Together

Chapter 11

"I'm so sorry, everyone...I'm sorry."

I'm sorry.

"I'm sorry, Leo. Bro, I...I didn't mean...wait, Leo!"

Leo, I'm sorry.

"Raphie, I...no...please...stop saying that. You're hurting me, Raph! Raph, please!"

Raphie, I'm sorry.

"Don, no. Get away! Donny, no! DONNY!"

Donny, I'm sorry.

It was all I'd been able to say to them, the only phrase I'd been allowed to speak.

I'm sorry.

But I can't take this anymore.

Whatever it was...whatever Donny...gave me...making me...sleepy...all over again...so I can go now, Donny?

Is...is it okay now? Did I...I do everything, Donny...?

I don't have to stay...stay awake...anymore...

Thank you...

Wait...for some reason, I can still hear them. I wasn't sure if it was one person or not. I didn't think they'd even still be in the room with me.

But I could hear them. My brothers' voices.

All around me, wherever I was, I could hear them. Familiar voices...still calling out to me.

It sounded like a mumbled mess, and I could barely make heads or tails of what they were saying.

I could just faintly feel something pressing on my chest...and I barely heard one of them screaming my name...

Then it just stopped. Everything went completely silent.

And I felt it in an instant, taking me over again.

But I noticed something...different. I wasn't...I don't know how to put it.

I felt too at peace, too safe and warm here. And mind you, it was dark. Just me and a vast space of darkness.

Why..why does it feel like this? It should hurt...I deserve that...don't I?

My body felt so light, almost like a little feather. I knew I was floating away, and a good part of me was ready to completely cut my ties from the hellhole I call a world.

It's so weird. I never felt something so calming before, despite the number of times I must've been in this place. This time, it felt almost like...like an out-of-body experience.

But...but I..I don't deserve this.

Shouldn't I be in hell? Shouldn't I be somewhere where I can never find that forgiveness that I thought I wanted?

Is this...this what Death feels like?

For a brief moment, I wondered if Leo always felt like this after he finished his meditation. Felt like he's one with his surroundings, with nothing to trouble him or weight him down.

Nothing in his mind, clouding his heart...was that what he felt?

Leo...my big brother...I hope he and the others...they're alright over there. I wonder what they're doing right now...if they're smiling...I hope so.

Donny...it's truly over...I did it, guys.

I didn't screw them up this time.

I felt like I was in a bliss of some kind. This is the most comfortable I ever felt in the dark, or anywhere.

I wonder why Leo fears it...it's not that bad...

Donny did it. He took it all away. It's done now.

As I continued to float farther away from that world, I saw a light...a blueish-colored light. It was in the shape of a large sphere.

This time around, I felt it tugging at me, then quickly surrounding me.

It was like...like I was fluttering in a breeze. Just like a feather...I was floating away. That light was really strong, but...but really light and soft.

I finally allowed my eyes to close, and a voice began to whisper to me in comforting tones, sounding almost angelic-like.

I figured...it was a she...but whoever it was...that voice...it was kinda lulling me...to sleep.

She was telling me...not to cry anymore...that I've fought enough.

For my brothers. For my family.

I let a tiny smile slowly creep across my face at that.

It was true.

I did this...for them. I'm not afraid anymore.

I don't have to be afraid to die.

This is the last time I will ever shed tears. The last time they will ever have to see me or put up with me.

And this time...I was going to do something right.

My whole being felt drained of strength, but I don't think I was quite dead yet. No...I'm not dead yet.

I can't be. I still feel this presence around me...not the light...but...another being.

It's Father...it has to be him. I'm going with...with him...but why?

I don't know, and I'm too tired to care. I'm with him now...that's all that matters to me. I want to tell him that I'm sorry for letting him die so soon, for being such a horrible son...for everything.

I guess this must be it. I'm nearly dead...so no one else can lose something important to my failures.

I...I finally did it. It's finally over.

My family...can heal now.

Leo

Donny went back into the infirmary, and I still sat at the table, Mikey's little episode running through my head like a bad record player.

I never heard him scream so loudly. That was really getting to me. Was Mikey really that afraid of us?

Not that I blamed him. I could still hear his screams from all those months ago...so pained and weak...confused and alone...hurt.

It was when Donny started yelling that I rushed to the room to see the source of the problem. I thought Mikey was up now, and the whole thing was about to repeat itself.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

When I reached the infirmary, I heard the heart monitor beeping out of control, and Donny was hovering over Mikey. Before I could ask, Raph was in my face.

"Raph? Hey, Raph, wha-"

"We're losin' him, Leo!"

That hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to stop and look at Raph like he was officially off his wagon. Raph's expression was one of fear I never believed I'd see.

"Leo, Mikey's dyin! Dammit! Leo, what the hell do we do?"

And the second time he yelled it at me, it clicked. I blinked, then looked at Donny, not answering Raph's question.

"Don, what just happened?"

Donny was trying to keep him stable, so he couldn't face me. He yelled, "I don't know! I came in here to check on him and Raph, and the next thing we know, his heart rate's dropping!"

I took in what he said for one minute, and suddenly, I understood it all.

Mikey's physical body wasn't ready to give up yet.

While his body wasn't ready, his heart and mind were. So his body had no choice but to follow...

The morphine!

Donny stepped aside from him to check something. I stole a look at Mikey's expression, and I knew it.

He was so peaceful, so calm...so ready.

He'd taken so much...so much hurt and damage. He's fought on for so long, but...he can't do it anymore. All he wants is peace...freedom.

Right, Mikey?

I winced as I saw Donny fighting to increase his heart rate, trying to keep him alive in general, and Raph was pacing the room a lot faster than usual, stopping every few minutes to cuss at something.

I watched Mikey and I knew.

This was the last time Mikey planned to suffer. He figured Donny did him a grand favor giving him that morphine...and after being brought back to this hell we call home more than once...and that little incident from earlier...he was truly ready now.

I had to ask myself yet again what was running through his mind. He didn't seem afraid...it was like, whatever he was seeing there, whatever was about to grant his wish...it comforted him.

That hit home hard. He shouldn't be comforted with the thought of Death. That shouldn't be him lying there...that shouldn't be him suffering like that...

We've done nothing but evil acts to him...literally tortured him over those months.

But I want him to come back to us. I don't want to lose him!

I left the room and quietly headed for the dojo. Sitting in my meditation pose, I closed my eyes, and surprisingly enough, managed to get something of a connection to my nearly fully unconscious little brother. I let out a sigh of relief, keeping that connection steady.

He wasn't completely dead yet, so there's still a small chance I could bring him home.

One way or another, I have to get through to him.

But can I bring him back? Even better still, do I want to bring him back?

No...I can't think like that. I have to bring him back. I have to!

I opened my eyes, and the first thing I noticed was a massive ball of light floating in vast darkness. Was this what he was thinking about? Better yet, where was he?

I squinted as I peered through the translucent light, and a light gasp escaped my lips.

In that light, I could see my brother, his eyes closed, a tiny smile spread on his face.

Mikey...he was so content there...do I really want to break that?

His euphoria...his only sense of peace...

I neared the light, and that voice drifted toward me. That same tiny, scared, tired voice that couldn't find anything else to say.

'I'm sorry.'

What am I going to tell him? He believed everything over those last few months, everything we told him when we were thirteen!

What do I tell him now?

Is there anything I can tell him?

I reached out, and was surprised at how thin the ball was. I was actually able to go completely through it, and I stopped for a moment, making sure that I knew what I was about to do was right.

When I felt it was, I stepped forward, and reaching out, touched his hand.

He barely moved, but I knew he wasn't dead yet. He was just as still as he was the day we all went to find him.

"Mikey, I know you can hear me, and you don't have to say anything. I want you to listen to me."

I hugged him. His spirit was still so warm...he was always like this. A warm, free little spirit. I don't want to lose that because of us.

"Mikey, you have to wake up, okay?" I whispered.

Mikey

'Mikey, you have to wake up, okay?'

H-huh...what was...that?

Is...is that...? No. It can't be...must be hearing things.

But why...do I feel...like someone...is holding me?

An angel, maybe? Or...or Father? I...I don't know...

'Mikey...I'm sorry, Mikey. But you have to wake up.'

No way that's an angel. And that's definitely not Father.

I know that voice.

Leo? That was Leo's voice, wasn't it?

'Mikey!'

Wait. Leo? How-?

'Mikey, listen to me. I don't have too much time, and neither do you.'

Leo...I'm...

'I know you don't want to hear this. I know you're hurt, I know you're scared. I...I know...I know you're hurt more than anything that you would have ever felt in your life.'

Leo...why...why won't you...just let me...go?

I'm going to leave now..you and the others...you should be happy...I'm going away...just like you told me to.

So why...why do you cry over me?

'Mikey...I know we broke you, took away your happiness. We took away everything from you... treated you in ways that no brother should treat another. We left you alone to...to suffer...to cry and bleed and hurt...to be confused and frightened of your own family...'

I tried to block him...but he's so...he's really sad.

No...no more...Leo, I ended it.

'It's not over yet, Mikey. And...and I know you're...you're so damn tired of hearing all of us, of being lied to. I know that. But I...I didn't want this to happen, little brother. I never wanted you to suffer like you did.'

He's...he's so warm...but why can I feel that?

Leo...it's...it's over now.

'No, otouto. Stay with us!'

But why?

I'm dead now; isn't this what you wanted?

'Mikey-'

'No, you stupid twerp! Ya better not give up!'

R-Raphie?

How...w-wh-what? I don't...

'I don't know, nor do I give a damn. Ya hear me? Just...just don't...dammit. Dammit!'

The next thing I hear sounds really...odd coming from him.

'Mike, I'm sorry. But ya can't leave us like this. I want ya back home, bro. We all do. I...I don't want ya to handle this, Mikey. I never wanted this...to happen.'

He...he sounds so quiet...wonder why...

Raphie, you...don't...have to...to apologize...

Can't you see? It's for you that I want to go away.

You...you won't..get mad...anymore...I did something useful...I did it, Raphie.

'Mikey, you're not doing this! Mikey!'

It's my fault, Raphie. You were right.

I did this...to you, to everyone.

I...I made you all hurt...I always have.

'Mikey! It's not ya fault, gotdammit! MIKEY!'

Yes it is. Don't...say that.

I...I made you hate me...so much...made you guys...want me dead...

A...liability...that's what I am...just...someone in...in the...way...

'Mikey, please. Don't say things like that! Please...I don't want to lose you...I can't! Please, Mikey...please...'

Donny...

'I know you won't believe us. I know you can't. And after what we read in your journal, you...you need to know that none of that is true, Mikey. None of us think you're anything less than who you truly are, and none of us want to let you die! And I can't lose you; you're my only baby brother. Please, don't give in to this. Fight it, Mikey!'

He...must be trying to keep me alive...I still...feel him pressing my chest...barely.

Please don't do that, Donny. I'm fine. You took the hurt away.

And...I'm ready this time.

'Mikey, no! I'm not letting you die like this! Just keep fighting!'

Fight?

I've spent the last few months, years, whatever...fighting you all, fighting everything.

'We know. But...'

I accepted the truth.

I don't have to fight it, Donny. I don't...have to do it anymore.

You were right...you all were.

'Mikey, no. That's...that's not...'

Stop, Donny. Just...please stop lying to me.

You all...don't want me...I get it, okay?

I should have never been born. I know. I know that. I...I can accept it.

I should have been killed earlier. And I wished I was...if it brought back Master Splinter...I wished I had died that night...just so you all...won't hurt anymore...

'Mikey, stop saying that! Please stop it! You don't deserve to die! You don't...don't deserve to hurt so much...you never did...'

I just smile. He doesn't have to lie to me, and he knows it.

Leo...it doesn't hurt...not anymore...

And at least...now...you all...will live...and be free of something like me.

'That's not true, Mike!'

Honestly, it's okay.

'Don't die, little brother. Please, I beg you...just don't leave us...please...'

No, Don. I...I have to. You know that...you know that.

And besides, you have things to do, projects to complete...go ahead, finish them...

You took the hurt away. So you don't have to stay anymore.

'Mikey, listen to me. You have to fight this. You have to come back to us, Mikey!'

Wait...earlier...Leo, you called me otouto...you all...called me...your brother.

But Leo, you said it yourself. Did...did you forget?

I'm not your brother.

'Yes you are. You're always going to be my little brother, our otouto. And I'm so damn sorry I said that to you.'

No, Leo. I'm nothing. I'm no one.

I'm a loner. And that's alright.

'Mikey...oh god...I-I never...I didn't...'

Leo, you were right. And...I think I always knew. I think I knew I never belonged here...I never deserved to be alive...

I-I know I'm not your brother, you or Donny's or Raphie's.

Don't you remember?

'Mikey, don't say that! Stop saying that, please! Mikey!'

No. It's...alright.

I still...love my family...my brothers...my big...brothers...

No matter what...even if...I'm nothing...but trash...and I should've been dead...I'll always be thankful...because you all were my family.

And...you're always going to be my nii-chan.

'Mikey...oh, god...Mikey, no...please don't say that, Mike. I..I just...'

Leo...I'm ready.

It's gonna be okay.

'NO! Mikey, you're always going to be our brother...you're always going to be my brother! Don't say that!'

It's alright. I can't feel hurt anymore.

I'm alone, Leo. I've accepted it.

'Oh god...I...I know I told you that, but you...you can't believe that, Mikey! I know with the way we acted, it never seemed like it, but...we need our baby brother to drive us insane and cause us to worry! We need him to make us laugh, make us smile...we still need you, Mikey.'

Leo...Leo, please...don't say that.

No one will miss me. It's..better that way...for all you guys...to forget me...and to let me die.

'Mikey, we can't just...we can't forget our innocence. I can't do that...and I won't.'

I can't fight anymore. I have no energy left, Leo.

'Mikey, please. Don't...don't do this...you have to keep fighting...'

Leo, you and the others can let me die now.

It's fine. I'm not afraid...I'm not afraid now.

'NO! Dammit, Mikey, I'm not going to do that!'

I'm so sorry I did this to you, everyone. I really am.

I know I hurt all of you, and I can't take that back. I can never take it away. And I can't tell you anything more.

And I know you'll always hate me...always feel that pain...so, at the least...I can grant you all your request.

After all...I don't deserve to exist. I never did.

'Mikey, that's not true! I don't care about that anymore. You're in pain, Mikey! You're hurting because of us, and I...I can't...I don't know what...'

Oh, Leo...don't.

'And I don't blame you for that. I failed you. More than anything else, I broke you. I lied to you, and I left you on your own. I...I didn't protect you, Mikey...I didn't...I was supposed to protect you from this...protect your heart...'

Leo, don't. You all protected me enough.

It's my fault.

It's always been my antics getting everyone around me so angry, getting you all hurt...the reason why our father was killed...but not this time.

I'm making sure no more loved ones die because of me, that no one else has to deal with such a useless piece of trash.

'Mikey...oh God, Mikey, no! I...I didn't...no, I...I never meant...no, no!'

I look up at the light, realizing that I can't see my older brother anymore. And I smile.

It's over. After all this time...it's finally over.

Leo...you had...your reasons...b-but...at least...I...I finally...did something right...

I didn't mess this one up.

'Mikey! Mikey, answer me!'

'Mikey?'

'Bro! Hey, Mikey!'

That light...it's pulling me...again. A lot stronger...and it's so warm...

It's time.

'Mikey? Stay with me, Mikey!'

No, Leo. I can't...I can't.

And...they need you. Alright?

Raphie...and Donny...they need their big brother...they need you, Leo.

'Wait, Mikey!'

Just protect them for me...like you've always done.

Don't...don't let them...cry...anymore. I...I don't...want...you guys...to cry.

Please, Leo. That's all...I ask.

'Mikey! Michelangelo!'

Take care...and I will always...love you guys.

'Mikey! No, Mikey! MIKEY!'

I hadn't realized my eyes were open until they fell closed again. His voice sounded jumbled once more, and soon, it faded away...where, I don't know.

I let out a tiny sigh, my spirit relaxed. Whether or not Leo was still holding me, I didn't know.

After a few more seconds, I could hear or feel anything no longer.

Leo...Raphie...Donny...I finally did it.

I finally...made you all happy.

It's all over.

Take care of each other, okay?

No matter what...I'll always be watching over you.

Because I want to see you smile again, my brothers.

I always want to see you smile.

Leo

Good god, we were about to lose him again! Mikey...

We did it. I know I kept telling myself that, but now...I know for a fact we scarred him.

I can't even compare this to a blade. A blade's wound hurts, but it can heal.

Mikey's wounds burned, stung, bled...and now, they might never heal.

Everything we said and did to him were coming back so hard, it took all my willpower to push it back and keep something of a connection with Mikey. He was falling unconscious again, and I was losing him. We were losing him.

His words...they were starting to echo in my head, and I couldn't push it away.

I can't smile because I'm the reason you're even in this place to begin with! I killed you! I killed your heart, your spirit, your mind...everything.

Please...please, Mikey. I want to make this right. I don't know how, but...I want to make this right.

You have to come back to us, please! I just...I can't...

God, I'm so sorry, Mikey. I'm so damn sorry.

'It's my fault.'

His fault...we blamed everything on him, everything a child should never have to worry about, everything a child should never have to experience on his own.

His own family...the only family he ever knew...we just pushed him away, left him to fight his own pain and nightmares, told him so many lies, told him so many hateful things, hurting him day and night, leaving him to cry and scream alone, to feel such intense pain from his own protectors...

And yet he still loved us. Still called us his older brothers, still wanted our forgiveness, our trust...still wanted our happiness...even at the cost of his own life.

'I didn't mess this one up.'

What did we do?

'I don't deserve to exist. I never did.'

Mikey, you have to fight this. If nothing else...

I know you're sick of it all, but...but we want to take this away...we want to hug you, tell you how much you mean to us...we want you back.

I can't let you go, none of us will.

Mikey, I really love you. We all do.

And we're not about to let you leave this world.

His spirit limp in my grasp, I kept trying to wake him. I knew Donny was trying to keep him alive, that Raph was talking to him, all of us trying to get him back.

I'm not leting you go, Mike. I won't, not until we can take this away from you, until we can piece your soul together and hopefully...fix your heart.

'I'm watching over you now.'

I wanted to hide myself. It was terrible what we said, no matter how many times I tell myself that. We told him all that...that we'd be so much more happy without him...and yet, he still wants us safe and sound.

'Take care...and I will always...love you guys.'

All he could say...he apologized...he cared...for us...

And he wanted us to be happy. No matter what...he still...wanted us all...to smile...

'I want to see you smile.'

But how can we? How can we?

I cut my own thought short when I realized I couldn't even hear his thoughts. And I felt my heart rate increasing.

Was he...No. NO!

'Mikey, please don't do this. Mikey! Mikey!' No...No, no, no, no, no! Mikey, no!

Was he really dead? What do I do?

'Please, Mikey! Please, you have to wake up.'

He still didn't respond to anything. I was really panicking now.

He can't be dead. No...he can't die!

'Mikey...wake up. Please! Mikey!'

It was all up to him now.

He has to wake up. He has to!

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