Together

Chapter 8

Days turned into weeks. For the most part, Mikey was healing quickly. Donny wanted to get him crutches so he could walk around for himself.

He was waking up more often. He could sit up, but he couldn't move around until Donny and April got him the crutches he needed.

I also knew he could speak, but he never did. Not to us, anyway. He just...God. I really don't know what to tell him at times. I don't think any of us do.

I was keeping watch over Mikey tonight. He'd just fallen asleep over an hour and a half ago after Donny gave him some pain medication for a headache he said he had. I don't think he actually had a headache, but I wasn't about to stop him. He needs his time, and I still need to finish his journal.

As for the others, I assumed they were doing what they always did. I already knew Raph was snoring his shell off in his room. He'd seen Mikey up the night before, and it gave him some sense of relief. I think Donny was in his lab doing something or other. I could hear him cussing up a storm over a tiny explosion, and I suppressed a giggle.

About twelve that night, I heard April talking to Donny, and I guess she was here to re-stock the fridge. I barely noticed, as I was still engrossed in one of Mikey's entries, the newest one being a short poem with a message.

'Mikey's Journal

I was a child when my father died, and I was a child when I cried.

Not really seeing what was going on, not trying to see what was gone.

Refusing to talk, refusing to fight, wanting so much to get away from the light.

Burning inside, crying out, trying to shake loose all those doubts.

Unable to deny who I was; knowing what I have to do, before I leave this reality, I want to say that I love you.

I keep re-reading this, and I cannot understand why I just wrote it. I...I can't figure it out. But sometimes, poems seem a lot better than recalling things.'

I got it almost instantly. This was as close to a revelation as I had read.

It wasn't until a tiny hand rested on my shoulder that I was startled, and I looked up to see who it was.

"Leo, it's me, April!" she said, trying to reassure me.

I sighed in relief. "Hey, April."

"I bought some more food and supplies, okay?" she said. I know she knows we forget about those things a lot. She does so much for us, and I am grateful for her.

I thanked her. She nodded, looking sadly at Mikey before taking another chair and sitting next to me.

"Is Mikey okay?" she asked.

"Yeah. He took some medication. Should be up soon." I said, my attention still on the journal.

"What is that, a book?"

"Well, yeah. Sort of like that. It's...Mikey's journal."

"He-he kept one?" she asked, that look of shock on her face.

I chuckled at her face. "Yeah. Funny how I should've known these things about him, and it's like...I'm just learning who he is. It's so...I can't describe it...odd, not really knowing someone you spent sixteen years of your life with."

April nodded. "There are some secrets that won't always be out there. Maybe this is just one of those kinds. Mikey might not have wanted you to know."

I shook my head. That wasn't true.

"No, April. It's not that he didn't want us to know. It's more like he couldn't let us know. His first entry, he wrote that he couldn't talk to us anymore, and I know why that is. He wanted to tell us his biggest secret, but with they way we acted, it was no wonder..."

"Leo..."

She looked at Mikey again, and I lifted my gaze from his journal to do the same.

Mikey mumbled something under his breath, then went still. I looked at April.

She seemed lost, knowing what happened to him, but not really grasping it.

"You better get going. We'll talk later." I said, standing. April followed suit.

"Okay. Leo, I'm so sorry." she said, suddenly unable to hold her emotions back.

I gave her a much-needed hug. She was pretty much sobbing now, her cries muffled by my chest.

When she pulled from me, it had finally become evident to me how little sleep she had gotten. I told her to go home and rest, not stress so much.

"Y-you'll call when he wakes up, right?" she asked, wiping her eyes.

"Yeah."

April gave me a small smile. I guess she was hurt more than I could see.

She gave Mikey a kiss on the forehead and then left. I sighed, turning my attention back to the journal.

'Mikey's Journal

I don't know anymore. I don't know what to do, what to say, nothing. Nothing matters anymore.

Raph and Don got real upset with me yesterday night for doing something wrong during a night run, one of the few I was allowed to go on. I was actually surprised that I was allowed to go anywhere with them at all..

But...yeah. I think Raph was giving me some order, and I did something, I don't even know what. He and Don were pissed.

Naturally, I was punished. At least Leo wasn't there. If he was...I don't think I would want to wake up the next day. I probably wouldn't.

So I got my punishment. The usual. I mean, nothing he does now isn't something I haven't been through already. It doesn't make the pain any less bearable, though. It never does.

Naturally, he sent me to Donny right afterward. It really kills me to say this, but...I can't stand to be around him anymore.

Why? I learned a few things while being there.

Get in, stay quiet, don't move, and I won't get hurt.

It had become recent, like two weeks ago, when I guess this became a rule or something. Donny most like got tired of having to fix me or whatever, but all those things he used HURT! The first few times, I think I was in too much pain to really notice it, but lately, it bugs the shell out of me.

Anytime I have to go in there, I would cause a scene. I yelled, I squirmed, and I literally fought when he came near me with needles. I don't care how bad Raph hit me- they will NOT come near me with those death things!

So one day, when I adamantly refused to sit still for the umpteenth time he told me to, he snapped. I mean, more than usual.

He actually punched me, right in the arm, really hard! And for a moment, I had to be sure that it was Donny I was dealing with. Even after Leo and Raph beat me, Donny never went past an insult or two. Most of the time, he was just glaring at me or giving me a pity look before going about his business.

And I looked at him. It was all I could do. The pain from my arm was there, but I didn't really feel it.

If anything, I felt the look he was giving me. It was so piercing. Not like I hadn't gotten used to seeing that, either, but I really noted it that night. So emotionless...that was it.

He hissed at me to shut the hell up so he could hurry up because he had other important things he had to do. And when I tried to pull away again...he hit me even harder than before.

And I knew this was pointless, but I wondered-for just a stint- if he felt guilty. He would never hurt anyone, not even in a comeback.

After that, for the entire duration that I was there, I just shut up. Everything hurt, but I kept my mind off it and thought about other things. I had to if I was going to stay awake and not completely pass out.

He never looked at me in the eye. We hardly speak to each other anymore, and it's so weird because he was the main one I spent my time with, even if I drove him nuts and blew something up in his lab.

Then again...most of the time, Leo was either training or meditating, and Raph was either gone with Casey or beating up that training bag. Other times, they would be arguing, so I would be ducking in Donny's room until morning.

The thing I really miss the most is my ability to tell him things I can never tell the others. It's kinda like Raph and Leo...Donny knows what I think most of the time, even more than I do. It just feels so weird not talking to him.

Never in my life had I ever heard of Donny resorting to violence to do anything. He rarely gets this angry, so I knew. If Donny had to get this mad that he was forced to physically lay hands on another, then it has to be me that got him to feel that way.

And that's why I stopped trying to understand why they were doing this to me. I think the truth was kinda in my face for the longest time.

It used to feel like I was looking in a never-ending nightmare, watching it repeat until the day comes where I could close my eyes and push it all away. Not anymore.

It's sort of become my life. Sad to say, but it's true. Everything changed, and it's all my fault. But should I be surprised? I knew. I always knew.

I'm a huge mistake. They hate me because it's me. It's because of who I am, how I act and how weak I am that they hate.

And it makes sense because they three of them are so much stronger, but...I'm not like that. I can never be they way they want me to be.

I like to enjoy this life before worrying about things like Death. I like to live in the moment, and worry later, if at all. That's how I am.

But that changed, too. Now all I want to do is go somewhere and die. I hate that feeling more than anything, but I...I don't care. Not anymore.

I can't hate them, anyway. And even if I could, just what can I be mad at them for? They're hurt, too. We lost our father, and everything went to shell from there. I'm the reason they're hurting in the first place. So what I can be mad at them for? For what? For suffering? For being angry? What?

Raph had always told me that if I were dead, then things would be a lot better. Any other day that I wasn't getting hit, he always told me that. We wouldn't have to be dealing with the things we were forced to deal with, and no one would want to put up with someone like me.

I knew he was right. I never cried anytime he told me that because he's right. Well, maybe after the first month. He was right, Leo was right, Donny was right.

They were always right. I wonder why I never noticed that until tonight.

So why don't I go away? I can erase myself from this painful existence, and stop destroying my brother's lives.

I want to see everyone happy and enjoying life. I like it when they're happy. At the same time, I want to be able to watch over my brothers.

I know after everything they did to me, I should want them dead. I should hate them, I should! But...I love them too much. I still do, and I always will.

I want to make sure that they're not hurting anymore, either. That they moved on and live the way Master Splinter would want them to.

To be truthful, I sometimes wonder what it would feel like when I die. I wonder about that a lot. It's just something I can't stop thinking about.

Every other night that I wasn't having nightmares, I'd often think about the kind of place I'd go once I finished this. I wonder where I would end up. If I would feel that eternal peace, that sense of freedom.

I keep telling myself that I can let go any day now. I can let go everything that's been hurting me for the longest time, but...I kinda don't want to. I don't want to leave them here, but at the same time...I know better.

I know that I'll always be hated for being alive...for even existing in this time.

I wonder whether Master Splinter felt those shots when it happened. I know they hurt. It was like I could feel them, and some nights I do. I try not to think about it, but it keeps coming back and...it's a lot. It's too much.

He took every last one, and the sounds of that gun...the entire fact that he jumped in front of me, leaving me standing there...it always haunts me. And the thing is, I could've done something! I don't know why I didn't! But..I killed him.

I wished he hadn't done what he did. I always have. But he would've anyway. He doesn't want to lose any of his sons. He would've fought tooth and nail for us. And we would've done the same for him. While I understand that, we don't want to lose our only father, either.

So I finally made up my mind. At this point, I don't care if they decide to find me after this. I don't care about anything at all. I don't care.

I know what I want to do. In time, they'll forget about me, and I think they can finally heal. They can stop hurting so much. And in my odd and weird way, so can I.

I like to think of things like that. As much pain and suffering as they have put me through, I like to think about them. I like to think about them, and how I missed hearing the laughing and smiling and just enjoying themselves.

To be honest...I really don't care if I ever smile again. Just hearing them, I guess it's all worth it. I end up smiling with them.

They don't understand...it's going to be over real soon.'

I shuddered. He really meant to go through with it. The night I actually noticed he was gone, I could've done something. I could've saved him. But I hadn't cared. And that made it worse.

On the next page, there was a weird poem that I couldn't make sense of.

'Mikey's Journal

Wonder when it's time. It sounds so close...

That pitter-patter, what is it? Why can't I place it?

Have I not heard it? Do I not see it?

I don't understand. It's so close, so I should feel it...but I don't.

Warm. Close. Knowing. There. That's all I know now.

I walk closer, touching, feeling the softness, trying to see past the sadness.

And a lone drifter comes near me, falls gently into my large hands, so easily broken.

A feather.

Is this who I am? Is that me?

Am I that fragile? Am I really worth this much?

A feather. And then a flurry of feathers.

Soft. Surrounding. Protective. Strong.

Is this it? Is it over?

I don't know.

But one thing is certain...

I found it. I have found my euphoria.

And I can finally rest at last.'

I literally looked at my sleeping brother, puzzled. I didn't understand what he was thinking as he wrote this, other than Death.

Was this what he thought would happen when he died? He seemed so sure about it; he hadn't shed a tear on this one.

I still had about two more pages of poems, so I turned to the last full-length entry he wrote. I quickly figured out that this was written before he left. He was crying the most on this one.

'Mikey's Journal

Final Entry

I'm leaving tomorrow. So I should end this.

I am thankful for getting this journal, and I still have the one Master Splinter gave me. I can't get rid of it because it still has memories I actually want to remember when I go away for good.

They allowed me to finally express myself, and I can finally begin to face the truth. It hurts. It really does. And I don't think it'll ever leave. But at the least, I can go knowing that I did something right. I usually screw everything and everyone up. Not this time. I won't mess them up this time.

Tonight, ironically enough, I was alone. It was fine. I wanted to get myself together before I left. I had to get myself together.

Looking around my room, I really thought about whether or not I should leave them some kind of note or something. Probably should.

When all is said and done, I didn't care how I died. I just knew I had to.

But do I want to? No. In fact, I...I'm petrified of it, because I'm going on my own. I don't want to be on my own. I never was. I mean, I never grew up that way...I always had them to protect me.

And that's just it. I always had them. But they didn't want to have to deal with me and my mess-ups in life. They don't want someone to tag behind them, weighing them down and being a useless heap of trash. And I'm sure they don't want to live with our father's murderer.

I've thought about my death a lot these past few months. And you know what? I decided to run. I don't know why I want to, but...I just feel like I should.

I've decided to run as far away from here as possible and never look back. I don't want to die anywhere near somewhere I've known and lived at all my life. I don't want to be near them at all.

I don't care what happens after that. I'm leaving my weapons behind. I don't deserve them. I never did. And where I'm going, I won't need them.

You know, I found my MP3. It wasn't broken, surprisingly, and I still had my headset intact. I hadn't touched it in so long, I almost thought that it was gone, too. It was dead, but I still want to leave it here. They can have it or what ever.

I've fought tooth and nail for too long now. I've cried, I've hurt, and now...I just want it to stop.

But there's something else that I really want to feel again before I die. I...I...want...to feel someone's warmth. I've been dreaming about that for the past two days prior to this.

It's all I want. To hug someone and know that I'll feel them near me, to feel their breathing, to feel their body heat near my own, to feel someone's heart beating near my own. I've always loved that when it came to my big brothers, Leo especially. And I miss that, more than anything else. He might never know, but I miss snuggling under his arm when he and the others were talking to each other. I just...I wanted to feel that one more time, even if it means for him to kill me while he's at it.

But I...I just don't know anymore. As much as I'll miss them, I don't know what else they want me do, what else I can do. All I was able to do was say the same thing over and over. Live in a nightmare, dream nightmares. Not anymore. I'm done. They won.

My only wish: that my brothers finally move on in life. I want them to smile again. To be happy. To live their lives and grow stronger. I just..I want them to heal.

I'm ready now. I know the others might not find this, or care to read it if they do, but I feel like I have to write this, just in case.

I miss our father, too, and I never wanted him to die the way he did. I never asked to be this weak, and I never asked for you all to hurt like you did. You never asked for a burden, and no one asked for the life we lived. But it happened, and I don't...I don't know what I can do now but say this:

I'm sorry. I truly am. I know for a fact there's nothing else I can do, nothing else I can say. But it's okay.

Raph, I know you wanted some kind of justice. You...you were always my hero, Raphie. That won't ever change. I want you to know that, okay? I'll always see you as my hero. Now protect the others. Make sure they don't experience something like this again. I know you can. You're strong in both body and in spirit, and I hope you take care of yourself. And don't ever change. I still want to see your crazy behind riding the streets late at night and driving Leo nuts. That's all I ask.

Leo, I know you got hit the hardest. I know that. And maybe I am the most idiotic thing you had to have as a little brother, and I was an epic crybaby, but I never hated you. I can't. You put with me even before all this, and I never did thank you for it. I...I know now just how much you were hurting that night, and I'm so sorry for causing it. I'm sorry, Leo. Just promise me this. Take care of the others. Don't stress yourself. And get stronger.

Donny, I'm sorry you were forced to hate the world. I'm sorry I made you hate everything and everyone...and I'm sorry I existed. I truly am. But...I don't want to see you hate. I don't want to see you so hurt. Please...don't let darkness take your heart. It will kill you one day, and I don't want that. And I don't know if you see this often enough, but you are strong. You always have been. I don't want you to change for anything in this world. Don't forget to finish your projects, and try to remember to get yourself some sleep, okay? And lay off the coffee. I mean it.

I love all of you guys. I never stopped. I know you hate me, so I won't ask for your forgiveness. But I will thank you for being my big brothers, for taking care of me. And for protecting me. I never deserved it...but you...you still protected me. And I never thanked you for it.

To be honest, all I want...is to see you happy. I never wanted you to be stressed anymore than you were. All I wanted...was for you to smile. I wanted all of you guys to smile, even a little. But I know now. I understand. So it's okay now.

Whether or not you are reading this or you care, it's okay. I love you all, and no matter what happens, that will never change. I know who I am now, and I have to thank you for opening my eyes.

It's over now, everyone. I won't hurt anymore, and you guys won't, either.

I love you.

And I'm sorry.'

I closed the journal. That last entry was possibly the worst one out of all of them.

I told him all that and worse. I pushed him away. I...I can't describe what I did.

And all because of a parent's instinct. Mikey was right. Master Splinter would've done the same for any of us.

I sighed. And all Mikey could do was apologize. We still hadn't listened, hadn't tried to hear what he saw that night. We just didn't care about his emotions, his heart. We didn't stop to care about his suffering. He was there when our father died, actually there, unable to do anything...and we didn't care about that.

I almost started to cry when I thought about the last part...the little note he left for each of us. They stung like mad; it hurt to know that my little brother would actually think that, but was it any wonder?

We hurt him! We ripped him apart, and now...now he doesn't know what else to do anymore...

But why did he leave that last little message? Was it out of fear that he might never get the chance to say it again?

Or maybe it was some kind of last request, the very last thing he felt he at least owed us for everything he thinks he put us through?

I heard a slight movement, and watched as my little brother's sapphire eyes opened. He must've been coming down from the last dose of medication, but it still took all my willpower not to turn away.

He was still hurting so much, still so scared and confused, and I just...I still didn't know what to tell him.

"Leo?" he whispered softly. It was the first time he'd spoken to me since I got him out of Karai's clutches. I wondered what he was thinking.

He blinked some, I figured to adjust to the lighting in the room, then looked back at me, fear in his eyes.

"Mikey, are...are you alright?" I asked at last.

"Leo, I'm sorry." Barely leaving his lips, he watched for my reaction.

When I didn't do anything, he said it again, a bit more fearful.

I caught on to the tone he used, and I don't blame him. He doesn't know.

He doesn't know the truth, that what he told us- tried to tell us that day- was true. All the lies we put into his head wasn't going to leave so easily, and he was still wondering when his next attack was going to come from.

All I knew was that I had to do something. I had to get Mikey to trust me again.

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