Two out of Three

BY : Ghost-of-a-Chance
Category: +S through Z > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dragon prints: 178
Disclaimer: I ain't makin' any money off'a this - I don't own TMNT or anything related. If you sue, you'll literally just get used cat litter.

 Previously posted as part of the Gallery of Memories, takes place at an unspecificied time during Part III of A New Lease on Life. If you're left with questions or confusion, just hit up the main story at FFnet, AO3, or Tumblr.

Suggested Listening: Meatloaf "Two out of Three Ain't Bad," Survivor "Keep it Right Here"

Two out of Three

The Garden

Mercy isn't sure what led to the situation she's found herself in, but she's sure Amber's responsible. After all, if the brunette wasn't so closed off, so evasive, would Donatello have cornered her best friend in the garden for information? Mercy stalls, torn between the row of pepper seedlings she's been planting and the blushing fidgeting genius blocking her way to the wheelbarrow. The 'yardwork' still needs to be done but the blonde doesn't do well with people much less people asking her about her best friend's preferences in—UGH!—boyfriends.

"Lemme ask one…more…time," she states in a low, warning tone as she digs another hole with her bare hands. Trowels, after all, are totally overrated in her opinion and she's quite used to planting barehanded. "Yer askin' me what kinda guys Amber used'ta date…why? –and I should answer you, why?" Donatello fidgets awkwardly, his bright hazel eyes darting every which way as he scrambles for an answer that won't make him sound like a lovesick puppy. With a noisy swallow, he finally takes a leap of faith.

"I care about her," he admits in a half-mumble with a dark blush streaking across his cheeks. "...I love her, Mercy…and I…" Seeming to suddenly grow a backbone, he pauses for a deep, steadying breath and shoves his drooping glasses back up his snout. "She's hard to read—emotional closeness and openness are two of her greatest weaknesses. Everything she says and does tells me she feels the same, but I still need to know."

"Why?" Mercy repeats halfway between squinting and glaring, and he turns to stare down at the neat row of seedlings at his feet. Beforehand, his eyes were squinting in the bright artificial lighting but as they cast toward the ground, a shadow fell across them. The absence of light and introduction of shade sends a perplexing ripple through his refractive irises; right before Mercy's eyes, the light hazel darkens to brown, leaving her blinking in surprise.

The unexpected occurrence reminds her that she hasn't really spent a lot of time with Raphael's tall gangly twin—for obvious reasons, he's too smart and sweet for her sassy smartass self. Maybe, she considers as she tenderly knuckles dirt in place around another sprout, she should rectify that oversight. After all, he's her best friend's boyfriend—sure, she religiously avoided all the others before him but this boyfriend isn't likely to blow his chances anytime soon. While he presumably searches his vast vocabulary for answers she'll understand, Mercy smacks the loose dirt from her hands and gently but firmly nudges him away from her setup.

"Oh," he interjects with a sheepish grin. "I'm in your way, aren't I? Sorry." The blonde rolls her denim blue eyes and collects another pepper plant from the seedling tray.

"Just keep clear." Everything going on is entirely against her prickly nature but she knows Don wouldn't have sought her out if he thought he had any better options. "So what're ya worried about? Why're you askin' me instead'a Amber?" Seemingly startled back to his purposes, Don's smile fades into a cringe.

"She—She had a whole life before we met," he admits fidgeting with a carton of fertilizer stakes. "She's had friends, family, coworkers…even lovers…" Mercy feels about ready to gag; God, she hates mushy stuff, and this turtle seems full'a mush! "If she's only with me because—because she has no better options—" Before he can fall any further into self-deprecating babbling, Mercy snatches up the cultivating rake and gives him a strong whack across the shins.

"'At's enough'a that!" she snaps as the turtle clutches his stinging leg and swears in Japanese—at least she thinks it's Japanese, could be Korean for all she knows. "Amber ain't with ya 'cause she's desperate—she ain't with ya 'cause she ain't got better options! She's with ya 'cause she loves ya, ya douche-nozzle!" Donnie's hopping and swearing suddenly halt and he stares down at her with a disgusted cringe.

"How's that even an insult?" he asks with a hint of a grumble in his voice. "A douche nozzle is just part of an apparatus used to cleanse bodily cavities for—"

"Nerd," Mercy cuts him off sharply. "Ya want my help, or are ya gonna correct my grammar next?" Donnie rolls his eyes and drops to sit a safe foot or so away. "Look, if yer still worried about it, here's yer answer. Amber'n I've been close since we were kids—grade school age kids—and I met every single asshole she ever dated. Sometimes bein' roommates is more hassle'n it's worth," she adds under her breath recalling the day she came home early and found Amber's naked ass in the air over their sofa. Of course, the naked boyfriend underneath was even more traumatizing. "She's at least predictable if nothin' else—every single jerkoff she ever dated was one'a three things." She turned shrewd eyes back up to Donatello's, ticking her words off on long slender dirt-smudged fingers. "They were all smart, sensitive, or at least able to drink'er under the table."

"'Drink her under the table?" Donatello echoes with a wince. He knows all too well how well Amber can handle alcohol—even after downing an entire bottle of Scotch in one sitting, she was still too sober to get her tattoo inked over without anesthesia! If Casey hadn't suggested a shot of vodka, she might've been sober even after a bottle and half more!* Mercy's elbow to his side yanks him from his increasingly racing thoughts and he turns to see a sly grin splitting the blonde's face.

"Yer not a drinker, Donnie-boy," she teases, "an' Amber ain't gonna want ya to change for'er. Ya can't outdrink'er stubborn ass, but two out'a three ain't bad."

The Kitchen

The smoky scent of Scotch whisky and the tang of cut peppers and tomatoes fills the kitchen. Raphael hovers before the stove armed with a wooden spoon, impatiently poking the pulverized vegetables simmering in the stockpot. "Playin' with it don't make it cook faster," Amber teases, emerging from the walk-in pantry with an armful of clean canning jars. "It'll just slow it down." The hulking ninja blusters on the surface, but the moment she looks away, a smile breaks through. "So how're you an' Mercy doin'?" Her sudden question startles him. For a moment, he stares down into the stockpot considering how to answer.

Long before he met Mercy, he took a chance on a relationship and that relationship went down the toilet. Granted, he didn't respect Kimber the way he respects Mercy—though he and Kimber were close friends, he was more interested in a physical relationship with her, more focused on not dying a virgin. She loved him for who he was, he knows that now, and that knowledge only makes him feel worse about blowing off a more permanent commitment to her. If he hadn't overreacted, jumped to conclusions, and broken off all contact with her, would she still be alive? If he'd listened when she told him how she felt, had given her a chance to prove those feelings, would he be so nervous about commitment?

What-ifs and why-nots can't change the fact that Raphael broke Kimber's heart; as far as he's concerned, nothing can wash away her blood from his hands. He made mistake after mistake with Kimber and he is determined to not do the same with Mercy.

"Been takin' it slow," he finally admits in a low rumble, his golden hazel eyes darting away from Amber's. "—don't wanna push'er or anythin'." A sudden presence at his side—a cheeky brunette armed with two tumblers of Scotch—startles him; Amber offers him the fresh tumbler with a grin. "Kanpai," he smirks saluting her with the glass of liquid fire.

"Slanj'-uh va'," Amber retorts mischievously then pauses to savor her own sip. Once Raph's sure he won't belch fire, he grins back.

"So," he asks with feigned indifference, stirring the impending pasta sauce to hide his nerves. "Gotta question fer ya. Merse told me she ain't dated before—din't pay no attention ta guys. Dat true?" Amber, seeing right through his disinterested façade, smirks, and ducks past him to poke the minced garlic and herbs simmering on the stove.

"She never dated, no," she admits airily. "But she did look—she'll tell ya she never looked at guys, but I'm tellin' ya she did—Ev'ry time we went out, she'd spend most'a the time people-watchin." She chuckles to herself. "Anytime she liked what she saw, she'd start fashin'im fer bein' a mingin' munter." Raph's nonplussed stare and shrug point out the obvious: while Donatello has been learning her lingo, he clearly hasn't been sharing what he learned. "Sorry—she'd bitch about'em."

"If she likes ya she insults ya," Raph recalls with a smirk. "Yeah, dat sounds like'er. So ya eva notice anythin' dey had in common? What kinda guys got'er attention?" Moss green eyes roll as their owner sighs.

"Ya got nothin' to worry 'bout, Big Guy," Amber reassures with a dry smirk and a pat on one bulging bicep. "Trust me on that, okay? She never gave anyone, guy'er not, the time'a day 'less'n they were one'a three things." Tossing her grey-streaked side-set braid back over her shoulder, she pries the wooden spoon from his slackened grip and stirs the sauce. "They had to be strong'er loyal or at least non-drinkers." Raph gives a startled glance down at the still half-full glass of Scotch clenched in his fingers, but a soft hand stills him from setting it aside. "Ya drink, Raph, but yer not a drunk; Mercy understands that and wouldn't wanna change ya. Still, yer strong an' loyal, an' Meatloaf said it best: Two out'a three ain't bad."

Later that night, Donatello ambles out of his lab toward his bedroom, or more specifically, the bed already warmed by a certain sassy brunette. "Leo and Mikey are off at Bev and Bree's," he reports methodically stripping down to his boxers. "Raph and Mercy took off, too…they packed enough junk food to feed a small family so they're probably catching a late movie or something."

"Ya don't say," Amber teases with a lazy grin and waggled eyebrow, her glasses drooping down to the very tip of her nose. "Someone's gettin' lucky tonight." Don flinches away, shooting her a squeamish cringe.

"Dear," he points out in half-whine, "the last thing I want on my mind is my brothers engaging in carnal relations! I still haven't figured out the science behind brain bleach!" Despite the litany of traumatizing images now coursing through his mind's eye, he continues stripping, refusing to look at his disturbed girlfriend and sure he's blushing. A sudden rustle later, cool bare arms wrap around his waist from the back and a familiar tangy non-scent sends his nostrils flaring; perhaps, he considers with a noisy swallow, he's been going about the whole brain bleach idea all wrong. Amber's bare flesh pressed against his never fails to make him draw a complete blank.

"Who's talkin' 'bout your brothers? Yer Da's asleep, we're alone—was talkin' bout you, mo kully'a." As always, the half-remembered Gaelic comes out rougher and clumsier than she'd prefer, but it has the desired effect; in the span of a single breath, she finds herself enfolded in his arms and feels a telltale nuzzle at her scalp. Despite her best efforts, though, he seems to be holding himself back, almost as though he's working up the courage to say something. "Wha's on yer mind, Darlin'?" she asks gently leading him to their bed. Sure enough, he seats himself right in the middle, leans back against the headboard, and avoids her eyes, one massive hand digging shyly into the back of his neck.

"I…" He turns to stare through the laundry hamper with a blush. "I talked to Mercy…about, well, guys you dated." For a moment all she can do is blink in surprise at the confession. "Sorry."

"For what?" she asks honestly shifting to perch on one massive thigh. "Ya would'a gotten better answers if you just asked me. Mercy wasn't exactly supportive of any non-platonic relationships." She winces a faint blush streaking across her cheeks. "She put up with me dating 'til we moved in together, then she got sick'a watchin' me get hurt. She's not the most reliable source regarding my ex-flames." Don cringes, still unable to look her in the eye. "Dee, Darlin', I ain't mad—I ain't hurt. If ya got questions, ask'em an' I'll answer to the best'a my limited ability." Her point made and the offer open, she tugs the sheet up over her back and nestles up against his bare plastron, idly tracing a few faint scars in view. It takes a lot of convincing on his end, but finally, he takes a leap of faith; when has she ever let him fall?

"Why're you with me?" he asks honestly. "I'm not saying you shouldn't be and I'm not saying you don't love me—I just—" He heaves a frustrated sigh, wishing he could better articulate his query; were his communications skills this questionable before he met Amber, the queen of miscommunication? "I know you knew me before we met and may have even loved me then, too. What did you see in me that you didn't see in anyone else? You could've had a full life—a human life—"

"What?" she asks too-innocently. "You mean I could'a been a housewife, married to a career businessman, lived in a little pink house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, had a dog an' two-point-five kids, the whole American Dream shebang?" She giggles at his pinched irate expression. "Fer one, I didn't want all that—I wanted more out'a life than marriage an' poppin' out babies. Fer another, you don't want to know my reasons, do you?" Sure enough, his cheeks darken slightly and he gives her a weak smile. Cupping his chin in her palm, she studies his appearance with a tender smile.

"I didn't just wake up one day an' decide to fall for a mutant turtle, ya know," she teases slowly shifting to straddle his lap. "I started dreaming about you when I was only a child. Those dreams were vague at first, then made clearer by something admittedly juvenile, but as I grew, so did they. All my life, I searched for someone to fit standards I never knew I had—someone smart, sensitive, gentle, compassionate, affectionate, strong, loyal, honorable…" With every murmured character trait, she traces another nonsensical pattern into his bared skin. "I tried, you know…I found men with big brains and bigger egos, men with gentle peaceful natures but no sense in their heads…strong men who cared only for what they could gain with that strength and weak men who wanted only to be taken care of…"

Finally, the random caresses lead back to his chin, the pad of her thumb brushing the corner of his lips upward into a lopsided smile. "No matter how hard I looked, Donatello," she confesses softly, "all I found outside my dreams was disappointment, and every time, I gave up on the men who couldn't measure up."

"And…in your dreams?" he asks hopefully.

"In my dreams waited a man with every trait I'd ever hoped for and so much more besides." Soft lips sweet with peppermint brush his and trail down his jaw to his neck, then part only long enough for a nip. "His heart is only eclipsed by his mind—his voice soothes me when nothing else can—his eyes bring out the best and the worst in me and challenge me even when I'm ready to call it quits. His arms make me strong and his hands make me weak…" Said hands lift to frame her face, and she follows them to his lips without a moment of hesitation.

For a time, nothing is said between them, their lips occupied with gentle brushes and teasing nips. By the time they break apart, one silently reminding her lungs to do their job, the embrace has long since gone beyond sweet to sensual. "Cummoan oot, Sweetness," Amber whispers into his neck, relishing the faint shudder the thicker, coarser speech always triggers; if she'd known years ago that someone someday would find it tempting, she's sure she'd never have forced herself to stifle it. "Ah'm su empty withoot ye."

As they've done countless times before, the partners work in tandem to come closer together, one shedding her lover's remaining clothing and the other laying himself bare for her. In the time between a gasp and a sigh, two become one, bodies and souls entwined in a time-honored dance they've only just begun to hone. One murmurs the words of a multitude—praises and promises in a litany of tongues she'll never understand; the other meets each with one of her own in a thick, gruff burr.

"D'ya ken nuw?" Amber asks Donatello breathlessly as they move in time. "Ah'll have nuwun else—ya spoilt me from the start, iyannan, my sweet braw speccy."

"Amber…" The name comes out in a half-moan, half-whisper that makes chills run up and down her spine; she can't resist stealing his next words right from his lips. Strong arms pull her tightly to his chest, cradling her like something more precious than life. One hand migrates down her back to her over-plump rear pulling her closer than ever before as the pace of the dance slows from a tango to a waltz. "I…I love you, Braids…"

"I love ya, too, Darlin'," she breathes into his neck. "Yer not human, but it don't matter—Yer more'n I e'er wanted an' all I e'er needed…" As she pushes him down into the sheets and sits up astride him, her amorous expression morphs into a teasing grin. "Mercy's right, ya know."

Wait…what?! Donatello stares up at her halfway between shock and horror. Surely Mercy didn't tell her what he asked…surely?! "Doghouse?" he asks with a sheepish grin. Instead of answering, his woman gives a soft low chuckle and drapes herself across his chest with another teasing brushing kiss.

"Trus' me, Sweets," she whispers almost against his lips, "Two out'a three's jus' perfect."


 * Vodka is reputably one of the more intoxicating liquors on the market; I've heard it takes less vodka to get someone drunk than most other liquors. Of course, I could count on one hand how many times I drink per month - not a heavy drinker - and I rarely venture beyond 'girly drinks,' wine, Scotch, or champagne during holidays. I really wouldn't know anything about Vodka from personal experience.

AMBER TRANSLATED, mostly Scots and Scots-English with some occasional Gaelic

-Slanj'-uh va' – Proper spelling "Slàinte mhath." Used as a toast, means basically, "Good health!" Compare to US "Here's to your health!" I'll readily admit I'm basing the pronunciation on web research so it might not be correct. Remember, I live in Hicksville, US of A?
-"fashin'im fer bein' a mingin' munter" – roughly, she's bitching about the person being horrible, dirty, and ugly.
-Mo kully'a, proper spelling "mo Gaol" - Rough pronunciation; reportedly there's no English equivalent to the Gaelic pronunciation for [ao] Mo Gaol means 'My love.'
-Cummoan oot – Come on out
-D'ya ken nuw? – Do you know/understand now?
-Ah'll have nuwun else – I'll have no one else
-Iyannan – Proper spelling "Leannan" is Scots Gaelic for 'Sweetheart;' spelled as pronounced unless I've botched the pronunciation, which as always, is a distinct possibility.
-Braw – Beautiful or handsome
-Speccy – someone who wears glasses

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