How do I get myself into these things? wondered Leonardo. I am a trained ninja, skilled in stealth and martial arts. So why am I dangling upside down by my ankle at least forty feet in the air? He was beginning to get a headache from all the blood rushing to his brain. The cool night breeze rocked him slightly, making him sway back and forth.
He looked up at his ankle, trapped in a thick rope that suspended him in the center of the abandoned construction site. Then he glared at his katana, which lay tantalizingly out of reach on a steel beam below him. Further below on the unpaved ground lay its twin. And, he realized in irritation when he checked his belt, so was his shell cell. Damn. Leonardo stretched his arms out until the tips of his fingers brushed the guard of the katana. He flicked it, trying to roll it toward him. Come on. Come on, baby. Come to papa. It began to teeter as each successful roll inched one end further off the edge of the beam. Careful, careful, no nonono! Leonardo panicked as the weapon leaned too far and lurched to grab it. He momentarily triumphed when he managed to catch the tail end of the sheath, then let out a cry as the sword itself slid out the other side and dropped into darkness. Leo stared at the sheath in his hand in disbelief. So much for cutting himself free. He released the useless item, flinching slightly as it hit the ground with a thud. Leo hated mistreating his weapons, but he needed his hands free if he was going to get himself down.
Leo struggled to pull himself up to reach the rope. Unfortunately, his shell didn't give him much leeway in bending at the waist. One hand hooked behind his knee for support. Leo could feel his ankle twist awkwardly as he tried to maneuver past his knee to untie the rope. Just a little further. His outstretched hand snatched at his captor. One more heave and he caught the binds, feeling the pattern of the wrap. Okay, so if he just pulled this side a little to the left, then tugged on the back side, then-
Leo yelped in surprise when something gave and he dropped ten feet, narrowly missing the steel beam. His body weight worked against him, snapping the trapped ankle. Pop!
Leo hissed in pain as shocks ran up and down his leg. He shook his head to clear it and assessed the damage. Painful as it was, he could still wiggle both his toes, so the damage wasn't too extensive. Probably just a strain. Hopefully. He shifted to get a look at it and gasped as more painful shocks crackled in his foot and leg. Bad idea.
Leo mentally beat his head against a wall as he watched his last option of escape slip from his hands. He could not cut himself free, and now his leg was in too much pain to try to undo the knot around his ankle. He was alone, unarmed, injured, and helpless with no means of contacting the others. Great. All he could do now was wait for someone to show up.
Leonardo groaned. Please don't let it be Raph, he prayed. Raphael would have a field day with this one. Michelangelo wouldn't be any different, surely laughing at the sight of him. Donatello, at least, might have a bit of discre-
Leonardo's train of thought abruptly stopped. There was a movement down below him. Leo craned his neck to see, but could only make out a figure shuffling in the darkness. He struggled to stay as still as possible so as to not call attention to himself, but a light breeze rocked him gently back and forth.
The figure was now directly below. Leo saw them stoop. Something shined in the person's hands. Leo's katanas. Leo's eyes widened as the figure looked around curiously, then looked straight up. Was it-?
"Well, well. What do we have here?" called the figure. "Looks as if someone is in a bit of a snag."
Recognizing the voice, Leo squinted at the face staring up at him. "Don? Is that you?"
"So it is you, Leo. We've been looking all over for you," Donatello said. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed. "Hey, Raph. I found him. Over at the construction site. Yeah. Oh, you'll want to see this. Tell Mike to meet us over here. Later."
He put the cell phone away and craned his neck to get a better look at him. "I know you are good at this game, Leo, but even this seems kinda extreme for ninja hide and seek."
"Can you just get me down? My ankle is killing me."
Donatello walked over to the nearest support beam and began his ascent. He continued his casual conversation as he climbed. "So, Leo. How exactly did you get yourself like that anyway?" he asked, searching for secure handholds. He reached a cross beam and walked along a wooden plank to another support.
Leonardo watched him climb. "Over to your left, you can get a good foothold," he said, pointing. "If you must know, I was crossing some wooden beams up above when my foot caught in this rope and I ... I tripped."
Donatello stopped climbing a moment to stare at him. "You ... tripped?"
"Yeah, I tripped. What's so wrong with that?" Leonardo said defensively.
Donatello shrugged and grabbed for the next hold. "Nothing at all. I just didn't expect a stealthy ninja such as yourself to fall prey to a wily coil of rope and trip, is all."
He peeked over the edge and waved at his brother directly below him. "Hey, Leo."
Leo sighed with relief. "Great, now pull me up."
Donatello gave the rope an experimental tug. It didn't budge. "No can do, Leo. You're too heavy for me to haul straight up. We'll have to wait for the others."
Leo didn't want the humiliation of the others seeing him. "What? You can't get give up now! Put your back into it!"
"Leo, I've been running through the city for hours and just climbed three stories straight up. I'm tired."
"But you have to get me down before the others get here," he begged.
"And have them miss this? That wouldn't exactly be fair now, would it?" grinned Donatello. Movement below caught his eye. "Speaking of the others..."
"Oh, no," Leo moaned.
"Hey, guys," Donatello waved.
There was a moment of silence, then they heard a low rumbling, soon chorused by higher pitched giggles. On sight of Leonardo dangling like a worm on a hook, Raphael and Michelangelo burst into a fit of laughter that could be heard even at Donatello's height. He even joined in at the sight of them rolling on the ground, gasping for air.
Leonardo, on the other hand, was not amused. "Keep it down, guys! Do you want the whole neighborhood to know we are here?"
Michelangelo took a few deep breaths to compose himself. Finally getting himself under control, he said, "Sorry, Leo. It's just that you do look kinda, well..."
"Ridiculous," supplied Raphael. The pair fell into another fit of giggles.
Leonardo was getting impatient. "You guys can laugh later. It's only another hour before sunrise."
Donatello sighed. "Leo's right. We need to get out of here. Somebody get up here and give me a hand."
Michelangelo volunteered and made quick work of climbing to his level. Together, he and Donatello were able to carefully haul Leonardo up and untie him. Donatello wrapped his ankle, which was indeed sprained, and one by one they made a slow descent. Donatello went first, and Leo held onto a rope tied around Mikey's waist. Once on the ground, Don took the rope from Mikey and stowed it in his bag.
"After all," he mused, "you can never have too much rope."
Leonardo favored his right leg. "Great. Can we go now?" He didn't want to be spotted by early risers, so big brother mode was kicking in.
Raphael grinned. "Sure thing, Great Master Ninja."
Mikey laughed. "Yeah, Master Ninja. Think you can teach me the secret Art of Dangling Upside-Down By Your Ankle trick?"
Leonardo ushered them toward the nearest manhole. "Very funny, guys. Just keep going. Master Splinter's already going to be mad we are so late." No one was listening.
Raphael said, "Hey, Leo. Maybe you can use your new trick next time the Foot attack. Hang you above and use you as bait."
"More like a pinata," quipped Donatello.
Leo sighed. "Et tu, Donnie?"
Donatello shrugged. "What? Just imagine a handful of blindfolded Foot ninja swinging away at Leo with bats. I'll bet we can actually convince a few to try it."
Laughter echoed down the tunnels all the way home.