Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Torrid Tuesdays: Are You Sleeping? and Numbers Challenge: 527
Word Count: 1,856
Date Written: 1 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
He wakes, covered in sweat and breathing so hard that he's surprised the sounds he's making haven't already woken his brothers. His shell hurts. His heart hurts. For a moment, everything hurts, and then Mikey realizes what's happened. He's been dreaming again of the last time he was held captive by the Shredder.
He rolls from his bunk and, with shaking fingers, gingerly touches the spot on his shoulder where Shredder sliced off a piece of his green skin. Old Metal Head had him for too long, and although they've all been held captive before, Mikey's the one who seems to be having the most trouble shaking his memories. He shakes his head, although he knows the motion's not going to help to rid his mind of the memories he wishes he could forget, and looks at his brother's bunks.
Leonardo's sleeping soundly. He's turned on his side facing Mikey, and his expression is untroubled. Raphael's snoring so loudly his breath's moving the bed sheet beneath Leo. He still grips his sai, as though expecting to have to wake and fight again at any second. Only Donatello's and Mikey's own bunks are empty. He knows his smartest brother must still be in his lab.
He tip toes from the room, pausing just outside their sleeping quarters to listen intently. He holds his breath as he listens until he's certain he's hearing the soft snores of his adopted father. He lets his breath out in a relieved whoosh with a grin as he imagines the old rat's ears and tails flicking slightly as he snores. For some reason, his father is always in control of his body when awake, but whenever he's down far enough that he snores, his ears and tail constantly flick back and forth.
Still grinning at the image he's seen many times in the past, Mikey tip toes pass his father's room and on through their lair until he reaches his brother's lab. He pauses outside, wondering what Donnie's working on and how mad he'll be when he interrupts him, before shrugging, pushing the door open, and continuing on in.
The lights are all still on. The computer and other machines hum quietly. There's some kind of technical jargon Mikey doesn't understand, and at which he barely glances, on the screen. Donnie's clearly been working on something for hours, but now he's asleep again with his head on his keyboard. Mikey's grin widens as he remembers the times he's used Donnie's mouse to make his computer do all kinds of crazy things before waking him and letting him think he caused it by pushing keys in his sleep.
His grin fades as he thinks of the Shredder again. A chill shivers all the way through him, and he reaches for his brother. "Donnie?" He shakes him gently.
He's not awake yet. Maybe he can talk to him like this, without his brother really knowing what he's saying, and still be relieved of some of the stress and fear of his nightmare. "I had that nightmare again," he whispers, "the one where Shredder still has me and is torturing me while you guys try to find me but you can't."
Donnie's eyes pop open. Michelangelo hushes immediately, knowing he's said too much and his brother really is awake now. "It's okay, Mikey," Donnie says, standing and encircling his shell with his arms. He hugs him gently, his beak nuzzling the side of his neck. "It's okay," he says again. "You're home. You're safe. We're not going to let Shredder get you again."
He pauses as soon as he's said the words, because they both know that, without meaning to, he's lied to him again. Regardless of their best intentions and no matter how hard they fight to keep their family safe, Shredder always takes another one of them. He's held every one of them several times. It's nothing short of a wonder that they haven't lost one of their family permanently yet. They squeeze each other harder at the unspoken truths passing between them.
For a while, they just stand there, holding each other and trying not to remember both the fears they've felt when the other has been taken and the tortures they've underwent at Shredder's cruel hands. Images from his nightmares are returning to him, but Mikey doesn't want to remember what actually happened when Shredder had him last or how it got worse in his nightmare. He doesn't want to remember the horror he felt at his hands, the pain he endured, or how terrified he was that his brothers would never make it to him alive. He doesn't want to remember the icy fingers of dread that passed through him every time Shredder laughed or how his whole world seemed to stop when he claimed he'd defeated his family.
Mikey presses his beak tightly closed to keep from crying out loud. Donnie, sensing his emotions, holds him tighter still. "He's not getting you tonight at any rate," he says at last. He turns his head and kisses his cheek.
At first, Mikey can only nod against his brother's shell, but when Donnie kisses him, relief does begin to spread through him. The nightmares seem to be going away, but he's still hesitant to return to sleep. He's tired and knows they both need their rest, but he doesn't want to close his eyes. If he closes them again, he knows he's going to see Old Shredhead again. "Donnie," he whispers, spying a cot in the far corner of his brother's laboratory, "can we sleep together?"
"Mikey . . . " Donatello starts. Raphael will make fun of them. Leonardo will tell them they're too old to coddle each other and their fears. Their Sensei might begin to realize that there's something more between them than mere brotherhood. And besides, there's important work to be done. "I was working."
"Please?" Mikey pushes, his whisper hinging on a whimper. Donatello can feel his fear practically jumping off of him. "We can use your cot right here in the lab. We haven't slept together on it since -- "
"Since we were children," Donatello finishes for him with a small smile. He pushes away from him and runs a soothing hand over his bald dome as he looks back at his equipment. He had finished one task and was about to resume an important project, but there's always something that he needs to do. There's always some task needing his undivided attention, but as he glances back at his beloved, little brother, Donatello knows that there's nothing more important than Mikey needing his attention right now.
He also remembers his findings from earlier and feels a shudder pass through his own shell. Every month since learning that global warming is not a hoax, he calculates the distance left between them and the sun. The Earth truly is spinning faster now. Animals and people are dying every second across the globe. Species are going into extinction as the ozone layer deteriorates and the ice caps melt. They're 527 miles closer now to the sun than they were at this time last month. That's 17.56666666666667 miles a day, 0.7319444444444444 miles a hour, 0.0120319634703196 miles a minute . . .
Donatello gulps. The mere calculations are enough to make him sweat with fear for all the inhabitants of their planet. There are still billions of miles left to protect them from the sun. Their planet will never crash into the sun or be burned by a crisp by its heat within their lifetimes, but it is going to happen. Scientists who have been bought out across the globe can deny the facts, but he can not. He heard it said once that everyone starts dying the moment they're born, and the terrifying truth is that they're right.
"Donnie?" Mikey presses.
Donatello swallows hard and nods. He raises his dark and troubled eyes to his brother's whose own troubles seem almost to reflect his and nods again, his beak finally forming a little smile. "Okay," he grants.
Mikey's smile is radiant, and if Donatello didn't know better, he might claim it to be as bright as the sun. He nods again. "Just let me show everything down first." There's no reason for him not to give his equipment a rest while he himself is getting one.
Michelangelo watches, with growing impatience, as his brother turns to his computer. He slides his feet across the floor as Don touches buttons on his various pieces of hardware. He waits as the computer's screen turns black and as each little, green button blinks out in time, but a moment after the computer's shut down, he whines, "Donnie -- "
"I'm coming," Donatello assures him, but he's doing something with his beakers. "Go ahead."
"No," Michelangelo protests. He steps forward, grasps his hand, and tugs him toward the cot in the shadowy corner. "Come with me," he pleads. "Now."
Donnie rips his eyes away from the bubbling contents of his beakers to Mikey's pleading gaze and finds himself nodding again before he can protest. "All right," he agrees and finally leaves his equipment.
He takes the back side of the cot. Mikey drops down in front of him. Calculations concerning the sun's orbit and how swiftly they're approaching it as a planet are still resounding in Donatello's head, but he wraps his arms around Mikey any way. Mikey nestles in beside him with a loud yawn that seems almost to echo in the sudden quietness of Donnie's lab.
Donatello smiles at his little brother with whom he's shared so much. He knows they still have more stories to share, but he hopes they'll have more moments like these and the little, swift kisses and hand holdings they sneak when their family isn't watching as they are not now. He cuddles closer to Mikey's back side, the front of his shell curving perfectly around the back of his brother's. He nuzzles the top of his brown shell with his beak, then kisses the very top ridge. He's rewarded with the soft sound of Michelangelo snoring already.
He grins. Maybe Mikey will wake in the morning before the others have awakened and they'll be able to have a few more, shared and stolen moments together. His smile turns to a smirk as he tells himself he's not going to kid himself. Leonardo and Splinter are always awake long before Mikey's up, but maybe tomorrow night, they can go for pizza together. He can show him the city lights through the grates in their sewer and pretend they're stars again.
But for now, his own eyes are growing heavy as he listens to his favorite brother's snores. He hugs Mikey tighter and lets his eyes drift closed. They're 527 miles closer to the sun, but he's got his brother. He's got his love, and their family's safe -- at least for now. He can let his mind rest for a few minutes, he dares to think, and very soon, Donnie's sleeping soundly behind Mikey, a smile curving his beak where it's still pressed to his shell.