A/N: Written for the prompt "Leo defending his family."

"This is it," Leo said gravely, and Raph tightened his grip on the weapon in his hands reflexively. Leo turned cool blue eyes on him, and his face was an impressive mask of composure, and he was poised and ready to dart around the corner into battle; only taking this moment for his brother's sake. "Listen – I might not get another chance to tell you – "

"I know," Raph said quietly, and nodded once. "Me, too."

Leo spared him a smile – a swift, shining thing, like a glint of sunlight off the sharp metal of a sword – and then his features schooled, and he lifted his head, and said, "See you on the other side."

The other side was a wide expanse of sunny, summer afternoon outside the farmhouse. Raphael darted around the side of the old veranda, two steps behind his fearless leader, and when he lifted the gun to shoulder height and took aim, it was to shoot Casey square in the face without mercy.

"This is for our brothers!" he roared, and Casey sputtered and laughed through the cold stream of well water, and tried to whack Raph with one of those stupid pool noodles they found in the shed.

"Where are you keeping them, you fiends?" Leo demanded with a mighty scowl, lobbing water balloons with scary precision – even though the giggling from the upside down playpen in the middle of the yard was enough of a giveaway in and of itself. April wiped wet hair out of her face with a toothed grin and returned fire.

"You'll have to pry them from my cold, dead fingers!"

"Take her down, Leo," Raph urged, and then he was going down in a wet and muddy pile, and his grin was so wide it hurt as he and Casey tried to shove each other's faces into the dirt.

And in response, Leo executed one of those ridiculous moves that he only pulled out once in a blue moon, flipping up and over April with a clearance of like two feet, alive and alight with playful energy. Landing on light feet whole yards behind her, he lifted the playpen and tossed it aside, and scooped two squealing baby turtles into his arms, the picture of victory.

"There you are," he said, and his face softened absurdly as tiny green hands reached up to touch his smile and the crinkled corners of his mask. April was smiling, too, as she climbed the sagging porch steps to sit with sensei in the shade, and Raph felt something tender in his chest give way when Leo lifted his head, and that warm affection for his little brothers stayed firmly put as he met Raph's eyes from across the yard.

"Let's go rescue Raphie," he said to the de-aged Don and Mikey, and set them down in the grass, and Raph had to chuckle at the spirited way they sprinted to his aid.

Casey rolled off of Raph and ceded defeat at the hands of two toddlers, and bumped Leo's shoulder amicably as he passed by. Raph squinted up at him through the bright sunlight, on his shell in the cool puddle with their two baby brothers crawling up and over his plastron without a lick of coordination, and reached out a hand to him.

Leo was next to him in a single stride, clasping his hand as if to haul him upright. Raph grinned, and tugged back as hard as he could, and laughed right along with Don and Mikey as Leo fell next to them and sputtered through a mouthful of mud.

Their summer vacation would only last as long as the effects of Donnie's latest experimental mishap did. And Raph missed his sarcastic Donatello and spitfire Mikey more than he knew what to do with, and he would be overjoyed to have them back – they were much less breakable, much less prone to tears when they were their proper age. But Raph would miss this happy, unrestrained Leo, too, when the unconditional love of little kids was gone again, and he reverted with them; back into someone who wrongly believed there was so much more he needed to be for his family than just their dorky big brother.