Five Times Raphael Was a Pillow and One Time he Wasn't
The turtles didn't really get sick all that often. They didn't have a lot of exposure to human viruses, and even if they did, viruses tended to be species-specific. Mutant turtle DNA was a kind of safeguard against run-of-the-mill diseases humans passed around. Growing up in the sewers had also given the four brothers iron-clad immune systems. There were times when they'd catch the occasional bug or have to fight off an infection acquired in their less-than-sterile environment, but it didn't happen often. And even when it did, the turtles could usually bounce back fairly quickly.
This time it was Leonardo, and he'd been down for the count for almost a week. It had started with sniffling and morphed into a rattling cough that settled in his chest and stubbornly refused to leave. Raph knew it was bad because Leo hadn't even attempted to train for three days. Fortunately, Leo wasn't dangerously ill; he was just miserable. He had spent most of the past week in his room, partly because he didn't know how contagious he was, but partly because he had been too drained to do much more than sleep.
The sound of hoarse coughing echoing off the stone walls of the lair broke into Raphael's sound sleep and awakened him. He growled a little under his breath and buried his head under his pillow. The ragged barking came again, though, and he flopped onto his back with a groan, staring up at the ceiling as his hammock swung gently back and forth. He lay there for a moment or two trying to drift back to sleep, but even though he didn't hear Leo cough again, the silence rang in his ears and kept him awake.
Raph growled again, rolled over, and dropped to the floor, moving silently to the door and peering out into the main living area of the lair. The cavernous room was dark except for the shivery blue-white glow of a television. Only one small screen on the huge bank of TVs was turned on, and Leo was huddled under a blanket in a corner of the couch. Even in the dark, across the room, Raph could see him shivering.
He cast a longing look back at his hammock, then gave a resigned sigh. It had been over twenty-four hours since he'd last seen Leo, and Raph knew he wouldn't be able to rest until he'd checked on him. He crossed over to stand next to the couch. "Little late for you to be up, ain't it?" he asked, folding his arms across his chest.
Leo didn't even look around. "Been sleeping for hours. I'm still tired but I can't sleep any more." The words snagged in his throat and he started to cough, lifting a fold of the blanket to smother the sound.
"Didn't you take any of that medicine April brought down?" Raph asked with a frown.
Leo blinked in confusion. "Uh…Thought I did. When you were sparring with Mikey."
Raph rolled his eyes. "That was yesterday, dummy." In spite of his outward sarcasm, though, Raph was a little worried. It wasn't like Leo to be so out of it.
"...Oh. I'll, um...I should do that." Leo glanced in the direction of the kitchen, but shivered again and hunched deeper against the sofa cushions.
Raph sighed. "Just stay put," he said shortly. He stalked off to the kitchen and rummaged in the cabinet until he found the box of cold medicine April had bought for them. Even though she hadn't known them for very long, she had eagerly befriended them. It surprised Raph and his brothers sometimes how aware of them she was. When she'd heard Leo first start to cough she'd appeared the next day with Nyquil and tissues "just in case". Raph popped two of the bright green gelcaps out of the packaging and filled a glass of water, carrying them out to his brother.
Leo swallowed the pills, wincing a little from his raw throat. Raph's frown deepened when he saw Leo's hand shake a little as he drained the glass and set it aside. He cast one last look towards his room, then made his decision and plopped down on the couch. Leo glanced over at him, clutching the blanket closer around himself before turning dull eyes back to the television.
Raph stared straight ahead as well, but kept his attention on his brother. Leo was breathing carefully to avoid aggravating his cough, but he couldn't suppress the trembling. Even though Raph could feel the heat radiating from him, his shivering caused the couch to shake.
Raph let out a put-upon sigh and dragged one of the throw pillows into his lap, then reached out and hooked a hand around Leo's neck, giving him a little tug. "C'mere."
"Huh?" Leo pulled back a bit, staring at him in confusion.
"Would you just come on?" Raph said impatiently. This time, Leo didn't resist when Raph tugged on the back of his neck. He curled on his side with his head resting on the pillow in his brother's lap. Raph draped one arm over Leo, stealing the remote with the other. He flipped channels until he found a replay of the hockey game he'd missed seeing the night before. "Just so ya know, if Mikey comes out here, I'm pushin' you onto the floor," he warned.
Leo didn't smile, but a small huff of air that might have been a laugh escaped his chest. "Okay," he said hoarsely. He pressed as close to his brother as his shell would allow, burrowing deeper under the blanket.
For a while, Raph didn't really notice a change. Leo still coughed and shook. Raph began to feel uncomfortably warm, pinned under his feverish brother, but he didn't fidget. After about thirty minutes, though, he noticed that Leo wasn't coughing quite so much, and his shivering had subsided. He peered down, trying to see Leo's face. He was fast asleep. Raph carefully rested his hand against Leo's cheek, smiling a little in relief when the skin beneath his hand felt cooler to the touch.
"Shell-for-brains," he muttered. "Knew you'd forgotten to take your medicine. You pretend to be this hot-shot leader and you can't even remember to take care of yourself." He lightly patted a blanket-covered shoulder before wrapping his arm over his brother again and settling back to watch the rest of the game.