donnie said.

Leo had to hand it to him, for such a topic, the purple-banded turtle was able to keep a straight face. This couldn’t be said for Raph though, the previous angry expression gone, replaced with a growing understanding as she looked from Donnie to Leo.

“Is that why ya been sniffin’ tha air when I walk by?” Raph hissed.

“I haven’t-” Leo started to say, only to be cut off when Raph grabbed the duster from the floor and threw it at him.

“Ya totally have! I ain’t some chick for ya ta be sniffin’ after, Leo!” Raph shouted.

“Technically you are,” Mikey offered.

“You’re not helping, Mikey,” Donnie said, stepping between Raph and Leo.

“Don, I swear I wasn’t,” Leo said, not sure why he felt the need to defend himself.

Donnie simply shook his head. “I can handle the rest in here, Leo, why don’t you go find something else to do.”

Leo wanted to argue more but knew Donnie was right; leaving now was probably for the best. He did look at Raph once more though, hoping his sister would accept the silent apology, but she was looking anywhere but at him. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Leo left the room, leaving Donnie to sort the last few things their sisters would need for now. Although part of him felt guilty for leaving the rest to Donnie, it was late and the purple-banded turtle was far more used to being a night owl than Leo was.

Leo headed straight to his room, but paused when he saw the door to Raph’s room, or rather Raph’s former room, was open. Looking back down the hall for a moment, Leo made a quick detour. Standing just inside the doorway, he looked around.

Raph’s room was far messier than Leo kept his own, and while Leo would have called it a mess, it was certainly more organized than Mikey’s. There were posters on the walls of famous wrestlers or boxers, and there was a stack of magazines, most of them having to do with fighting of some sort.

Anyone who knew Raph would have said this room suited her, after all Raph was all about fighting, and getting stronger. But if you looked closely, there were hints of more. There were cars and motorbikes, things that any of them could only dream of owning. It was a secret side Raph seemed to keep hidden away from them, as if ashamed, or believing she would be picked on for liking something other than fighting.

Inhaling deeply, Leo could smell Raph in the room still. Her scent was in everything. He hated to think that all of this was going to be locked away, that only a few of Raph’s belongings would fit into her new room. Leo wanted to offer the use of his room, had been planning on doing so even, but after what had just happened, he wasn't sure it would be taken as the kind gesture it was meant to be.

Letting out a long sigh, Leo turned to head back to his own room, pausing for a moment when something caught his attention. Ut was the corner of a bit of fabric sticking out from under one of the shelves. The bold red color had Leo assuming that perhaps it was one of Raph’s masks. Not wanting his sister to forget it in here, Leo bent down to pull it out.

What he revealed wasn’t a mask, but in fact a tacky bright red and blue scarf, one Leo recognized almost immediately. He had gifted it to Raph years ago, before the younger turtle had built up her muscle mass, when Raph had been very susceptible to the cold.

Leo could recall long nights of his sibling sitting up shivering, days too. As the days got colder, Raph would grow more and more reluctant to move from whatever pile of pillows and blankets he had managed to gather around himself. Leo had requested that Splinter, during one of his food runs, bring back something to help keep Raph warm. Leo remembered how surprised he had been when their father had heeded his request, returning with an oversized hideous scarf.

Lifting the fabric to his face, Leo sighed. He could remember how soft it used to be, and how much Raph had adored it, no matter how much their siblings laughed at him. Leo went to put the fabric back where he had found it, but paused; it was the first gift Leo had ever really given Raph, and the fact that she still had it, even though she obviously had no need of it anymore, Leo felt as if it meant something.

Clenching his hand around the fabric tighter, Leo stood up straight once more, and went back to his room. Closing the door behind him with a soft click he let out another sigh. Leo had no plans to make a move on his sister, not while she was like this, however, as soon as Donnie found a cure, he would make his true feelings for Raph known, because he refused to believe the scarf was nothing more than a forgotten article of clothing. Raph had kept in on purpose.

 

Carrying the scarf over to his bedside table, Leo set it down. Sitting on the mattress, he closed his eyes, preparing himself for his nightly meditation before bed, something to clear his mind and help him sleep.

------------x

Leo breathed deeply, slowly, like he’d been taught, focusing on his inner spirit, pushing everything else to the side, calming himself from the inside out. Easier said than done when Raph’s scent was everywhere, wrapping around him like those strong arms.

“Are ya gonna sit there and ignore me?” Raph asked.

Leo’s eyes snapped open, gasping as he fell back onto the bed, staring up as Raph leaned over him, an amused smirk playing on her lips.

Those lips, so close to his, Leo could practically taste them already, but he was more curious as to why his sister was suddenly in his room, and why he hadn’t heard her come in.

“Raph, what are you…?” Leo tried asking, only to be silenced when Raph placed a finger over his lips.

“No, if ya talk now, I’ll lose my nerve,” Raph said, shifting herself so she was straddling him.

Leo’s eyes went wide, looking down, seeing how close Raph’s hips were to his own growing bulge. He looked back up at Raph, blushing brightly when he saw Raph staring down as well.

“You know, I’ve always thought of you as more than a brother, but I wasn’t sure what ya thought of me,” Raph admitted, trailing her finger down the center line of Leo’s plastron. “You were always watchin’ me, and bossin’ me ‘round. I was so conflicted.” She reached his bulge and traced her finger around it, avoiding putting any direct contact against it. “But when I saw ya sniffin’ tha air, and findin’ out what you were doin… I was scared, ha, can ya believe it? Me? Scared?” Raph snorted.

“I’ve seen you scared before, so yeah… I can believe it, Raph… I don’t like it when you’re scared though,” Leo said, reaching up to cup her cheek, only to have his hand slapped away.

“I told ya not ta talk, this… let me do this, Leo, or I really will just leave,” Raph said.

Leo nodded, clamping his mouth shut, not wanting Raph to stop talking, and certainly not wanting her to stop trailing her finger teasingly over his plastron.

When he was silent again, Raph smiled at him. “I was scared cause I never thought ya felt the same way,” Raph said. “And findin’ out that ya might… I was scared what father was going to say.”

Leo wanted to comfort her, wanted to assure her that it didn’t matter what Splinter said, wanted to confess everything right then and there, admit how long he’d been watching her, how long he’d wanted to take her for his own, long before the accident. He felt his cock twitch inside the confines of his plastron, but he held himself back from dropping down.

Raph continued moving her finger down, passed his bulge, then up her own leg, between her legs and Leo gasped, watching it dip inside her slit for a moment. He couldn’t have held back the churr that escaped him even if he wanted to. His eyes were transfixed, watching the finger slide deeper and deeper, before Raph pulled it out just as slowly.

She moaned, moving her finger up her own plastron, away from her slit Leo could see spreading as it softened, could see her leaking, feel it on his own plastron. However his eyes were drawn to her finger again as she trailed the now slick finger up her own plastron, up to the two mounds that were forming on her chest.

Leo blinked in surprise, opening his mouth to ask when Raph had gotten breasts, but stopped when Raph moaned again, rubbing her hand over the obviously sensitive area and Leo decided he didn’t really care where they’d come from, as Raph seemed to be enjoying them.

Tentatively Leo reached out, rubbing his own hands along Raph’s thighs, feeling her spread them further apart, her hips starting to rock slowly, grinding her slit down onto his plastron. The sight, the sound, the smell was surrounding him, intoxicating and Leo couldn’t hold back any more, his cock slipping free from it’s protective pouch, hard and leaking already as it sprang up, slapping against Raph’s stomach in the process.

“You like watching me?” Raph asked,

Leo nodded his head in answer.

“I like you watching me too, I always feel your eyes on me, when I’m working out, when I’m readin’, when I’m trainin’. I always wished ya would pin me down on my workbench, spread me open,” Raph breathed out, her free hand wrapping around Leo’s cock.

He churred again, lifting his hips into her hand, silently begging for more. His breathing was coming rapidly as Raph lifted her hips up, moving herself forward until his cock was lined up with her slit, her juices leaking down over him.

“You’ve got me so, so wet, Leo,” she breathed out, “wet, just for you.” She started sinking down onto him, moaning.

Leo bit his lip to stop himself from screaming, not wanting to drown out the wonderful noises Raph was making.

Raph sank down onto him fully and quickly, placing her hands on his plastron, she lifted herself up and started moving.

“So hard, so deep, Leo, it’s so deep inside me,” Raph gasped out, her voice taking on a lusty high pitched tone as she started moving faster, slamming herself down onto him harder.

The only thing Leo could do was hold onto her hips, help steady her, and occasionally lift his hips, driving his cock deeper and deeper into her. The noises Raph made were lewd, the words she used to describe what Leo was doing to her insides were graphic and vulgar, and Leo’s cock twitched with each sound. He wanted to flip them over, wanted to pound into her, give her everything she was asking for, begging for.

“Raph I… I’m gonna-” Leo tried to warn as he felt his climax building rapidly.

“Oh yes, Leo, yes, fuck me, fill me, cum inside me!” Raph screamed.

Leo bit his lip hard, groaning as he tried not to make more noise than that, his cock twitching and pulsing, jet after jet erupting from him.

It was probably the most powerful and fastest orgasm Leo could ever recall having in his short fifteen years.

Opening his eyes slowly, Leo was lying on his bed gasping for breath, one hand gripping his cock as it gave another feeble twitch, the last of his seed leaking out. His other hand was gripping the scarf he’d swiped from Raph’s room, his nose buried in the fabric as he inhaled Raph’s scent.

“...I’m so fucked up…” he breathed out to himself, tossing the scarf to the other side of the room, hoping he hadn’t soiled it as much as he had the rest of him.

------------x

The days passed and Donnie was no closer to finding a cure for his sisters than he had been when they’d first discovered the mess Raph and Mikey had managed to get into. He knew Raph was getting frustrated with the lack of progress, and Donnie could also tell Leo was doing his best to avoid spending any time around their hot-headed sister.

Mikey had spent most of her time in the kitchen, and more often than not Raph had been joining her in there, as that seemed to be the only place they could be without getting the stink-eye from Splinter.

Donnie could only assume this was because Splinter was really old fashioned, and perhaps truly felt the only place for Raph and Mikey now was in the kitchen. Though that was what it appeared to be on the surface, Donnie wasn’t convinced that was all there was to it. However, he didn’t have time to sit and think on Splinter’s mental state, not when his own mind was split in far too many different directions.

“Donnie!” Mikey whined, attempting again for the fifth time in the last half hour to pull the purple-banded turtle’s attention away from the computer screen.

Donnie ignored it when she started pulling on his chair, rocking him back and forth, and Donnie was sure Mikey knew she was being extra annoying today.

“Donnie!” she whined again when he didn’t reply to her in the alloted time she decided.

The purple-banded turtle had had a lot of practice ignoring MIkey over the years, no matter what tactics she used to get his attention. One thing he was thankful for was that the scent both she and Raph had been releasing seemed to have died down after a week, making it far easier to focus.

“Donnie look at me!” she insisted.

Donnie sighed, jerking his chair out of her grip as he spun around.

Mikey gave him a small smile in response to the annoyed expression Donnie fixed her with.

“What, do you want Mikey?” Donnie questioned.

“You have to convince Leo to let us go out tonight,” she said matter of factly.

Donnie frowned and looked at her, glancing down to her leg. He was contemplating if she was healed enough to even be standing on it, regardless of the fact that she had been doing so for the last few days at least, and Donnie was aware she’d stopped using the crutch long before she’d even gotten the cast off.

Obviously seeing where he was looking, Mikey pouted, shifting all her weight to her previously injured leg.

“I’m totally fine, D, see!” She hopped up and down on one leg.

Donnie held back the smile at her antics.

“My leg is healed, Raph’s arm is healed, I’m going crazy stuck down here! And that’s usually Raph’s job!” Mikey said dramatically.

“I don’t know…” Donnie said, drawing his hesitation out, mostly wanting to tease Mikey back as revenge for attempting to distract him from working today.

“If you don’t, I’ll just stay in here and keep bothering you until you talk to Leo and convince him to let us go top-side!” Mikey insisted.

Donnie sighed heavily. “I’ll talk to him,” he promised, turning his chair around again.

Mikey only let him get halfway before she threw her arms around him, nuzzling into his neck. She laughed when the purple banded turtle blushed brightly and cleared his throat. Even though their scent had dissipated, they still smelled differently, and the closeness like this reminded Donnie of that.

“I can’t promise anything though,” Donnie insisted. “Considering what happened last time we went out, even for a simple recon mission,” he reminded her.

Mikey let go of Donnie and stepped back, grinning at him. “Yeah, but that was last time, and I didn’t say I wanted to go on a mission, I just said I wanted to go out.”

Donnie nodded his head in understanding, turning the rest of the way around.

“If you let me finish what I’m working on, I’ll talk to Leo after lunch,” he promised. “Just try and remember, Mikey, you might be able to stand on your leg, but it’s possible that it could still be too tender for you to do anything strenuous, like jumping from one building to another.” Donnie explained.

Though it was true Mikey was healing nicely, and had removed her cast, there was still a vivid scar where she had cut her leg in the fall, one that Donnie knew with a few more days would be less visible, so long as Mikey didn’t push herself too much.

“You worry too much!” Mikey said dismissively. “I’m totally fine! I can even do this!” sheexcalmied, spinning Donnie around in his chair again so suddenly that the purple-banded turtle had to take a moment to focus. Mikey did a backflip, landing on her feet, however, she managed to slip or trip on something as she didn’t stay standing for long, falling back onto her shell.

“Wait! Wait! That one didn’t count!” Mikey said, scurrying back to her feet, preparing to do another back flip.

Donnie leaned forward to stop Mikey, not wanting her to hurt herself while trying to prove a point. But it was Leo who stopped her, the blue-banded turtle coming up behind her and placing a hand on her shoulder.

“Mikey,” Leo said, a hint of a warning in his tone and Donnie wondered if Mikey had been pestering him before escaping to the lab.

“I wasn’t doing anything, I swear,” Mikey defended herself, telling Donnie everything he really needed to know.

Leo shook his head, a fond smile pulling at his lips as he turned Mikey around towards the door, giving her a gentle shove. “Go find Raph, I think he-”

“She” Mikey corrected quickly, eyes darting from Leo to the door, as if expecting Splinter to suddenly appear there.

Not that Donnie blamed her, Splinter had been quite harsh recently in correcting them if they used the wrong pronoun, insisting he was giving them all an incentive to remember such simple things.

Leo took a deep breath and nodded. “Raph is in your room, just, go sit in there while I talk to Donnie for a minute, please?” Leo requested.

Mikey looked at Leo, then passed him, to Donnie once again. The purple-banded turtle nodded, smiling at Mikey in hopes to assure her that he was going to take this time to discuss going top-side with Leo. Mikey smiled widely at him, then at Leo.

“Alright, call me when it’s time to start lunch then!” she said, hurrying out of the lab, leaving Donnie and Leo alone.

Waiting a moment more as Leo went to check and make sure Mikey wasn’t listening to them just outside the door, Leo turned to look at Donnie.

“Alright, you told me last night you might have found something,” Leo said, closing the lab door.

Donnie motioned for Leo to come over as he turned back to his laptop, pulling open a screen he had been keeping hidden from Mikey, not wanting to get her hopes up, or worse, have her talk to Raph about it and get her hopes up.

“Yes, I’ve got potentially good news.”

“I suppose even that type of news is better than none,” Leo said, coming to stand next to Donnie. “So, what have you found?”

“Well,” Donnie started, clicking on a few things, opening two sheets. “The facility we took down was primarily focused on chemical research, specifically modifying chemicals from earth with those of Dimension X.” He opened the visual on the screen, showing the list of chemicals he had found, ones he recognized from being Earth in origin he had highlighted, and the select few he knew to be from Dimension X were colored differently.

“This is a long list of chemicals, none of which I recognize, but this list here,” he opened a third page, “shows what reactions they had with ones from Earth’s periodic table,” Donnie said, unable to contain his excitement now that he was able to explain bits of what he had found to someone who had an, albeit small, chance of understanding him.

“So one of these could possibly be what we’re looking for,” Leo said, looking over the list.

“One of them, yes,” Donnie nodded, his brow furrowing slightly though. “The hard part will be figuring out which one. On top of that, it’s possible they used mutagen in the concoction that changed Raph and MIkey, so that might cause a potential snag as well,” he explained, his momentary excitement fading somewhat. “With enough time I should be able to eventually pinpoint something that not only resembles their description, but has similar effects to it,” Donnie said, turning to face Leo once more.

“From there it’s only a matter of figuring out which experiments used the chemical, finding the right one, and determining if any other facilities in the city had been running similar experiments,”

Leo frowned at Donnie. “It still sounds like a lot of work that is going to take a long time, Don.”

“It is,” Donnie agreed with a long sigh. “And the longer we stay down here, the less likely I’m going to be able to actually find what we’re looking for.” Looking at the computer, he hit the print button on the chemicals list he had made, before turning to his printer. Picking up a pin he stuck it into the long broken power button, holding it there as the papers printed.

“You want to go topside,” Leo stated.

“Not just me,” Donnie clarified, taking the papers once they had finished. “You know it’s never a good thing to keep Mikey and Raph cooped up in the lair, and to make matters worse, both of them being stuck in that small room together, I’m surprised that there haven’t been more fights.”

“Do you think Mikey and Raph are physically ready for it?” Leo questioned.

Donnie thought about it rather than answering Leo immediately.

“If we don’t get into fights, and we stick to a path with buildings that don’t have a big gap, then yes, I think they’re ready to get back to missions,” Donnie said, placing the freshly printed papers neatly on his desk before turning to fully look at Leo. “I think the real question is, will Sensei let them leave the lair?”

“He’s not the leader of this team,” Leo said firmly.

“No, you are,” Donnie said, the seriousness in his tone seeming to take Leo off guard, though the blue-banded turtle didn’t comment on it.

“Be ready to leave tonight, normal time,” Leo said, turning to leave the Lab.

Donnie watched him go. Leaning back in his chair, he took a deep breath and held it for a moment, before letting it out slowly. He looked at his door, making sure no one was coming in before turning back around to his computer. He closed everything and pulled up a hidden tab he’d kept secret from his brothers. Typing a few commands into it, he waited, his heart hammering in his chest, the same way it did every time he did this.

He watched as the word Welcome popped up on the screen. Looking nervously behind him again, he looked back at the screen before he typed in a single message.

“I think we might be running away soon.”

Waiting with baited breath, Donnie looked at his countdown timer, knowing he had a limited time before he had to shut down, or risk being caught.

“You need to get out of there. From what you’ve told me, that life is no good for you, or your brothers… Have you told them yet?” came the reply.

“No, I don’t know how to bring it up to them, and I’m worried that if I do, HE’LL find out.”

Donnie left it at that, sighing out and hiding the tab once again, doing his best to calm his breathing. His contact with the outside world was always so fleeting, but he couldn’t risk more time, couldn’t risk his brothers finding out, or Splinter. There was so much that they didn’t know, so much Donnie wasn’t supposed to know. Donnie was sure that whoever said ‘knowledge is power’ had never met Splinter.

TBC

Chapter Text

 

Part 8

Raph was sitting on her hammock, flipping through one of the books she’d thankfully managed to save from her previous room before Splinter locked the doors. She thought the whole situation was stupid, and extremely fucked up, but there was nothing she could do about it, and that just made her even more angry.

At the moment she was doing her best to ignore Mikey. The orange-banded turtle had come barreling into the room, grin plastered on her face. She hadn’t said anything to Raph, but her mere presence and overall cheerfulness was irritating.

Flipping another page in her book, Raph glanced up at Mikey. The other turtle was happily using her hammock as a swing, pumping her legs to encourage the rocking motion.

“If ya break that again, I ain’t fixin it for ya,” Raph said flatly.

“That’s okay, Donnie can fix it for me,” Mikey said cheekily. “Or Leo.”

Raph snorted again, but didn’t say anything else, her gaze returning to her book only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. He looked up curiously.

“It’s me.” Leo’s muffled voice came through the door.

“Door’s open!” Mikey answered, not even discussing with Raph whether she wanted the blue-banded turtle in there, which she did not.

Shuffling further down in her hammock, Raph was determined to ignore Leo, the same way she had been for the couple weeks since they had moved in there.

“I wanted to give you two a heads up,” Leo started, the tone in his voice catching Raph’s attention, her eyes widening in anticipation. “Recon mission tonight.” Leo said, turning from Mikey to look at Raph.

Raph locked eyes with him, her tail twapping excitedly on the hammock she tossed her book aside.

“For real? We’re goin’ out tonight?” she asked, wanting to make sure she hadn’t been hearing things.

Leo snorted, clearly amused as he nodded. “Yes, we’re going out tonight, so make sure you’re ready on time. I’m going to inform Master Splinter, and we will be leaving right after dinner,” Leo said.

Raph couldn’t help the feeling of foreboding that filled her at hearing that Leo was going to tell Splinter, but she pushed it aside, deciding to leave that to Leo for now. Raph slid from her hammock, practically running to Mikey and lifting the smaller turtle up suddenly.

“Hear that, Mikey! We’re goin’ out! Finally!” Raph exclaimed, before realizing what she was doing and putting Mikey down, her cheeks bright red from a break in her normal stoic demeanor.

“If you two want to start dinner early,” Leo suggested.

Raph turned to look at him, nodding her head once, watching the blue-banded turtle leave the room, most likely going to tell Splinter of their plans for the evening.

“Right, so…dinner,” she said, momentarily having forgotten that chore had somehow landed on her plate. She looked back to Mikey. “I’m still learnin’ so…”

“Don’t worry, Raphie, you just watch, and I’ll give you a few things to chop up,” she assured.

Raph smiled, grateful to Mikey for helping her with this; she made a mental note to properly thank the orange-banded turtle later.

“Come on, I better start and continue the impossible challenge of teaching you how to cook,” Mikey teased.

Raph allowed Mikey to grab her wrist, leading her from the room.

“What do ya mean impossible? I ain’t no where near as bad as Leo, am I?” Raph questioned.

Mikey’s only response was a laugh, and Raph now felt a little self conscious that perhaps she was as bad, or worse than Leo. She pushed those feelings aside though, squaring her shoulders.

“Well, it’s not like I even wanted ta learn any of this stuff ta begin with,” she said, a little more defensively than she had intended, even as Mikey led her into the kitchen before letting her go.

“Cooking isn't that bad, but I’d have to say you and Leo are the most hopeless when it comes to cooking,” Mikey said, pulling on an apron before setting about to see what they had to make for dinner.

Raph tried not to let Mikey’s comment get to her, knowing her sibling was right, she was practically useless in the kitchen, instead she focused on the exciting fact that they were going topside again.

It had only been two short weeks since the accident, but Raph felt as if it had been a lot longer. Between Splinter’s harsher than normal treatment, and her dislocated shoulder, which had remained wrapped until recently, Raph had been feeling more confined than usual. But now, her mind was swimming with anticipation of the night air on her scales, the jumps from rooftop to rooftop, the potential of whopping an ass or two, it was as if her birthday had come early.

“Heads up!” Mikey called.

Raph blinked, her reflexes the only thing making it possible for her to have caught the lettuce that had been chucked at her.

“You can’t cook, but I’m sure you can put a garden salad together without burning it,” Mikey stated.

“Ha, ha, ha,” Raph said, rolling her eyes at Mikey before going to collect the rest of the veggies. “I really don’t see tha point in me bein’ in here, or why Sensei is insisting on us cooking so much,” she said. “I mean, lotta foods taste just fine when ya don’t cook em.” She sat down at the table with her hord of veggies. “Plus, didn’t they invent microwaves for cookin’ a lotta things too?”

“Yes, but you can’t just throw a pizza together, those don’t taste good raw,” Mikey said, sounding as if she was speaking from experience, though Rpah surmised, she probably was. “And pizza’s are soggy and nasty if you try to microwave them,” Mikey pointed out, looking around, a frown pulling at her lips.

“What’s tha look for?” Raph asked.

“Just deciding what to make. I think… something simple. Why don’t you help me with this today?” Mikey suggested. “Joking aside for a moment, there might be a day or two when I can’t help you cook, and you’re stuck in here on your own. As impressive as you’ve gotten with cutting veg, I don’t think that will be enough to impress Sensei,” Mikey said.

“Who said I wanted ta impress him,” Raph grumbled, but she stood up again regardless.

“Impress Leo then,” Mikey said. “Go get the chicken from the kitchen, I’ve got a simple meal we can do,” she said.

Raph debated on punching Mikey, but decided against it, not wanting to risk the chance of them leaving the lair that night. Going to the fridge, Raph dug around inside it for a moment before finding the chicken.

 

“Okay, got your meat, o’ leader of the kitchen,” Raph said, returning to Mikey’s side with it, grinning when the younger turtle giggled, the sound a bit more higher pitched than Raph was used to, but Mikey didn’t seem bothered by it.

Handing over the chicken, Raph studied Mikey, the way she was moving, humming to herself. Nothing really seemed out of the norm for the smaller turtle, but there was something about the way Mikey moved, it was as if she were fully comfortable with herself, with the changes that had been inflicted on her.

“Alright, come over here, this is going to be all you tonight, but I’ll be here in case something goes wrong,” MIkey said, handing the spatula to Raph.

“Sounds like you’re expectin’ somethin’ ta go wrong,” Raph grumbled.

“Not at all, I just want to show you that cooking isn’t as bad or scary as you seem to think it is,” Mikey said. She started giving Raph step by step instructions, staying close by, and as much as Raph grumbled about it, she was grateful for the hands-on training.

“Alright, now you add some oil, because we don’t want the chicken to taste too fatty,” Mikey said, handing the oil to Raph, who poured a small amount onto the chicken.

Raph grinned, hearing the sizzling, allowing Mikey to wrap her hand around hers, guiding her to shake the pan slightly as the chicken started frying up, along with the veg Mikey was slowly adding to the mixture.

A sound by the door had Raph turning his head, a smile plastered on her face as she expected to see one of her brothers, intending to brag about her new found cooking skills. However, it wasn’t Leo or Donnie standing there, it was Splinter.

“Don’t let it burn,” Mikey said, drawing her attention back to the chicken on the stove.

Nodding her head in understanding, Raph tried to focus on the food she was making, and not the rat by the door watching them. Raph hadn’t looked at him long, but she could tell that Splinter was unhappy about something, and she was wracking her brain trying to think of anything she or Mikey could have done to warrant his wrath. Of course, the only thing coming to mind was Leo’s sudden mission planned for that night.

“I have come to a decision,” Splinter said.

Raph felt her whole body tense, turning once again to look at the rat. Mikey turned too, looking apprehensive, yet curious.

“From today onwards, your training as ninja is officially over,” Splinter informed them.

Raph felt as if a lead brick had dropped into her stomach. Her brow furrowed and she opened her mouth to say something but closed it again, her mind slowly processing what she’d just heard.

“Sensei,” Mikey said, drawing Raph’s attention. “I don’t understand.”

Raph nodded her head slightly in agreement, hoping their father would elaborate on at least why he’d come to such an abrupt decision.

“Given the state of your… condition,” Splinter started, eying the two of them for a moment, “I can not allow you to continue. Nor do either of you have what it takes to become a kunoichi.”

“You don’t know that!” Raph retorted, fists clenching and unclenching, wishing she had the strength to take Splinter on and prove him wrong right then and there. “You’ve trained us ta be ninja our whole lives! You can’t just take that away from us!”

“I have spent everyday meditating on this, and studying the new dynamics of this family, and have decided that your place will be here, supporting your brothers, and putting thought into the future of this family,” Splinter said firmly.

“Bullshit!” Raph growled. “When Donnie fixes us-”

“I do not have such faith in your brother as you do,” Splinter interrupted, narrowing his eyes at Raph. “I am also unconvinced about your fighting ability. While you do have the raw strength, and that has been an asset, you have not progressed any further with the ninjitsu, and with these new changes, even your strength is waning.”

Mikey shuffled forward slightly. “We’ll work harder, Sensei, why can’t you give us another chance?”

“I have given you both many chances, I am done turning a blind eye to your reckless behavior. From here on, I refuse to train anyone who has a bad temper and a wandering mind,” Splinter informed them. “And while this situation is regrettable, and quite unfortunate, I have also come to realize it could be a blessing in disguise, a way to make sure this family thrives and survives.”

Raph wasn’t sure if it was the way Splinter worded it, or the look he was giving them, but she fully understood what Splinter was insinuating now, and it made her temper boil over and something turn in her stomach unpleasantly.

“So, that’s what ya meant by the ‘future of this family’.” Raph’s breathing was irregular, as she tried to hold all other emotions at bay and let the anger in her grow.

“Raph, no…” Mikey tried to put a hand on her shoulder but Raph shrugged it off, not wanting to be comforted right now.

“Don’t ya get it, Mikey! He wants ta keep us down here! That’s why he locked us outta our rooms. He’s keepin’ me away from my weights! He just wants us ta get weak!”

“You are weak,” Splinter replied, his tone icy as he watched Raph. “And I see no reason why a young girl like you has any need for weights.”

“Sensei,” Mikey tried again, grabbing Raph’s arm again when the red-banded turtle went to step forward, anger vibrating from every fiber of her being. “Even if you say we’re not longer ninja,” Mikey continued, “we still trained with Leo and Donnie, we can still be useful on missions.”

Raph looked to Mikey. She knew the orange-banded turtle was trying to negotiate with the rat, but Raph felt as if it was still far beyond that, Splinter had made up his mind, and he wasn’t likely to change it, even if Leo was in here begging on his knees.

“You are worried about the mission Leonardo has planned tonight,” Splinter stated.

Raph glared back in the direction of Splinter, silently daring him to try and take that away from her too.

“I will allow you to go,” Splinter finally said after a long pause. “It is only a recon mission. However, every time you leave this home, and every time you return, you will come and inform me first, and I will have final say if I think it is wise for you to be out. I can’t allow anything to happen to my daughters.”

Raph growled, a deep rumbling sound. He tried to hold back, for Mikey’s sake if nothing else, but he was so angry, frustrated, and so tired of being referred to as something she wasn’t.

“I’m not a girl,”

Splinter raised an eyebrow at him. “Excuse me?”

“I said! I ain’t a girl! I’m your son!” Raph pulled her arm away from Mikey. “I’m still a ninja, that ain’t gonna change just cause you said so!” Raph shouted, standing her ground, ready to fight, ready to take Splinter on, even if she couldn't win.

The rat moved faster than expected, knocking Mikey to the side, his tail wrapping around Raph’s neck and had the red-banded turtle pinned dangerously close to the hot stove.

Raph stared up at him with wide eyes, feeling the tail squeezing her neck slowly cutting off her air supply. She struggled, gripping at the appendage, only stopping when Splinter shook her once violently.

“You are not my son,” Splinter said, his gold eyes narrowed into slits. “You hardly qualify as my daughter at this point, and I’ve had nearly enough of your attitude. Give me one reason why I should not be rid of your miserable existence right here and now?”

“Leave him alone!” Mikey shouted, grabbing the cast iron frying pan from the stove and swinging it.

Her main goal was to get Splinter to let Raph go. Feeling the pan actually connect with the back of Splinter’s skull was the last thing she expected. Shocked, she stood there for a moment, staring at the pan and the rat crumpled in a heap on the floor by Raph’s feet.

She was shaking. Dropping the pan and looking at Raph, she saw her sister in just as much shock as she was. She grabbed Raph’s wrist and pulled her away from the counter.

“Leo! Donnie!” Mikey cried out, tears flowing freely down her cheeks as she continued dragging Raph with her. She was terrified Splinter would get up at any second and come after them, that she had just doomed not only herself, but Raph too.

-------x

Donnie was shutting his computer down. It was too late in the day to start any new projects, not if they were going out that evening to investigate places. He knew he had to pack his bag too and would need time to do that. Deciding to get a head start on it, he stood up. He was just about to start looking for his duffle bag. when he heard Mikey’s panicked shouting.

Sighing, he went to the lab door, intending to find out what Mikey had done to Raph this time.

However as he opened the door, his eyes were drawn to Mikey and Raph standing in the living room, both of them looking visibly shaken. Mikey was gripping Raph’s hand tightly as the red-banded turtle rubbed at her own neck.

“Mikey? What happened?” Donnie asked, exasperation replaced with worry he hurried over to his siblings.

Leo came out of his room where he too had been preparing for their mission.

“Splinter tried to kill Raph!” Mikey cried out, her voice shaking as much as the rest of her.

“What?” Leo demanded looking to the dojo.

“It’s true!” Mikey insisted. “He… he’s in the kitchen. I hit him with a frying pan, and he’s not getting up!”

Donnie and Leo stared at the two of them, and Donnie knew that Leo’s mind was working as fast as his, but perhaps not in the way it should be. Though the blue-banded turtle surprised him when he went back to his room, returning quickly with his swords.

“Donnie, take Raph and Mikey to your lab, close and lock the door, don’t come out unless I tell you,” Leo ordered.

Nodding seriously, Donnie started guiding the two turtles to the lab, but Raph was watching Leo, eyes wide and more frightened than Donnie had ever seen her.

Leo drew one of his katana from its sheath, and Raph suddenly stopped.

“Don’t kill him!” she exclaimed, catching them all by surprise. “He’s still our dad and…” she trailed off, seeming unsure of what she was even trying to say.

Donnie figured she might be going into shock and looked to Leo.

“I’m just going to see what’s going on,” Leo promised.

Raph nodded, seeming to accept that as an answer, allowing herself to finally be led into the lab.

Once inside, Donnie sat both Mikey and Raph down, making sure they were alright for a few moments on their own before retrieving his duffle bag. He started packing things; bandages, medicine, his computer notes, his laptop. He paused and looked at his desktop, grabbing the magnet he kept in his lab, he used it to clear everything from it. He didn’t know how computer literate Splinter was but, if the rat wasn’t dead, the last thing he wanted to do is give him access to his work.

“What are you doing?” Mikey finally asked when Donnie was done with that and went back to throwing a few more things into his bag.

“Packing supplies,” Donnie answered honestly. “Regardless of what happens, and what Leo finds in there, there’s no way we’ll be able to stay here now. If Splinter is still alive, he’s likely going to try and kill us,” he said bluntly, though couldn't keep the hint of distress from his tone.

“What do you mean kill? Splinter wouldn’t…” Mikey started to say, but stopped when Raph gripped her hand.

Donnie hated frightening his siblings like this, especially when they were already so shaken up.

“Sorry,” was all Donnie could say, returning to his self-appointed task of making sure he had everything they were going to need.

A knock on the door drew his attention and he tensed. Motioning for Mikey and Raph to stay where they were, he went to the door, putting his head against it, trying to figure out if it was Leo or Splinter without actually opening it.

“It’s me,” Leo said through the door.

Donnie relaxed slightly. Unlocking it, he slid it open to look at his blue-banded brother.

“Splinter is unconscious,” Leo said.

Donnie nodded, but didn’t relax as he stared at Leo, waiting to see if his brother was going to take action. He decided to try and give Leo a push in the right direction.

“We can’t stay here,” he said.

“I know,” Leo replied reluctantly. “I need time to think, and time is against us now…” Leo looked back toward the kitchen, seeming to debate something before he looked into the lab. “Raph, I need your help to gather some weapons. We can’t leave here empty handed, and I’ll feel better knowing we’re not leaving them here for Splinter to use against us.”

Raph looked up from her spot on the cot, staring at Leo before nodding. Standing she went to the open door and followed Leo to the dojo. A soft sound drew Donnie’s attention then, and he looked over at Mikey, who was sat with her arms wrapped around herself.

“Mikey…” Donnie sighed.

“I’m sorry,” Mikey said, looking up.

“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for, something like this... it was likely to happen sooner or later. Though it's going to be difficult to find a new place to live, I’m sure we’ll find somewhere,” Donnie said, knowing now was not the time to dump another bombshell on his siblings. He had to help Leo get them to safety, and then find a way to break the news to them.

Mikey looked at Donnie. “I feel like I’ve messed things up for us…” she said.

“You haven’t, if you hadn’t stepped in when you did, Raph might be-”

“Don’t say it,” Mikey interrupted. “Sorry, I don’t know why I’m so shaken up about this, I know what Splinter could have, and would have, done but… you saying it outloud, it makes this whole situation more real, and… and we don’t really have time for me to have a break down.” Mikey forced a smile.

Donnie nodded, patting Mikey’s head, surprised and grateful for the maturity she was showing in this situation.

“Help me carry these bags then,” Donnie said, going over to the first bag he had filled, before grabbing a second to throw a few extra things in. He earned a giggle from Mikey when he unconsciously dumped his mug into the bag as well.

“What? It’s my favorite mug,” Donnie said, winking at her.

Mikey didn’t say anything, just smiled at him as they made sure to have everything they might need.

“Hurry up you two!” Leo called from the living room. “We need to get away from here before Splinter gets up!”

Grabbing Mikey’s hand, Donnie led her out of the lab. He wished there was more time, wished he could explain things to his siblings that they were going to need to know. But for now, Leo was right, it was more crucial that they get away from there and fast, as there was no telling when Splinter was going to wake up. Donnie felt sick to his stomach, when he was unable to keep himself from hoping that he never did.

------------x

Leo’s mind was a mess, he couldn't think straight, couldn't come up with a solid plan. They had been walking through the sewers for nearly an hour now, and Leo knew Splinter must be awake by now. He knew they had to get out of the sewers, knew they were still far too close to home.

“Where are we going?” Mikey asked softly.

Leo glanced over his shoulder to see the younger turtle still holding onto Donnie’s hand. Leo was happy to see them taking comfort in each other, and Raph was staring at him, following him with a stern expression. The red-banded turtle was depending on him to get them all out of this mess.

“Right now we’re just getting away from the lair,” Donnie answered.

Leo sighed, turning his head back around to look where they were going. He spotted a ladder near a junction in the tunnels.

“We’re going top side,” Leo said in answer to Mikey’s question.

“Is that a smart idea?” Raph questioned.

Leo held himself back from snapping at Raph, because right now was not the time to question his orders.

“It’s the best idea we’ve got. There’s a few kraang facilities we can hide out in, and honestly, I’d rather try my luck with the humans on the surface, than with Splinter down here,” Leo stated.

He didn’t look to see if anyone agreed with him. Stopping at the ladder, he shifted the backpack he was carrying and looked to his siblings.

“Raph, you go up first, see if the coast is clear, then Mikey, you go after him, Don I’ll follow you,” Leo instructed.

The three of them nodded, and Raph even shot him a smirk before climbing the ladder. Pushing on the manhole cover, she easily slid it off, her smirk widening, knowing she was still strong enough to do that one handed.

Leo waited, watching as one by one his siblings climbed the ladder, vanishing from his sight. He looked around, listening closely to try and figure out if they were being followed. Sensing nothing, he went up the ladder, helping Raph replace the lid back to where it had been before.

“Let’s get to the rooftops,” Leo said.

“I’m really sorry…” Mikey said.

Leo shook his head at the younger turtle.

“Save it, Mikey. Focus,” he said, looking up to the building they were closest too. “Raph, you first.”

Leo let his siblings climb up in the same order as before. Once he joined them on the rooftop, he looked around, getting his bearings, before leading them to the east. His main goal was to find somewhere Splinter wouldn’t think to look for them, somewhere they could be safe, somewhere he could stop and think for five minutes and figure out how he was going to keep his siblings alive and safe without food, or a proper home.

They continued on in that direction, running and jumping from building to building for what must have been at least an hour if not longer. Leo was determined to put as much distance as he could between them and Splinter.

“Leo, stop!”

Donnie’s voice broke through his focused haze and Leo skidded to a stop, turning sharply to find out what the holdup was. He frowned when he saw Mikey was crumpled in a heap on the rooftop.

“What happened?” Leo asked, going back to them and kneeling down.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” Mikey said. “I’m sorry, we can…”

“No, we can’t,” Donnie said firmly, looking from Mikey to Leo. “Her leg gave out, we need a rest,”

“But-” Leo started to say.

Donnie, however, shook his head.

“We’ve been going non stop for two hours, Leo. If Splinter was going to catch us, he would have done so already. At least we’ve got that much of a head start,” Donnie said.

Leo sighed, standing up and stretching.

“I’m going to keep watch then, you three rest here,” he said, putting his backpack down, pulling out a sword and going to the edge of the building to do as he’d just stated. It was a moment later when Raph joined him, sai gripped in her hand.

The two of them stood in silence, listening to the sounds of the city, the cars, the people. They were closer to the city center than they’d ever been allowed before, and it had Leo on edge.

“...Maybe I shoulda just agreed with him,” Raph said. “If I’d just done what he told us to…”

“This isn’t your fault, Raph,” Leo said firmly, hoping to get that much across to both his sisters. No matter what happened to them from there on out, it wasn’t their fault. “Whatever he wanted you to agree to, I’m sure you had your reasons for saying no.”

Raph snorted. “Yeah… I had my reasons,” she answered.

Leo fell silent again, breathing in the night air as a breeze blew past them.

“What did he want this time? If you don’t mind me asking,” Leo said, hoping he could at least find out why they were now running for their lives.

“He wanted us to be stay at home wives, me and Mikey. Said we weren’t ninja anymore, and some bullshit about having ta secure the family,” Raph answered.

Leo narrowed his eyes, looking down on the street below them.

“What’s that supposed to mean anyway?” he asked, though he already had a fairly good idea.

“My guess is he wanted Mikey and I ta pop out a few kids and stay home ta raise them. I told him I wasn’t a girl, and that Don was gonna fix us. He attacked me after that…” Raph said, a hand raising to rub at her throat.

Leo felt his heart break at that. He knew his chances with Raph were slim to none at best, however, in a single evening Splinter had managed to make sure Leo was never going to have the opportunity to tell her how he felt.

“Leo,” Donnie called out, and the blue-banded turtle turned to look at his brother. “There’s an abandoned building over there. I think if we’re careful, we can probably stay there for a couple nights before deciding what we should do next.”

Looking in the direction Donnie was pointing, he nodded his head in agreement.

“Let’s go then.”

He and Raph returned to Mikey and Donnie’s sides, picking up their discarded gear. Leo let Donnie take the lead this time, the purple-banded turtle holding Mikey’s hand as he did so.

Leo looked at Raph as they jumped the last few buildings. While part of him was devastated, knowing his own expectations about the future were crushed, and he knew his siblings were shaken by the night’s events, no matter how unsure he was, Leo felt as if starting now, their lives were just beginning for the first time, and for the first time they were truly free.

END