Time to Pretend
Chapter Six: Crash the Party
Title: Time to Pretend
Rating: Overall NC 17
Warnings: AU, turtlecest, sexual situations, rape, strong language, drug and alcohol use
Pairings: Raph/Don, Leo/Mikey
You're not the prettiest girl in town
I'm not the only boy with sullied clothes and a sullen frown, so
To hell with Valentine's, to hell with perfume
To hell with chocolates and picnics
And Sinatra tunes
Cuz while the rest of the girls are drowning in roses and songs he composes
And while the rest of the guys are all trying
All trying so hard
Oh girl, let's crash the party
El Dorado on the lawn (hey, hey, hey)
Let's burn holes in the carpets
Kicking, shouting, dancing on the tables all night long
I'm not so good with subtlety
You wouldn't say that I'm the picture of urbanity
Never put much stock in suavity, courtesy, chivalry, gallantry
All that useless jewelry
But while the rest of the girls still sigh for the night he was smiling politely
And while the rest of the guys are all trying
All trying so hard
Oh girl, let's crash the party
El Dorado on the lawn (hey, hey, hey)
Let's burn holes in the carpets
Kicking, shouting, dancing on the tables all night long
(Oh girl, let's crash the party)
(Let's burn holes in the carpet)
All night long
OK Go, “Crash the Party”
“GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!”
Casey, Slash, and Mikey cheered on as Raph downed the line of shots at the bar, all of them jumping up and cheering after the last glass was slammed back onto the wet surface.
The tour was done. It had been a complete success. Their popularity had skyrocketed, they had signed onto a fairly large label, and were now back in New York getting ready for a photoshoot with gorgeous models for a big name magazine. They had already been interviewed by the journalist, and were now going to take a few pictures for the layout.
“Hey,” the cute, young bartender chimed in, feeling bold, “I got something I wanna share with you guys, it’s gonna blow your freakin’ minds!” And with that he reached under the bar and pulled out a tin box with a lock, opened it, and pulled out a hefty ziplock bag full Pink Peruvian Flake.
“Whoa. What the heck is that?” Slash inquired, eyeing the candy looking substance suspiciously.
“It’s pink blow!” Raph exclaimed, already scooting up to get a closer look as the bartender set up on an aluminum serving tray.
Before leaning in to help himself to a candied line, he took a quick look around and behind himself to make sure Donny wasn’t nearby. The two had gotten into an argument earlier that afternoon in Don’s apartment about Raph’s increase of drug use. The drinking had also been getting out of hand and Don was starting to get worried.
Raph had managed to convince Don that things were under control, that he was just having some fun with their newfound success, and that he would tone it down from then on.
Don believed him and simply asked that he take it easy that night during the shoot as well as during the show.
Once Raph was sure that Don was out of sight for the moment, he leaned in to snort the pink nose candy lined up before him.
It was smooth. Real smooth. So smooth, that Raph wondered if it was indeed cocaine. But soon enough he was feeling light and airy, a smile creeping onto his face. Mr. Bartender was right! This was arguably the best blow he’d ever had! And in Raph’s mind if one serving was good, than two would be absolutely fantastic! So after Casey and Slash had gotten their share, Raph was ready for a little icing on the peruvian cake.
He did another round and lifted up his head, closing his eyes as his system flooded with pink goodness. When he opened his eyes he saw Donny stomping in his direction, his face furious.
“Will you excuse us for a second,” Don ground out through gritted teeth as he grabbed his mate by the bulging bicep and dragged him away from the rest of the band.
Whoops! Raph thought as he let Don pull him around the corner. So much for not letting Don see him...
“The photographer is just about ready to start! Couldn’t you have waited until after the photoshoot to get wasted?!” Donny hissed as he resisted the urge to reach out and shake the smug turtle.
“Donny-boy, ya gotta relax!-”
“Relax?! Raph...it’s barely three o’clock! We haven’t even-”
“C’mon, we’re just having a little fun!”
“You could have at least waited until after the show, or even after this shoot! The models are here and we’re ready to start-”
“Donny, this ain’t gonna get in the way, I mean fer fuck’s sake, we’re just gonna stand in front of a camera for a few minutes-”
“No, you don’t get it! Raph, you have to curb this excess of drug use... I mean, everyday you’re either drunk or high-”
“Donny,” Raph pulled Don closer, taking hold of shaky hands, “hey, hey.... listen, chill out... Look... okay, I know I’ve been getting a bit carried away lately. And I’m sorry that it’s been botherin’ ya. I just been real excited ‘bout everything.” He took Don’s chin and lifted it up to get a closer look into a pair of worried brown eyes. “Alright, look... lemme have this. Lemme just kick back, let go, have my fun, and I promise I’ll take it easy once all the excitement has died down. Donny, I kinda need this. Fer so long, shit’s been so fucked up. Not knowing what’s gonna happen next, not knowing what the fuck I’m doin’ with myself, with my life... So all this, all this partying, it’s...it’s like it’s the first time I feel like I got some actual control of shit.”
Don took all that in and let out a heavy sigh. He didn’t want to admit it, but he knew. He understood exactly what Raph was talking about. He knew what is was to feel helpless and the desire to have control through whatever means possible, even if the control was fleeting and possibly harmful.
“Raph...” Don let his face relax, and gave in. “Alright.”
Raph leaned in and kissed Don gently on the lips. “After tonight, I promise I’ll take it easy. And... I wanted it to be a surprise, but I got something planned for us. I figured you an’ I could go fer a drive upstate, just fer a few hours, like a picnic.” Raph took Don’s hand as they walked back toward the bar again where the other guys were yelling and doing more shots.
Don’s heart melted at the thought of them having a nice quiet afternoon to themselves. “That sounds lovely, Raph,” he said, a smile easing onto his face.
“ ‘Kay. Just promise me you’ll stop worrying for today,” Raph said, giving Don’s hand a squeeze.
“Fine. Just get ready, we’re gonna start any minute now and the photographer is on a schedule.” Don told him, getting ready to go back to make sure everything was in order.
“Will do,” Raph said planting a noisy kiss on Don’s cheek. “Thanks, Scrawny Donny!”
Don blushed hard at the mention of the pet name Raph had given him to poke fun at him when they were alone, and blushed even harder when a chorus of ‘Scrawny Donny’ resounded in the bar followed by loud, smacking kissy noises and laughter.
Just then the photographer had called his name and Don gratefully turned to give him his full attention. But what really caught his attention was the stunningly beautiful woman walking by his side.
She was tall with long, dark hair, wisps of it grazing the edges of piercing ice blue eyes. She wore a thin asymmetrical drape dress that showed off defined shoulders with ankle boots that accentuated long, toned legs. To top it off, a thick, lustrous tail swished carelessly behind her.
“This is Umeko,” the photographer said, introducing the lovely woman to Don. “She’s here representing K Modeling and will also be posing with the band.”
Don was just about to reach out his hand to introduce himself when he heard Raph come up behind him.
“Umeko?” he murmured, shaking his head in disbelief, “Holy shit, that really you?”
“Yep, it’s really her,” Leo said smiling as he walked up from behind her and the photographer.
“Wow,” Raph said as he stared, “It’s been so long. Ya look amazing!”
Umeko simply smiled. “Yes, it has been a while,” she said, her speech peppered with the hint of an accent.
Raph grabbed Don’s hand. “Hey Donny, remember I told ya ‘bout Umeko from high school? We were an item back then. Her, Leo, and I were inseparable!” he said chuckling.
Don extended his free hand. “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said, shaking Umeko’s hand lightly.
“The pleasure is mine,” Umeko responded, giving Don a big, sharp-toothed grin.
Raph was ready to start catching up, but at that point the photographer clapped her hands and announced that they needed to get started. She began to order everyone around, getting shots of them in plush, dimly lit booths, around the bar surrounded by drinks, and up on the stage.
The band pretended to play their instruments while Umeko and the rest of the models clung to them like star-struck groupies. The photographer instructed Umeko to drape herself onto sRaph, planting kisses on him while Raph pretended to sing into a microphone. Some of the girls acted as though they were fighting over the band members, pulling Leo in a mock tug-o-war and chasing after Mikey. One shot featured Casey and Slash giving a lucky girl a kiss on either cheek while she giggled in excitement.
Throughout the whole thing everybody was laughing and goofing off, genuinely having fun, much to the photographer’s delight. Once they were finished, she packed up her things, spoke with Don about the article and went her way. The models all stayed behind, chatting with the guys, and soon the club opened and patrons began to make their way in, filling up the space in no time.
“Psst! Raph!” Umeko came up behind Raphael to pull his attention away from a group of women clustered around him. He excused himself and flashed a smile of gratitude as Umeko led him away from the sticky fingered groupies.
They made their way to the dressing room and hid inside. Raph still couldn’t believe his eyes. There was Umeko! After all this time...
“So, Mister Rock Star...” the fox drawled as she draped her willowy, scantily clad body on the cushiony couch. “Tell me, what have you been up to, besides stealing the hearts of unsuspecting young ladies.”
Raph laughed and pulled out a chair, turning it around so that he could rest his arms on the backside. He took in the sight of his old friend: the glossy, long black hair, the piercing eyes, the ever present slight japanese accent. The only noticeable change was the weight loss. Her face was sharper, her arms thin enough for him to wrap his fingers around.
“More like stealin’ the heart of an unsuspecting young man,” he replied with a laugh and a wink.
Umeko stared, confused, making Raph laugh even harder.
“Our manager? Donny?” Raph clarified.
Then the fox gave him her signature, knowing sharp grin. “I see.”
Raph just shook his head. “Well, that’s pretty much it. Leo an’ I been makin’ music and messin’ around wit the idea of continuing Master Splinter an’ Master Yoshi’s work wit the kids.”
At this Umeko perked up. “Really? Oh my gosh! That sounds like what I was planning on doing!”
“Really?” Raph asked, inching his chair closer.
“Yes! I remembered what Master Splinter and Master Yoshi had set up and was going to start a house for girls, hopefully start funding for it with my modeling and with the help of K Modeling. See, I want to start my own agency and open up the house as a side project. Hopefully the funds from the agency along with help from the city and donations from some of the designers I’ve spoken with will help to get it started,” Umeko explained, her face lighting up as she told Raph her plan. “Maybe we can all work together!”
“Wow, you really got this whole thing planned out. Let’s talk ta Leo, see what he thinks. I think it’s a great idea!” Raph said.
“You know,” Umeko said as she reached into her clutch, pulling out a small, pink, heart-shaped container and a short, jewel studded straw, “I downloaded your songs months ago and had no idea at the time it was you guys. Imagine my surprise shortly after when I stumbled across a video of you and the band performing at some place in Massachusetts.”
“Oh yeah?” Raph asked, half listening. He stared as she opened up the container to reveal a stash of cocaine and snorted the powder using the ridiculous bedazzled straw before offering it to him, which he gladly accepted.
“So... Donny, huh? I never would have thought him to be your... ‘type’,” Umeko said lightly as she pulled out a mirror and began to fiddle with her make-up.
“Yeah, well, last time I saw ya I thought ya were gonna be a stunt woman or a gymnast, or whatever...Instead, yer... holy shit, yer modeling! I guess we all changed a bit,” Raph said, taking another hit from the heart shaped container.
“Well, after Mom and Dad sent me away to that ridiculous excuse for a boarding school, I decided that modeling would probably piss them off even more. So after graduating, instead of going to the university of their choice, I applied to a modeling academy.”
“They paid fer ya ta go ta that?” Raph asked incredulously, already knowing the history of her parents and the constant threats of disownment.
“Hell no! I had some money saved up. It’s amazing what idiots online will pay for pictures of girls in underwear...” Umeko replied with a wink.
Raph gawked at her, not able to form words.
“Not of me, you dummy!” She laughed. “Long story short, a bunch of girls at the school went on about how they would post pictures of themselves online like a bunch of idiots, so I talked them into letting me set up a website and use their pics to make them, and of course me, lots of money.”
Raph still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Hey, they wanna display their naughty bits for the world to see, I’m not going to judge. But I will cash in on it. And trust me, I made a pretty penny. And I was only getting fifty percent.”
“F-fifty percent?!” Raph sputtered.
“Yeah, not only were they slutty, but stupid,” Umeko said, grinning her sharp tooth grin. “Bunch of poor rich girls with nothing better to do than piss off mommy and daddy.”
Raph shook his head, smiling. “Wow. I take that back. You have not changed a bit.”
“So... tell me about Donny! Since when do you go for nerd chic?” Umeko teased.
Raph laced his hands behind his head. “Donny’s more than that. He’s... he’s just different. He’s smart, sweet, caring... he’s the kind of guy that always thinks about everyone else before himself. Not to say he’s a pushover... just... he’s fuckin’ cool. Everything about him is adorable! The way he gets upset over little things, the look on his face when he’s concentrating on something... and in the sack! God! Fer someone who was damn near a virgin he sure got up to speed...” Raph stopped when he realized what he was saying out loud, hoping he hadn’t completely embarrassed his old friend. But when he looked back at Umeko, she had a cryptic look on her face.
The door swung open and Mikey burst in looking for something. Umeko took this as her cue and got up to get a drink and let the band get ready for their show. Raph sat in his chair as Mikey rummaged around and eventually found what he was looking for. He pulled a large cable from one of his bags and left just as quickly as he had entered. Raph got up from his chair and went back into the crowded bar, making a beeline for Donny. Over his mate’s protests, he grabbed Don’s hand and dragged him back to the dressing room. Once there, he shut the door and tackled the sputtering turtle, pressing their mouths together as he kissed all sense from him.
He slipped hot hands under Don’s shirt, untucking it out of his pants. His heart sang in triumph as Don practically melted under his touch, moaning into his mouth. Soon Raph had Don sitting on a small table, Don’s pants on the ground, Raph’s own pants barely at his knees as he fucked Don, the wooden table rattling under their weight, Don’s cries drowned out by the noise of the club.
It was over quickly. Don shuddered, sweat beading his forehead as he hurriedly pulled his pants back on. He tried to glare at Raph but there was no heat behind the angry look. Raph zipped up his pants, pulled Don in for another searing kiss, winked, and head out the door to finish getting ready for show time.
As they pushed their way through the crowd, Raph practically strut toward the stage, and Don was left apologizing profusely to the group of businessmen he had been talking to before he was so rudely interrupted.
Soon the lights dimmed, the crowd was quiet for a few seconds, and then guitars blasted through the silence, pulling the eager fans into a cheering frenzy as the band began to play their opening song.
Raph was singing in the microphone, eyes half lidded, almost in a trance, and failed to notice that Umeko had climbed up onto the stage, dancing and jumping around with Leo and Slash. Suddenly it was not his voice booming out of the speakers, but instead that of a smokey contralto. He turned his head and found that Umeko was singing the lyrics of their song and the crowed was going crazy. Cat calls and shrieks reverberated as Umeko took the song and made it her own, flipping her long hair about and bouncing around on the stage. Towards the end of the song, Raph and her were both singing and laughing and shouting into the mic.
Once her little show was done, she pulled Raph close, planted a kiss on his cheek, gave the crowd the finger, and ran off of the stage.
An hour later band finished it’s set and began to pack up. Raph and Leo were discussing replacing some equipment when they were approached by Don and a gentleman representing the label, the only one who stayed behind.
“Where’s Umeko?” Don asked as they walked over. “We want to talk to her about recording a song with you guys. The crowd absolutely loved her and the label agrees it would be great to include her in one of the songs. Maybe the one she sang tonight, or another one written specifically for her.”
“You mean like a duet?” Leo asked straightening up to give them his full attention.
“Perhaps...” Don said.
“Even as back up,” Mikey cut it. “A duet with Raph would be awesome, but I can even picture something with her voice just complementing Raph’s, with her having her own part, maybe give her a bridge. Oh! Dude, I totally know what song to use!”
Umeko eventually showed up and the band filled her in, asking her how she felt about the idea of recording something with them. She was a bit surprised, but excited about the idea as well.
They spent the rest of the night talking about the upcoming recording and giving Umeko parts to try out and see what felt comfortable. Many drinks and a couple hours later they all agreed to meet later that week and do some sample recordings.
The night finally came to an end. Leo and Mikey said goodnight and headed to Leo’s apartment. Casey and Slash went back to their place with the two models that had stayed behind to continue the party there. Don and Raph head to Don’s apartment, which they had been sharing since the tour ended.
Once there, the two exhausted turtles crashed into bed and slept the whole night.
Donny reached into the wicker basket and pulled out a warm bottle of champagne along with a couple of plastic flutes. He filled them both half way and handed one to Raph.
“To TMNT,” he said with a warm smile before bringing the glass up to his lips for a sip.
The pair had taken the afternoon off and driven up to a nearby state park for a picnic. There they found an empty field and laid out a thick blanket. There was a light breeze, keeping them cool against the early autumn sun. They ate fruit, cheese, and nuts. They talked a little about music and laughed about Mikey’s antics during the last recording session.
Don’s smile turned into a frown as Raph reached for the champagne bottle and poured himself a third glass.
“Raph, we have a show tonight. Did you forget?” he scolded as Raph practically downed the drink in a couple swallows.
“Yeah, I know. Don’t worry though, I’ll just take a nap before the show. It’ll be fine.” Raph replied.
Donny stared at Raph, wondering if he was hearing correctly. Lately Raph had been sounding more and more like a broken record. Don’t worry... It’s no big deal... It’s fine... I’m fine...
“...Donny...” Raph said, staring at his glass.
“Hm?” Don said, giving Raph his full attention, having recognized Raph’s tone and knowing it meant he wanted to say something important. Right then Raph had leaned back a bit, trying to look as relaxed as possible, the only indicator of his nervousness being the way he ran his fingertip along the edge of his glass.
Don set his glass and phone down, which he was about to check for messages, and waited patiently for Raph to gather his thoughts and spill whatever was on his mind. He was taking longer than usual, and for a moment Don thought that maybe Raph had changed his mind...
“Ya know how I said my mom got killed when I was eight? Well, it wasn’t just one day some dudes came in an’ killed her. These guys had been in our lives fer as long as I could remember. She...” he stopped to take a deep breath and let it out before continuing. “I barely remember a day that my mom weren’t stoned or drunk. And whenever she was actually sober, she was mean as fuck and basically in a panic trying to find those guys. I watched as they would come inta’ our little apartment, get her whateva’ drugs she wanted, fuck her, and then leave. Sometimes they would stay a while watching TV, smoking and drinking or whateva’. Sometimes...”
Raph stopped talking for a moment, swallowing hard, still running his fingers on the rim of his glass. Suddenly he reached over and poured himself another glass of warm champagne.
Don held his breath, waiting for Raph to continue.
Raph took a couple sips, cleared his throat and continued.
“...Sometimes, while one dude was fuckin’ my mom, the other would... he would...” Raph cleared his throat again, trying to push the words out, frowning as his eyes focussed on nothing. Or maybe on something. “Well, my mom wasn’t the only gettin’ fucked by those guys.”
Don sat there looking at Raph. For a moment, after hearing those words, his ears felt as if they were full of water, a strange rushing noise taking over his senses. By the time it cleared up, Raph was talking again.
“It was the way it was. Whether my mom knew or cared that it was happenin’, I dunno. I just know that when my mom died and I went to live wit’ ma uncle, all I could think was ‘God, I hope he has different drug dealers’. And he did. They’re the ones that got me working, sellin’ drugs for them. For years I worked for ‘em and then others. Sellin’ drugs and eventually guns. A couple a times I got beat cuz someone didn’t pay or somethin’ was missing. Nothin’ life threatenin’, but bad enough to where I had to get smart and learn my shit.”
Don was dumbstruck, his lips pressed tight while his brained struggled with how to process this information. He eventually reached over and placed his hand on Raph’s, hoping to give him something to hold on to, something to ground him and remind him that that part of his life was in the past and that he had the support he needed now from his friends, his family.
“Before I met ya, I was feelin’ really fucked up. Wasn’t sleepin’, hardly ate... there were days that i would just sit in the apartment, tryin’ ta’ write, and just stare at a blank wall or lay in bed just thinkin’ ‘bout bullshit. I think I might’ve been depressed or somethin’.” Suddenly Raph turned his hand to grip Don’s.
Don tugged on Raph’s hand and pulled him into a tight hug, Raph hugged him back. They sat there, locked in each other’s arms for a while before pulling away. Raph then reached for his guitar case and pulled out his old, battered guitar that he carried around everywhere. He wiped a hand across his eyes and sniffed a bit as he wrapped the strap around his neck, did a tiny bit of tuning, and then began to play.
Don laid on his side, watching as Raph slowly began to relax, the lines on his face softening as he gently strummed and plucked at the strings. Don felt a bit guilty that Raph had distracted himself with his guitar, because he honestly had no idea what to say. As much as he loved Raph, he had no clue how to deal with what had just been dropped into his lap. Raph had let Don in, shared something with Don that was so fragile. And as a result, Don felt the need to be as gentle as possible, to let Raph say what he wanted without trying to give him ignorant advice or try to tell Raph that things would be okay, or that it wasn’t his fault or whatever it was people tell victims of abuse. So he opted for silence. Raph knew that Don was there for him.
Don felt himself being lulled by the gentle plucking of strings and began to close eyes his eyes only to open them and stare at Raph, who was singing. It was a song Don hadn’t heard before and now his full attention was on his moody boyfriend, on the guitar, on the dulcet tenor voice now gripping at Don as he followed Ralph’s mouth, the lyrics uncharacteristically cheerful. Their eyes locked as Don realized that Ralph was not just singing this song to him, but that this song was them. It was their courtship, it was the two of them taking a leap and falling into a river of love. His heart swelled more and more with each lyric, every melody, every pull off string resonating from the worn guitar.
By the time the song came to an end, the two turtles sat there, misty eyed, their hearts pounding. Raph reached up to pull off the guitar strap and leaned in towards Don, but Don beat him to the punch as he grabbed Raph’s jacket and pulled him in for a fierce, fiery kiss, the two of them pouring their all into it as they tried to get as close to each other as possible.
Eventually Don’s phone bleeped and reminded him that they had work to do. They pulled their lips apart, their foreheads still touching. Then they got up and began to pack.
The car ride back to the city was quiet, neither turtle saying anything. Raph didn’t feel like talking anymore, and Don didn’t think it was necessary to talk to Raph, understanding that the silence meant Raph needed time to come down.
Raph turned his head towards the scenery rushing by. The leaves were turning, creating a fiery landscape. His conversation with Donny was churning in his mind, pounding in his head as the memories of his childhood haunted him, the confession keeping images crystal clear, the smells acrid, and the noise thunderous.
His thoughts seem to fly around in all directions, no rhythm or rhyme or order. He thought about the first time he heard Donny’s gentle voice, when he turned and saw him enter the studio. Even now his heart began to pound, but with a sense of foreboding. His mind was taking his current happiness with Don and poisoning it with the feel of gun metal and the smell of burning crack. In his mind the sound of Don’s laughter was being drowned out by the sound of his abuser’s grunts, muffled by the rough fabric of the pillow his face was being pushed into. The weight heavy on his shell, on his soul. He can’t escape it. He can’t cry out, he can barely breath. His arms are useless as they grip the old, dirty sheets under him. No one can help him. No one has before, and no one ever will. His is a cursed life. A haunted life. He is spoiled, he is envenomed. Nothing will change that. Nothing will cure him, fix him, save him, whatever it is people try to do when they come into his life.
Raph turned his head to look at his love. Don was staring straight ahead, eyes on the road, but he turned to Raph and smiled when he felt eyes on him.
Raph wanted to smile back, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t do this to Donny. Raph’s track record was one of disillusion and pain. He somehow managed to betray and disappoint everyone in his life by not living up to whatever potential they had envisioned in him. By somehow fucking up.
He was a fuck up. That much was clear. And whatever magic he had managed to steal in order to achieve happiness at this moment was bound to wear off.
His mind was made up at that point. Things were going to go horribly wrong. It was simply a matter of time. The only difference this time, was that Raph had decided that for the first time he would take control. If this was truly destined to be spoiled, than he would be the one to spoil it. No more waiting for destiny to punch him in the guts. His hurt would be his own. He deserved at least that much.
Back in New York the band was gathered in the changing room. Everybody was tired from the night before. Casey looked terrible, splayed out in his chair as he chugged straight out of a plastic water gallon. Next to him Slash was snoring loudly, his head tipped back, mouth wide open. Leo and Mikey were quietly going over the lyrics to a new song Mikey was working on. Raph paced back and forth across the room, wringing his hands. He would on occasion stop to pick up his guitar and tune it, put it back down, and continue pacing. His hands would come up to rub vigorously at his face. He would sit down. And he would get back up and continue pacing.
Don opened the door and walked in. He was about to say something but stopped as soon as he took in their state.
“Guys, uh, you’re on...” he trailed off as he watched Casey work on a second gallon of water. He frowned, but shook his head, realizing there just wasn’t much to be said or done.
The band performed fine, but the energy was not even half what it normally was. The crowd didn’t even notice. They cheered and danced and by the end were happy with the show.
Normally everyone would hang around for a bit to say hi to fans, but tonight everyone was simply exhausted and decided to call it a night. They said their goodbyes and went to their respective dwellings.
Later that night Don woke up from a fitful sleep. His eyes snapped opened and he realized he had been awakened by the buzzing on the nightstand. A quick glance at the clock confirmed that it was still the wee hours of the night. He groaned and reached out blindly for his phone. Once it was in his grasp he brought the blinding light before his eyes, squinting as his foggy brain tried to remember how to operate the little machine. He was even more confused as he read the message that flashed before him. Don had no such settings on his phone, requiring him to unlock the device in order to read messages and such. That’s when he realized that he wasn’t holding his own phone. Raph, in his sleepy stupor, must have tossed the phone on that side and immediately passed out.
With a big yawn, Don was about to set the phone back down when a chill chased away all traces of sleepiness. He took a closer look at the message looking back at him.
hey babe, where were u? i missed u
Don must have read the message over five hundred times before finally setting the phone back down. He stared up at the ceiling, his eyes slowly but surely adjusting back to the darkness in his room. His heart was pounding in his head. His mouth had gone dry. Eventually he turned his head to look at Raph.
Raph was lying on his stomach, his face buried in his pillow in a way that looked almost uncomfortable. His legs were splayed out, causing the larger turtle to occupy most of Don’s bed.
Don turned his attention back to the ceiling. He tried to tell himself that it was nothing. Nothing at all. Raph was becoming a well known performer, with many fans and associates and fellow musicians. That text could be from anyone. Perhaps another band wanting to meet up and share ideas.
.... hey babe...
In his shock, Don had failed to notice who the message was even from. He wanted to kick himself for not checking, because now he didn’t dare pick up the phone again. He somehow felt as though it would be an invasion of privacy. It was one thing to accidentally pick up Raph’s phone, it was another thing entirely to start rifling through his messages like some overly jealous boyfriend.
He would just have to let it go. He trusted Raph, and that was that. No more worrying if Raph was possibly hiding something. He needed to go to sleep. He had a lot to do the next morning.
Don spent the rest of the night staring up at the ceiling.
The next morning Don woke up before Raph did and decided not to disturb him as he climbed out of bed. He hadn’t really slept, but didn’t want stay in bed. He was feeling antsy and itchy and decided the best cure for that might be some coffee.
He felt a little bit guilty breaking his coffee abstinence, but with all the stress from the night before he decided it wouldn’t hurt. His mind was still reeling from the night before, and what better way to steady his thoughts than with work. He had plenty to do that morning, so he threw some clothes on and ventured out into the crisp morning to get some caffeine and pastries from the locally owned coffee shop around the corner.
Don returned back to the apartment with lattes and scones, his step already a bit lighter. He turned the knob and let himself in, catching the tail end of Raph’s conversation, his gruff voice carrying out from the bedroom into the living room.
“Cool. I’ll talk to ya later....You too,” Raph finished.
Don felt his heart clench all over again. But he took a deep breath and pretended not to hear anything, making his way to the kitchen counter where he dropped off the morning goodies. Just then Raph shuffled in. His eyes lit up when he saw the pastries and coffee on the counter. Helping himself to one of the drinks, he planted a kiss on Don’s cheek.
“Thanks, babe,” he said, taking a light sip from the steaming hot drink.
“You’re welcome,” Don mumbled as he set up his laptop on the dining table to begin checking emails. He fidgeted for about a minute before he simply could not stand it any longer.
“Raph,” he began, “last night... you had a message on your phone.” Don tried his best not to cringe as those words left his mouth. He told himself it was just healthy curiosity, that it was not irrational jealousy or suspicion. He couldn’t even look up from computer. “Um, who was that?”
“I dunno,” was the reply he got.
Don expected to hear some sort of explanation. Instead Raph just continued to sip his coffee, occasionally taking a bite out of his scone.
After about ten minutes of Don sitting there pretending to check emails, Raph announced that he would be taking a shower and heading over to Leo’s to go over material. He thanked Don for the breakfast and after a minute the sound of Don’s bedroom shower could be heard through the wall.
Don let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding and slumped in his chair. Was he over thinking things? Did that text message really mean anything? What about the conversation he overheard just this morning? Was he jumping to conclusions? Was it justifiable for him to assume that perhaps Raph was hiding something from him?
Don eyed the coffee sitting before him, untouched and slowly getting cold. He grabbed it and drank down half it’s contents in a few gulps. The taste! It was sweet, after so long having not even indulged in decaf, but at the same time bitter, considering the circumstances. Either way, his body sang, he immediately felt better. No more worrying over nothing. If Raph said the message was nothing, than he would leave it at that. He was being childish and irrational and enough was enough. Time to get some work done.
An hour later, Raph was long gone. Don was immersed in emails and letters when he was interrupted by his cell phone. It was Mikey.
“Hello?” he answered as he continued to type.
“ ‘Mornin’ Sunshine!” Mikey greeted.
“Good morning, Mikey. What’s up?” Don asked, knowing fully well how long it normally took Mikey to get to the point any time he called.
“Oh, nuthin’ much. You have breakfast yet?”
“Yes, I did. What’s up?” Don repeated, hoping that his long-time friend would spit out whatever was on his mind.
“Aww, Leo and I were hoping you guys could join us for breakfast. Oh well. You and Raph should come over anyway. I got this great idea for the new album. We totally gotta talk about it. It’s cool as shit, I think you guys’ll like it. We can talk to the others about it tonight during practice.”
Don looked at the clock on his computer screen. He felt a chill run down his spine. Raph had left for Leo’s over an hour ago.
“So yeah, come on over,” Mikey continued on the line.
Don wanted to say something.
No...He wanted to ask. He wanted to ask if Raph was there, if he had stopped by, if they had heard from him. But he couldn’t quite get the words out.
“...Donny? You still there?” Mikey inquired.
Don cleared his throat. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll be there. Let me finish up some things and I’ll meet you guys in a few.”
“Cool. See ya later!” Mikey chirped.
“Yeah,” Don mumble. “Oh, uh... Mikey?”
“... Um... nevermind. I’ll see you later.” Don finished lamely.
“Oh. Uh, sure. Later,” Mikey said before hanging up.
Don set down his phone and promptly buried his face in his hands.