Leo was fairly certain he just swallowed his heart. He looked horrified enough that Donnie and Raph both spun around; and then Donnie made an awful choking sound and Raph flew to his feet so fast his chair fell over.
“Okay, the blood isn’t mine. Calm down.” The kid even dared to look unbothered, waving their concern away like it was totally unwarranted. His bright yellow sweatshirt was stained an ugly, stomach-twisting rust color, all down the front and along the sleeves. “Honestly, Leo, breathe.”
Leo did his best to. Don crossed the room and yanked Mikey’s jacket open; heaving a sigh of relief that took the steel out of his spine when the T-shirt underneath turned out to be clean.
“You have two minutes,” Raph said, dangerously calm, “and then I’m calling dad.”
That got Mikey moving. He spread his hands pleadingly. “Don’t call dad! I have to get her cleaned up before I show dad! I need, like, a bow and stuff.”
“Oh, god,” Donnie said dryly. “I should have guessed.”
“It was only a matter of time,” Leo agreed, absently rubbing the heel of his hand against his chest. That momentary panic had hurt. “Just – promise me you didn’t dive into traffic again. Or fall out a window.”
“The window thing happened one time, and you’re never going to let it go.”
“One minute,” Raph grit out, and Mikey had the good grace to look sheepish.
“Sorry, Raphie. I, uh. Found a dog.” He gestured vaguely. “She’s in the garage. She was hurt, but not too bad – she cut her leg on something, and she kept squirming when I tried to carry her, which is why my hoodie’s all gross. She’s okay, though, I took her to Honeycutt right away.”
Mikey worked after school at a veterinary clinic. It started as community service – “It’ll look good on our college applications,” insisted Donnie, a thousand times – but now Mikey earned a tidy wage there as a kennel technician. Considering his track record of rescuing cats, squirrels and pigeons from alleyways, trees and rooftops, his brothers unanimously agreed it was the right place for him.
After a long moment, Raph relented with a sigh. “Okay, let’s see her.”
Their little brother lit up, and all but dragged Donnie with him toward the garage door. Leo was braced for something absurd, it being Mikey and all, and instead he was met with a well-behaved orange and white dog, about a foot and a half tall at the shoulder. She sat up as the door opened, bobtail wagging, and wriggled with excitement when they came down the steps to join her.
“Who’s a good girl?” Mikey cooed, ruffling her floppy ears. “Brittany’s such a good girl! Aww, Raph, she likes you.”
Raph grumbled at him, pink in the face as the dog all but climbed into his lap. He was gentle with her bandaged foreleg, petting her with a softness that wasn’t as uncharacteristic as he’d like his brothers to believe. Donnie and Leo traded secret smiles.
“Did you call her ‘Brittany’?” Leo asked, crouching next to Mikey. “Where on earth did you get that name?”
“Honeycutt said she was a Brittany,” Mikey told him promptly, and Donnie snorted with laughter.
“Mikey,” he said, grinning hugely, “a Brittany is a breed of Spaniel, named after the province of France where it originated. It’s not her name.”
“Well, it is now,” Mikey said stoutly. “Besides, she knows it already. Ain’t that right, sweetheart? Right, Brittany?”
She lunged from Raph to Mikey, and licked his cheek agreeably; and Leo didn’t have the heart to tell him that she’d probably answer to anything he called her, as long as he kept being kind.
“Well,” Leo said, “who wants to introduce Brittany to Klunk?”