"Pulling the Pin"
by Donny's Boy
Disclaimer: I own neither the characters nor the plot relating to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I am making no money from this story. I mean no harm.
Warnings: A bit of violence, a bit more language, and even more angst.
Dedication: This story is all KameTerra's fault. I hope she's happy with herself. Gosh darn it. I HOPE SHE'S HAPPY.
She's the symbol of resistance
And she's holding on my heart
Like a hand grenade.
-"She's a Rebel," Green Day
She's the symbol of resistance
A blood-curdling scream ricocheted off the sewer walls.
Raphael sighed. He wondered if his brother had heard. Maybe Don hadn't. Maybe he'd luck out, just this once. Then that hope was blown all to hell as, on the other end of the cell phone, he heard Donatello sigh as well.
"Donny … "
"Don't you do it," Don snapped before Raph could get any farther. "Your vigilante days are supposed to be a thing of the past, Raphael. Over, through, done, finito."
Raph rolled his eyes up towards the heavens-or where he imagined the heavens might be, if he wasn't standing several meters below Manhattan. "Enough already, Don! Jeez. I catch yer drift. You don't gotta go all Merriam-Webster on me."
Don's voice was terse and utterly unamused as he replied, "I am very serious. Come home. Right now. Do you understand?"
"Keep your shell on. I'll be home soon enough, all right?"
Shutting his phone with a brisk snap, Raphael stood for a moment and gently massaged his temples. All of a sudden he had a headache. Usually only conversations with Leo could do that, but lately Don had been vying hard for the position of Head Hamato Clan Asshole. Then, when another scream sliced through his thoughts, Raph heaved another sigh and took off in the direction from which it came.
Can take the turtle outta the armor, he thought, smiling grimly, as he ran full-tilt down the tunnels, but can't take the armor outta the turtle.
He rounded a corner and immediately came to a halt. There she was, a sopping wet young woman-inexplicably scampering around the sewers and just as inexplicably surrounded by a group of three jittery, armed thugs. It didn't make a lick of sense, not the woman, not the punks, but Raph was never one to fuss over the little details of a matter. No, he was much more a "big picture" kind of guy.
Not to mention a turtle of action.
Silently grabbing for his sais, Raphael leapt at the throat of the nearest man. He didn't even see it coming. By the time the first thug went down, the second-nearest had managed to turn around. His blood-shot eyes went wide, and he raised his gun with badly shaking hands. Raph just raised an eye ridge and, with a flick of his wrist, sent the gun clattering against the brick walls. The man turned his head to follow his weapon's trajectory, blinked, turned back to look at Raph, and blinked again.
Grinning, Raph punched him in the mouth. The grin was wiped off Raphael's face a moment later, however, as the distinctive crack of a gunshot rang through the air.
"Son of a bitch!"
As he fell to one knee, instinctively clutching at his left arm, Raph maintained the presence of mind to lift his head and try to locate his shooter. He was, after all, a ninja. And the bullet hadn't hit anything too important, anyways. It just hurt. A whole bunch. Kind of like fire, actually.
A lot like fire, actually.
Shaking his head to clear it, Raphael glanced around. He swallowed thickly when he found himself looking down the barrel of the third perp's gun.
"I ... I dunno what you are," the man muttered, licking his lips as his face gave a strange twitch. Junkie, Raph realized. "But I know yer 'bout to be dead. You hear me? Dead."
"Yeah," whispered Raph, his throat tight and dry. "Yeah, I hear ya."
The man's ugly face split into a wide, nasty grin. "Buh-bye, freak." Then, abruptly, the man's eyes rolled backwards, and he slumped forward.
Raphael blinked in surprise. And blinked again when he saw the same woman from before, just standing there, glowering, clutching a pipe like it was a baseball bat. Her eyes-a brilliant and fiery blue, appearing unusually large in the woman's gaunt, dirty face-met Raph's through the dark. Her mouth quirked up in a small smile.
Raph glanced down at the third thug-napping quite comfortably, face-down in a puddle of sludge-then back up again. He gave the woman a befuddled nod. "Uh, thanks."
"No problem." She let the pipe fall to her shoulder, where it rested quite casually. As though she gave beat-downs in sewers all the damned time. "Thanks yourself."
Utterly at a loss, Raph just nodded again.
After a moment passed in silence and stillness, the woman thrust out her free hand. "Name's Gazelle, by the way. Like the deer, y'know?"
"Wait a minute." He took a step back, eyes narrowing. "You ... you're not scared of me?"
The woman's smile grew bigger. "What? Scared of my knight in shinin' armor? Hell, no."
Huh. Well, this was different. Raphael sheathed his sai and contemplatively crossed his arms over his chest. Yep, definitely a nice change from that whole screaming and fainting stuff. He decided that the woman was pretty. For a human. Then he frowned when he spotted Gazelle sway on her feet, just a bit, just enough for him to notice.
"You're hurt." It wasn't a question. He reached out to take her elbow, to steady her, and she let him. "Let's get you topside and to a hospital."
She looked up at him, her eyes bright and glassy, and she nodded. "Sure thing!" They made it a few steps before she piped up again, observing, "The roof's on fire."
"Huh?" Raph glanced up, frowning. All he saw were pipes, bricks, and a spider hanging from a thread.
"The roof, man! The ceiling. Whatever it's called. It's on fire, and it's all rainbow-colored an' shit." Dreamily she sighed. "It's gotta be magic. Like you are"
Of course. Of course. Raphael clenched his jaw and muttered, "Aw, geez, she's high too?" Then he gave the woman's arm a tug, earning a yelp of protest, and began the grand quest of trying to get to the nearest emergency room before the woman overdosed or, worse, tried to kiss him.
Wearily, he trudged through the lair's door and down the stairs. He hadn't realized just how much of an effort it would take to convince a woman that out of her head that she needed to go see a doctor. No, really. Not tomorrow, but now. Not next week. Now. Right the fuck now, dammit.
He'd rather have another Foot-induced coma, hands down, any day.
But Raphael blinked once he saw who was in the main room. "What're you doin' here?"
One finely-tweezed red eyebrow shot up. "No hello, April? No how are you, April? No nice to see you, April?"
He took a breath. "Sorry," he muttered with a contrite shrug. "S'always good to see ya, April. You know that."
"That's better." She smiled and walked over, giving his good arm an affectionate pat once she was in range. "Don called me over. Said you'd be pretty banged up and that he didn't feel like dealing with you tonight."
Raph growled. He didn't know whether he was more annoyed that Don had the nerve to say that or that Don had been right. Stupid, meddling jerk. He'd make sure a certain bo-wielding brother paid with some well-placed bruises during tomorrow's practice.
Meanwhile, April crossed her arms and put on a scowl, but her eyes sparkled. "So! You know the drill, mister. Bathroom. Now."
Dutifully Raphael shuffled off towards the bathroom and perched on the lip of the tub. He watched silently as April searched through the medicine cabinets and drawers. She picked through supplies with practiced ease-alcohol, swabs, bandages, tape. After she'd gathered everything she needed, she knelt down in front of him.
It was odd. He was so used to looking up into her face, it felt somehow wrong to now be looking down at her. Squinting, she reached out and took his arm in her hands, running her fingers lightly along his skin but stopping well before they reached the gunshot wound. Her hands stayed on him during the entire time she inspected for bullets, debris, tissue damage, and God knew what else. Raph shut his eyes and gritted his teeth.
"You're lucky the bullet went straight through without hitting anything essential. You know that?"
He didn't even bother to nod. He knew. Of course he knew.
"Oh, Raph." She sighed, and he felt her pat his hand. "What are we gonna do with you?"
He opened his eyes so that he could grin down at her. "Dunno. Shoulda thought of that before you got jumped by ninjas in a subway tunnel, huh?"
She chuckled and reached for the alcohol. As she began swabbing his arm, she leaned forward, her brow wrinkling in concentration, and a few loose strands of hair fell from where they had been safely tucked behind her ear.
The hair-so soft, so foreign-brushed against his arm. Raph shivered involuntarily.
She glanced up with worried eyes. "Am I hurting you?"
God, yes. He shrugged off the question. "After a bullet, you really scared that a little rubbing alcohol is gonna do me in?"
"No," she replied, her voice sounding soft and far away. "That's not what I'm scared of."
He frowned. He didn't like the way her voice sounded right then. He disliked even more the way that tone made his stomach clench in … remorse? Shame? Embarrassment? Deciding a subject change was in order, tout de fuckin' suite, Raph blurted out, "So, why didn't you sell your story to the Enquirer, anyways?"
"Why didn't I … what?"
"Mutant freaks, livin' in the sewers, practicin' martial arts. Woulda made a hell of a tabloid exclusive. Reporter like you shoulda known that."
She began wrapping bandages around his arm, and he inhaled sharply at the sudden stab of pain. "Well, I suppose that can just be added to the list of reasons why I made such a lousy reporter."
"Still, most people woulda taken advantage. Hard opportunity to pass up, y'know?"
"I'm not most people." There was an edge to the words-pride, guessed Raph, or maybe honor-and she glanced up from her handiwork to emphasize the point. Her eyes burned bright and green and frighteningly intense.
Raphael swallowed and had to look away. "No. No, you're not."
A long shaft of light from the hallway illuminated the room, and he stood just inside the doorway while watching the gentle rise and fall of his brother's chest. Don was snoring. It would have been cute, had Don been younger and had Raph been far less pissed off. As the situation currently stood, however, Raph simply found the snores yet another one of the many annoyances inherent to Donatello Hamato.
Unlike with most of the annoying things Don did, Raph knew how to take care of this one. He threw back Don's bedcovers with one hand while with the other he grabbed Don by the shoulder. Then, in one fluid movement, he had his brother out of the bed and up against the wall.
Donatello struggled for a few moments before waking up enough to realize the identity of his attacker. "The hell, Raph?" He scowled disdainfully. "What is wrong with you?"
Oh, how many, many times Donny had asked that very question! Raph would have thought a smart guy like Don would have learned by now that he wasn't going to get a satisfactory answer.
"What's wrong with you, huh?" Raph gave his brother a none-too-gentle shake. Then he decided to clarify, to make it easier on Don's sleep-addled brain: "What's the big idea, callin' April over here to play nursemaid, makin' a big deal out of nothing?"
Don swatted ineffectually at Raph's hands, still holding his shoulders in a death-grip. "Well, if you want to behave like an immature brat, you should expect to have someone call your mommy."
"That ain't funny, Don."
"Sure, it is."
Raph took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and then slammed a tightly-clenched fist into the wall right next to Don's head. "Don't … call … April," he hissed. "Don't you ever call April over like that again. Understand me?"
Donatello's eyes fluttered shut for a moment as he flinched. Then Don bit his lip and, after a little sigh, muttered something under his breath.
"Hey! What'd you say to me, smart aleck?"
"I said … I understand," Don repeated evenly. He glanced up with an oddly soft look in his dark brown eyes, a sad smile touching his lips. "It's okay, Raph. I understand."
Raphael felt suddenly dizzy. So dizzy, he almost wanted to puke. He couldn't handle that look. Not from anybody … but especially not from Don. So he punched Don right in the face.
And then Raph punched him again, and again, over and over, until his fists screamed in pain with every hit he landed, and because Donny just stood there and let him, he just kept on punching. Raph kept on punching Don right up until the moment Michelangelo burst into the room with a confused shout and yanked him away.