Title: Fifty Shades of Green
Chapter 9: Hillbilly Haven
The next day began in a sombre mood.
Don and April had been watching over Casey during the night and they both looked awful.
April had red-rimmed eyes and puffy cheeks from crying. Don just looked defeated as he ventured a small 'hello' as Leo and I emerged from our room. Splinter was sitting at the back of the room, cross-legged, in deep meditation. He didn't open his eyes at all as we trudged downstairs, each footstep heavier than the first.
Mikey was already in the kitchen, looking through the supplies I had brought yesterday. He didn't have his usual brightness as if the shine that kept his adrenaline going had worn off. He smiled as we emerged and the expression implied he knew exactly what we had been up to.
"Morning, Mike," Leo said gruffly. His voice was hoarse from shouting out instructions. He sounded like he was coming down with a cold with how raspy he sounded.
"Morning, big bro," Mikey's smile broadened. "Can't believe we're all still alive."
I sat at the breakfast bar and watched the conversation develop between the brothers. I hadn't seen much interaction between them so far. Mikey passed over a steaming coffee and I took it gratefully before sipping at the hot liquid.
"Sugar in that?" Leo's eye ridge shot up as he questioned my cup.
Mikey shrugged, "She needs the boost after everything that happened yesterday! If she can still love you after all that, well, then she's definitely a keeper."
I blushed into my cup.
"Morning," Raph's deep, baritone voice filled the kitchen and our heads swivelled to see him standing in the doorframe. Seating himself next to me, he flexed his muscles and stretched deeply. "How 'bout some coffee, Mike?"
"You see, I'm the Kitchen Maid," Mike confessed as he filled a huge cup for Raphael. "They'll have me dressing in a cutesy apron soon."
"With flowers on it," Leo smirked. "It'll go with your sunny personality."
"Naw, it'll be pizza," Raph shook his head at the light banter, a smile forming on his lips. "Actually, no, bad idea. Mike might try to eat it!"
"Quit it, guys!" Mike grumbled, the upturned mouth indicating he was taking it all as an inside joke.
"Are they coming down?" I asked, generally referring to April, Splinter and Donatello.
Mike was filling a tray with breakfast items and cups of coffee, "Naw, they'll be in that room for a while. Might have to force them to shower later." He carried the tray out of the kitchen, his steps getting bouncier by the second.
Raph was looking at me strangely.
"What's up?" I asked nervously as he started to smile. He looked at Leo and then looked back at me. I had never seen Raph grin so broadly, usually he just managed a grimace. This was a full on Mikey-Beaming and I suddenly understood the reason why he was grinning.
He knew what Leo and I had done last night.
Leo was suddenly very still, rigid. Mikey came bounding back into the room and caught the tension between his older brothers. Instead of helping, Mikey proceeded to prod Leo, whining to know what it was like.
"Lay off, guys. It's personal," Leo's face was flushed with embarrassment.
"You're probably gonna' be the only turtle who get's some," Mikey complained. "Share a little. That means you too…" he turned to me and I stared fixedly at my cup.
Leo turned away and Raph folded his arms.
"Ya went all the way, bro?" Raph stared at Leo in disbelief, "With Casey dying in the next room?"
"I'm sorry," I tried to talk to Raphael but he silenced me with a single big, green finger to his lips.
"It's none of your business, Raph!" Leo's voice was measured, controlled. He was holding back his anger.
"Like hell it aint. What if you gave her something?" Raph got to his feet and strode across the kitchen to confront Leo. "You don't know what you're doin'. We're mutants, Leo. Ya could have hurt the kid."
"I didn't hurt her," Leo's eyes flashed with warning. "It was consensual, Raph. She isn't a 'kid' as you like to say. She's an adult woman who makes her own choices!"
"Tell 'er that in nine months when she dies from trying to pop out your freaky kid." Raph's anger was boiling, his eyes flashing with rage.
"She won't die popping out my kid, Raph," Leo said softly. "I wouldn't let that happen."
"You don't know that, Leo! We're not even the same species!" Raph's voice was steadily rising.
"We're half-human, Raph!" Leo's fists clenched as he struggled to maintain his cool.
"Half-turtle, Leo!" Raph spat back, his fists clenching in response. "How's that gonna work?"
"She'll be fine. You'll see." Leo turned his back to walk away, fighting to remain calm. Unfortunately, Raph wasn't about to let him leave. He grabbed hold of Leo's shoulder, forcing him to remain.
"If she dies, it's your fault! All your fault, Leo!" Raph snarled, his grip tightening as Leo's rage won over his controlled nature. A moment later, Raphael ducked a punch from Leo. He was absolutely furious, all his calm rational control gone in a moment.
"Please don't!" I rose to my feet.
Mikey had been standing quietly, listening to the conversation turn from heated debate to full on brawl. As Leo attacked again, Mikey suddenly grabbed me around the waist and herded me into the living room.
"We can't just leave them!" I cried. "They'll get hurt!"
Mikey shook his head. "They're always fighting, babes. Best to leave them to it. Let's sit down for a while, away from the brawling brothers."
I sat, trembling beside Mikey.
"Are you… aherm… okay. Like… you know… down there." Mikey pointed to my crotch and my cheeks burned with a renewed fire.
"I'm fine!" I said, my voice extra loud with indignation. "I'm fine. Please, stop asking me stuff."
There was an almighty crashing noise coming from the kitchen. Punches and kicks, amid intense grunting, could be heard. Something smashed and broke on the kitchen floor.
"Shouldn't we do something?" I asked Mikey.
The turtle shook his head with a slight smile, "Best not to get involved."
"…. I'm goin' up to see Donny!" Raph crashed through the room, heading for the stairs. He had a nasty bruise on his left shoulder. I winced in sympathy.
Leo followed his brother, placing a restraining arm on his shoulder. "No! It isn't his business. It's not yours, Raph! Let it be!"
"What the shell is going on down there?" Donny called from the landing. "Keep it down!"
"Want some popcorn? There's gonna be quite a show," Mikey grinned.
"Casey is ill and resting!" Donny emerged from the staircase, annoyance evident in his flashing eyes. "Can you keep it down!? What is going on?"
"Leo slept with the kid!" Raph bellowed, his left arm pointing to me.
"We know!" Donny sighed and tried to bring calm to the room. "Everything is going to be all right, Raph… and please, don't call her 'kid' anymore. It's inappropriate."
"What if he gave her something?" Raph asked. His voice softened a little. "What if she's pregnant?"
Donny closed his eyes as if he had a sudden headache. "One problem at a time, Raph. Let's concentrate on Casey. Please!"
Raph looked at Leo angrily, turned to me with fiery eyes and then looked back at Donatello. "Fine! I'm outta here!"
With that, Raph turned on his heel and stalked out of the building, slamming the door in a temper.
"He's got anger issues," Mike explained. He had been sitting on the edge of the sofa, acting as a barrier between the warring brothers and myself. "Don't let him upset you."
"Casey isn't getting worse," Donny explained, sitting on the other side of me. "But he isn't getting any better either. He's got a nasty fever."
"So, as we were saying?" Mikey nudged me playfully.
Don gave Mikey a look that could only mean 'shut up.' I smiled gratefully at Donatello, but Mikey was having none of it.
"Leo, come on bro. Give me a little info here. We're not exactly gonna be next, so spill." Mikey folded his arms and looked at his older brother with narrowed eyes.
Leo shook his head and looked tenderly at me from the expanse between living room and kitchen. He indicated for me to follow him through to the kitchen. I stood up, ignoring Mikey's pouting look. "Keep your big beak out of it!"
"Is Raph going to be okay?" I asked, looking at Leo carefully. His back was to me, he was standing over the sink and looking out of the window. He was still shaking from his argument with Raphael.
"Are you feeling okay?" Leo's voice was once again calm and measured as he completely ignored my question. "No pain or discomfort after what we did last night?"
I blushed, wanting the kitchen floor to open up wide and swallow me whole. "None. I feel fine."
"Good," Leo relaxed a little. "We need to begin training again."
"Leo, are you okay?" I stood still, feeling awkward.
Leo turned to me and forced a smile. "I shouldn't let him get to me."
"What? You mean Raph?" I walked hesitantly over to his side and thrust my arm through his. He seemed surprised for a moment and then relaxed his arm so I could stand beside him closely.
"I guess I'll never learn." Leo put an arm affectionately around my shoulders and drew me close to his plastron. As his beak pressed lightly against my lips, all the stress of the morning dissolved until it was just him and me. Nothing else existed.
"I think someone should go out and see if he's okay," I mumbled into Leo's chest. I felt him tighten his grip on me a little and then relax. I looked up to see a mischievous look had spread across his face, his mouth curved upwards into a playful grin.
"You want to go find Raph?" Leo quirked an eye-ridge at me and I slapped him on the arm playfully.
"I think someone should go… it doesn't have to be me, Leo!" I looked out of the kitchen window. "He might get into trouble out there."
"I don't think Raph's going to get into trouble in Davisville," Leo was trying not to laugh. "But if it worries you that much, please… go ahead."
Grumbling at Leo's smirking face, I followed the same path as Raph out onto the porch. I looked around myself, trying to figure out which way he had gone. I didn't know what I was going to say to him as yet but I hoped I could make him understand that what had happened between Leo and myself wasn't a bad thing.
I followed a path which led to some woods and then further on to a stream I used to play by as a young kid. I stayed beside the stream, watching the water flow almost hypnotically. I was just stirring to continue my search of the area when I heard voices.
I froze, listening to the voices as they came closer.
I didn't recognise the voices and I quickly stepped behind a tree as three young men came into view, brandishing rifles. It was frowned upon in Davisville to hunt in these woods as they backed up onto family houses. People were concerned that children could be caught in the cross-fire but that didn't seem to have deterred these three.
In fact, two were lugging a massive case between them. I wondered if there was ammunition inside the case as they stopped just in front of the tree I was sheltered behind, voices loud and piercing. Frozen, I stayed still and breathed as silently as I could manage.
I heard the pop and hiss of a can opening. I snuck a glance and watched them sitting around the case drinking beer and talking about hunting.
I was undecided on what I should do. I wished Leo were here with me, he would know instantly what to do.
Then suddenly, a big green hand covered my mouth and an arm lifted me into the tree. I went limp from sheer terror… then I was face to face with Raphael, his finger on his beak. I nodded and he took the hand away from my mouth. He seemed much more relaxed now that he had spent all his rage on Leo and he was watching the men carefully. Eyes glued to them as if they were magnets.
"Locals. You recognise them?" Raph's voice was a whisper.
I shook my head and whispered right on back. "I haven't been up here in years, Raph. I don't know them but I definitely know they shouldn't be hunting here."
"Redneck trash," Raphael scowled. His eyes were trained on the three men below us, eyes locked on the rifles.
"What are we going to do?" I whispered.
Raphael had a mischievous look in his eye. "I'm gonna take away their toys. Don't want them to hurt themselves… or anyone else."
"But, how…" I asked as Raphael descended silently down the back of the tree. He was standing in the very same spot I had hidden earlier.
He winked at me and disappeared from sight. One moment, he had been standing there considering his options. The next moment he had vanished, slipping silently into the undergrowth. I watched the men from my safe position in the tree as they popped open another beer, their voices getting louder with every swallow of ale.
"Tick, grab that gun," Hillbilly One looked across at his friend.
"Gonna smoke some weed, you grab it Howie," Hillbilly Two, or Tick, grumbled.
Hillbilly Three just smirked at his two friends and kept out of the discussion.
"I said, grab that gun," Howie said again, kicking his friend in the ankle.
Tick yelped and passed him the gun, grumbling as he did so.
"Now for the rounds, you asshole," Howie kicked Tick's ankle again.
"Gonna get some practice, Howie?" Hillbilly Three asked as he rolled some marijuana into a cigarette and lit up.
"Gonna shoot some birds," Howie lazily drawled. "Keep my aim good."
My heart hammered furiously. Shoot birds? I gulped, hoping the gun wouldn't be aimed in my direction. I scanned the area nervously for Raphael. The trees were sighing in the breeze but there was nothing to be seen.
Tick was patting himself down, "Erm, Howie… I aint got no rounds."
"You forgot to pack the rounds?" Howie rolled his eyes. "Useless fuckin' slob."
"We loaded earlier, remember?" Hillbilly Three sucked his spliff lazily. "There's enough to pick off a squirrel, or a bird, or even a damned deer."
"There aint no ammo in this gun," Howie confirmed. His face was like thunder.
I suddenly felt a presence by my side.
Raphael was sitting next to me, a wicked smile on his face carrying a small bag of ammunition. "Knuckleheads didn't even notice."
I winced. I hadn't noticed him either.
"How long are they going to stay there?" I whispered.
The men were getting rowdy below us. Howie was kicking Tick in consternation as he bellowed and roared his rage.
"Don't worry, kid. They aint coming near you." There was a threatening tone in Raphael's voice that made me tremble in fear. Not for myself, but for the men raging beneath us.
I prayed silently that they would pick up their gear and leave.
Instead, there was now a brawl happening between Tick and Howie. They were pushing each other violently and punches were being thrown.
"Think I should break this up?" Raph asked, no longer whispering as it wasn't necessary.
The noise from the men below us was louder than I could bear.
"They can't see you!" I hissed as Raph started descending from the tree once more.
"They won't see me. Ninja, remember?" Raphael shot me an amused look and disappeared into the undergrowth once more.
I watched the fight as it became more violent and blood spattered the tree trunk. Howie's fist had connected with Tick's nose and there was a steady stream of red, viscous liquid erupting from the man's broken nose.
Suddenly, a whistle sounded and something came flying out from the undergrowth. It hit Howie squarely in the forehead and the man crumbled into a pile on the ground. I saw Raph's sai glinting from beside the fallen man and realised that the butt of Raph's weapon had hit him, effectively knocking him out.
Tick was scrabbling around, his nose a bloody mess. Hillbilly Three was mellowed out, looking at the fracas around him lazily.
"You coming down?" Raph said, his voice now at normal volume, standing beside the tree. "We can go now."
"What about your sai?" I scrambled down and Raphael helped me onto the ground. "You can't go and just pick it up."
"Why not? One of those turds is unconscious, the other can't see because he's bloodied up and the last one is stoned. No-one would believe him."
I watched in disbelief as Raphael sauntered into the middle of the three men, retrieving his sai. He grabbed Tick's face and lifted the man's trembling hand to his streaming nose. "Pinch the top of ya nose, pal. Keep your head high."
He walked past unconscious Howie and glared at Hillbilly Three, "Need some better friends, jackass."
"Wow, are you an alien?"
"Yeah, yeah. I come from Planet of the Turtles. Just passin' through." Raphael rolled his eyes and rejoined me behind the tree. "They won't be going anywhere for a while. Let's move."
I followed Raph as he walked briskly through the woods. "Raph, I'm sorry about everything. I haven't upset you, have I?"
Raph stopped and looked at me, bemused. "Upset me? Trust me, you can't do that kid."
"I mean, you found out about what Leo and I did and I…" I stopped abruptly as Raph waved his hand at me to stop.
"Just leave it. I'm not angry with you. Okay?" Raph waited for my reply and I gulped and nodded.
I followed behind him as he led me back to the main house where Leo was sitting on the porch, casually cleaning one of his katana swords. I couldn't help but notice him wiping the dried blood off the blade with a damp cloth and the sight chilled me.
"Everything okay?" Leo looked up as we walked towards him.
"Your other half followed me," Raph grumbled. "I don't like being followed!"
Leo grinned at Raphael as I sat next to him, his beak opening into a wide smile. "Casey is awake. He's asked to see you."
Raph continued grumbling but I saw the smile forming on his beak. He could barely contain his excitement as he disappeared inside.
"Casey is awake?" I confirmed, looking at Leo. He was hunched over his sword, cleaning the thing furiously.
"I hate blood on my katanas," Leo grumbled, then he looked at me and smiled gently. "Casey has been awake for about ten minutes now. First thing he wanted to do was speak to Raph."
"That's great!" I beamed as Leo lay down the sword and put an arm around me. We sat together in companionable silence, the sounds of nature surrounding us in a safe cocoon. I closed my eyes and leaned into his embrace, cuddling up to his plastron.
I was drifting into a half-sleep when I heard raised voices coming from inside the house, jostling me from my dozing. I looked at Leo with wide eyes as he suddenly darted inside.
Waiting outside, I listened intently as I heard Raphael's voice booming with rage. As the turtle angrily bounded out of the house once more and started to walk off, I began to follow him.
Sensing me following, he turned stiffly. There were tears soaking his bandanna and he shook his head, his eyes flashing a warning look at me. "Don't follow me. I need time alone."
I remained standing still, watching as he disappeared into the undergrowth and vanished from sight. Turning, I saw Master Splinter standing on the porch, his furry eyes bright with unshed tears.
"What's happened?" A feeling of dread rose in my stomach as the rat walked towards me and indicated for me to sit on the porch. "Is Casey all right?"
Splinter sighed, a deep sad sigh, and he looked at the ground in front of us. He wouldn't meet my eyes and I started to panic.
"Splinter? What's wrong?" The words were full of fear. A horrible dread was forming as my mind started to piece together what might have happened.
Splinter put a paw on my arm. For a moment, he seemed to be thinking of what to say. His sorrow was so great that he could barely speak.
Finally, he looked at me squarely in the eyes and said the words that I had dreaded since the beginning of this whole adventure.
My mind flashed to the farmhouse where Mikey had told me about Casey's heart condition and the limp broken figure of a man they had saved from the rubble.
I tried to equate that same man to the one who had driven Leo and I down to the farmhouse.
It didn't seem possible that they were the same person.
How could everything have gone so wrong? So suddenly?
I felt the tears rushing to my eyes before I could think of anything to say.
Splinter held me as I sobbed into his furry chest.
For eight had become seven.