Together

Chapter 4

I didn't think Donnie and Raph could get here fast enough. By the time they did, Mikey had fallen unconscious again.

Donny took Mikey from me, laying him on the ground on his side so he could see exactly what happened. Not like it took a genius to figure that out.

He struggled to keep himself together as he checked our little brother over. I looked at them both, and I asked myself a strange question.

Did Mikey think Donny was evil for how he treated him? Probably, but I can't really call him a demon.

That's more for Raph and myself. I knew we took away more than Mikey's innocence and spirit.

We took away any trust he may of had for us. It all died inside him, and I was sure we could never fix that. His heart was damaged, and it...it stung when I think about it.

I looked at Raph, and he was just frozen. It scared me. He was staring at Mikey, trying to say something, his lips moving, but no words coming out. His expression was one of shock and fear and guilt, something I never saw in my immediate. This shook him to the core, I could tell.

I knew that feeling. He couldn't register what had happened. No words could ever describe what he must've been feeling. I...I wasn't sure what I should've felt then.

Donny was talking to the both of us as he worked on Mikey, taking stuff from his bag. I wasn't really registering what he was saying for about three minutes. All I heard him say was that we had to get him out of here as fast as we could.

I gathered Mikey, telling Donnie and Raph to fend off any enemies that may just nodded.

We left that cell at last. The whole time, neither of us spoke, and Raph's anger was so great I felt it radiating off him. He was pissed, but he'll see. There's no one to blame, not even Karai.

It seemed we were actually in luck. Donnie had disabled the alarms inside the lab. so we were able to get back outside without any issues. The Battle Shell was parked out back from what I recalled. We were close...so close.

All the while, I felt Mikey's breath, oddly even and soft, caressing my plastron. His blood was drying, his body so limp and light in my arms. I was carrying him bridal-style, and I was appalled at the amount of weight he'd lost. I mean, Raph's our largest brother, but Mikey was never this...light.

Once we got outside, I saw some guards that had been posted, along with some Foot. I knew one thing- we make any noise, there was no way we were going to get Mikey home alive.

I looked at Raph, and we exchanged looks. He knew exactly what I needed them to do.

I nodded once before sneaking out back to the Battle Shell. It wasn't hard. There was one guard who was dumb enough to turn his back to me. I couldn't fight with Mikey in my arms, so I just gave him a powerful, swift kick to the back of his head. Knocked him out, too.

While I waited for the others, I stole a look at Mikey. He looked like he was still resting in peace, and for a moment, I wondered if keeping him alive was the best thing for him.

He wanted peace in his life, like we all do.

And we had ours, different as it all is. So why can't we let him have his?

I smiled at him. He just didn't know how much I loved him. How much he meant to any of us. With the way we treated him, how could he?

"It's going to be okay, Mikey. Just don't give up, alright?" I whispered to him again.

He shifted a bit, then let out another sigh.

"...Leo..."

About ten minutes later, I heard Donny jumping into the driver's side, and Raph going for the guns. Despite the situation, he was grinning, and I arched my eye ridge. Now why was he-

Not even two minutes later, I heard another truck following us at top speed, firing missiles and everything.

My only though: 'Dammit, Raph.'

I was in back, still holding Mikey, and protecting him as the truck swerved all around.

I heard Raph cussing and firing missiles like there was no tomorrow, and Donny screaming as he tried to keep the entire truck from turning over. I heard, but I didn't really listen. The had it all under control.

My attention, my mind, everything...it was focused on Mikey.

Protect...the one thing I never did for little Mikey...I left him here to go though this...and I hadn't cared.

The next time I looked up, we were at the lair. Was I really that zoned out?

Donny looked like he had a heart attack twice. His was resting against the seat, panting lightly, his hand over his chest. I smiled a little. I never knew Donny to be the action-loving turtle of the bunch. Poor Donny. He was going to be tired tonight.

Raph climbed down from his perch looking down at me and Mikey. He was still grinning some, and I was glad to see it, even for a few minutes.

He was still heated, though. He wouldn't calm down until Karai was dead. And you know what?

I regret not leaving him to do just that. I hated her to the deepest pits of hell, even after what we did to Mikey.

After some time, we got out the Battle Shell and took out time getting Mikey to the lair.

He let out a little whimper every now and then, so we knew he was alive. But he was still hurting, so we knew we had to hurry.

Mikey would hate us all...and I don't blame him for it.

Once in the lair, we got him into the infirmary, and Donny was about to give Mikey another thorough check over, when his eyes widened.

I looked at his expression, then over his shoulder, and I gasped. Raph sucked in a sharp breath.

Mikey's eyes were wide open, but they didn't seem to be focused on anything around him. He was taking hard, difficult breaths, his hands grabbing fistfuls of the sheet, and I saw blood trailing down his chin.

He was losing his ability to breathe. His lungs must be filling with blood.

Donny went into his 'Doctor' mode. He quickly grabbed a scalpel and made an incision on Mikey's left side. Then, I watched him grab a tube and shove in into the incision. Blood was dripping onto the floor, covering Donny's feet, but he kept his eyes on the matter at hand.

For a few minutes, nothing happened, and I thought we lost him. Then, and thank heavens for that, Mikey started to take slow, regular breaths and his eyes closed as he was stabilized. God, that scared the living shell out of me.

Donny began to shake -bad. I knew he was frightened, and Raph was getting so frustrated, he just left. I decided to deal with him later.

Instead, I wrapped my arms about Donny's shoulders' giving them a supportive squeeze.

"Donny. Donny, calm down, alright? You can do this." I told him. His shaking stopped, but he was still nervous.

"Leo, I...I don't...I can't-" he stuttered.

But I turned him to face me, and I didn't let his shoulders go until he got the meaning of what I said.

"Donatello, your brother needs you right now. Don't you dare give up on him again, you hear me?" I practically shouted.

He looked at me, my harsh tone causing him to flinch a bit.

"Donny, it's up to you. Don't worry about anything else, okay? Focus." I said, my tone a lot softer.

He nodded, wiping his face and smiling. Yeah, he got it. It was a bit meaner than I had intended, but he needed it.

"Yeah, Leo. Now stand aside." he said, a small smirk playing on his face.

I returned the smirk, moving out of the infirmary as he went about getting his supplies. I could tell he was still nervous, but I also knew he was going to fight to save the only little brother he has.

I watched him get comfortable in his work zone before I stepped out to let him have his space.

I recalled going to the couch, unable to do anything else at that point. I don't know when Donny got finished, or when I dozed off. I felt him tapping me, and jerking his head in the direction of the lab.

I nodded, and I looked at Donnie. He was tired and scared, but I knew. Our gentle pacifist of a brother was clearly upset.

It was unusual to see Donny so stressed and upset because he was always so level-headed, allowing reason to top everything else. It was probably the main reason why Mikey hung out with Donny so much.

"Donny, you need to rest." I told him, moving over to allow him to sit.

At least Mikey would be okay. Donny was telling me that he'd be in there for a few weeks because of the amount of wounds he had, how bad he was dehydrated and starved, his infections, just...everything. I didn't need the details. I understood.

I nodded again, and we sat there in the still quietness of the living room for a while.

Some twenty minutes later, he finally caved in. He threw his arms about my waist, holding tight, burying his face into my chest, crying softly.

I didn't care. I just held him, letting him cry himself out. I wanted to do the exact same thing, but I felt it would be more appropriate to cry later. Right now, I needed to calm Donny down.

Donny and Mikey were always the criers, but Mikey was the worst. He was always having these nightmares, and hated sleeping by himself.

Whenever he had one, he'd run into either me or Raph's, or sometimes even Donny's arms, crying and screaming,'Bad Dream.'

I'd ask him what happened, and when he couldn't tell me right then and there, I held him close, trying to calm him.

I remember how much he would whimper in his sleep. Sometimes, he wouldn't sleep at all, his nightmares so bad he'd be up until morning. Those times, Master Splinter would allow him to sleep in through practice after I told him what happened.

It always amazed me how he would hold on so tight and so long. I mean, even in the morning, he still had a vice-like grip about my waist, holding to my shell for dear life! But it didn't bother me. It never had. And when he felt he could, at the end of the week, he'd tell me what the nightmare was about.

For a turtle tot, those nightmares were some of the worst. And even I had no clue why it was happening to him.

There was this one time, back when we were, like, eight. We still shared a bed then, so we were always talking and telling each other things, even when Master Splinter would have to yell down the hall to get us to shut up and sleep.

But anyway, that one night, I couldn't sleep for some reason. Donny was sleeping curled next to Raph, who I guess couldn't sleep, either. He was still up as well, looking at the ceiling. The room was silent because Mikey had went to talk to Master Splinter about something. Usually, he is always making us talk and laugh until we got into trouble.

Just as me and Raph were finally about to surrender to sleep, Mikey came into our room,and he crawled into bed between me and Raph. Since Donny had Raph as his pillow for the night, he used me as his.

"Leo? Raphie?" he had asked.

His voice...it was so small back then, so...fragile. Like he would break at any given moment.

"Promise you'll keep me safe?" he had said.

And I remember I looked toward him, and I asked where that had came from. Raph just looked at him, a confused look on his face.

And he started to cry. And he told me that in his last nightmare, he saw us all die in some gruesome ways. Before he could force himself to go into detail, he started to bawl heavily. Donny woke up, and he was looking at Mikey, still sleepy.

For me, that was all I needed to know. It was another nightmare, and so I comforted him, like I've always done.

And Mikey... he curled so tight into my side, and he just kept asking that through his tears.

Promise to protect him.

He asked all of us.

And I recall the whispered promise. Me and Donny and Raph looked at each other and nodded. Mikey just...he had this huge, radiant smile on his face, and then he yawned. We all laughed.

We promised ourselves and each other...that we'd protect and fight as one until the day we die. That's how it was back then.

I remembered how easy he fell asleep right afterward. How soft his snores were as he did. He hadn't slept in two days, so we were all excused from training the next day. It didn't bother me.

All I worried about was Mikey. He shouldn't be going through that, but we helped him through it. That's what he told me the following night.

Protect. I promised to protect him.

But I didn't do what I promised to do.

You know, with Mikey, you'd never know anything was wrong. He never let any of his troubles stop him from flashing his famous smile and goofing off with him family and friends He never worried about the future, just enjoyed the life he had.

When it came to training, that boy was either using excuses to get out of it, or never trying his best. Granted, he was nowhere near as strong as Raph or I, or as cunning as Donny. But he was fast! Somehow he managed to pin Donny or Raph, and even me at times, down in every other training battle, and I would be in awe. How he did it, I never knew.

So how could we do that to him? Why did we do it? We pushed him away...and he might actually die because of it!

I was so absorbed in my thoughts, I almost forgot Donny was laying here. He was quiet now, his crying slowed down to little sniffles. Donny could not take anything else for the night, I could feel it.

"...Leo?" he asked.

"Yeah, Donny?"

He let out a shaky sigh.

"Will...will Mikey hate us now?" he asked.

"...I don't know." I told him, my hold unknowingly tightening around him.

He didn't want to accept it any more than I did.

"Leo, there was so much blood...he lost so much of it..." he whimpered.

"It's over now. You can rest." I whispered gently, rubbing his shell. He shook his head, trying to keep himself awake.

"Leo, I...I'm scared." I nodded.

"I know."

We sat in quiet again. And it took me a good amount of time to realize Donny had finally fallen asleep.

I detached Donny's arms from my waist, and slowly got up, laying Donny's head where I sat, and putting up his feet. Then I went and fetched a blanket from the other room, draping it over him when I returned.

."Rest now, Donny. You've done enough." I said in his ear. I gently wiped his tears, and he snuggled deeper into the blanket.

Donny was okay for tonight. Now to check on Raph.

Knowing him, I figured he went topside with Casey, and I was about to call him. As I walked past his room, I stopped, squinting into the dark, cluttered room. And I could not believe it.

Raph was asleep. At this time of night? On a Saturday?

This must be hard on him. Raph was known to be out doing something crazy on Saturday nights, not sleeping in.

While I felt he needed it, a tiny part of me wished that he was out risking his life so I could yell at him in the morning. I wanted us to go back to how we were, but...things are not that easy.

When we first pushed Mikey away, Raph still went topside to release some well-built anger on thugs, dealers, any street punk that crossed his path. But once he returned, he would resume beating on Mikey.

To be honest, I can't tell you why Raph got so angry at Mikey, or if I had even bothered to ask. And it all started with the death of our father.

The one thing I know will haunt me for the rest of my life was his screams. They were horrid and loud and pain-filled, begging Raph to stop, begging me and Donny to help him. Even then, I never bothered.

I hadn't paid no attention at the time, letting his pleas go unheard. Sometimes, Casey would be there, and Mikey couldn't get away from him, either. Really of a fact, I don't really know why Casey hit him. I think Raph convinced him that he was in the way of everyone, including him.

Regardless, if and when they both came at him, Mikey would be sore and bruised for weeks. There were times when he couldn't move, could barely walk. And I still didn't care!

There was this one time where Raph and me got so pissed at him for something. I think it was because he pulled a prank on Raph. But we had chased him down, threatening things that one should never threaten to a brother. Mikey was so scared to come out. I think he hid in a small part of a tunnel we hardly walked past those days.

But I know we somehow forced him out. Raph was literally ready to kill him, and he just beat on him so bad. It was horrible, and then I joined in on it!

Mikey made eye contact with me the whole time, crying and shaking, but that was nothing compared to what his eyes were begging me to do. They were asking me to stop this. They wanted to know why his older brothers were doing this, were hurting him so much. Why I didn't stop it, why I never protected him!

By the time Raph and I felt like he had gotten the point, Mikey was just...he was bruised horribly on his arms from defending himself, his side, and he had a split lip. I looked at him, and I felt so disgusted with him, and I remember he was coming around.

And he had asked me why. Why did we hate him, what had he done that made us so mad at him? He wanted to know the truth, and he was whimpering in so much pain. I still hadn't cared, I called him a baby and things even worse than that. I remember bending down to meet him face to face, and I told him how much of a failure he was. That Father died because he was so stupid that he left himself wide open from an attack that he could have defended himself from. I blamed everything on him.

And then...then I kicked him. Hard, right in his side. And I told him he had to get home on his own, and I just left. I didn't look back.

But after we found out where Mikey was, things changed. Raph remembered that very same beating, plus many others that he had delivered, and I tell you, I never saw Raph so angry with himself. He still went topside, but when he came back, his knuckles would be bloody red. Casey learned from him a few hours later, and he was hurting himself just as bad. April had a hard time controlling him sometimes.

I understood they felt guilty, but for Raph, it hurt more because of our promise.

I shook my head clear of that memory, and I decided to talk to him in the morning. Just as I turned to let him rest, he called me. He must have of heard me coming in.

I turned around. "Raph?" I asked, walking a bit more into his room and turning on his light.

He was laying in his hammock. I walked to the edge of it and stood there. It felt kind of strange and uncomfortable to be in Raph's room, but at the same time, I needed to be somewhere. "You okay?"

He shook his head, and jumped down. I heard him slowly walk up to me, his footsteps heavy.

After awhile, he stood in front of me, and we stared at each other. Then, and quite suddenly, he hugged me. It was a bit awkward because it was Raph. But I think we both needed that, too. Someone to hold us steady and still listen.

I took a sharp breath from the sudden impact and steadied myself. It wasn't like Raph to do this, especially to me.

"Raph?" I questioned. He rested his head on my shoulder. I waited.

"Leo, what's gonna happen now? What about Mikey?" he muttered.

I returned the embrace, leading Raph to my room so we can both sit down. No way I was sitting on that hammock of his.

Once we were inside my room, I pulled my door partially shut and continued on to my bed. Raph released me and sat down, and I followed suit.

"He'll be okay, but...I don't know how he'll fair as far as mentally or emotionally, however. I don't know." I explained to him.

Raph nodded, not looking at me for a bit. I could tell he was trying not to go beserk. His whole being was even more tense than before. I watched him carefully, and I don't even think he knew I was eying him.

"Raph, you okay?" I asked again.

He bit his bottom lip, shaking his head no over and over.

"Oh god, Leo. What did we do to him? What the hell did we do? Dammit, what the hell did I do?" he yelled. I placed my hand on his shoulder, not saying anything. Something told me he wanted to vent. So why wasn't he breaking things or cussing or something along those lines? That was the definition of 'venting' according to Raph.

My hand tightened a little, and Raph finally turned to look at me.

"Leo, we killed him, didn't we?" he asked quietly.

"Raph...in a way, we did." I answered, equally quiet. I let go of his shoulder, thinking that he wasn't going to go nuts tonight.

He nodded again, but just like Donny, I could see that he didn't want to accept that as the truth.

He sat back more on my bed and we both fell silent. We said all that was needed. Of course, Raph wanted to do something, but the way he was now, what can he do? He realized that, but he downright hated it. That wasn't going to stop him, though.

I was starting at my meditation candles straight ahead on the shelf, thinking about this.

It had to have been months that we allowed Mikey's innocence to be destroyed. Every day, I knew he felt it. A bit of him die as we treated him like dirt, as we hit and attacked him like he was the enemy. We must have done the unthinkable to him. Mikey's emotional level was a bit higher than we actually tended to comprehend, we all knew that. And yet we still did it!

But for some reason...for a reason only Mikey would understand...he still loved us. He could've ended it all, but he fought because we're brothers. That was the one thing Mikey knew. He didn't know anything else.

And still, we never stopped to tell Mikey the truth; we lied to him for months!

And this broke him. He might not have told us, but I think I always knew.

I was pulled from my thoughts when something soft took hold of my hand, a loose, yet pleading grip. I held it back.

Raph's guard finally fell. He was exposing a side of himself he never let anyone see, let alone myself. This was getting to be too much for any of us. I rested my head on his for awhile, trying to focus on something, I didn't care what.

Mikey's bloody body ,his willingness to give up, that pain that was in his eyes, all of it came back to me, and I winced inwardly. Those images were never going away,and it was hard to think about Mikey in such a state.

"Leo, why the hell did we do that? To Mikey, Leo! We knew what we were doing, so why the fuck did we do it? Leo, we damn well near broke him!" he screamed out of the blue. He let go of my hand and hopped of my bed, fuming again.

"I know, Raph. I know." I simply stated.

A few more quiet minutes passed. Raph was pacing around in my room, and I still sat on my bed, not moving. I was starting to get a headache. All that thinking was making me want to sleep.

"Leo, we have to be with him." Raph said pausing to look at me. He looked desperate to do something, but I couldn't allow him to see Mikey. I didn't know what would happen if he did.

"I know, but...I don't think we should. Not now." I told him, my head beginning to pound.

But Raph wouldn't hear that.

"Leo, that's Mikey we're talking about! Our brother!" he barked angrily. I was expecting this, but now, Raph?

"Raph, tell me. What do you hope to gain by being in there? Mikey's petrified of all of us! You, me, Donny, Casey and April! ALL of us! We can't force ourselves to him, Raph! He needs time! We all do!" I yelled back. That headache grew a lot worse, and I rubbed my temples, trying to deal with Raph, trying to deal with all these emotions around and within me. It was getting to be way, way too much.

Suddenly, Raph screamed. I knew why Raph was screaming, but I just didn't want to deal with this right now. I looked up at him, and shook my head.

"Raph, stop this."

But he grabbed a kunai and charged at me. I barely made it off the bed before that kunai nicked me on my arm. I hissed, but paid it no mind for now.

I didn't stop him. I told you, Raph vents differently than us.

"Leo, I hate you! I hate you, you bastard!" he screamed at the top of his lungs. He kept coming at me with the kunai, and I kept dodging while trying to deal with my headache.

Growing tired of this, I accidently lowered my guard, and Raph pinned me to the ground. I was feeling a bit lightheaded, and Raph's yelling wasn't helping. I tried to push him off, but I forgot he was our brawiest brother, so he was heavy.

"Raph, get off me! Trying to kill me won't solve anything!" I screamed as loud as I could.

I remember that look in his eyes. I never saw Raph so...so afraid and confused before. It really worried me.

"Raph, ease off me."

He actually did as he was told for once, but no sooner did I sit up, his arms latched around my neck, screaming still. I didn't know what to do with him, and I felt even more lightheaded. I sighed.

"Leo, I don't wanna lose him..." he finally sobbed.

"Raph, we won't. We have to fight, too. We can't leave him alone, but right now...right now, Mikey needs time to figure it out on his own. And so do we." I whispered.

Raph nodded, but he was too tired to figure out anything.

"Mikey...I'm so sorry..." he breathed.

I smiled." Raph...we'll get him back."

I watched him as he relaxed against me. I kept one arm around his shoulder and allowed him to rest on me. He was that worn out, huh?

"You need to rest. No topside for you." I said, looking at my sleepy brother as he yawned.

Raph's eyes were falling closed. He looked at me, and something told me I'd never see that expression again. He looked so young, I missed those times when we were toddlers and still new to the world.

"Thanks, Leo." he said. He yawned again, cutting off most of his sentence.

"Sure thing. Now go to sleep."

Three seconds later, his loud, deep snoring filled my room. I shook my head. He was so tired, I had to think, 'When was the last time you actually went to sleep?'

I moved him onto my bed, laying him down and making sure he was covered properly before I stepped out of my room. My head was killing me, and I wanted to lay down and go to sleep more than anything. But taking a deep breath and clearing my head, I headed down to the infirmary.

Checking on Mikey was the hardest thing I've done all night.

The very first thing I heard, even before walking in the room, was all this medical equipment beeping. He was hooked up to something that was helping him breathe, and I looked over at his heart monitor. The steady beeping reassured me to an extent, but actually looking at him? That nearly knocked me off my feet.

Mikey's arms, torso, legs, throat and his head were heavily wrapped in bandages. Both his wrists were in casts, and a bandage was on his face from that symbol. A breathing mask was on his beak, and an IV was hooked up into his left arm.

I stood at the doorway for a long time, just staring at the amount of white that encased Mikey like a mummy. I wondered if Donny had given him any pain medication. I really could't deal with him suffering anymore.

As I walked into the room, all these childhood memories came back to me so fast, I felt the air being knocked clean out of me. I tried to gather my composure, and when I felt I did, I walked further into the room.

Standing by his bedside, it was difficult to see Mikey so pale and still and just...I don't know. Hurt. It felt like a bad horror film, and with the hell he went through, it probably was.

Even unconscious, he looked like he was in ease, but I knew better.

I closed my eyes for a brief minute, trying to see if I could mentally talk to him. I wanted to hope he wasn't supremely traumatized, hoping he could still talk to me. If such a thing was even possible at this point.

When I felt a low connection, I attempted to speak to him, to try and reach him. Even his conscious seemed to be shut down, and I sighed. At least he was out cold.

I kept trying, though, and eventually, it paid off. I got something of a connection to Mikey, but trying to keep it was becoming a task. He kept wavering, so I had to hold the connection still for the both of us. There was no way I was going to let him slip away from me.

'Mikey. Mikey, I know you can hear me. If you don't want to talk to me, that's fine, but I want you to listen. Whatever you do, don't give up. I can't let you go, and I refuse to, Mikey. If you die...then I will as well. I know I didn't protect you in this life. But if you will allow me to...I can protect you in the next. That's a promise I will never break.'

Mikey didn't respond, but something told me he heard. I know he did.

Not wanting to stress Mikey further, and assured that he was okay and still alive, I snapped the connection. I can't force myself to him yet, either physically or spiritually. He's too fragile.

Right now, all I could do was talk to him a little every day until he felt he could talk to me, too. I had to get him to slowly trust me again.

I opened my eyes, grabbed a chair that was nearby and sat down, gently taking Mikey's hand in my own. For a good while, I let the beeping and Mikey's breathing machine calm my mind.

But it all overwhelmed me to a point. I put my head down on the bed edge...and I cried. I didn't care who heard me, or what anyone thought. My body was trembling, my head was pounding, but I still didn't care.

I felt, somewhere in my heart, sheading these tears was only the beginning if we were all to heal. But...I didn't know if I wanted to, what I wanted to do...I just didn't know anymore. I wished Father were here, because I was pretty sure I couldn't do this on my own.

"Mikey...I'm so sorry...I know we-we left you to suffer, to cry, to feel fear on your own. Just please...don't give up yet. I understand you want to, but don't. You have a family who wants you back, Mikey. I love you." I choked out. Those words hurt so much to speak, but I had to say it all. Apologizing would never take back what we did, the promises we broke...the scars we left on his heart. But I had to.

After a good long while, when I felt I could cry no more, I wiped my face, my heart a little lighter than before. I guess I needed that. Something told me Mikey's sixth presence never left us. I bet he knew I needed this, too. The thought me me smile a little. He still knew...he still knew.

I leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on his forehead, telling him I'd be back soon.

Leaving the infirmary, I looked down the hall, not feeling the need to sleep anymore. Still had a pounding headache, though.

I don't know what possessed me to do this, but I headed to Mikey's room. I swore to myself I'd never go in there, but...I felt there was a secret hidden there, something that might explain Mikey's thoughts and feelings. Something to explain our actions toward him.

Upon entering, I winced. Most of his action figures, his drawings, his comics were destroyed and all over the floor in there. His room looked worse than ever, and I knew Raph was behind this.

Oh god, Mikey...he must've been devastated. He loved those things just as much as he loved us.

I walked in, and looking on his desk, I saw some half-finished pieces of work. Landscapes of the city mainly, but he had lots of them. I leafed through them, finding other drawings of us, of Master Splinter, of Klunk, of April and Casey.

They were beautiful, and I could not believe that we had ruined such incredible work. Mikey did have a knack for doing things outside of being a ninja. Drawing, playing video games...being a typical teenager.

Looking at the ones of Klunk made me smile as I recalled him first finding that cat. He died sometime last year,but he felt such a special connection to him, despite having him for only two and a half years. I did, too, even though it took a lot of threats to keep him out of the dojo while I trained.

The ones of April and Casey were mainly of them together, and they looked so real. I remember him constantly asking if they were ever going to get married.

I liked the ones of our father the most. Master Splinter was drawn often in meditation mode, but Mikey also drew him with one of us, or just sipping his favorite tea. I smiled. I was really going to miss him.

The ones of us hurt me more than anything. He drew us the most, and almost always in these action poses. Many of them were when we were kids, and some of them were at our current age. I looked at one particular drawing of me and him.

I was holding one of my swords out in front of me and Mikey, sort of in a defensive stance, my other hand clutching him close to my plastron. My stance resembled the one I took whenever I went into battle now, but he drew us both at young ages, probably nine or ten. The world surrounded us, the dark world who never knew who we were, the world he loved but was scared of at that age. In the upper right hand corner, he wrote this:

'For those who can't defend themselves, for those who never have a reason to see the darkness, for those who were too scared to react. Remember: There is always a light.'

Even then...did he really see me as a protector? As the light in his dark world? I was so shocked at how much Mikey respected me.

Another one was of Donny when he was fourteen. He was drawn reclining in a chair that looked a lot like the one he had now. His computer light illuminated his face. The background was of his lab. He held a cup of coffee in his right hand. His goggles were on the top of his head. His left hand rested on the keyboard, not typing anything. His head was cocked at a slight angle. His dark brown eyes were looking at the viewer, his expression asking this: 'Who you calling a nerd?'

I shook my head. Boy, Donny hated being called a nerd so much. Mikey could never help himself, and I tell you, it was funny seeing Donny just waiting for a good time to give him a noogie he'd never forget.

I found yet another drawing, this time of Raph. He was drawn on his bike riding through the dark streets of New York City. He wore a biker jacket, his name written on the back. His helmet was bright red, his exposed sais glittering in the moonlit scene. Even with the helmet on, you knew Raph was grinning like nothing could happen to him. The background was the New York City skyline, the moon full and bright. There was a little message as well, written on the bottom of the drawing.

'It's because I want to be free. It's because I have something to gain, yet nothing to prove. It's because...it's me.'

I nodded in agreement. Mikey understood more of Raph then I think any of us ever will. Somehow he managed to calm him down even on his worst days, and he got him to smile, something Raph never did unless he was beating some criminal's head in. Those two could heal each other without ever having to change for anyone, and I think that was why Mikey never really told me everything that bugged him.

I set down the drawings, looking around some more at the damage. Something caught my eye.

I walked over to his dishelved bed, moving his pillow over. There, half-hidden under his pillow and sheets was a hard-cover, plain orange notebook.

It didn't much of a deduction to figure out what it was. It was the fact that he had one at all.

I moved a few more things on his bed, and found another one. It looked exactly the same as the last one, except it was black, and looked a bit older than the orange one.

'Mikey kept not one, but two?' I was thinking to myself in disbelief.

I was shocked because we used to tell each other every little secret. With three little brothers, it was actually hard to hide your feelings and thoughts since they know you so well.

Was this how Mikey forced himself to live? By writing all he thought, he felt, he knew, until he couldn't handle it anymore? 'Was that it, Mikey?'

I went back to the infirmary, holding to the journals tight to my chest. I wanted to read them so bad, to know what was going on in his mind. And I was going to.

'Sorry, Mikey. But I need to know.'

The question was: Could I handle it?

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