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 Post subject: Kaboom!
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:02 pm
Posts: 21
Raphael ducks under a vicious jab from his brother's bo and lunges forward again, snarling. Don's favored weapon isn't as much of a liability as it should be, fighting in a tunnel -- he's been training all his life to fight in such close quarters, they all have, and he knows how to make the most of it.

But Raphael has been training just as long, and in the same circumstances; he has a slight edge just by forcing Don to keep using the bo defensively. With a sai in each hand, Raphael tangles up his brother's attempts to use the wooden weapon to gain an advantage.

Don fights grimly, silently. He's not really prone to trash-talking very much anyway, and now he's pinched with concentration. He sucks in a breath -- it's Raphael's only warning -- and drops down onto one knee to spin around, cracking the bo upward, and into Raphael's wrist.

A sharp flash of pain, and Raphael drops one sai.

He curses, and lunges forward again, attempting to lock down the bo with the prongs of his remaining sai. The pain in his wrist does amazing things to his concentration, but he's pretty sure it isn't broken; the feeling isn't quite right for that.

Something shifts, and not in a good way. He stepped into this fight with the assumption that he was about mop the floor with Donatello, who is not just emo and screwed up in the head right now, but also running on fumes and adrenaline and probably enough caffeine to kill a small horse. Let's not forget that Donnyboy has been THE WORST about making up excuses not to show up for training, even worse than Mikey, for who knows how many months! Even now that Leo's back, that hasn't changed.

Unfortunately, Raphael is not lucky enough to be ambidextrous like Mike, nor did he feel like practicing as much as Leo had to in order to fully compensate. Both are aware of it, and their eyes lock briefly as the thought is shared. Things were looking good before, but if he's down one sai and his main hand is injured... Don stands a better chance.

What if he planned that shit? Some whiny asshole insecurity in the back of his head is yammering while Raph tries his best to ignore it. Like even all fucked up and spent, he's still so fucking smart, he just knows where to--

The voice is interrupted when a powerhouse kick slams him backwards. His vision goes white as his head connects with something hard. It takes him a second to pick himself up and get moving. His fuzzy vision clears just in time to see Don coming out of a low hunch. When he turns to run, the bo staff is gripped in one hand and Raphael's sai is in the other.

"No. Fucking, Hell no," Raph growls. A surge of rage carries him fully into action. His bare feet strike the ground like pistons, throwing stealth to the wind in favor of speed as he charges after Donatello. The other turtle is fleeing with his prize, but never with such a lead as to leave Raph's sight. He grits his teeth and tails Don steadily in spite of several attempts at evasive maneuvers.

He doesn't actually start gaining ground until he guesses his brother's destination. "Donatello! I swear to God!" he screams. "If you ditch my sai into that reservoir, I'm really gonna kill you!"

Donatello doesn't look back. Instead, he puts out one last, desperate burst of speed.

It's not enough. Raphael has the advantage of slightly longer legs, which are helped by his rage and his unimpaired stamina. Just as the reservoir comes into sight at the end of the tunnel -- a junction point where rainwater spills down out of the pipes above and collects at the rate of thousands of gallons, before being slowly drawn into the city's water purification systems -- Raph gauges the distance between himself and Don, and springs.

They crash to the hard cement in a tangle. Don takes the worst of it, coming down hard on his plastron and skidding. Both weapons go flying. The sai arcs up, strikes the tunnel wall at an angle, and clangs to the ground again, yards away from the edge of the reservoir. But the bo staff flies, straight as an arrow, down the distance between them and the water.

Donatello yells something that might be a curse, and twists around to grapple with his brother bare-handed. His teeth are bloody when he snarls at Raph.

I didn't hit 'im in the mouth, Raphael has time to think in confusion and indignation, before he realizes Don must've bitten his tongue in the fall.

Then his hands are full dealing with Don's vicious and wild defensive moves. Normally, Raphael doesn't have any problem pinning Don in hand-to-hand combat. He's done it hundreds of times in the dojo. But this person he's scrambling to hold onto, this creature spitting bloody curses and half-words at him, isn't the brother he knows. Nothing seems to work on him -- he slips free of Raphael's normally-bruising grip on his wrists like he's oiled, he twists and writhes like his shell is made of rubber, and he absorbs every blow and attempt at a nerve-block without a flinch.

Raphael's injured wrist shoots pain all the way up to his shoulder. How the hell did things get this bad? he has time to think, before the increased pain from his wrist makes him hold back at the wrong moment and he loses his grip on Don completely.

Donatello flings him off and jumps awkwardly to his feet. He's breathing hard, and his face is twisted with rage. Raphael rises, too, prepared to fling himself bodily at Don again.

It doesn't happen. Don sucks in a breath, and turns to run -- where he's going is a mystery, since the next tunnel is on the other side of the reservoir and is at least half-full of water at this time of the year -- and Raphael, working on pure instinct, lunges forward and grabs his brother's arm with his uninjured left hand. He pivots, spinning Don around at the end of his arm, and slams the other turtle face-first into the tunnel wall.

Don crumples to the concrete. His hands come up, shaking, then drop. He doesn't move, except for harsh, stunned breaths.

Raphael can't see his face. He's not sure he wants to.

It's a long time before either of them moves. Raphael finally sags against the opposite wall and slides down it, cradling his wrist against his plastron. It's really starting to throb, now that he's not moving. "Well," he says finally, feeling like he's in over his head just by starting this conversation, "that was...interesting."

Don says nothing. He turns his head a little bit, then lets it fall back to its previous position. At least he's showing signs of consciousness. It would really be the capper on a truly shitty day -- hell, on a whole slew of days! -- if Don was knocked out and Raph had to carry him home.

"Are you done now?" Raph continues when it looks like he isn't going to get a response any other way. "With the bad attitude and the mouthiness?"

Don shifts, like he's hurting. He turns around, slowly, and sits with his shell to the tunnel wall. He looks up at the ceiling of the tunnel and mumbles something.

"Speak up, genius," Raph grunts. He levers himself up the wall, leaning on it less for physical support than for moral.

"I said, I really hate you sometimes," Don says with exaggerated clarity. His voice is thick with something -- blood in his mouth, probably -- but he makes himself heard over the sound of the reservoir.

Raphael draws back a step and gazes down at him. What the hell do you say to that?

"Doesn't even faze you, does it? I tried..." The fallen turtle spits a mouthful of blood onto the concrete in front of him. It looks almost black in the low light. Raphael has trouble looking anywhere else, and his eyes widen slightly as he spots a tooth gleaming in the bloody mess at his feet. "Didn't do very well. But I tried to make it last. If violence is the cost..."

He shakes his head and his body curls with anguish. "We're so fucked," he says in a much higher voice, barely intelligible. "You don't even care. Enough to. Lose your temper."

Raphael can't do anything but blink at him, stupidly. "Wha--? You...what? Donatello, are you...?" Crying, he can't finish the question. It's unthinkable! Don doesn't cry. He's never been the type, and besides, years of ninja training would've beaten any kind of impulse like that out of him. "Um. Are you tellin' me you...wanted me to beat the crap out of you?" It doesn't make any sense, but it's the only thing he can grasp out of the whole situation.

Don doesn't answer. He's shaking now, and won't look in Raph's direction.

"Answer me, damn it!" Raph is shaking, too. It makes his wrist hurt even more, and he presses it tight to his plastron. "Answer me! What the hell is going on in your head? What is wrong with you!?" His voice is climbing. "What is going on with you!?"

How can you tell me you hate me? he doesn't ask.

"I can't. I don't know how to fix it," Donatello finally manages to creak in the airless space between sobs. "Can't fix anything... what're we gonna do?"

The broken tooth seems way too bright against the drying blood. It's making Raph dizzy to look at it. "Stop it!" he says harshly. "Stop that, stop acting like a baby!"

Don doesn't seem to hear him. He goes on making those horrible noises.

"Stop it!" Raphael orders him in his best attempt at a leader-like voice. It doesn't sound convincing, even to him. He pushes himself off the wall and goes to kneel next to Don, trying to avoid the puddle of blood with his brother's tooth in it. "Did you hear me? I said, stop it!" He shoves Donatello's shoulder roughly. "Pull yourself together. Listen to me! You get your shit together..." He pushes Don again, not quite as strongly.

"I can't fix it. Can't," Don says again. "You don't even care." He's starting to hyperventilate.

"Don't be stupid," this time, when Raph touches his shoulder to push him, he leaves his hand there.

Don's head swings to the side and his gaze flashes up, looking half wild with panic and humiliation. This brief glimpse at his face is all the more gruesome for the sheet of blood that covers his chin and runs down his throat.

A gentle touch is much harder to ignore than all of the shoving. He shivers and huddles tighter, trying to be silent and hiding his face. There is no verbal response from him at first, just wet and labored breathing. Of course he wants to pull himself together. He wants that more than anything. "Go away," he moans, finally.

"You...don't get to tell me that," Raphael manages. This is awkward, and painful. He wishes he were miles away. This isn't something he wants to see or be a part of or even know about. "You don't order me to do anything, you got that?"

Don twists to the side, out of Raphael's tentative grip on his shoulder. By this point, he's almost totally hidden behind the rough armor of his shell.

Raph is left kneeling on the filthy floor of the tunnel, one hand in the air, and the other hand pressed across his plastron just above his belt. He doesn't know what to do. Leo would know how to handle this, he thinks in a moment of almost crushing self-doubt. What the hell am I doing out here? This isn't my job, this isn't something I'm ever gonna be good at! All I can do is fuck things up, and make my brothers hate me. Out loud he says, "Get back here, damn it. We're not done with this."

His brother actually does something that had seemed impossible, and pulls away even more. It looks like Don is trying to melt into the rough cement wall itself.

"Stop that," Raphael insists, again.

He's totally taken by surprise when Donatello shoves back from the wall, hard. The protecting shell comes at him with enough force to knock Raphael backwards onto his own. He rolls to the side and springs to his feet as fast as he can with only one usable hand.

Don stands with his head down. "Go away, Raph," he repeats. His voice is dull, hopeless. He's gotten himself mostly under control...or maybe he's just moved all the way into numbness.

"Huh-uh," Raph feels slightly less awkward when he's on his feet. "Not goin' anywhere, brainiac, until you get it together and get your ass home to help Mike."

"See, you just don't listen to anything I say," Don shakes his head slowly, without looking up from his feet. "I always knew it." There is no fight left in the slump of his shoulders or his slackened face. His calm becomes a glacial thing, vast and bone cold. His swollen mouth scarcely moves and there is hardly lift and fall to the cadence of his speech. "Might as well be speaking Klingon or Visual Basic, unless it's an insult. You always hear those loud and clear."

"So listen to me closely, Fuckface. I do not know how to do cardiac surgery." Ashen eyes drift away from Raphael and gaze into the dark. His hand lifts to smear blood off his chin and onto the back of his hand. "I'm a field medic masquerading as a pediatrician. I set bones and sew up wounds and seal cracked shells. I pass out medication smuggled mail-order from Canada. Still with me, Lame-Brain? Do you understand that every educational resource in the world assumes the patient will be human? No one does heart procedures on their pet turtle. The equipment we would need to safely crack his plastron open has not been invented yet. I asked Leatherhead for help with that tonight, but he refused. He doesn't think we can pull it off without killing Mike."

Raphael is dully surprised to realize that the insults really do focus his attention. At least they seem like they might have a hint of emotion behind them. Just a hint, though. Other than those, he's having a hard time really grasping what his brother is saying. He's always read emotion more clearly than words, and he doesn't know what to do with these flat lines, especially when the lines are telling him something he really doesn't want to hear. "You...Leatherhead...we can't..." he shakes his head to clear it and get back some clarity. "Wait. What the fuck do you mean, you can't pull it off?"

"There's no precedent for it. No research to lean on. We're going where no one has ever gone before, and we have no photon torpedoes." Don's still talking in that flat, uninflected voice.

He's making even less sense than usual, though, and Raphael tells him that. "And you need to get your ass home, and see what you can do," he ends firmly, trying to get back to the high ground on something.

"Of course," Don is still toneless. "By all means. Let's go home, where I can be further humiliated and show even more ineptitude in this crisis." He reaches around to the back of his shell to check that his bo is in place before he remembers that it's gone. It doesn't seem worth the effort to go hunt for it -- surely it's floating in the reservoir? -- when there's no hope left, and so he shrugs and starts off for home without it.

Raphael is startled by this move. He grabs his stray sai and hurries after Donatello. He's not entirely sure when or how, but clearly he has lost control of this entire situation. He had thought that, if he could just get his hands on his brother, he could force this crazy behavior out of him, could make him see how he was screwing up by being all emo and shit instead of just being dependable like he was supposed to be, and it just didn't work out that way. He's never done this to Leo, the whiny, insecure voice piped up again.

Apparently the voice isn't just in his head, Raphael realizes, when the echo of that whine comes back to his own ears and he suddenly knows that he muttered it out loud.

Donatello halts, standing once again with his head down and his shell to his brother.

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? FUCKING WHY? The little voice continues to howl and rage. But he has a handle on himself now and manages to keep his lips smashed together.

But silence isn't going to work either. Several minutes slide by while he stands there, stupidly mute with confused outrage. Then Donatello resumes his forward shuffle.

"Wait," Raph says desperately, planting his feet and closing his eyes. "Just -- wait a second, will you?"

"Why?" Don wonders without slowing.

"Give me a second to think, okay?" The Donatello he knew once would not have been able to find fault in this answer, which he may as well have trade-marked.

Sure enough, his brother stumbles to a weary halt. At least that much about him hasn't changed.

"You're throwing all this shit at me at once," Raphael complains in a somewhat more conversational tone. He's fighting hard now to regain his leader game-face. "You gotta gimme time to process."

"Okay," the other turtle replies.

"Maybe you're sayin' you got better reasons to freak out than I was giving you credit for," Raph admits with some difficulty. He forces his clenched fists to open, stretching his fingers purposefully.

"Maybe I am," Don agrees wearily.

The cracks of Raph's fingers are sticky with the blood that runs freely from his torn up knuckles. The one hand is still fucking killing him, but he ignores it and tries to really think. He plays back some of the more bizarre things Don said right before he started to cry. Talking about the cost of violence and how he tried to make it last. "You kept saying you can't fix anything. Maybe you weren't just talking about Mike. Maybe that's what all of this has been about." The press of impending anger rolls off of him like massive boulder. "You cut me down, you come at me with weapons. You lure me out here. We knock each other around... closest thing to a proven solution. We both know it."

"It didn't work," Don points out in an airless creak.

"Give it time, maybe," Raph blurts, visibly stricken. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Don tried for a second not to hate him, but now he can see it's a lost cause...? No. There's no way it's that. Get a grip, Christ! He doesn't hate you, he was trying to do something. Think it through.

Don wouldn't give him any clue. He stood there, expressive as a statue, still refusing to turn around.

He's never treated Leo like this, Raph realizes. He meant what he said before, and now he's thinking about what he should say first -- thinking really hard. He's never treated Leo like this, but I have. His tongue darts at the edges of his mouth, which has become dry from hanging open for so long. Why do I act like this? Why do I start acting like a selfish emo prick, throwing shit fits and blowing off orders?

When I'm in a real dark place. When I've fucked up bad.

When I need help.

"Okay, so," he works it out, and speaks whatever come to mind as he does so. "You're tellin' don't know how to help Mike, nobody does. And because of that, you think it's hopeless. And it's pissin' you off, because you always come up with something, and you're not used to bein' helpless."

Don doesn't respond. But he does twitch, just a little bit, so Raphael knows he's still on the right track. "So you came home tonight, lookin' for someone to blame you, and beat you up, and feel just as bad as you do...but to make it all on the outside, instead of inside. Somebody who can hit you as hard on the outside as you're doin' to yourself on the inside." He pauses and thinks about that for a second. "Nice, Don. Real nice. Makin' me into some kind of mindless thug."

"Didn't work, did it?" Don says at last, still in that dead voice. "I can't do that, either -- get you mad enough to fight me. You only get mad about things you care about, and you --"

"Holy, fucking, damn, shit!" Raphael swears, before moving on to additional expletives in Japanese, English, and street-Spanish. "Are you tellin' me that's what this was all about?! I'm tryin' to do a good job here, bein' a real leader and shit, and you think I'm not doin' it right unless I get mad enough to try to kill you?! You think I don't care because -- "

"I really do wish you'd just kill me," Don says, with raw and honest emotion evident in his voice at last. "I really do. I'd rather die than go home and have to look our father, our brothers, in the face and tell them that I can't do anything."

It makes Raphael's breath catch in his throat. "Well, um," he struggles to get back on track. With a sinking feeling, he realizes that he's probably going to have to have that conversation himself, and he's not looking forward to it any more than Don is.

Somehow, though, knowing it's coming makes it easier to face it. And it is part of being the leader, isn't it? He has to do some of the bad shit, too, as a leader. It's not enough to just bully Don out of bed and order Leo around; he's got to stand up and do the hard work.

He's always been aware that being the leader wasn't a picnic. But it sucks a lot more than he'd ever realized.

"Let's just start with the easy part, and get home," he says at last. He trudges across the space to Don, and slings an arm across his shoulders to tug him into motion. "C'mon. It's been a long day."

"But I think --"

"Yeah, you've done enough thinkin' for one day," Raphael speaks over him and pulls him along. "Stop doin' that for a little while. Be quiet, and let other people think for a bit."

Don bows his head and lets himself be manhandled into motion. He keeps his eyes on his feet in the gloom, and trusts Raph to not steer him into walls or worse.

After a long, silent walk, and just as the door of the lair comes into view, Don halts again. "Raph," he says at last. "I'm...I'm sorry."

"For trying to get me to kill you? Whatever," and Raph tries to get the momentum going again.

Don plants his feet, though. "Not for that. Okay, for that, too, but...mostly for...everything. I'm sorry. I've been an ass to you for a long time, and I'm sorry." And he squares his shoulders and makes eye contact at last. It's tired and swollen, but it's eye contact, and there's no scorn or mistrust in it for once.

Raphael is uncomfortably aware that Don doesn't hold the monopoly on the title 'ass' lately. "Yeah, too, okay? I'm sorry, too." He starts to scratch the back of his neck in discomfort about the whole scene, only to drop his hand and hiss in pain when it turns out to be the injured hand that he moves. "Let's just...stop bein' asses to each other, yeah?"

"Yeah, okay," Don agrees. It feels like the first thing they've agreed on in years.

Raph drapes his arm back over Don's shoulders and steers him inside. In the kitchen, Leo and Splinter start to their feet at the sight of them, but Raphael shakes his head, and instead steers his brother to the stairs. "Bed. Now." he growls, shoving Don up. "You stopped makin' sense about an hour ago." There's no anger in his tone, though, and maybe that's why Don surrenders after only a pause, and lets himself be forced up the stairs to his room.

He makes a token protest when Raph pushes him all the way across the room to his bed, but his heart isn't in it. He really is running on the dregs of adrenaline and anger, and he's got nothing left in him now. Besides, his bed looks really, really inviting...

Raphael waits until Don's sunk deep enough in sleep to start twitching. Then he tosses a blanket over him, and goes back downstairs to break the bad news to his father.

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