This fic is dedicated to the wonderful and talented BrightLotusMoon. She and I were both crushed after watching the season 4 finale, and it was really great chatting with someone who understood how I felt. So this is my way of thanking her for being so supportive and kind to me. I've been watching the Simpsons episode "Mother Simpson," and the ending inspired me to do this.

This fic is also for those who have seen the finale and are still crying…like me…

So if you haven't watched the final two episodes yet, SPOILERS!

"Raph?"

"Hmmm…?" Said Turtle slowly opened his eyes and saw Mikey standing next to his bed, his face lit by the hallway and his eyes glistening with tears.

Tears?

Raph rubbed his eyes and sat up on the bed. "What's wrong, Mikey?"

"I want to go out for a drive," Mikey spoke in a very quiet and soft tone that Raph could barely hear him.

"What? You-you said you want to go out?"

Mikey nodded his head.

Raph looked at his clock and it showed 1:43 AM. He sighed heavily and rubbed his temples. "Mikey, it's late. I promise that we'll go driving first thing in the..."

Mikey sniffled wetly.

Raph felt his heart break right in half the moment he heard that sniffle. He hated to see his little brother cry. And he understood why he was crying now. And though Raph was very tired both in his body and his mind, his concern for Mikey was stronger than his fatigue.

"Okay," Raph softly said and sat on the edge of the bed, planting both feet on the floor. "Where do you want to go, Little Brother?"

"I dunno," Mikey croaked. "Anywhere."

"Okay. How about the woods? It's pretty clear tonight, and you can get a perfect view of the stars over there. You like looking at the stars, don't you?"

The freckled Turtle merely shrugged. Raph reached over and comfortingly rubbed both of his brother's arms.

"You want Leo and Donnie to come with us?"

Mikey firmly shook his head. He wanted it to be just the two of them tonight.

"Okay, well, I'll leave them a note in case we're not back by dawn. You know how worried Leo can get, that overprotective mother hen." Raph chuckled weakly in attempt to lighten the mood. Of course, it didn't work and Mikey just sniffled again, looking down at the carpet. "All right, let's get going then." Raph got off his bed and wrapped an arm around Mikey's shell, gently guiding him to the door.


As they approached the exit leading to North Hampton, Raph glanced at Mikey, who sat in the passenger seat, staring at the window with his chin resting on his folded arms. He still had tears in his eyes, but they hadn't yet dripped down his cheeks. Raph could tell that he was trying so hard to keep strong until they had arrived at their destination.

It was silent during the whole trip, and Raph was tempted to ask Mikey if he wanted the radio on, maybe they could even switch to his favorite channel. But he ultimately decided that silence was perhaps the best thing for Mikey at the moment, which was also why he hadn't yet said a single word to his little brother.

What could he say, after all?

He knew the road to the O'Neil farmhouse, but he took a different turn. With Mikey in such terrible shape, the farmhouse would be the last place for him to go and let out his pent up emotions.

And for good reason, too.

He'd instead take him to a private, serene area where he could sit and watch the stars for as long as he wanted, no, as he needed to.

The road started to get bumpy as they drove deeper into the woods, and Mikey slightly bounced up and down in his seat. But his gaze remained fixated on the view outside his window. They eventually came to a stop next to a clearing.

"Is this a good spot, Mike...?"

As soon as Raph parked the Shell Raiser, Mikey opened the door and hopped out. Wordlessly, he walked into the open area, until he reached a lone boulder and sat down on it. Raph got out of the vehicle, too, but he didn't follow Mikey. He instead leaned against a tree with his arms crossed and watched his brother look up at the starry sky.

Alone.

Mikey looked so lonely out there, and Raph wanted so badly to hold him and give him comfort. But he also wanted to give Mikey the space that he needed.

The hidden crickets played their beautiful song and the fireflies danced about the two. It was as if the insects were putting on a show for the depressed Turtle that continued to sit on that rock. Normally, Mikey would've been entranced by the beautiful display and maybe even chase after a firefly in a moment of childish innocence.

But he only continued to sit very still and look at the stars.

Finally, after nearly half an hour of looking at the back of Mikey's shell, Raph decided to go over there. Slowly and quietly, he walked through the tall, wet grass that tickled his legs. The fireflies moved out of the way as he approached Mikey, and he sat on the spot next to him on the boulder. They nearly touched shoulders, but Raph kept his arms to himself, even though he wanted to sling one over Mikey's shoulder. He glanced at the silent Turtle beside him, and what he saw made his heart feel like it had been stabbed.

Tears were dripping down Mikey's freckled cheeks, sparkling like diamonds. The fireflies that would float by lit his face with a warm orange glow. The image was both beautiful and heartbreaking.

Raph really wanted to hold Mikey now. But he restrained himself and instead focused on the clear, open sky above him.

The countless array of stars filled the dark blue abyss, twinkling and staring back at them below. This was certainly a sight that they could not see in the never sleeping city of New York.

The longer he stared at the sparkling dots, the smaller he began to feel. He, himself, was a tiny dot on this big blue planet, smaller even. And when he compared himself to the rest of the galaxy...to the universe...

He slowly began to realize just how small and insignificant he truly was, how fragile and transient life was. He remembered one of Splinter's final life lessons.

"Our time in this world is limited. Life is short and precious."

That's right, nothing lasts forever. Not even the stars.

Staring at the sky also reminded Raph of his adventures in space with Fugitoid. He and his brothers worked so hard to save their planet, to save their father. He thought for sure that Splinter was here to stay this time. And yet he...

Raph felt his eyes burn and a lump forming in his throat.

Was it all for nothing? Everything that they had struggled for? Everything that they had sacrificed for? Was pain and loss their only reward? What was the point of even living anymore?

He turned his eyes away from the stars and focused on Mikey instead. His brother was still looking up with tears dripping out of his eyes.

Was he feeling exactly what Raph was feeling at the moment? Was he even looking at the stars, or was he simply staring into the abyss? Even though he was crying, he hadn't yet made a single sound, not even a whimper, and Raph was starting to worry about his little brother.

Reaching out a trembling hand, he lightly touched Mikey's cheek and caught a tear. It was like a tiny diamond on his finger. Like a star.

Fragile, beautiful, precious. Those words described Mikey perfectly. He was like the sun, the biggest and brightest star of them all. He provided the family with light and warmth in a dark, cold world. And just as the sun holds the solar system together with its gravity, he kept his brothers from drifting apart with a special "gravity" of his own.

But even the sun will eventually burn out. Perhaps not in their lifetime, but someday it will die. Because nothing lasts forever.

His little brother won't last forever.

The thought of his sun dying and leaving him in the dark scared him greatly.

He finally wrapped an arm around Mikey's shell and pulled him close. His brother's skin felt cold, so he rubbed his hand over Mikey's arm to give him warmth. After gently pressing his lips to Mikey's forehead, he raised his head to look at the stars again, his own tears spilling down his cheeks.

He took a deep breath through his nose and opened his mouth to speak. What came out was a soft voice quivering with overwhelming emotions.

"He...he loved you, you know."

It was very faint, but he felt the muscles in Mikey's arm twitch right at that very moment. He could hear Mikey's breathing get heavier as the minutes passed. Finally, his body shook with silent sobs and he rested his cheek on Raph's strong shoulder. The older brother felt the tears drip onto his skin and he shivered at the touch.

He could feel a wail slowly crawl up his throat, threatening to break out. No, he wasn't going to break down and cry. Not here. Not with Mikey clinging to him for emotional support. He needed to be strong. He was the Warrior, after all. The Protector. The Fire. The...

Ah, screw it.

He cried with his brother and held him even closer. Even though they were ninjas, they were still kids. Orphans now. They could only be strong for so long.

They held onto each other like there was no tomorrow. They knew that one of these days, they will be separated from each other by the cruel hand of death. One star will die out before the other. But until then, they'll cherish every moment and shine together.

They continued to sit there until the stars eventually faded away in the welcoming light of dawn.

The quote by Splinter is from the episode "Mutant Gangland."