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Fic: Escaping the Din

Title: Escaping the Din
Author: Brokaw22
Disclaimer: The norms
Rating: T
Story Synopsis: Sometimes Raph just has to escape the noise.

Losing his brothers in the sewers is difficult, so Raph doesn't bother trying. After all, they all know the tunnels far too well for that. So, when he storms out of the lair, and one of them feels the need to follow him, he leads them around the sewers for hours always staying just a step or two ahead of them, so he doesn't have to listen to any lectures. When the brother following him is just tired enough to give up the chase and attempt to cut him off, Raph heads to the surface, because no one knows topside like he does.

He's been sneaking out and hitting the roof tops since he was small, and there's only one of his brothers that's a threat once Raph emerges from the sewers, and that's Mikey. The energetic turtle is only slightly harder to ditch than the rest, due to his speed, but Raph has become an expert at slipping into the shadows and making his way to one of his many hideaways before his brother's speed can really become a deterrent. Ditching his brothers is something that he's put more effort into than Raph really wants to admit. It's not as though he hates them or anything. It's just sometimes he needs to get away...away from the oppressive atmosphere of the lair...away from his father's disapproving glares...away from Leo's perfectionism...away from Mikey's exuberance and cheer...away from Donnie's too complicated vocabulary...but most importantly, and more often than not, Raph just needs to get away from the constant noise.

True, the city isn't quiet, but the din of the city is a far different from the soundtrack of the lair. Instead of clanging metal, water rushing through pipes, the TV blaring, the hum of electronics, and the murmuring of voices; the city offers the sound of traffic, car alarms, car horns, people screaming and yelling, the sound of various types of shoes hitting the pavement, and sirens. It's comforting in its own way, and Raph hates when he has to give up that comfort to another worried, disappointed, or angry speech from one of his brothers. They hate it when he runs off, and he hates it when they chase after him. He understands why they do it, and it's not as if he can blame them. If it was the other way around, he'd be chasing after any of them as well, but Raph needs his space...has always needed his space. It's just that recently that space comes with a little something extra.

As he sits in the abandoned building, on the west side, downing the whiskey he stashed here, Raph wonders how it got to be this way. Once upon a time, Raph's little excursions away from home involved running around the city and taking out his rage on whatever idiot was stupid enough to try a pull something on his watch. Now...now it's a bit different. There's still running and fighting. Those things won't ever change, but after that...after his legs grow weak from how far and fast he's pushed himself...after he's fought enough people that his knuckles are just as red as his mask, then Raph makes his way to one of his stashes, slumps against a wall, and drinks until he can't feel a thing anymore.

At first, that meant a few shots and a long nap, and then he would head home, patch himself up in the bathroom or his bedroom, and no one would be the wiser. Now it takes a lot more than a few shots, he ends up patching himself up the next morning, or afternoon, or whenever he wakes in his hideaway, and then not returning home for a day or two. The others are concerned. He can tell. They don't like that he just disappears for days at a time without a single word. They hate not knowing where he is, but there's nothing Raph can do about that. If he stays away from his stash too long, the fights with his brothers are worse, and he doesn't want to hurt them anymore than he already has. He can tell that they're all suspicious about what he does when he's not in the lair, but he also knows not a single one of them suspects this. He keeps his alcohol stashes well hidden, and his need for it is even better concealed. Even Leo doesn't think he's sunk this low.

Raph wants to care. He wants to hate himself for this need, but he just can't, because it's the only thing that stops all of the noise. It's the only thing that keeps the nasty voices inside his head quiet, and he just can't listen to them anymore. He can't stand hearing his brothers' voices yelling at him…telling him what a failure he is, how worthless he is, how useless his is, how much they hate him. He needs something to drown all of that out. Unfortunately, even he knows that eventually the bottles won't be enough anymore, but for right now it has to be, because he doesn’t have any other options.

Suddenly, there’s the sound of shattering glass, but Raph is fairly certain that it’s just inside his head. After all, this building doesn’t have any windows that aren’t boarded up. Even in his fogged mind, he knows that it would take a considerable amount of force to break through said boarded up windows, especially this high up, and well...there’s no one that would bother doing so, because there’s no one that knows he’s here. Any homeless person seeking shelter in this building wouldn’t bother to come up to the top floor, especially of a building that’s structurally compromised. It’s why Raph chose this building as one of his stashes in the first place.

He takes another swig from his bottle, hoping to kill the buzzing sound inside his head, and he can feel himself listing to the left. There’s a reason he always does this sitting with his shell against a wall. He can hear the sound of distinctive footsteps moving closer to him, and Raph frowns. That sound isn’t real. He knows it’s not, because the owner of those feet isn’t here. There’s no reason for him to be here. Raph takes another drink, but it still doesn’t deafen the sound, and things are different this time, because this time there aren’t just words running though his head. Instead, there are suddenly visuals to go along with it, and it seems like no amount of drinking is going to stop it.

Leo is standing before him, glaring down at him with that same disapproving frown that Splinter gives him, and Raph’s stomach feels like it has suddenly relocated to his throat. “This is what you do when you’re away from the lair? Really? How can you be so irresponsible? How can you put yourself at risk like this? This is stupid, even for you.”

Raph just stares into the amber colored liquid, trying to ignore the hallucination of his brother. “I know, okay. I know I’m a failure. I know I’m an idiot. I know I’m worthless and useless. I know all of this already, so just…just stop.” He doesn’t know why he’s bothering to speak to his imagination. It’s not as though it’s ever done anything to drown out his brother’s voice before, but Raph figures there’s no one else here, so there’s no reason to hold it all in.

Leo shakes his head at him, clearly disappointed in what he sees. Raph’s at least comforted by the fact that things never really seem to change. “No, I’m not going to stop. What’s wrong with you?”

Raph suddenly tears his eyes away from the bottle in his hands and stares up at the figure of his brother. “That’s…that’s new. Ya…ya’ve never said that before.”

Leo raises an eye ridge as he folds his arms over his chest, and it’s so much like every other time Raph has perplexed his brother that he almost wants to laugh out loud. “What do you mean I’ve never asked that before, Raph? I say it all of the time.”

Raph shakes his head, not really sure why he’s bothering to argue with an illusion, but well…he guesses his hallucination has taken the form of his leader for a reason. “Nah, the real you does…but not…not the one up here.” He points to his head, tapping his temple a few times. “That you…he never asks what’s wrong with me, ‘cause he already knows, don’t ya? Ya tell me all the time…remind me every second of every day. Ya don’t have to ask, ‘cause ya got it all figured out. Ya know how much I just don’t belong...how much I hurt everyone around me…how much better off they’d be without me. Ya know I should just drive my sai through my own eye and…”

Before Raph even knows what happened, he’s lying on his side on the dirty floor, clutching the right side of his beak. He feels something wet and tacky sliding down his hand and through his fingers, but he doesn’t really register what it is. Normally he would say its blood from his broken beak, but that can’t be right. It’s funny. He feels like he was just punched in the face, but hallucinations can’t do that. “Don’t say that! Don’t you ever say that! We need you! I need you! Why would I be so angry at you right now, if I didn’t care?”

Raph can’t help it. He pulls his hand away from his face and busts into laughter, despite the pain lancing through his entire beak. He’s not sure when he cracked completely, but he can’t believe this is what his broken mind has conjured for him. “Clearly, I’ve drank too much, if I’m seeing ol’ fearless like this, or maybe the whiskey’s gone bad, ‘cause fearless…the real fearless, he wouldn’t bother sayin’ that shit. He’d just drag me back, lecturin’ the whole time, and you, fearless…the one in my head…well; you know what you’re like.” He glances around for the bottle, which has somehow landed on the floor, on its side, bits of glass and tawny colored liquid splayed around it from the broken top.

Leo takes in a sharp breath, evidently taken aback by Raph’s outburst. It’s a response that Raph isn’t exactly used to, but this isn’t normally how his drunken nights go anyway, so Raph doesn’t exactly know what to expect. “You…you don’t think I’m real? Raph, I… Don’t do that!”

Suddenly, there’s a hand on top of his, stopping him from grabbing the bottle. Normally, he would rage, and yell, and possibly throw a punch, but Raph doesn’t have the energy, and even if he did there’s no use in fighting a delusion anyway. He still snatches his hand back, however, because the feeling of skin on skin, even if it’s only imagined, makes him want to snarl and hiss. He backs away from the aberration as much as he can, as if he’s been burned, and pulls his legs up against his plastron. “Of course, you’re not real. Don’t act like it’s a damn surprise.”

Leo sighs heavily as he kneels down in front of him, not touching him this time, with his hands held out in front of him in a mollifying gesture. “Come on, let’s get you home.”

Raph shakes his head. “Can’t go home, ya know that. Gotta…gotta wait ‘til this passes,” He gestures wildly to himself, “and then I gotta fix this.” He holds up his bloody hands toward the fake Leo, hoping to remind himself of why he stays in places like this for days at a time. “Night sure is weird, though. Normally, you’re tellin’ me to not bother ever goin’ home again.”

Leo sags forward slightly, shoulders caving in as though he’s being crushed under a heavy weight, though he still isn’t touching Raph again. “I always want you to come home.”

Raph shakes his head again. This time a bit more vigorously. “Nah, the you up here,” He points to his head again. “He knows they’d be better off if I didn’t go back.”

Leo grabs onto his shoulders and shakes him a bit. “Don’t say that! Please, don’t say that again. We want you home. I want you home.”

Raph smiles in a dazed, far off kind of way, doped up and completely out of it, and yet there’s still a cloud of skepticism shrouding his expression. “Sure, ya do, fearless.”

Leo braces himself for Raph’s weight as the other turtle slumps forward, visibly unconsciousness. “I really do, little brother.”

The End