Summery: Red is the colour of energy, action, impulse, and passion. It is also the colour of blood…and revenge.
Notes: I’m a little late on the prompts (I was away on vacation) but I’m back now and I have 2 done and a few others planned out. This is the first one and I’ll be posting the next one tomorrow :) It’s not really what I normally write for this pairing but I hope you all like it anyways.
“On your left!”
Raph turned just in time to intercept the sword headed for his throat. With a twist of his sais he sent the weapon flying before tearing the head off his opponent. The Footbot went down hard on the grimy rooftop in a flash of sparks and a screech of metal. It twitched pathetically for a moment then fell mercifully still.
Glancing around Raph took stock of the remaining opponents. The numbers weren’t great but they weren’t bad either. The rooftop was scattered with the remains of decimated robot parts, decapitated heads, arms, and other various pieces. Clearly the Kraang hadn’t been doing there best work when they’d made this batch because they were coming apart like they’d been put together with bubble gum. Between him and April they’d managed to whittle down the initial thirteen to a measly four.
A sharp metallic whir cut through the air and Raph struck out almost unconsciously. Yet another Footbot went flying over the edge of the building, bringing the total down to three. At the far end of the nearly deserted rooftop Raph could see April finishing off her own Footbot. With one final swipe of her tessen she neatly beheaded the cyborg.
“Hey April,” He called out lazily. “Think we’re almost done here?”
“I really hope so,” The red head tossed her sweaty bangs out of her eyes, “I’ve got a midterm coming up and I don’t think my prof is going to accept fighting evil ninja robots as an excuse…Even if it is for engineering.”
Suddenly April froze, as if sensing something. With a simple flick of the wrist she sent her weapon flying into the shadows below a nearby water-tower. With a high pitched squeal a sparking figure collapsed to the ground.
“You’d think the Shredder would have gotten an upgrade by now.” April said glancing at the Footbots with a look of disgust. “This is just kind of sad.”
Taking stock of the damage they’d wrought, Raph couldn’t help but agree. While the Footbots had long ago been recategorized from “threat” to “nuisance”, they were still good for a bit of exercise. The sheer numbers should have had him at least breaking a sweat.
“Well, well, what do we have here?” A voice hissed from the shadows. Raph could make out a hulking shape slipping through the darkness like oil over water. “A little girl and her pet. How precious.”
“Rahzar.” Raph growled tightening his grip on his weapons. “I thought I smelt dog shit. What? Shredder let you off your leash?”
A deep grating chuckle emanated from the shadows but Rahzar still didn’t reveal himself. Carefully April and Raph turned outwards preparing for some form of attack. Eyes focused into the darkness, they waited tensely for any sign of movement.
“Very clever, turtle.” Rahzar’s voice seemed to echo from everywhere at once. “I’d show you how weak you are without your brothers to protect you but I have far more important things to attend to.”
With a final, arrogant laugh the skeletal dog took off across the rooftops, leaving April and Raph far behind. Muscles tense, Raph prepared to follow. Whatever Rahzar was up to, it probably wasn’t good for anyone. Briefly Raph considered calling his brothers for back up, then decided against it. Despite all his big talk Rahzar wasn’t as strong as he thought he was. A vicious grin stretched across Raph’s face. It was time to take out the trash.
Then the red-masked turtle remembered, he wasn’t alone.
While Raph had been trading barbs with the mutant dog, April was focused on other things. She grunted as the last remaining Footbots finally decided to come out of hiding. It was only for a split second but it was long enough for April to take a shot with her weapon. Somehow the robot managed to avoid the blow and cart-wheeled backwards. It watched cautiously as April’s weapon flew back to her hand, its bug like eyes flashing against the darkness.
“Go on Raph,” April said with a smirk. She eyed the Footbot with almost sadistic pleasure. “I think I can handle one Footbot by myself and I know you’re itching to give Rahzar a beat-down.”
For a moment Raph hesitated. Leo had repeated time and time again that when on patrol you MUST stay with your partner, and as irritating as Leo could be at his preachiest Raph knew he was right. April was good, not the best but good, but she was still learning. Not that he minded staying as she finished up; watching her take out Footbots did something funny to his stomach. Whenever she fought she got this blood thirsty smile the made her look like wolf on the hunt.
It kinda hot…not that he’d ever tell her that. He liked his shell where it was.
But Rahzar was getting away and April was giving him the stink eye as she faced off against her robotic foe. It was an expression he knew too well. It said, “You don’t trust me do you? You don’t think I can do it? I’m a kunoichi damn it. Go or I’ll kick your ass next.” Usually it was Leo on the receiving end of that glare and Raph found it significantly less amusing when it was turned in his direction.
“Two minutes,” Raph finally barked, pointing a finger at the red-head. “I’ll be back in two minutes okay? Just don’t tell Leo. I’ll never hear the end of it.”
“I’ll be fine shell brain,” April replied cheerfully, smacking one of the robot’s six arms away with ease. “Just go.”
With a sharp nod, Raph turned and took off after Rahzar.
Despite his head start the other mutant was surprisingly easy to find. He’d only made it three blocks before Raph caught up. A swift kick to the chest sent Rahzar flying into a pile of crates. Splinters and dust floated through the air as he struggled to extract himself.
“Gotcha dog breath,” Raph said with a triumphant smirk.
With a low growl Rahzar struck out, his claws flashing in the moon light. Dodging backwards Raph sidestepped ever blow with ease. Over the years Rahzar had clearly gotten slower. His attacks were something even Mikey could avoid. Maybe he was aging in dog years or something?
“So what’s this big plan all about?” Raph said, half hoping to distract his opponent and half hoping he’d actually start talking.
One of Rahzar’s greatest weaknesses was his arrogance. More than one of Shredder’s plans had failed because of his minion’s big mouth. With any luck this would be one of those times.
“None of your business, freak.” Rahzar replied. “My master has given me an important task and I won’t fail because of the likes of you.”
“Freak?” Raph could feel his infamous temper flaring to life. While he wasn’t nearly as bad as he’d used to be his self-control still wasn’t the best. “Have you looked in a mirror lately?”
There was a screech of claws on metal as Rahzar and Raph came together in a flash of motion. They battled for the upper hand, both seeking to overpower the other but their physical strength was close enough to cause a stalemate.
“At least I know what I am.” Rahzar hissed, and Raph could almost smell the hate on his breath. “I’m not some child that plays at being human.”
For a second Raph went dark. It happened sometimes. It was like he lost track of himself for a moment and the world would slow to a crawl. There was nothing. No thoughts, only peaceful darkness. Then he’d come back and time would re-center itself.
This time he snapped back to find Rahzar flat on his back, one of Raph’s sais poised just above his eye.
“You don’t know anything.” Raph managed to choke out between panting breaths.
“Don’t I?” Rahzar’s voice was eerily calm for someone in such a vulnerable position. “You, and your brothers, and your rat master are so confident. So sure of your strength.”
A thin smile stretched across Rahzar’s misshapen face as though he were telling himself a particularly good joke. Then, suddenly, the mutant’s ears twitched and his eyes flicked minutely to the side.
“I think it is you who doesn’t know.” Jerking out one skeletal leg, Rahzar managed to set Raph off balance enough that he was able to escape from beneath the turtle. “You have no idea…but you will.”
With a jarring chuckle Rahzar flung himself off the side of the roof. Immediately, Raph rushed to the edge, searching the street below. It was empty except for a single blinking street light.
Cursing all the way, Raph hurried back to find April. How could he have been co careless? He should have known Rahzar was going to try that shit. And that leg swipe? If only he’d braced himself better in never would have worked. God the guys were never going to let him live it down. And that was if Leo didn’t find out about his leaving April behind.
Tonight was turning out to be complete shit.
Clearing the last few rooftops with ease Raph caught sight of April’s form a short distance away. The moon was at her back, silhouetting her figure. He was about to call out to her when she turned his way. Raph skidded to a stop, his breath tight in his throat.
For a moment neither party said anything, just stared at each other. Normally Raph would have made a sarcastic comment or biting insult, but not tonight. Tonight Karai was different.
It was something in her face, in the slope of her shoulders, in the way she tilted her head. It was like it was Karai but at the same time it wasn’t. Like something different had crawled inside her body and made its home.
Normally the young woman oozed confidence, almost to the point of arrogance. Confidence in her skills, confidence in her blade, confidence in herself. Now she stared at him and she looked…tired. Just tired. Like all the sharp life, the tightly coiled rage, that made Karai who she was had suddenly disappeared. For the first time he could remember Raph saw something in her eyes that he’d never seen before.
In her eyes was remorse.
And it was terrifying.
Raph had seen many things in his life that woke him late at night. He’s seen men become monsters and monsters become demons. He’d fought his fair share of big, bad, and really, really ugly. This…this was something completely different though. This froze his blood in a way that he couldn’t explain. Couldn’t fight.
“I’m sorry.” Karai finally managed to choke out stiffly. The words tumbled out of her mouth as almost an afterthought. Her hands clenched and unclenched at her side like she was unsure how her body worked anymore.
“My father…he…I’m sorry.”
Then like that, she was gone. No puff of a smoke bomb, no flash of movement. Just gone. Like she’d never been there at all.
It took Raph a couple of seconds to shake of the chill her words had left behind. There was something seriously off about that girl. She was dangerous and, normally, unrepentant. A true daughter of the Shredder. Leo couldn’t see it. He still thought she could be saved, but Raph knew better. Sometimes things were broken and just couldn’t be fixed. Not even with Donnie’s magic hands.
The thought was so heavy that Raph had to physically shake it off before he could move once more. He had more important things to do right now then worry about the Foot Princess. Like where April went for example. Seriously, that girl couldn’t follow instruction if her life depended on it.
Taking a couple steps forward Raph felt something ooze beneath his feet. Grimacing he froze once more, not even daring to check to see what he’d stepped in. In New York sometimes it was better not to know. Gathering his courage the red masked turtle finally glanced down, relaxing his shoulders as he did so.
It wasn’t so bad. It was only a small puddle of…something. It could have been much worse. Taking a closer look, Raph still couldn’t figure out the hell it was. Crouching, he reached out a thick green finger down and rubbed the liquid between his fingers. It almost felt like…
Wildly Raph jumped to his feet. His legs were moving long before his brain caught up. It was stuck somewhere in an endless loop of denial as he worked his way around a nearby storage building.
Only to fall into icy silence.
Propped up against the wooden wall lay April. Ignoring the scrape of gravel, Raph collapsed to his knees beside her, carefully taking in her battered form.
Bruises and scraped littered her body, some oozing sluggishly to pool beneath her but that was by no means the worst of it. Protruding from April’s abdomen was a long knife buried clear up to the hilt. Blood stained her bright yellow shirt and the ground below a dark maroon.
This was bad. This was so, so bad. There was so much blood that Raph had to keep himself from being sick. He’d seen blood before, they all had, but never this much and never from someone who…He couldn’t even finish the thought.
With numb fingers Raph reached into his belt, grasping for his phone. He barely noticed as he dialed the numbers. It was as though his body had taken control, pushing him through the motions as he watched from afar.
“Donnie? We need you up here now. April’s hurt…I don’t know…” Looking around desperately Raph tried to pinpoint his location. “We’re on the roof of the office buildings on the corner of Eighth and Main.”
Not even bothering to hear his brother’s response Raph ended the call, or maybe he smashed his phone. He really couldn’t remember.
Slowly Raph edged a little closer to his frighteningly still friend. She was so still and so pale. Her normally light smattering of freckles were dark against her skin. It looked more like paint on paper then anything remotely human.
Fingers shaking, Raph reached out and placed two fingers just below her chin. She was so pale, he thought idly as he felt around, praying to whoever what listening. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Raph caught the reedy beat of a heart beneath his fingers.
With that, a massive weight was lifted from his shoulders. Moving down Raph took a closer look at the worst of her wounds. Now Raph was no medic like Donnie but even he knew that trying to get the knife out now was a terrible idea. At the moment it was the only think keeping April from bleeding out.
Quickly, Raph began unwrap the bindings on his hands. With all the gentleness he possessed, he began to pack the linen as tightly as possible around the entry wound. Hopefully it would be enough to stop the steady stream of blood trickling from the cut. Using what remained he began to secure the blade to keep it from jostling and falling out or causing more damage. As he moved to tie the final knot, Raph snarled in frustration.
The damn bindings were too short.
Glancing around, Raph to find something he could use to finish. He was just short of enough material and he didn’t dare tear April’s clothes. They were already soaked through with blood and wouldn’t do much good. The only materials left were his foot bindings and that was so unsanitary that he didn’t even consider it.
Hesitating for a split second Raph reached up and fingered the end of his mark. The scrap of red cloth was precious to him. It was a gift from Master Splinter, a sign that he was true ninja in his own right. The only time he ever took it off was to sleep and to shower.
Gripping the material in his hand Raph finished off the bandage. Yes his mask was important but April’s life was worth so much more that it wasn’t even a contest. Finally finished, Raph leaned back slightly to take a look at his work.
It was a mess, this was Donnie’s thing not his, but it would hold for now.
Now that her wounds were taken care of, well as taken care of as they were going to get, Raph gathered April carefully up into his arms. She was so tiny compared to him. It was easy to forget, with her fiery temper and huge presence that she wasn’t like them. Unlike him and his brothers April had no shell to protect her from the world.
That was supposed have been his job.
Gripping April’s still form a little tighter, Raph felt a knot settle in the pit of his stomach. It was all his fault. He was her patrol partner. He was supposed to have her back. Instead he’d run off on some wild goose chase and left her to be attacked. What good was the strength that he’d worked so hard to hone when it couldn’t even protect the one he…
Raph’s miserable thoughts were cut off by a small groan from below.
“April?” He muttered, shaking her slightly. “April, you have to wake up.”
“Wah?” April’s eyelids fluttered but didn’t open. “Go ‘way Raph. I’m sleepy.”
“NO!” Raph all but shouted. “You can‘t sleep. Listen to me Ape you’ve got to stay awake. No sleeping ya hear me?”
Groaning April did what she was told. The simple task of opening one’s eyes seemed Herculean as her lids slowly peeled back, revealing their normal blue.
“Hey.” Even as she stared up at Raph’s face, April’s eyes remained unfocused.
The word seemed more of a breath then anything but it was the sweetest sound Raph had ever heard.
“Karai was here,” April murmured slowly, each word falling from her lips like a stone. As she worked her way back to consciousness, April tried to piece the situation together. “She was scared…of something…kept talking about duty and honour and…Raph my stomach hurts.”
“Ya, you got a little banged up.” Raph pasted what he hoped was a casual smirk on his face as he fought back his own fear. The glazed look in her eyes was troubling and every breath looked more painful than the last. “Don’t worry Doctor Donnie’s on his way and he’s gonna fix you up good as new.”
Contemplating his words for a second April gave a loose nod, as though Raph’s words explained everything. Settling back into his hold, April and Raph descended into contemplative silence. The only sound on the lonely rooftop was April’s labored breathing.
In and Out. In and Out.
After a few minute Raph found himself breathing in time with her. In and out. It was calming in a way, almost like meditation. It assured him that yes, April was alive, she was here in his arms, and she was going to be okay.
“Where’d your mask go?”
A tiny hand moved through the air to rest against his cheek. With a sigh Raph leaned into the touch, letting her explore his face unhindered. Her hands were slightly wet, but gentle as they traced the lines and curved of his face. Finally, the hand came to a rest just near his jaw. Almost unconsciously Raph moved to cover it with his own. They seemed so dainty, dwarfed by his large ones, but Raph knew how deadly they could be.
“I must have lost it when I was fighting Rahzar. I’ll get a new one when we get back. Don’t want people finding out my secret identity do I?”
As expected, Raph words startled a small chuckle out April. Within seconds though the laughter turned into chest rattling coughs. Wincing, Raph rubbed her shoulders, waiting for the attack to subside. Finally the coughing slowed and April was able to relax.
Again there was silence, as April struggled to breath and Raph struggled to find something to say that wouldn’t worsen the situation.
“Hey Raph…” April mumbled sadly, breaking the silence. “Am I going to die?”
Her words, so sudden and calm, took Raph’s breath away. Part of him wanted to shake her and tell her that she couldn’t die. She could never die. She was too important to them, to him. Mikey needed someone to eat his nasty concoctions and laugh along with his terrible jokes. Master Splinter needed someone to fill the hole Miwa left behind. Donnie needed someone who understood him when he talked about all that sciency junk. Leo needed someone to kick him in the ass whenever he got too high and mighty. Raph needed her to…
He just needed her.
“That’s stupid.” Raph barked trying to hide the shaking of his hands. “Of course you’re not going to die. A little cut like that? Psh, that’s nothing. We’re going to take you back to the Lair and Donnie’s going to patch you up. Then he’s gonna hover around nagging you to stay in bed and take your medicine. It’s a fate worse than death, believe me.”
This time April just stared blankly at the sky, as though she hadn’t heard a word he’d said. Worriedly Raph checked her wound. The makeshift bandage wasn’t holding up well. The cloth was already soaked though and was again dripping down to the gravel below.
Where the fuck was Donnie? It felt like hours had passed since he’d made the call but still reinforcements had yet to arrive. At this rate, Raph realized, he might have to risk moving her himself. It would be dangerous but soon it was going to be his only option.
“The stars are so pretty.”
Blinking, Raph shook himself from his thoughts. Following April’s gaze Raph stared at the night sky. The bright city lights and the full moon meant that only a few stars to be seen. They glowed pathetically in the over-lit sky, barely visible.
Raph wanted to scoff. To tell April that a city girl like her hadn’t seen nothing. He’d take her along next time Master Splinter took them to their special training spot in the woods far outside the city. They’d only been there a few times but the night sky was something to see. It was like a sea of stars that spread past the canopy of leaves in all direction. They’d stay up all night and tell ghost stories, and Donnie would point out a bunch of stars. They’d watch the sun set and stay up to see it rise again the next morning. It would be great.
Raph looked down, ready to tell April’s blue eyes all of this, only to find himself staring down at her closed lids.
“No, no, no,” Raph began to panic. “You havt’a open your eyes April. Just a little longer.”
This time though April’s eyes remained closed.
“Sorry Raphie,” The words came out in short gasps, “cold…’M so cold.”
Gently Raph shook her once, then harder a second time. Still, April’s eyes wouldn’t open.
“Sorry I let you down.”
“Shut up.” Raph’s voice cracked for the first time since he was sixteen again but he didn’t care. “Just shut up. You didn’t let me down and you’re going to be fine. Leo’s gonna bring Donnie and Donnie’s gonna to fix you. Donnie fixes everything.”
This time there was no response, only the sound of April’s labored breathing. Out and in, out and in, out…
Raph waited…and waited…and waited.
Eventually his screaming lungs gave out and he greedily gulped in a breath. But April did not. Her breathing had been so loud, almost annoyingly so, but now Raph would have given anything to hear her take another raping breath.
Letting the still body fall to the ground, Raph scrambled to the side of the building. The second his plastron hit the edge he was retching. It was though his body was trying to physically deny reality by purging every molecule from his stomach. It felt like an eternity as his stomach emptied itself again and again. Finally the painful spasms subsided into shudders.
His hands heavy, Raph whipped his mouth as best he could as he struggled to rise on shaking legs. Catching sight of himself in a window across the alleyway, he couldn’t help but stare.
It was like a complete stranger was staring back. It was the face of a turtle to be sure but it was also the face of a man. A man overcome by grief. His eyes and cheeks were wet with tears Raph hadn’t know he’d shed and his face seemed empty without his mask. In it’s place though was a new kind of red, his face was painted a deep red. With blood, his brain supplied, with April’s blood. April’s blood was on his face.
Stomach rolling again at the thought, Raph’s hands moved to wipe it off, to clean himself of the act, of the guilt, but paused. Instead tentative fingers traced the dark maroon. This was all he had left off the young woman he’d come to care for so deeply. This was the only reminder he deserved.
This was also a promise.
Raph knew his brothers were coming and that they’d find April’s body and it would hurt them all. They would not know of the second death though. There would be no body but as sure as April had died on that roof, so had Raphael. Raphael, the turtle who tried to be human, was no more.
In his place was a new creature. One not held back by Leo’s, or even Master Splinter’s, speeches about honour and mercy. The enemy had showed no mercy to April and it had cost her. Honour was a luxury he could no longer afford. Mercy was the mark of a great man but now Raph realized, Rahzar was right. He was not a man, he was a ninja…and a monster.
They would all pay. Rahzar. The Kraang. The Shredder. Anyone who had ever tried to hurt his family, hurt April, they would all pay. Karai would pay. Screw Leo and his “there’s good in her”. That bitch was going to bleed. She was going to die.
Just like April.
Stomach empty Raph dragged himself back across the roof. Lowering himself, slowly this time, he settled down to keep a silent vigil over his fallen friend.
She looked so lonely, laying there on that empty rooftop. So Raph did the only thing he could do. Gathering her still warm body into his arms, Raph began to breathe softly, rhythmically.
In and out, in and out…
Donnie will be here soon.