Chapter 7


The new cave the team settled down in was… adequate. It was good enough for what they needed. A hidden place where they could tend to their wounded and rest before moving to a more secure location. It also happened to be too close to their old cave which wasn’t good practice for an escape but there was only so much ground they could cover when their leader was bleeding out. Not to mention Junior’s condition had worsened since they left.

“Stay awake, little warrior,” April murmured encouragingly, tapping his cheek to keep him from falling asleep. She watched Donnie run a scan, a scowl already creasing his face. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s still not stable. I don’t get it. His pacemaker should be doing its job. Why isn’t it working?” he hissed, tapping at his tech brace. “It’s like it blew a capacitor or something.”

“Do pacemakers even have capacitors?”

“Do pacemakers have capacitors,” Donnie repeated while waving his arms around. “I don’t know! I never studied medical aids before. I just made sure the stupid thing worked.” April took Donnie’s hand. It forced him to stop, breathe. He needed to relax. It wouldn’t help anyone to have a manic turtle. He slipped out of her grip to press his hand against Junior’s chest. “I don’t know what’s wrong. If I had access to our equipment maybe I could get a proper read but without it I’d just have to guess.” He tapped a beat on the back of Junior’s hand. The kid seemed to follow it with his breathing, completely unaware. “We don’t even have anesthesia. If I were to open him up to fix what malfunctioned,” Donnie trailed off with a shiver.

“Why not go back to recover some stuff from our old cave?”

“No way. The kraang could be waiting for us there.”

She hesitated. She looked down at Junior. He seemed frail in her arms. It reminded her of when he was still a baby, impossibly small and frail. She spoke in a hushed tone, “What about Raph?”

Donnie sat up straight, his gaze hardened by an unnameable emotion. “Don’t mention–”

Leo stepped into the cave. Dark undereye bags marred his skin, visible for once since he hadn’t bothered to put his mask on. He had a hollow, disinterested expression on his face. He stared at them, grunting when they didn’t continue talking. “Please,” he started sarcastically, “don’t stop because of me.”

April looked between the two brothers. She desperately wanted to say something to ease the tension thick in the air but was at a loss for words. This was so unlike any other situation they’d been in. Even when Splinter died, they could at least grapple with the grief by remembering the full life he lived. But Raph…

Leo sat down next to her, gaze softening once Junior was in his sights. “We need to get our stuff back,” he whispered, brushing Junior’s bangs off his face. “Raph is waiting for us.”

April and Donnie shared a look. “I don’t think–”

“He wasn’t suggesting it,” Casey cut in. She stood in the cave entrance, face hidden in shadows but her voice alone struck a chord with everyone. “We need that equipment. I’m not letting my kid die because of the kraang.” She engaged her mask, her eyes glowing red. “Purple, O’Neil, on me. Blue and Orange will stay behind and keep watch. Any questions? No? Good.”

No one mentioned that she hadn’t given anyone enough time to speak. They all knew better than to go between Casey and her son. April gently placed Junior on Leo’s lap. For a moment, Leo looked tranquil holding Junior, fussing with his hair. Then Mikey appeared with a flash of orange chains. His hands hovered over Junior’s body, glowing as he used his mystic energy. She stepped away, hesitantly at first, then she rushed as Casey called after her. She trailed behind Donnie who leaned down to speak quietly with Casey. They must’ve been discussing something important if Donnie was bothering to keep it on the down-low. That wasn’t really his style.

At some point along their journey, Casey snapped at him. They were further ahead so April couldn’t understand what Casey said but Donnie recoiled, closing in on himself. The rest of their trip went by in awkward silence.

Donnie didn’t recognize their old cave upon sight. If April hadn’t pulled on his robe to stop him, he would’ve walked right past it. It was a sad pile of rubble, some walls still upright by some miracle. His legs trembled at the sight. He knew better than to get attached to the caves–they were always temporary, a means to an end, he reminded himself–but they had spent a good ten years in this cave. It was the cave Junior took his first steps in, where he said his first words.

A hand on his shoulder pulled him from his thoughts. He didn’t have to check to know April stood beside him. She squeezed his hand. “Do you want me to look for Raph?”

He processed her words slowly. It was a simple question. An out, an option for escape. He fumbled with his tech brace. Raph’s icon blinked a happy grin on his forearm. “No,” he answered in a flat voice. “He’s injured. I’m the only one with enough medical knowledge to help him.” He spoke in a matter-of-fact manner. It was all he could do to postpone the downward spiral his mind seemed so intent to go on.

Thankfully, April didn’t argue. She gave his hand one final squeeze then joined Casey in digging for their equipment. Donnie made his way outside, following the destruction. He barely checked his tracker. Raph’s happy face mocked him.

You left me, it whispered cruelly. You abandoned your brother.

“Shut up.”

His voice was weak. Pathetic. He didn’t have time for this self-deprecating bullshit. The buildings were almost completely decimated. No doubt from the kraang and Raph’s battle. He searched for something–anything–that could tell him where his brother was. All he found was Leo’s sword, new nicks lining the sharpened edge. Other than that, there were no signs. Donnie checked his tech brace. It flashed rhythmically.

Beep. Beep.

Beep. Beep.

“Where are you?” he asked aloud. There wasn’t movement, noise, or any other indication that there was a living being in his vicinity. “Stupid,” he hissed, smacking his wrist brace. “Useless hunk of junk–”

Something tackled him from behind. Together, they rolled until they slammed into a wall. Donnie scrambled for Leo’s sword, just a few inches away–just out of reach–but the crushing weight on his shell stopped his attempts. His breath came out in aborted bursts. There was no hope of calling for help. Whatever held him down wrapped a slithering appendage around his neck and lifted him off the ground.

The kraang? Donnie knew they shouldn’t have come back. He couldn’t even warn April and Casey before the blasted alien strangled him. He had to fight back, get free. He had to protect his family. He kicked his legs, struggling enough that his attacker dropped him. He grasped at his throat, taking in huge gulps of air as he grabbed the hilt in his free hand.

The sword felt light as air.

Donnie turned over and thrust the blade at his enemy.

Raph stood above him.

Everything seemed to be moving in slow-motion around Donnie. A warped version of his brother held himself above him, pierced by Leo’s sword. There was no question it was Raph. Even with a pink mass covering a good portion of his skull. But it made no sense–

Suddenly, Raph screeched. It was an awful wailing sound that shot through Donnie’s tympana. “Raph,” he shouted, shoving at his brother to get him off the blade, “I’m sorry. Sorry! Get– Work– Damn it! I can fix this just– just work with me.”

The sword slid from the wound, followed by a gross squelching as blood dripped from the gash. Donnie’s stomach turned over at the scent. Rancid, putrid–almost akin to the stench of rotting corpses. There was a reason he didn’t perform rescue missions. They needed heroes. Not someone who couldn’t even handle an awful, horrible, foul odor–

But this wasn’t about him. Raph had pulled away, holding the gaping wound on his shoulder. His eyes moved independently of each other before narrowing their focus to Donnie. He bared his teeth–sharper than they’d ever been–and lunged at the scientist.

Donnie managed to dodge at the last minute, using the sword to parry Raph’s body. “Let me help you!” He blocked a swing from a tentacle arm. “Come home with me–with us. Your family needs you!”

Raph screeched at him. He barely had enough time to react. He jumped to avoid a low sweep… forcing him straight into the tentacle arm’s grip. Donnie struggled to hold onto the sword but he felt more than heard it fall from his hand as his vision began spotting due to the constricting force upon his head. Panic quickly set in. Donnie kicked and punched the best he could. He knew it was all pointless. Raph had always been stronger than him.

Immense pain flashed through him as what he could only assume were hairline fractures in his skull started forming. Then, it disappeared. The looming threat of death paused in its track. Donnie opened his eyes to see a red sky hanging over him. A shrill ringing filled his tympana as his entire body continued to feel wired by the adrenaline. Slowly, he pushed himself up to talk some sense into his kraangified brother.

Raph was on the ground.

Casey stood above him.

Blood was everywhere. The smell somehow permeated the very air around him. Donnie covered his nostrils to stop the overwhelming stench. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening.

A hand landed on his shoulder, shocking him. He flinched back, pushing himself to get away from whatever touched him. April watched him. She didn’t respond. She didn’t have to. The trembling frown on her face said it all. Then she opened her mouth. She spoke to him, the gentle tone of her voice coming to him completely muffled. He kept staring at Raph’s body slowly oozing blood onto the ground. There had to be a way to fix this. They needed Raph.

Donnie needed Raph.


Casey’s voice held him down, a firm, immovable pressure. He looked up at her. She was completely blank. Was his face like that too? Or did he look like a child with tears streaming down his face as he tried in vain to fix a situation that could never be changed?

April offered her hand. “We have to go home,” she whispered, voice hiccuping at the end. “Junior needs us.”

Donnie stared between her and Casey, then at the corpse of his older brother, pinned to the ground by Leo’s sword. He closed his eyes and took April’s hand.

Casey knew the others were brimming with questions the moment they arrived at the cave, but they must’ve known better than to ask when they didn’t see Raph in tow. She shoved the medical equipment she and April managed to scavenge into Mikey’s hands. Nothing else needed to be said.

She moved further along the cave and settled on the ground. Out came her kusarigama. Tending to her weapons usually calmed her down. They didn’t have any oil or even a whetstone to work the blade so there wasn’t much Casey could do other than inspect the chain, then the blade, and wipe away some superficial grime.

Rust dotted its surface from years of use without proper maintenance but she could still see her reflection. Casey hated what she saw. She hated what she had become–a product of the apocalypse.

A killer.

Of course, it was done out of necessity but how many brothers had she taken from the world? Wives, fathers, daughters

She pushed her weapon to the side.

There was still blood on her hands. There hadn’t been anything to clean them with where they were before and it wasn’t like Casey was the one performing surgery in the other cave. Raph’s blood was on her hands. Could she even call that creature Raph? Raph wouldn’t have been so hellbent on killing his brother. Raph was impossibly kind. He had so much love to give. He gave so much of it to Casey and she killed him.

She killed her best friend.

It was concerningly easy how quick she was about it. Not much pomp and circumstance. She didn’t flinch as she thrust his own brother’s blade into his eye. A guaranteed death. How many times had she done it before only to nameless people that delayed her rescue missions? Why had she killed them? Was that truly the only way? Of course it was, she reasoned. Casey had to believe that, repeat it like a mantra or else she wouldn’t have been able to save anyone.


She moved slowly, barely processing that someone was talking to her. Leo stood in front of her. The rest of the team behind him.

“Junior is gonna be okay,” he said, kneeling to be more eye-level with her. He searched her face for something–she didn’t know what. She was too distracted by her thoughts.

How was she going to tell Junior?

Casey stared at Leo. “Raph is dead.” Her voice was flat, devoid of emotions. No one responded so she continued. She inspected the blood crusting on her hands. “I killed him.”

Mikey floated forward. “You killed him?”

She nodded. Everything felt detached from reality. Saying it aloud changed the situation, charged it with an emotion she feared naming. “He turned. Purple was gonna be next or worse–” Donnie would have died too. “I had no choice.”

“No choice,” Mikey echoed.

No one else spoke. Casey couldn’t decide if the silence was better than outward rage. She looked up at them to gauge their reactions but they were as shocked as her. Leo held onto the wall and slid down to sit beside her.

“There was really no helping him?” he muttered. His gaze remained fixed on her palms, lines of red glaring back at her. “The kraang got to him?”

“The infection had fully gone through his system by the time we arrived,” Donnie supplied. “He didn’t recognize any of us. He would’ve killed anyone in his path. I owe Casey my life,” he murmured the last part. As if he still hadn’t fully come to terms with it.

“You don’t owe me squat,” Casey said, suddenly filled with ire. “I killed Raph–your brother–yell, scream, kick me off the team–”

“You don’t mean that,” Mikey interjected.

She pushed herself to stand. Her whole body trembled. “I do. There’s no forgiving what I’ve done. It’s my fault–”

“Just like it’s mine that Draxum is dead?” he shot back. She recoiled at the venomous tone. He continued, floating toward her so there was no way to avoid the conversation. “Or Donnie’s that Dad is dead? Or–”

“That’s different–”

“Like hell, it is, Casey!” He grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her vigorously. “None of that is our fault! We’re in the middle of the apocalypse. Anything can happen. It’s out of our control.” She turned away so she didn’t have to face him. Her eyes stung with unshed tears she refused to let fall. Mikey’s grip loosened. “You already lost someone you loved,” he whispered. “Don’t push us away too. Raph wouldn’t want that. Not for you.” He took her hand in his, rubbing the crusted blood off her palm. “Or for any of us.”

Casey slowly looked up at the team–her family. They were watching her, tired eyes and exhausted figures huddled close. They weren’t upset. They were grieving but that didn’t mean they hated her. She couldn’t quite wrap her head around it but, regardless of what she thought, they huddled around her, forming a cuddle pile she couldn’t possibly escape. She still felt like she was drifting through but now she knew that they would be waiting patiently to ground her.

Junior was slow to wake up after surgery but, when his eyelids finally peeled apart, his mother was waiting by his side. She fiddled with a red mask. It was torn up a bit, like the person who wore it fought rough. It reminded him of his father.

“Mama,” he murmured, still drowsy from the anesthesia.

Casey jumped in her seat, tucking the mask away. Out of sight, out of mind–that was the motto she told him to live by during the apocalypse. He wondered if that was still true, considering the kraang had found them despite their hiding spot. Junior grabbed her hand. It was flushed red like she had been scratching it–had she gotten a rash?–but she didn’t pull away so he squeezed it. She squeezed back. Her face was blank yet her eyes told an entirely different story. She seemed to have a thousand thoughts racing in her mind. Just as Junior was about to say something to calm her down, Casey sighed.

“CJ,” she started, tone firm.

He sat up straight. Casey only ever called him that when she had to tell him something important. “Yeah, Mom?”

Suddenly, she shifted her gaze to their hands. “I wanted to talk to you,” she continued softly, “about life.” She looked back at him. “How it doesn’t always turn out the way you expected.”

Casey opened her mouth to say more but an odd sound left her. It was a hoarse, weak little noise that Junior had never heard his mother make before. She swallowed, lips trembling. Junior’s heart leaped up into his throat. He touched his mother’s cheek, rubbing at the tears slowly dripping down her face. She looked at him, gaze flickering like she couldn’t decide what to look at. A laugh bubbled forth as she took him into her lap and hugged him, running her fingers through his hair. Junior’s shoulder became wet quickly after.


She paused in her ministrations, tightening her hold on him. “Raph loved you so much, you know that?” She laughed again but it wasn’t a happy thing. It was wet and sad like she was holding back. Her hand trembled as she played with his hair. “When you were a baby he would take care of you. He’d wrap a blanket around his chest and carry you around in it while I was away on missions. You’d always giggle and play with his spikes, even though they were pointy and you’d cry whenever they pricked you–”

“Mama,” Junior whispered, “why are you telling me this? Where’s Dad?”

Casey shook against him. Deep, deep down, he knew what she was trying to say but he didn’t want to believe it. It wasn’t going to be true until she said it. Until he heard it and couldn’t ignore it. Because if his father was fine then why hadn’t he been there to receive Junior with Casey? Why wasn’t he wrapping them up in one of his signature hugs that made everything better?

“Raph is dead.”

Her voice cracked at the end. She couldn’t accept it either. This was tearing her apart too. She pulled Junior closer against her chest, embracing him, but they both knew.

There was no changing this.

Art provided by Karday! Find them here and here.

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Back | Home

DISCLAIMER: The characters I write about on this website are not my own. These characters are owned by their respective creators. These works are fanfiction and I make no money from them!