Turtles Forever... A Trilogy Dimensional Ass-Kicking Crime Fighting Teams

Chapter Twenty-Two...

Mirror Image

"Are you sure?" Don03 asked. "A concussion might affect their world differently."

"I'm positive." Don12 assured. "It's okay for the little Raph to sleep as long as we wake him up and check he's cognizant every thirty minutes. It would be a mercy to let him sleep at this point. He's exhausted. That tall Raph is tired too. They could use some shut-eye. Trust me."

"Okay. If you say so." Don87 walked out of the lab and intercepted the walking duo. "Guys, you can get some sleep. We'll wake you every thirty minutes and check you're okay. Get your heads down."

Raph07 sighed with relief. He put his arm around the little guy's shoulders. "Come on short stuff. Let's go nap on the sofa."

Raph87 smiled a little. "Yeah! That sofa looks really good right now."

As Raph07 and Raph87 cuddled up on the sofa, Don03 fetched a blanket and draped it over them both.

"Sweet dreams, guys." Don03 chuckled as he left them both with their eyes closed. Raph87 fell asleep immediately, snoring softly against the older turtles plastron.

"I'll check them every thirty minutes." Don12 smiled. He had his arms folded and was standing in the lab doorframe, observing the scene before him. "I know what I'm doing. My brothers have had concussion many times before. Especially Mikey."

Don03 watched the sleeping pair for a moment, and then moved back into the lab.

Leatherhead and April were smiling and nudging each other playfully.

"What's up with you guys?" Don03 asked with a grin.

"Those Raphael's are so cute. I want to take that little one home and adopt him." April cooed.

"Yes, I have to confess, I have a soft spot for those normally angry guys." Leatherhead said thoughtfully.

"A soft spot, eh?" Raph12 chuckled darkly. "They could pound you into the floor without a thought. I've seen first-hand how tough they are."

Don03 choked back a laugh. "Whoever would have thought Raphael would be so protective of himself?"

There was yelling and shouting coming from the dojo.

Raph03 watched the door curiously and then saw the monochrome version of himself exit in a complete rage. He stalked out of The Lair with LeoPrime hot on his heels. Raph03 followed silently and listened to the two colourless turtles having a heated debate.

"Come back! Raphael!" LeoPrime followed the angered turtle into the sewer tunnels. "He's only trying to help! Have some respect."

"I know that, stupid!" Raphael screamed back. He slammed his fist into a tunnel wall and LeoPrime winced at the resulting crack.

"Easy. We failed once. We won't do it again." LeoPrime wrung his hands in anxiety. "We'll make sure we're never in this position again!"

"Everything okay here?" Raph03 emerged from the shadows. "Our sewers are like a maze. Unless you know the routes, best to stay in The Lair."

"We're okay." LeoPrime stated in an emotionless voice, his face a mask of control. "We'll be back in a short while."

RaphPrime was steaming away, his fists clenched and was trembling violently. "We failed, Leo! How is that okay?"

LeoPrime shrugged and turned away. He was rapidly losing patience with his hotheaded sibling.

"Let me talk to him." Raph03 said gently to LeoPrime. "Go back to The Lair. We'll be back in a while."

LeoPrime nodded wearily and then walked away with a sigh.

Raph03 turned to face the enraged Prime. "I don't think talking is gonna help. Fight me."

RaphPrime gnashed his teeth in fury. "Believe me, you don't want me to come at you."

"I can take it. Come on. Show me what ya got." Raph03 moved into a defensive stance and beckoned the infuriated turtle forward.

With a growl RaphPrime leapt forward. He extended his arm to punch Raph03 in the jaw. At the last moment, Raph03 moved out of the way and RaphPrime sailed into the tunnel wall.

"I'm gonna kill you!" RaphPrime jumped to his feet in an instant and attacked Raph03 with rapid yet unfocused offensive moves. His kicks and punches were sloppy, and his defences allowed penetration.

Raph03 rolled his eyes and smiled. "Gee, it really is easy to defeat me when I'm in a blind rage."

RaphPrime pinned his doppelganger to the ground, breathing heavily. He whipped out his sai and pointed the centre prong over the turtles right eye. "Gonna ... Gonna ..."

"Yeah? What? Gonna poke my eye out. Do it then." Raph03 grabbed the other turtles wrist suddenly, prising the sai from his grasp within an instant. "Gotta watch that temper, bro. It's gonna get you into trouble. Or get someone else killed. Believe me, I know what I'm talking about."

RaphPrime got to his feet. The red mist of anger was dissolving, and he realised just what he had come close to doing. He could have killed Raph03 in a blind rage. He trembled a little, and then turned to face his multi-dimensional duplicate in shame. "I ... I ... I'm sorry, dude. I don't know what happened. I could have killed you."

"Not really. I'm not made of porcelain." Raph03 grinned and held out his hand to the surprised Prime. "Truce?"

RaphPrime took the offered hand with a small smile. "Truce."

"Come on, tough guy. We're going top-side." Raph03 gestured for RaphPrime to follow him to the surface.

"Isn't it daytime?" RaphPrime scowled. "What kind of ninja goes top-side during the day?"

"Ever heard of alleyways? They have plenty of shadows. You'll be fine." Raph03 led the way to a manhole cover and the two turtles emerged in broad daylight in a narrow alleyway. Finding a fire escape to a rooftop, Raph03 led the way. He moved silently and cautiously, glancing below him to ensure his colourless doppelganger was following.

Once they had reached the rooftop, Raph03 merely gazed at the people walking below. They were carefree and some were bouncing happily along the sidewalks. There were some business-types who were rushed, but the majority were chatting away and letting the sunshine fall upon them.

"A whole different world in the day, eh?" Raph03 sighed.

RaphPrime nodded in amazement. "People walk differently at night. They are more wary. Shadows become enemies to those who fear the darkness."

Raph03 threw his head back and smiled. He let the sun shine down brightly on his face and felt the gentle warmth surround his body. "You really appreciate the sun when you're cold-blooded."

RaphPrime laughed. His anxiety was melting with the feeling of safety that surrounded him. The sun was a warm embrace, filling him with security. He felt a little giddy. "I'm sorry about the way I acted. Failure just isn't in my language."

Raph03 sat on the roof and lay down on his shell. He stretched out, effectively sunbathing, and RaphPrime hesitated for a moment. "Come on down. Get some sun. We don't usually have the opportunity."

RaphPrime followed Raph03's example and lay down on his shell. It was a delicate balancing act and RaphPrime wobbled around for a moment before turning around and settling on his belly. "We never see the sun back home. We keep to the shadows when we move around at night."

"Even shadows need a bit of sun every now and again." Raph03 lazily drawled. "You guys are so uptight. You need to mellow a bit."

RaphPrime closed his eyes and let the sun slowly warm his body. His eyelids were heavy with exhaustion. "Have you ever failed?"

Raph03 looked over at the Prime and nodded. "Who hasn't? I've failed. My bro's have failed. We all fail."

"How do you handle defeat?" RaphPrime asked curiously, watching the other turtle bathe himself in the daylight without a care in the world.

"I sometimes don't. You can feel angry and disappointed with yourself, you know. I usually go find some thugs and give 'em a beating. That always makes me feel better. We've had some really big failures. Shell, we've made so many mistakes I couldn't even count 'em." Raph03 sighed. He got to his feet and walked over to the edge of the building. "We keep going 'cause we're needed. Whether we make mistakes or not. It don't matter. They need us. People." He gestured to the humans walking around beneath them.

"I guess. I just get so ..."

"Angry?" Raph03 finished. "Yeah, you're a member of the Raph Club. Part of your nature. Apart from that little Raph, we all get mad and do stupid things at times. I almost killed my little brother with a pipe once. How stupid can you get?"

"What? How did that happen?" RaphPrime's mouth fell open in shock.

"I got mad. Mikey beat me in sparring and I came at him from behind with a metal pipe. Leo held me back before I could connect with his head." Raph03 looked at the ground, his face red with shame. "I probably woulda killed him if that thing had hit his head. I saw red. Couldn't see straight. Only knew one thing - Mikey was gonna get it."

"How do you get over something like that?" RaphPrime asked, watching the people walking below.

"Still learning how to handle my rages. It aint easy. Hey!" Raph03's eyes opened wide with surprise. "You're the first guy I've ever told this to. I've never even told Master Splinter all this."

RaphPrime smiled. He patted an arm on Raph03's shoulder encouragingly. "Then maybe you should start talking to those closest to you. It's something we both need to do."

Raph03 nodded and gestured for RaphPrime to follow him. "Let's get back home. We might be needed if the Leo's and Mikey's get into trouble in Home World. I want to be on hand in case they need us."

RaphPrime followed his dimensional duplicate. He was calmer now, more reflective.

MikePrime watched as his dimensional brother entered with his head bowed. "Any luck, Leo?"

"No. Hot headed moron." LeoPrime was in a foul mood. "We're missing a brother and all he can talk about his failure and how he should kill himself. If that's how he feels, maybe he should just do it."

"You don't mean that." MikePrime said. "He's just angry. He feels helpless."

"Don't we all?" LeoPrime countered, his eyes flashing with anger. "He's not the only one. It isn't easy being here while our multi-coloured bandanna brothers take on our enemies. It isn't right to be sitting this one out."

"We haven't got a choice." MikePrime said. "If we die, everyone dies."

LeoPrime nodded, and then added in a low growling voice. "Doesn't mean I have to like it, Mike."