Title: A Question of Guilt

Rating: PG-13

The water was still for a moment.

Then came the bubbles reflecting the distant city lights like christmas baubles in candlelight.

Suddenly a large splash could be heard as something very unusual rose to the surface. It was round, solid and .... green?

Leonardo struggled to latch onto the floating driftwood, spitting out the dirty water as he looked at the pier suspiciously. Raphael followed Leonardo's gaze and saw the limp hand which had once belonged to their evil adversary. He breathed in relief.

"That's the end of the Shredder" Donatello muttered as the other two turtles agreed in unison.

"Mike?" Leonardo looked around himself suddenly, the missing brother became apparant. Without another word, Leonardo fearlessly dove into the murky waters, heading to the same place he had last seen his missing brother.


"Don't forget .... we're turtles!!!" Leonardo shouted confidently.

Michaelangelo sighed. He was a turtle, but what the hell was Leonardo referring to? The theory that they could breathe underwater? Yeah, right. As if.

The pier suddenly gave way as Shredder's crushing weight became too much for it to support. Mikey yelped as he saw Donatello jump into the murky water, and as Raphael quickly followed.

"Come on ...." Leonardo pushed Mikey into the water and then quickly followed. The water was dense and nothing was visible in the appalling pollution as Leonardo kicked his way to the surface. He could feel Mikey briefly, and then nothing. Nothing but the gloomy darkness and stench of city waste. Nothing ....

----- ------

The water was as murky as before. Leonardo dove deeper, feeling the crap around him with a shudder of guilt. He had left Mikey. Mikey obviously had been unprepared for the descent into this murky water. He only prayed Mikey had developed the skill he and his other two brothers had developed instinctively.

A slight sensation on his right side alerted him to the presence of Raphael and Donatello, each as determined to find their missing brother as he was.

The destruction of the pier came into view and the three turtles split up, searching the ruins with a ninja's methodical accuracy.

Raphael felt the lump in his throat, the sudden fear that they were too late when he saw the battered body of his brother before him. He quickly swam to the seemingly lifeless figure and tried to pull him out from the broken wood. Desperately he signalled Leonardo and Donatello who made their ways quickly to Raphael's side.

Mikey had his eyes closed tightly, his entire face was scrunched as if in agony, his body now and then convulsing as he tried to control his spasoming limbs.

Leonardo was the first to come to Raphael's side and quickly assessed the situation with a ninja's calm. Michaelangelo was trapped, his leg stuck under a piece of wood which would take them an hour to remove. His face was contorted, and gradually turning purple. He signalled to Raphael in ninja sign language, announcing that Michaelangelo was unable to breathe under the water. Leonardo was shocked to realise maybe he never had learnt how.

It was nothing they had ever learnt as a group, something which was expected of each of them to know naturally. However, Mikey was susceptible to television and movies. When had he ever seen someone breathe under water? Leonardo cursed himself for being so naive and failing to notice the obvious.

He gently cupped his brothers head in his hands and Michaelangelo opened his eyes deliriously.

Leonardo gently held the precious head in his hands, which could so easily have destroyed if they had wished, and demonstrated the art to Mikey, the way to breathe. Leonardo opened his mouth and inhaled the murky water easily and watched Mikey's reaction intently.

Mikey suddenly panicked, and flailed his arms desperately in disbelief. His body was shuddering with the effort to hold his breath and Leonardo drew closer, holding him tighter to his chest.

Raphael and Donatello, working so hard to remove the wood from Michaelangelo's leg shook their heads. It would be at least ten minutes longer before they freed their panick-stricken brother from the pier's remains.

Leonardo shook Mikey sharply, and saw the focus return to his brother's fearful eyes. His gaze was failing in his desperation to stay alive, his limbs weakening and his pulse quickening.

Leonardo was beginning to panic himself. He knew his brother was dying in front of him, yet he was unable to convey how to breathe. Leonardo decided on a drastic course of action. It was the last thing he could do under the circumstances, and he prayed Mikey's natural instincts would take over. He bent forwards and pressed his lips to Michaelangelo's, gently breathing the acrid water into Mikey's mouth like the kiss of life.

Mikey struggled vainly for a moment, and then relaxed as the water overpowered him. He watched Leonardo draw back and watch the amazed expression on his face. He could breathe? In this horrific environment? Mikey was unsure how he could achieve this and watched Leonardo cover his body with his own, tenderly allowing Mikey to draw the heat from his own body.

Michaelangelo gasped as he struggled to breathe the dirty water, but he relaxed as he realised he wasn't going to die. On the contrary, the water was sustaining him, giving him life.

Raphael and Donatello worked relentlessly, until they had the trapped leg freed. Slowly, all four turtles ascended to the water's surface, Leonardo still holding the shaken brother near to him.

Michaelangelo gasped as he breathed in the air, choking as the water sprayed from his mouth. He leaned on his brother's frame for support, shaken and afraid.

Leonardo breathed with relief as he embraced his brother closely.

"Forget this ever happened" Leo said shakily "We must never tell Splinter".

The other turtles agreed hastily and as they made their way home, Leonardo kept a constant watch on his younger brother.

He vowed his vigilence would never be brought into question again.