Raphael was having nightmares again.

They were always the same. The endings were always different.

This time, Michelangelo took the katana in the side but Leonardo didn't notice in time.

This time, Michelangelo took the knives to the chest meant for Donatello, but they couldn't save him.

This time, Michelangelo was raped by that Foot ninja more than once, more than just fingers, and Raphael could not reach him.

And Raph bolted up in his bed roaring, tears streaming down his face. He was rasping out his little brother's name. Chompy had climbed onto his chest, pawing at his face, making those little frantic whimpers, the same whining sounds he had made when Tokka came to get him and he realized he would be leaving Earth – Raph – behind.

His hands trembling, Raph clutched the puppy-like alien turtle delicately and growled, hiccupping.

Just a dream,his mind begged. Please, it's just a bad dream, Mikey's alive and he's fine, there's nothing wrong.

This time, Mikey's latest seizure – the one caused by Raph hitting him and yelling at him – didn't stop, it led to what Donnie called status epilepticus. Which, Donnie added, often lead to Sudden Unexpected Death In Epilepsy, it had its own acronym.

Mikey had stopped breathing. His heart had stopped beating. His brain shut down. He had died.

Raphael let out a sob that Chompy somehow echoed.

Raph's bedroom door opened, not slowly, and it banged against the wall. Raph kept his eyes shut.

Someone sat on his bed; he felt the bottom of a carapace brush his blanket-covered leg. A three-fingered leathery smooth hand landed on his left shoulder. It began to rub up and down his arm. Another hand cupped the right side of his head. A large smooth leathery thumb wiped under his eyes.

A kind of energy – undeniably familiar from so many meditation sessions, breathe in breathe out – very carefully swept over his head, down his shoulders and arms, covering his torso, all the way down his legs, pooling into his feet, then disappearing and gathering in the very center of his forehead, swirling, full of all the shades of red, fading down to pink, then very slowly shifting into dark dark orange, cascading through that color wheel until the orange was bright, almost dark yellow, almost sunset, tinged with dark pink, red and yellow bleeding into one another, the way orange did, delight and passion eternal twins.

Raph felt himself take three deep breaths. He opened his eyes.

Michelangelo's faces was inches from his own, kissing close. His mouth was tilted up on one side into a gentle smile and his eyes were overwhelmingly kind and gentle.

"Hey, bro," he said quietly.

Swallowing, Raph suddenly felt humiliated. "H-hey."

"You okay now?"

"I, um, I think so."

Sighing, Mikey leaned in and pressed his forehead to Raph's, still looking into his eyes. "It's okay, you know."

Raph didn't blink but he mentally shrank back. "Uh…?"

"Freaking out. The nightmares. I'm like an expert now. I literally have no shame. It happens."

Raph's throat closed up a little. He pulled away just enough to wipe his face with the palm of one hand, and then he noticed that Chompy was snuggled in his lap, looking at Mikey with his tongue lolling. "But…I, um…they…"

"They're memories," his brother confirmed. "And then they change, and they're nightmares. And you can't do a damn thing."

Raphael just nodded. "Y…you kept…dying. We…we couldn't…nothing…"

Mikey suddenly grabbed Raph's shoulders and narrowed his eyes, although his smile didn't fade. "Dreams, Raph. Just dreams. Your fears. Your…your demons. I'm still here. Leo and Don, still here."

Raph felt himself swell with what he could only identify as anguish. "But. Mikey. It could happen. It could really happen, for real, okay? It's not my imagination, it's stuff that could happen to you! And I can't stop it! I can't!" Heat gathered in his eyes and he sucked in a shuddering breath.

Mikey nodded and leaned back a little, clasping his hands together, as Chompy reached up to lick his fingers. Mikey kept smiling. "Y'know, a while back, I was helping Leo in the dojo because he was super duper tense and Sensei was worried he was pushing himself too hard. I picked up on that, and I went to see him and he was totally tense and zoned out. I put a little too much empathic energy into him, I had a seizure, Leo freaked out. Like, I think he thought I was dying. But I always come back. You know that. I'd never leave you guys."

Raph looked down at Chompy for a few minutes. When he inhaled he tasted tears. "But…remember that time…you were so depressed…you let that katana wound get infected and you didn't care, Mikey. I was holding you, you were crying. And then you got even worse, you were in a coma for over a week! And…and remember when you took that hit to the chest for Donnie, you were out for two whole weeks, you needed machines to breathe for you, you were in so much pain, Mikey, we really thought you might die, and when you woke up you were so numb…you…you…"

And Raph was crying, and he didn't care.

And Mikey was hugging him tightly, and he sobbed into his little brother's neck, deflated and defeated, grasping and grabbing Mikey's carapace, holding on for dear life as though his baby might fade any second.

"I'm here," Mikey whispered. "Raph, Raph, I'm here. It's okay. It's gonna be okay. I have you. You won't let me fall. You won't let me drown. Remember? Remember the squirrelanoids? You got me. You caught me. I didn't drown because you caught me."

"It doesn't matter," Raphael gasped, "Lucky shot. Got lucky. I could've missed. I dream about it. I didn't grab your hand fast enough. I didn't hit the squirrelanoid that grabbed you. You got pulled down. Into the water. You were screaming for us. They bit you. They…they ki-"

"Sshhhhh. Raph, it's all right. That's not what happened. We're home, you an' me, and we're safe. I promise."

"Mikey, fuck, I love you. I can't breathe."

"Breathe, bro. C'mon. Breathe for me, Raph, I got ya, no one's gonna hurt ya, I won't let 'em."

Raphael gasped for air and found it somehow, tinged with sunshine.

"I love you, Raph."

That same soothing energy washed over him, crashed through him, and it wiped away the fear, the anxiety, the rage. His body stopped shaking.

He pulled away and huddled against his headboard, frowning, breathing breathing breathing. Chompy was now pressed against his side.

Mikey was staring at him with a rakish, lopsided grin. His hands were folded, index fingers raised and pointing at his chin. "Feel better?"

Raph nodded. "Calm."

"Good. Calm is my speciality."

"Mikey, your speciality is being an annoying little goof."

"But it brings calm and sanity to the group, doesn't it."

Raph found himself grinning. "If by sanity you mean utter confusion."

"Hey, I never said I resonated with this reality."

"Mikey, you're a separate reality on your own." And Raphael found himself reaching out to give his baby brother a noogie, which was graciously accepted.

"I know it's, like, three in the morning," Mikey said, "but I can sense you can't fall asleep without help. Feel like a lesson in how to soothe your emotional rages?"

Raph grinned. "Why the hell not. You've been good at that all our lives, just by givin' me an outlet."

Mikey booped him on the nose. "'kay. First step is learning how to breathe."

Raph began to roll his eyes, until he felt Mikey's entire hand slam against his face.

"Dude. In for as long as you can go. Picture gold light as you inhale. Out for as long as you can go. Picture silver light as you exhale."

Raph pushed the hand away. "Whatever you say."

But it worked.

As the breathing exercises continued, Mikey cupped Raph's face in both hands and pressed their foreheads together. "Remember. You control your flow. Even when it gets away from you. It's yours. I am going to tell you exactly what I told Donnie and Leo. The first rule of being is this: Let yourself go. Let it surround you. Don't push it away, don't fight it. Just exist in the moment. Let everything come into you and breathe. Just breathe. Got that?"

Wordlessly, Raph nodded.

"Your anger is always in you, right at the surface," Mikey said. "It's part if you, like logic is for Donnie. You have a kickass temper, you have a short fuse, it's who you are. But it's like a controlled burn, if you let it be. It's power."

"Like yours?"

"Yeah, a little. It's energy. You gotta direct it or it just slips out and does what it wants. It can hurt. It can hurt other people. But it can help. Let's make sure it helps, my bro."

Biting his lip, Raphael felt and saw the crimson glow of his anger surrounding him, waiting for orders. It was like a creature, a beast. Something with teeth. Surrounded by his own psychic darkness, kept hidden yet right at the surface.
He reached out mentally to touch it and felt it press against him, curl around him purring. His creature. His emotional rage, his emotional excitement. Everything he felt to the core, even the happy emotions; he could sense its odd ability to break off into smaller beasts to represent all his feelings. It was beautiful, it was his, it was terrifying, it was fantastic, it belonged to him.

A ring of orange suddenly surrounded it, and brushed against it; some of that light wrapped around the red like a harness. Mikey, he realized. The creature purred louder and seemed to relax into that orange, like old friends.

"Let your flow exist," Mikey's voice drifted through his ears and his mind. "But let it stay close to you. It wants you to work with it."

Raphael leaned back and opened himself wide. As if sensing the acceptance, the red glow, massive and thick, moved through him, thrumming, growling softly. He realized that he had never felt such peace with himself.

"There ya go, awww" Mikey said, out loud or telepathically he didn't know. It didn't matter. "S'gonna be super hard to maintain when you're fighting in battle, but at least it's a good start."

Raph opened his eyes. Mikey's hands had begun to move away from his face. Without thinking, Raph reached up and grabbed them, squeezing. Mikey's eyes widened a little. The blue, thinned due to dilation, was glittering, like a gemstone, slightly glassy, and his face was a little pale.

"Thank you, baby brother," Raph whispered, a lump in his throat.

Mikey swallowed and nodded. His left eye twitched a little.

"You okay? Raph asked. "You need anything?"

Smiling wanly, Mikey inhaled. "I'm cool."

"You sure? You look like you've got a hell of a headache." Raph ran his hand down the side of Mikey's face. Concern and fear gripped him, but somehow that force of calm held them back from rising too quickly.

"Just…a side effect from these powers, y'know? I'm still learning." Mikey smiled again, but Raph could swear he looked dizzy.

"Here, lay down." Raph shifted until he was against the wall. "It's three in the mornin' after all."

Mikey instinctively shifted and shuffled until he lay on his side. Raph guided his head to his own plastron. "I'm glad you're here, Mikey." And he yawned.

"Me too, Raph." And then Mikey was silent, and his body slumped and he began to softly snore. Raph simply let his hand rest on his brother's head.

Chompy burrowed a little further into his opposite side, and Raph scratched his chin. "'Night, Chompy," he whispered. "Hopefully, no more nightmares."

When he closed his eyes, a bright mix of red and orange danced across his mind, and he found himself smiling.


It was mid-morning when Raphael woke up, and he remembered that it was Saturday and Master Splinter often let them sleep in on Saturdays. Stretching and yawning, he blinked and realized that Mikey wasn't in the bed. Chompy was curled on his chest. He could smell bacon.

Raph took his time. He went to the bathroom. He splashed water on his face. He felt amazing. Whatever Mikey had done had made him relaxed and calm. He smiled at his reflection. When Mikey pulled his daily pranks, Raph would be ready. He headed for the kitchen.

Mikey was screaming.

Raph nearly tripped over himself and almost ripped off the doorway's curtain.

Master Splinter and Leonardo were hugging a sobbing Mikey, slumped on the floor, as a shaking Donatello moved burning bacon from a pan to a plate.

"I can't, I can't do it," Mikey was crying in gasping gulps, tearing at the sides of his head until there were red scratches. "I can't let it out, stop telling me to breathe, it's not working, it's stuck, it's trapped, I ca-I can't b-breathe..."

Raph found himself on his knees gripping Mikey's chin in one hand, gripping Mikey's right wrist in the other. "Hey, bro," he said, gently. "Hey. Hey. What's wrong? What happened?"

Watery sky blue eyes stared at him, stared into him. And it hit him, physically knocking back his head. Raph's eyes widened as dark orange energy in the form of a bokken swung wildly, a crack forming along it. There was a huge globe shining with every shade of orange and red, pulsating and thrumming, kaleidoscope screams without sound.

And the thought came to him, swift as his sai driving into a practice dummy. "Sensei, do you have any stones or rocks?"

Splinter nodded wordlessly and dashed silently out of the room.

Raph grabbed Mikey's other wrist. "Mikey, stop, stop. It's okay. I'm gonna help you. You helped me, I'll help you. It'll be okay."

Mikey just stared at him, glazed. "I can't shrink it, Raph. I can't...I can't put it away. It's scratching me, it's like bugs or snakes, I can't let it out..."

Splinter was there, a chunk of yellow quartz in his hand.

"That's citrine," Donnie said helpfully. "According to metaphysical lore, it absorbs negative energy and releases positive energy."

"It looks like a piece of sunshine, close enough." Raph slapped the rock into Mikey's hands and cupped his brother's shaking hands in his own.

"Put it all in there," he ordered in a voice he didn't know he had. "Release it into the rock, Mikey. Whatever you absorbed from me last night, anything you pulled from any of us throughout yesterday and whatever, you put it right in here. Next time maybe the tree in the dojo will work, next time you can release it into the earth or the air or whatever, but right now it goes in here, you got that, kid?"

His family let out a collective murmur, and he heard Splinter whisper, "My son, how did you know this?" Raph ignored it and nudged Mikey's hands with his own.

Nodding, his lower lip trembling, his eyes glassy, Mikey took three very deep breaths and stared at that yellow stone.

Raph didn't expect anything to happen. He watched in alarm as the rock actually began to glow. Mike's teeth clenched and tears streamed down his face. Moments later, the glow faded and Mikey dropped the stone, panting. Raph grabbed him in a crushing hug.

"I dunno how I knew any of that," Raph said clearly, so the others could hear. "Maybe Mikey's mind told me, you know he's been gettin' stronger. But he was overloading, he was overwhelmed, 'cuz he's an empath, and he's super strong now, right? The energy he feels from our emotions, it's gotta go somewhere or he melts down."

"Indeed," and Splinter crouched beside him. "I am proud of you, Raphael. Michelangelo had been telling us how he taught you to control your emotional rages."

Raph smirked. "We'll haveta see how I do in a real battle. But I think I got a handle on it." Or a harness.

Mikey let out a long sigh, his body relaxing. Raph pulled back and helped him stand.

Wiping at his eyes, Mikey looked at him, his smile bright and strong. "Hope you like extra crispy bacon, bro."

And Raph threw his arm around him. "If it's from you, I'll take it."

Deep inside, Raph's gentle demons purred, and he purred back.


Everything about you is how I'd want to be
Your freedom comes naturally
Everything about you resonates happiness
Now I won't settle for less

Give me
All the peace and joy in your mind

Everything about you pains my envying
Your soul can't hate anything
Everything about you is so easy to love
They're watching you from above

Give me
All the peace and joy in your mind
I want the peace and joy in your mind
Give me the peace and joy in your mind

Everything about you resonates happiness
Now I won't settle for less

Give me
All the peace and joy in your mind
I want the peace and joy in your mind
Give me the peace and joy in your mind

-Muse, "Bliss"