Stages

BY : rye-chan
Category: Comics > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dragon prints: 1379
Disclaimer: I do NOT own TMNT OR the TMNT characters. Nor do i make any type of profit/money from them.

Stages

Missing

“’Ey, where you goin‘?” Raphael questioned as he watched his eldest brother head to the door. Leonardo turned slightly to look his younger brother over and could tell he had been drinking again. His golden eyes were glossy and there was a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead. Add the fact that the emerald-green turtle was swaying where he sat on the couch and it was obvious that he had been at it for a while. The leader was not impressed.

“I’m going for a run. After your behavior tonight, I need it.” His response was cold and yet filled with suppressed fury. Raph simply glared, or rather tried to; it looked more like he was confused which only confirmed how far gone he was from the booze he had been drinking.

“Whateva’.” The red-banded ninja replied before turning around and facing the television once more. The familiar weight of disappointment, sorrow, and pain returned again, reminding the blue-banded ninja why he needed to get out of the lair for a change. Without another word to his brother, Leo left.

*~*~*~*

A pillow slamming onto his face was Raphael’s wake-up call. A pounding headache was the extra kick that kept him from falling back asleep and from chasing his youngest brother down and giving him the beating of his life for waking up the temperamental turtle in the first place. With a heavy groan of pain, Raph slowly rose from his position on the couch. He leaned forward and held his throbbing head in his hands, eyes shut tight against the brighter than normal lights of the lair.

“Why’s it so damn bright in here?” Raphael groaned out as he heard footsteps approach him.

“The lighting hasn’t changed, Raph. You just have a really bad hangover from your drinking binge last night.” Donatello answered as he held out a glass of water and a couple of aspirin. The emerald turtle took them gratefully and downed them and the cool water in one large gulp.

“Where’s Mikey?” Raph asked as he looked up at the resident genius with a look of vengeance. Donnie sighed in exasperation.

“Unfortunately, your revenge for the pillow is going to have to wait. Master Splinter wants us in the dojo immediately.” The look of nervous uncertainty on his younger brother’s face alerted the larger ninja that something was wrong.

“What’s going on?” The purple-banded braniac shrugged his shoulders, not having an answer to give and looking a bit lost. Raphael stood up then, ignoring his head’s blatant and painful protest and led the way to the dojo. It was surprising to see that Michelangelo was there before his other brothers but Raph ignored the strangeness of his early arrival and sat down beside him, Donatello doing the same. Master Splinter was pacing as his sons arrived but something wasn’t right. Before Raphael could voice his question however, their sensei spoke.

“My sons, I have a very important mission for you all.” The ninja team straightened up, alert and ready for orders, “You have someone to find and aid if necessary. Raphael!”

“Yes, sensei?”

“You will lead your brothers in this mission.” A look complete confusion and unease crossed the second eldest’s face.

“But…Leo’s the leader, sensei. And why isn’t he here for this anyway?” The red-banded ninja asked, his confusion rising. Splinter finally stopped his pacing and looked directly at his son. What he said next sent an icy chill through Raphael’s body.

“Because Leonardo is the one who is missing.”

*~*~*~*

Slowly, amber-brown eyes opened and saw only darkness. There wasn’t even the tiniest flicker of light…or warmth. Though he could not see anything around him, he could feel and he felt cold. He was trembling from the frigid cold that wrapped around him, it was steadily numbing his body but not enough to rid him of the intense pain. With every shiver, a jolt of intense, tear jerking pain shot through him like electricity. It was the only thing that he could feel aside from the cold.

However, he couldn’t stay as he was. He needed help, to get away from this oppressive darkness and numbing pain. He concentrated hard on trying to move his stiff limbs. The sudden movement after hours of stillness caused a painful reaction as he attempted to lift himself: he coughed harshly, almost choking on the blood that came up and out of his bruised and broken mouth. More shivers, more shocking pain. It was quickly becoming a predictable but unavoidable cycle. It was unbearable. He dropped back down to the hard ground, losing the few meager inches that he managed to move.

He needed help. He couldn’t do it on his own. He needed help. So he waited. He waited, alone in the frigid cold, in the darkness that began to taunt him. It was so dark and he was so alone. It was the dark that brought out his inner dark, making him think of everything he would suppress: his sorrows, his pain, his disappointments, his depression. He was falling into a new darkness now, a mental ocean that he could not escape alone. And he was alone.

He was alone but he still fought. He was so cold but wouldn’t give up. He would wait for help and he would not give in to his pain, physical or emotional. He would wait for help…but it didn’t come.

*~*~*~*

Days. Four days had already passed and there was still no sign of him. Leo was still missing and there was no trail, no evidence, no witnesses. He was just gone. Raphael was at his wits end. His brother was missing and there were no leads to his location. Worst of all though, was that he knew it was all his fault. It was his fault because he couldn’t accept the truth and tried hiding behind alcohol. It was his fault because he had picked the fight that sent Leonardo out for that run…possibly his last. It was his fault and he knew it.

So when he retreated to his older brother’s room, he dropped to his hands and knees, his head hanging low as he cried. Tears flowed freely as harsh and heavy sobs wracked his powerfully strong body. He begged and pleaded with any and all deities to bring his brother back. He cried so hard that he eventually collapsed against Leo’s bed, grabbing at the blanket, the sheets, and the pillow that were so rich in the leader’s scent and held them; he cradled them like a mother with her newborn.

He cried. He sobbed. Then he screamed out Leonardo’s name with such painful desperation that the rest of his family broke down and cried.

*~*~*~*

Donnie was getting desperate. He couldn’t let this continue anymore or everything would fall apart. He forced himself to get up, disentangling his body from Mikey’s still sleeping one. The youngest had taken to clinging to Raphael and Donatello at different intervals, so terrified that one or both of his remaining brothers would disappear next without a trace. It was safe to say that the orange-banded ninja was in worse emotional shape than Raph. The genius intended to fix it…if he could. His hopes weren’t high but he had to at least try.

He went to his lab and started working, making adjustments on a tracker he had made a few years ago. There were only a few alterations that needed to be made in order for it to find even the faintest traces of DNA. Donatello worked non-stop for hours. He worked even when Michelangelo came in and sat beside him on the floor, leaning against his leg. Donnie worked. Mikey was silent and still…watching.

*~*~*~*

It was a dream. He knew he was dreaming because it was a memory. It was the happiest he had ever been but it was also the day he realized the truth….

The sky was clear blue, no clouds in sight, and it was beautiful. Raphael and his family were at April’s old farmhouse enjoying a peaceful day together. Casey and April were having a romantic picnic in the woods, Master Splinter was reading on a blanket beneath the shade of a willow tree, Mikey and Donnie were having a water battle in the nearby pond, and Leo was about to head out for a leisurely walk before Raphael caught up to him.

“Where you goin’ Leo?” Raph asked with a small, rarely seen smile. It made his elder brother happy to see it and Leonardo returned it with his own.

“I’m just going for a walk. It’s beautiful out today and I want to enjoy it.” The leader answered, “Do you want to come with me Raph?”

“Sure.” The two went off together, following a trail through the woods and talking amicably for the first time in a long time. It was strange, like an invisible wall had come down between them and everything was out in the open. It was a great thing. When they came upon a lake they didn’t know was there, the elder two saw an opportunity to have some childish fun.

It was Raphael who started things off by scooping Leo up like a groom would his bride and tossing him into the cool water. He laughed when his brother returned to the surface looking shocked. It was then Leonardo’s turn to retaliate…and he did. He acted like he had become stuck in the water and asked his younger for some assistance. With an amused eye roll, the larger ninja went to the edge of the lake and held his hand out.

Seconds later, Raph was soaked and sputtering while his brother laughed openly. With a mischievous grin, Raphael pounced and the water wrestling commenced. After a few hours of watery fun, the brothers climbed out of the lake and headed back to the farmhouse. Just as they arrived, the sun was beginning to set and they took the opportunity to watch and enjoy the sight as they sat on swinging bench.

“You know, this has probably been the best day I’ve had in a long time, Leo.” The younger turtle said in a calm, quiet, and happy tone. The elder smiled.

“I can definitely agree with you on that.” Leo responded with a content sigh as he leaned against his brother. It was then that Raphael’s heart started to race and he glanced out of the corner of his eyes to see his brother.

Leo held a look of happiness and contentment as he stared out at the sunset. The fading light of the sun bathing the leaf-green ninja in a pale, golden glow that made him look…beautiful. Such thoughts quickly made the emerald turtle blush but he couldn’t look away. Instead his gaze slowly traveled and focused on his brother’s mouth and felt his own begin to water.

He began wondering what the leader tasted like. What it would be like to wrap his arms around him, pull him close, and claim that untouched orifice with his own. He wondered what it would be like to have the elder beneath him, wrapped around him as Raphael claimed his entire being. The red-banded turtle was quickly becoming breathless with the mental images dancing tauntingly in his mind but then it ended. The realization of what those thoughts meant halting everything.

It can’t be…Raph couldn’t be…

“We should head in, Raph. Everyone is probably waiting.” Leonardo stated suddenly as he stood up.

“Uh…y-yeah…” The absence of his brother’s warmth beside him was like a bucket of ice water being dumped over his entire body. He sat frozen for a several seconds, watching his elder brother walk to the farmhouse and felt a weight sink in his stomach. It couldn’t happen. It would never happen. But that didn’t stop the truth from coming to light: Raphael is in love with Leonardo…and there was nothing he could do.

A memory. A dream. That’s all it was…but something was different. Something that didn’t happen that day was happening in his dream. The farmhouse disappeared but Leo was still walking, no he was running now, through the city. It was a blur, Leo’s journey, but the ending was as clear as that beautiful day: Leonardo was hurt, he was trapped, and more importantly, now Raphael knew where he was.

*~*~*~*

It hurt to breathe. His lungs felt heavy and clogged. He could no longer move. Even his shivering had stopped. He had long since closed his eyes in the hope that the tears would cease but they didn’t. They continued to fall, leaving hot trails that felt like fire on his frigid skin. He didn’t know how long he had been trapped in the endless darkness that haunted him. What he did know was that it clarified something to him: no one was there. And no one would be. He would die in the darkness. He would die alone. And he would never get the chance to say goodbye.

**~~**~~**

Don't worry peoples, it's not over yet.  I just have a thing for teasing my readers sometimes.  :)



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