That sound. High-pitched, demanding, alive. It was the sound of life itself. It took Don a few moments staring down at that beautiful, green face, covered in the gore of birth, before he snapped back to reality. It wasn’t his baby after all. Gently, oh so gently, he lifted the squirming, squalling baby up onto her mother’s chest – for it was certainly a little girl.
“Oh my god, oh my god…” Mona Lisa panted as she clutched the baby to herself. “I can’t believe it, I just…”
She squeezed her eyes shut tightly as joyful tears sprang from them. Raphael stood transfixed at the beauty he had created until Don clapped a hand on his shoulder.
“She’s finally here, Daddy,” he said with a smile.
At that every feature of Raphael’s seemed to burst into life. His usually sullen or sarcastic brother was bathed in joy, and for the first time in a long time Raphael pulled Don into a bear hug.
“I’m a dad!” he said, hammering on Don’s shell.
“Well, go see your daughter then,” Don said, half-choked.
Raphael let Don go, but planted a hand on his shoulder.
“Thanks, man. Thanks for…”
Don waved a hand.
“Don’t thank me,” he said. “Mona did all the hard work.”
Raphael’s eyes glittered under the harsh overhead lighting, and with a nod he relinquished Don’s shoulder and crossed to Mona and his tiny daughter. Don allowed himself a short moment to take in the scene, the two loving parents surrounding the chubby green baby, before his heart panged with such pain that he had to move away. Maybe someday? he thought. Then he considered his options, his current desires, his choices. Then again, maybe not…
He turned and slipped out from behind the screens and stopped in his tracks, his eyes widening at the scene before him. Le Clerq lay in a pool of his own blood, his head half-gone and spilling pinkish brains onto the tiled floor. The gunshot, Don thought. That was the gunshot. Parker and Cooper were tied to chairs under the watchful eye of Leo, and Beta was sobbing into Mikey’s chest.
In spite of everything, Leo couldn’t help but half-grin at the sound of the squealing baby.
“He’s certainly had an interesting birthday,” he said.
“She has.” Don corrected. Leo nodded with approval. “You’re right there.” Don surveyed the scene around them. “And now I think we need to get the heck out of here.”
“How are we going to explain all this, dudes?” Mike said, petting the back of Beta’s hair.
Don shook his head. Cooper, trussed up like a ham, was turning a deep shade of red in his rage.
“Let’s just leave a note, shall we?”
Things had changed, and Don grinned. Change in this case was nothing but good – apart from the noise, that was. Four rapidly growing mutant turtle children caused an abominable amount of noise. I think I need to get my own place, he thought with a wry smile. The family had gathered in the main living space of the lair, along with April, Casey, the Keikos, and even Beta. Every pair of eyes watched the offspring. Leo and Mei’s three hatchlings were almost crawling; Zhong with his stunted arm was making every effort to move himself around. Don’s face darkened for a moment. He was certain the child was blind as well, though only time would tell.
Nosiest of all among the children, however, was Raphael and Mona’s daughter.
“She has a good pair of lungs,” Mike said, his arm around Beta’s shoulders, “just like her Dad.”
Don chuckled. “We have a bonny little niece now.”
“Now that’s not bad,” Raphael said. “Bonnie… I think we might have a name. What do you think, babe?”
Mona had leaned on his shoulder, their squalling daughter carefully ensconced in her arms.
“Who suggested it?” she asked.
“Donnie – sorta, anyway,” Raphael said, winking at his brother.
“Well then, it’s settled. Little Bonnie was named by her uncle Donnie.” Mona smiled; it was a gentle grin. “I like it.”
Don felt blood rush to his face in embarrassment – it hadn’t been his intention to suggest a name at all.
“Guys, it wasn’t – I mean I didn’t –”
“Donnie, shut up,” Raphael said, still smiling. “It’s done.”
In the moat beautiful moment of coincidence that Don had ever witness, at the moment of her naming Bonnie finally quieted. Raphael shook his head.
“Well, it’s definitely done now.”
The evening passed with companionable joy. The first to leave was Beta as she had to return to the convent. There was clear regret in her eyes as she donned her habit again, but those same eyes sparkled when Mike flashed her a grin and took her hand. Who knew where it would lead? As long as they’re happy, Don thought, and as long as Mike doesn’t get attacked by a flock of nuns!
Second to go was Othello, flanked on either side by his diligent siblings. The tremors in his body were becoming more pronounced, and Don’s forehead tightened. I need to start looking into that more, he said. Theories abounded in his head, mostly concerning the mutant’s nature as a clone of his sister, but there was really no way to tell without investigation.
Don followed them out and Desdemona lingered as Cassio settled Othello into the Sewer Slider.
“Hey,” Don said.
Des gave him a lopsided smile.
“Hey. I heard you were pretty brave.”
Don raised and lowered one shoulder.
“I didn’t do anything unusual,” he said. “All in a day’s work I guess.”
Des stepped closer and placed one fingertip on his plastron.
“Now that everything has settled down I’d like to make things up to you, since I was really very, very naughty before.”
There was that word again. Don shivered.
“I don’t – I mean I’m not sure –”
Desdemona lifted the finger to his lips.
“Ssh,” she said. “I’ll tell you what you mean, and I’ll tell you what you want.” There was no hint of questioning in her voice. Every syllable was confident, clear. “Come to our place in an hour. Don’t be late.”
With that she turned and got into the driver’s seat of the Sewer Slider and took off without looking back. Don couldn’t help but shake his head when Cassio’s head popped up from the back seat and gave him a devilish grin. Apprehension and desire swirled in his stomach. Who knew where it would lead?
As long as they were happy.