Together

Chapter 6

My mind froze, my body froze, my heart stopped. We had done it. We had finally done it.

If Mikey didn't want to fight before, he really didn't want to now.

He didn't want to hurt. He really believed that...that we'd be better off without him...our little brother?

He didn't want us to lie to him...to hurt him...and I don't blame him.

He had to protect himself, too. He had to do something, and I figured that this is what he meant.

We blamed him for a death that was never his fault. We attacked him until we got sick of him, and we wanted him to go away and die.

I guess this was what he felt whenever we said those lies. Hollow. Not sure what to say or do or think next. Unable to fight back, not sure who to trust.

Why wouldn't he quit? As much as we did...as much as we said, destroyed, hell, practically neglected, why wouldn't he want to curl up and die?

I reached out to him, hesitant at first, and rested my hand on his face, looking at him, holding myself together.

We can never take back what we said or did. It will definitely haunt me the rest of my life.

Ever since we were first taught ninjustu, we were taught something more important: 'Never let your anger get the better of you. Always fight to protect your family, and never do them harm.'

Funny thing is, we did the exact opposite of that.

This was our innocence, the one who can make others smile just by doing so himself. The one who somehow kept us together, who made sure we were eating and not trying to overwork ourselves to death. The idiot that could get under everyone's skin, but was always there to listen, even if he didn't know why.

The one person you know you cannot live without, no matter how much you say otherwise.

He was ours...and we practically wished him dead.

We can't live without Mikey just because of that.

"Mikey, I'm so sorry. " I caressed his cheek for a moment, letting him know I was not leaving his side. I couldn't do that to him again.

I looked at the journals I held in my hand. I didn't want to intrude on his privicy, but I know Mikey. If he's not telling us what happened, he's holding it in. And these journals were probably his only method of escape.

I opened the black journal, scanning the book. It seemed so happy and light, just the kind of thing I expected from out free-spirited brother. He didn't really write any type of set entry, just mainly doodled and sketched and wrote random things. It was funny. I saw that Mikey always had a natural skill at art.

One entry stood out from the rest. It was towards the end of the journal. In that one, despite all the random drawings and whatnot, I was able to read what he thought.

He wrote about our family, how much he loved us, and how he wouldn't want things to change, even though he knew that it would. It seemed like he knew something would happen long before it did.

Really makes me wonder how much I truly understand my littlest brother. How would he know these kind of things? I really have to stop taking him so lightly.

Next, I opened the orange journal, setting the black one aside. I wanted to spend more time looking at that one later on.

Right away, I could feel the pain Mikey was holding in all this time. It actually made me shudder.

I flipped through the journal, not really reading anything-yet. Some of his entries, the long ones, anyway had no date. Others did. Many of them were tear-stained, but still legible.

I wondered, 'Where would he have gotten it from? And how?' I had no idea, but that didn't matter.

What did matter to me was that he didn't use it until this year. I didn't have to figure out why.

I had nothing left to lose, so I started to read the very first entry.

'Mikey's Journal

I can't believe I'm using this journal for this. I never knew these kinds of feelings could overtake you like this. Guess there's a first time for everything.

But to be honest... I don't know what else to do. I can't talk to anyone here, and if I don't get this off my chest soon, I'll kill myself.

I cannot believe I just wrote that. I mean...ugh. I don't know. It's all gotten to be one of those moments, I think, where I have to stop and look at the big picture. I just wish I didn't.

It was three years ago on this day that we lost our father. I still remember that night. He had died protecting us, like he always has. I hope he's resting in peace.

A few days after that, I got cussed out by my brothers. And I was confused at first, because I didn't know why.

It was kinda hard for everyone to accept Master Splinter's death, but I really had to let it sink in for a moment. I really can't explain why. I was there, so I should have been the first to understand and accept it. But I wasn't. It just...it went right over my mind.

I had been there, but Master Splinter told me to run, warn my brothers, and stay put. He knew that I would have died that night because even though we've all been training in ninjutsu, I was the weakest of all my brothers. Harsh, but true.

And that human-creature thingy that had somehow found our lair was HUGE! Not to mention he had a gun. I didn't think he'd need it, though.

But at the time, I wanted to fight. I couldn't leave my father there, and I was about to dismiss his request and fight alongside him. True, I'm not that strong. But I had speed, so I had something of an advantage. But Master Splinter still refused to let me fight.

That's when I heard bangs. Like gunshots. I blinked, and the very last thing I saw was my father falling to a heap on the ground right in front of me. Blood was pooling out of him, and that's when I knew.

By the time the others heard the shots and got to where we were at, I had already knew we lost our father. He didn't cry out in pain or anything. He took nearly six shots for me. I knew he had to feel something. But he took them and...and...I just stood there. I had lowered my guard, I wasn't paying attention.

Leo and Raph were trying to wake him, and Donny had already started crying. Me, I just stood there. I couldn't move or do anything, not even cry.

It was barely sinking in. I lost my dad.

When we got back to the lair, Leo snapped. He was angry, and started to scream at me. I didn't know why he was at first, until he began blaming me.

To be honest, I really deserved that. Even then, I was still a complete idiot. I was there with my father. I had been so busy acting like a fool, I hadn't paid attention to my surroundings. I spent too much time arguing instead of fighting alongside him.

Leo ranted on for a good while, saying some pretty hurtful things. I don't remember what he had said. Soon after, Raph came in. I knew he was clearly upset, but I tried to cheer him up anyway, attempting to ignore what Leo had just said to me.

I was walking toward him, and before I knew it, he smacked me. Hard across the face. I actually staggered back from the impact, and I remember that look he had in his eyes.

It was the scariest thing I'd ever seen in my older brother. For a moment, it seemed like he didn't even know me.

I asked him why he did that, but he responded by giving me one heck of a punch to my nose. I felt the blood coming down to my lip, the tears coming down my face before I could stop it. Raph didn't say anything else. He turned and just walked away.

Don was the last one to come in. When I showed him what had happened, he just...he pushed me away. He said that whatever happened between Raph and I is something we have to work out some other time. I told him he punched me, and asked if he could check my lip. He still refused, then told me to leave him alone. He pretty much ignored me for the rest of the night. They all did.

I just...I didn't..I didn't know what else to do. I had lost my father, and I think I was losing them, too.

So I decided to go to my room. I needed to think about what happened. The blood had dried on my lip; I didn't bother to clean it. I still remember how much my cheek still stung.

And then, just like that, I got it. I don't know if it was the simple fact I was denying it, and to be honest, I think it was. I knew what was going on, but I just didn't want to believe it.

I lost my dad right in front of my eyes. We don't know how to handle such a thing, so we let anger and guilt consume us instead.

I began to cry. That night, I had cried so much I fell asleep. Barely, anyway.

Now that I'm older, I understand it. I understand why Raph and Donny and Leo acted like they did.

Back then, though, I was scared. I never got hit by my brothers like that-ever. All I thought was why. Why would they do that?

We ended up burying Master Splinter near this tree he used to take us to, in Central Park. I always liked it out there. It was really nice all year round, and I found it a little ironic that he died during the spring, when rebirth usually happens. I remember looking up at the moon that night, and just telling myself that Master Splinter deserves this more than any human out there. I hoped he was resting in peace.

But while we worked, a really morbid thought crossed my mind.

Master Splinter had died protecting us. I thought about my brothers, and I got really, REALLY scared. I kept thinking 'What if they died the same way Master Splinter did?' I don't know what I would do without them.

But then I thought 'If I died like that...if I died protecting them with everything I had...would they care?' With the way they were acting, I began to doubt that.

It was sad. I really began to think they would be glad to see me dead.

By the time I could begin to actually 'heal', I saw that something had changed. We were still together and all, but that wasn't it. Everyone changed, that's all I knew. But that was three years ago. I was a teenager, but for some reason, I didn't quite get it all.

And then, three years later, came the second loss. Not a life...but close to it.

It seemed fine. Small amount of Foot, easy win. Most of them had pathetically useless weapons, so I thought we would be all good.

But something happened. We began to get overwhelmed. The stronger ones began to come in. The numbers got bad, and we were knocked all over the place before we finally retreated.

I knew we were going to lose, though. Once the number became too much, I could see we were all too worn out to fight on. But I couldn't abandon my family. And for some reason, I could not say run away. It felt so weak to do that, and knowing them, they would get mad for doing that, especially Raph. I wouldn't do that. So I waited until Leo saw what the situation looked like for us. He did at last, and we had no choice to to retreat.

Once we got back home, Raph got really mad. And I mean, he was heated.

I was in my room not really doing anything when Raph came in. I remember sitting up and asking him what was wrong. I know Raph. Whenever he needed to vent, he was either out topside or screaming himself raw.

But not this time. That look in his eyes...it was back. And something told me this would end horribly.

For some reason, he kept saying that it was my fault that we lost, calling me the same things he called me three years ago, but with a harsher sting. Despite all that he said, I stood up and tried to reason with him.

When I tried to get my point across for the final time, I watched him take out one of his sais. I remember that I was completely frozen with fear. All I thought was 'He was going to fight me. He knows I can't win.'

He began walking up to me, and I backed away from him, begging him to put his sai away.

Once he got me pinned against the wall, he pressed the sai's blade against my neck. It was cold, but that, I didn't care about.

It was like he had no clue who I was. He kept the sai dangerously close to my neck, and I can't tell you how much fear I had running through me.

He said that the next time I did something like that, he was really going to kill me. And I knew he meant it.

I was shaking. He...he wanted to kill me that day.

Leo and Don then came in, and I thought that they were going to calm him down, or at least get him to put his sai away. But they did the same thing, yelling about my mistakes, or at least, Leo did, blaming me for all sorts of things.

I got blamed for not paying close attention, for making them having to save my shell when they could have been beating Foot, and all this other stuff. Leo wished I hadn't been born. That at least the family would stop being endangered by my stupidity.

This was one of those nights where I really should've just left and never came back. If I made Leo that made to say something like that, and Raph so angry he had to threaten me with his sai...then what was the point?

The only one who said nothing was Donny. He gave me the most annoyed, almost pitied look and sided with them.

Any other time, I could brush it off and go on with my life, and that was exactly what I wanted to do. But it was the fact they thought I would actually let my father die that got to me. Why would I allow such a thing?

I wanted them to stop so much. I really did. It seemed like it was a nightmare I couldn't wake up from, and I slid down to the floor, begging them to stop hurting me.

I realized it didn't matter. Nothing I did mattered. And when they finally left, Raph slamming my door so hard, it nearly broke, I...I don't really know what I did. They kept talking about me down the hall, making sure I was to hear them.

I paid that no mind. I just cried.

I sat there and I cried until I fell asleep, and even then, I was so scared.

I will always remember that.

And that was only the beginning. I know it.'

My mouth fell open. I remember that day.

We had came yelling into his room that night...Raph was brandishing his sai all about, but I said nothing...we yelled at him for nothing.

And that was why he didn't know.

He didn't do this. He never had. And we lied to him, made him believe such a thing.

My heart felt heavy again as I turned the pages, reading some shorter entries, even a poem or two. Harsh, depressing, confused, upset. That was all these entries gave off.

Finding another longer entry triggered another incident I acted like I cared nothing about. Why did he have to recall this?

'Mikey's Journal

It's been a few weeks. Everything seems to be going downhill for everyone, but for me...I don't know what it is. It's just...another day.

Yesterday, I wanted to try and make them laugh again. I know the death is still a little fresh, despite three years going by, but I don't like seeing my brothers so upset. Well, they've been avoiding me anyway. But still...I tried to cheer everyone up.

So I went and messed with Raph's bike, like I used to. I...I thought that things would go back to the way it was...I thought that they would laugh, and then I'd get an earful from Leo about it later...

But that was a huge mistake, and I almost died because of it.

Once Raph saw what I had done, and it didn't take long, he and Leo chased me into the sewer tunnels. It wasn't until I turned back to see how close they were that I saw a kunai just barely graze my face. And I started running faster.

It was right then when I realized that nothing was going back to normal. And there was a good chance that I wasn't going to make it.

Raph and Leo were gaining on me, so I ducked in a small area that I was used to hide in as a child. I was kinda shocked that I still fit there.

For a few minutes, they were calling me, Raph saying things I kinda blocked out. I really didn't want to come out then, and I kinda knew I'd get into trouble if I went back. After that, it went quiet. I thought that they gave up and went back to the lair.

So I crawled out. And right after that, a sharp kick sent me flying down a few feet. And when I looked up, he and Leo were glaring at me.

His fists came raining down on me, and I was trying to defend myself, trying to get through to him again. I don't really know what he said outside of the usual.

'Fuck you, you little bastard. I'ma make you wish you were never fuckin' born!' And things to that nature.

I saw Leo standing there, and I was begging him to get Raph off me. I was scared Raph was going to kill me. But when I looked up at him face, what I saw just...it knocked something into me.

Leo...I never saw Leo look so...stoic. He was glaring at me like I was another Foot or something. Just a piece of trash that needs to be dealt with. It was...emotionless for a moment. Then he...he actually...he smirked at me as Raph kept punching me.

I lost him, too. That was all I knew. I lost him, and yet...I hadn't felt any hatred toward him- or Raph at that point. As much as they had punched the living shell out of me or ignored me for the last few weeks, I thought that I should hate them, that I should wish the unthinkable upon them.

But I could not hate them.

Raph had punched me all over my face and my arms and chest and side, and I was gasping for air, the blood running down my chin. I remember him laughing as he left, and I tried to stand. I had no strength to move. That's when Leo came up to me.

I couldn't look at him in the face. It wasn't the Leo I knew, and seriously, I was damn near petrified. If Raph could do this to me, I wasn't too sure I wanted to know what he could do.

I coughed, and when I saw it was blood that landed on my hand, I tried to get away from him. I was badly hurt, and my legs were barely able to keep me upright. I knew I was vulnerable because I was so weak, but I tried to run from him. Didn't work too well, either.

Leo tackled me from behind, and I hit that cold-behind concrete floor so hard, it literally knocked the air out of me. I remember that everything was starting to spin, but I tried to focus.

Leo had me pinned, sitting on my chest. I tried to get him off me, but my arms were badly bruised, and I couldn't breathe. So I pleaded...I pleaded with him to get off me.

And that's when he forced me to look at him. He was still smirking, and I remember I asked him why he was doing this. Why they kept trying to hurt me so badly. It was right at that moment that I got it. It really sunk in that they still blamed me for Father's death. That had to be it.

He did finally got off my chest, and I felt the air finally filling my lungs properly. I thought that would be the end of it, that he would walk away like Raph did.

And then...Leo gave me such a sharp kick that I curled into a tight ball. He kicked me twice, and then he bent down to face me. And what I figured was right.

He kept telling me it was my fault that our father died. That I'm a failure, and that I should've been dead instead of him. I disgraced this family, and one way or another, I would be made to suffer. And a lot of other things.

I was in so much shock, I hadn't realized that the tears were pouring down my face. Leo gave me this...almost disgusted look, and then he kicked me in my right side for the forth time. I had had it.

I coughed up even more blood, and I looked up at Leo and I told him I was sorry. He still never said anything to me.

I begged him not to kill me, and I just told him that I was sorry for everything, that I would never want our father to die. He still never said anything, just walked around me, circling me like I was his prey.

And then...he bent down to me again, and told me that as of now, I was no longer a brother to him. I wasn't supposed to talk to him, or even call him by his name. He was going to make sure that our father got some kind of justice for his death.

I don't know what I felt or did at that point. Nothing, most likely. He said for me to get home and get Donny to look me over, and turned and left.

I curled up tighter than before. I didn't want to return there. Not if this was what I had to fight. I wanted to die then. I really did.

When I forced myself to stop crying, I fought back enough pain to drag myself home. All of them ignored me, so I was allowed to make it to my room in peace. I refused to have Donny get anywhere near me after this.

Sometime after I was safely in my room, I closed my room door and slid down my door, worn-out and exhausted from all this. And I cried. I just sobbed. I couldn't stop. My head was pounding, my body hurt everywhere from Leo and Raph's assault...all I felt was straight pain...

About two minutes later, I passed out. I just let the darkness take me. Thank God.

I just wanted to make them laugh. I almost got killed for it. And I think I know why they blame me for our father's death. Because I can never do anything. I just get in their way, in his way. I slow them down.

I wished Raph had killed me today. I know he could have, and I wished he had. I'm really surprised I can say that and not want to put a gun to my head, but...

Maybe because it was my family, regardless of what Leo said, but...if they had killed me tonight...it would've been so much easier.

I wonder if suicide is a coward way out. I think it is, but at this point, I don't know what to do. I don't.'

I closed the journal, unable to read anymore. I stood up, and Raph entered the room as I was leaving. I guess he noticed my tense self, but I don't care.

What the living hell is wrong with me? No, something is really wrong with me! What kind of evil did I allow to invade me to say and do such things?

"Leo? Hey, you okay?"

I turned away from Raph, stopping once to look at Mikey before walking toward the door.

"Hey, Leo, where ya-"

"Raph, keep an eye on Mikey. I need some fresh air." I told him simply, leaving before he could ask me anything else. I took the journal with me.

Leaving the lair, I wandered down that very tunnel where me and Raph nearly killed him. I still remember this place, and it's weird because I hadn't been down here since that incident. I want to burn this place away from my memory.

At some point, I stopped walking and pressed my shell to the brick wall, my gaze to the water as it rushed by me. I slid down to the cold ground below, and pulled my legs up to my chest, still fixated on the water.

For awhile, I just sat there, trying to figure out what to do once Mikey woke up. Trying to figure out if he would talk to us ever again.

Trying to figure out...if he could trust us again.

That thought made those tears trail down my cheeks. I didn't wipe them away.

I didn't care if Mikey would hate me for the rest of his life, if he could never speak to me or the others. That didn't mean I wouldn't stop trying to make this right.

But his entries...those had to be have been hard for him to write. Knowing that he could go back and write everything that his own brothers did, remembering details that I wished he could forget, and then stay and endure more without even fighting back made me want to vomit.

I rested my head against the cold wall, looking up at the ceiling and listening to the water as it continued to rush past. I stayed in that position for so long, I lost track of time. I don't care. I need to be by myself right now.

I'm responsible for the safety and well-being of my little brothers. I was since the day our father made me leader, since he literally placed their lives in my hands. I had to make sure that they came home in one piece, even if I got to be so paranoid, I had to drag them home myself. I had to make sure that each time we went into battle, I brought them back alive.

So what changed? What really made me and Raph and Donny turn on Mikey?

What had Mikey done?

A simple answer: tried to keep us afloat. Tried to keep out spirits high, our hopes up as we got through this hard point in our lives.

So why? Dammit, why the hell did I try to break him?

I was probably going to wish I hadn't done this right now, but I opened the journal from the last page I read. There was another longer entry...another memory he had to recall.

'Mikey's Journal

I was alone tonight. The others went on the nightly run.

It's becoming more and more normal now. Not being around them, not having them to talk to. I can't remember the last time I went out with them and actually had fun doing so.

I was reading my old journal, and I could not believe that we used to be so happy and all smiles. Because we were younger, still had each other to lean on then.

Now...I'm just waiting. It's going to end for me one day, but I can't do it. I cannot end my life, so I'll just wait for one of them to kill me. Sad for me to say that, but...that's what it's become.

I think Leo must've told them about what happened that day. I'm no longer a brother to them, either. If they're not looking at me with disgust, they're either ignoring me or yelling at me about training or something else...or just plain hurting me.

I'm alone. I'm all alone in this world.

It scares the living daylights outta me, but I have no family. Even though they have told me time and again, I know now. God, I wish it didn't have to hurt so much! But it is my family I'm talking about.

These days, it feels like I'm more of a hollow zombie. I walk around, and I make sure to get things done right the first time. I barely eat, and I cry. A lot.

I'm never this depressed, but...I can't say that I have something to be happy for now.

I had one shell of a nightmare last night. About my brothers. It's the same thing every night...I'm running away from them, trying to beg them to let me live, not to take my heart. I can't even dream happy anymore.

It's the same thing with the same result...they catch me, and stab me, one at a time...slowly ripping my heart out of my chest...laughing as I cry out to them, begging them to stop this.

Something else happened last night, too.

I heard some soft talking downstairs, after I attempted to quiet myself down so they wouldn't know I was awake. Not like they would care.

They must've came back, I assumed from their run, and I was listening to them all. Raph seemed excited about the action he must have had. Leo and Donny were talking about that, too, and I guess he and Raph finally reached an agreement on something. Donny was laughing and randomly commenting on things.

They hadn't sound like that in a long time, and for some reason, despite that freaky nightmare I had...I smiled. I think it was because they were relaxing and enjoying themselves, sounding happy and carefree. I don't really get to hear Leo or Raph laugh anymore, so hearing that alone made me feel at ease.

I still remember when we first learned how bad Donny and Leo's jokes were. We had just turned eleven, and they were trying to get Master Splinter to make sense of this really long and confusing joke they came up with. It had something to do with science and a katana sword, I think, and how they're related. It was a really crappy joke because it had nothing to do with nothing.

I was laughing at our father's face because he had no clue what any of them were saying, and it made no sense. Raph was snickering and making ignorant comments, so he was punished by doing one hundred sit-ups. He hates doing those. I was laughing so hard, and so were Leo and Donny. We soon forgot about that joke, and to this day, I still have no idea what it was about.

At that point, I realized that even if I had wanted to kill myself, I had something to remind me of how much I loved them. Well, that and my journal, but...actually hearing those two laughing, and Donny actually telling jokes...I think made this all worth it.

I wanted to go down there and say something, but decided against it. They were in a good mood, so I just laid back on my bed, still listening to them laughing and talking down there. I loved it. They were so happy...so very happy that night...I wanted to always remember that.

And I looked up at the ceiling, and I told myself that when I did go from this world, I want to be able to get strong enough to protect that, at the least.

Protect their happiness. That's all I know I'll need to feel at peace.

Eventually, I dozed off. The nightmare was pushed back in the far corners of my mind.

It was weird because I can never go back to sleep after I had a nightmare, especially one that bad. But I did. I slept like nothing was wrong. I didn't really know why, but it didn't matter.

I guess...I knew at that point I had no reason to deny anything anymore, and I decided to stop fighting against the truth. I don't have a reason to.

I don't blame them. I never have. I was confused, I didn't want to accept, but now...I can take it.

I have nothing left to lose now. So I don't have a reason to fight.

That night, they were actually truly happy, and that made me happy, too.

And until that day comes, when all this pain can finally go away...I won't fight. Not ever again.

I still love them too much.'

I knew he gave up the way he wrote this entry. He hadn't shed a single tear on this one.

It was his way of saying it was over for him. That he was going to do whatever it took to get our forgiveness and our trust back.

And his nightmare...oh god...was he truly crying like that? He was all alone...all alone.

Why did he still have love for us?

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