A/N: This is set immediately after "Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze"


Raphael jerked awake, sweating in terror at the nightmare that had been tearing at his mind, struggling against the tangled sheets. He wrenched them free of his legs and hurled them to the floor.

He'd come close to losing his brothers tonight, as his subconscious had chosen to remind him while he slept. The sight of them struggling in that net, being carried ever closer to a gruesome and excruciating end was one he knew would remain with him for a long time. And he'd been utterly unable to do a thing about it, lashed to a pole and gagged.

He'd seen Leo, Don and Mike sneaking into the junkyard to rescue him and had no way to warn them they were walking straight into Shredder's trap, even as Donny was speculating on the possibility.

Raph grit his teeth and lightly rubbed a rope burn near his shoulder, mentally cursing Metal Head to a very long and painful afterlife in the deepest depths of Hell. He'd been forced to watch as Shredder's minions put together the other Turtles death trap, using anything and everything deadly that could be found amongst the garbage and junk, jagged pieces of rusty metal, star poles, long shards of broken windscreens, an ancient pitchfork.

He'd never forget the look of sadistic pleasure on his captor's face as his brothers swung nearer and nearer.... Thank God Splinter had had the foresight to accompany them, and still has the strength and aim to have shot that arrow that freed them, Raphael thought. He squinted at his digital alarm clock: 2.37am. What an ungodly hour to be awake. He quietly slid open his bedroom door and carefully stepped into the "hall" of their new home, trying warily to stretch a tight and sore knee.

He knew he wouldn't be able to go back to sleep quite yet, much as he wanted to, and he had an overwhelming urge to go and just look at each member of his family, to reassure himself they were there and ok. Moonlight flooded through the leadlight glass ceiling of the abandoned subway station, providing plenty of light. He could hear Splinter's quiet rythmic breathing, as the master slept with his door open, a habit that dated from when the boys were little and he needed to keep an ear open to their cries, midnight needs or nightmares. It was a seemingly small gesture but it meant a lot to Raph to know their father was still watching out for them.

He peered through Michaelangelo's door. His youngest brother lay flat on his back, mouth open, one arm slung over the edge of the bed. His brown and white teddy bear had escaped and lay face down on the floor. Raph shook his head, smiling.

He gave Mikey hell about still sleeping with Teddy but it was like water off a duck's back. He opened the door as quietly as he could, stepped over to the bed, avoiding Mike's junk spread all over the place, and gently slipped his brother's arm back under the covers, being careful of Mike's bandaged wrist.

We're all gonna be sore and sorry tomorrow. Well what did I expect, after taking on two extremely thick but extremely strong mutants? Not to mention dozens of equally dumb but well-trained Foot soldiers, he said to himself, turning to leave.

He paused, turned back, collected the bear from the floor, and placed it in Michaelangelo's arms, smiling as he automatically clutched it contentedly to his chest. Funny how cheerful Mikey looked, even in sleep.

Annoying as he could be with his eternal optimism, Raph knew life would certainly be a lot darker without that effervescent goofball in it, and felt guilty of all the time Mikey spent breaking up his and Leo's feuds.

He knew Michaelangelo had a hard time understanding Raph's darker moods, but he just took Raphael as he was, and his tantrums and sullenness never seemed to bother him. He was like a ray of sunshine on a rainy day, and had the easy ability to laugh each of his brothers out of the most negative mood.

And God I appreciate it too Mikey. More than you'll ever know.

. The door creaked as he slid it closed, and he froze, hoping it wasn't enough to wake anyone. The last thing I need is for one of 'em to catch me acting like a mother hen! I'd never hear the end of it. Raphael shuddered at the thought.

He loved his family dearly but displays of compassion in front of anyone were very much a rarity from the turtle in red, and that was how he wanted it to stay. He knew he came across as uncaring and heartless at times, but he'd rather not deal with those "softer" emotions. Put simply, love and him got along just dandy, as long as it stayed away from him.

He wandered to Leo's room, he also slept with his door open, and Raph saw that his older brother had kicked off nearly all his coverings, even though it wasn't all that warm, especially down here, Raph thought, tip-toeing over and pulling the covers up over him. Leonardo sighed and mumbled something unintelligible. Well that was short and sweet. Usually he's holding long conversations with himself while he sleeps. Not that he believes anyone who tells him so.

Raph gazed at his brother's still, serious face and found himself wishing he and Leo didn't come to loggerheads so often. When Leo wasn't around, Raph felt there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for his big brother, but when he was and had his Holier-Than -Thou /Perfect Student /Mr Leadership mode going full throttle, Raph couldn't stand it.

He hated being ordered around, especially by Leonardo, and it irked him even more when Leo was right and he was wrong, especially when temper caused him to do something on impulse, like today when he'd stormed off to meet up with Keno, to find the Foot's headquarters. It had worked, alright, nearly got us all killed.

I do respect you Leo. We'd have been up the creek without a paddle many times without your cool head.

He shook himself off and briefly brushed the back of his hand against Leo's cheek before limping to Donatello's bedroom.

His light was still on, Raph noticed, but he wasn't awake. The Brain, as Raph called him in his head, lay flat on his stomach, snoring lightly, one hand still clasping a notepad covered in calculations and scribbles, one tail of his mask half-covering his face.

Raph knew that Professor Perry's revelation that the "ooze" that had caused their mutation had been created mistakenly had upset his genius little brother. He guessed that through those equations and doodles, Donny had been trying to work out if such a formulation could really have just been some scientist's blunder.

If anyone can figure it out, you can, Raphael thought fondly. He never let on, but his brother's intellect truly amazed him.

He liked picking on his quiet brother because it was so hard to get a rise out of him. It was a hearty challenge to Raph. But out of the three, Raph felt the most comfortable turning to Donny on the rare occasions when he stifled his pride and actually asked someone for advice, or just needed to spill his guts, because Donatello would actually listen and take him seriously.

Raph gently pulled the notepad out of Don's hand, smoothed back the mask tail, and realized he'd half-kicked his blankets off too. Raph pulled them back up, and noticed the dark bruise on his right leg that extended from hip to calf, and also shoulder to elbow. No doubt from when Tokka had flung him through the air, to crash through the roof of the decrepit shed where the Professor was a prisoner, and realized Donny'd been lucky not to break any bones.

Raph switched his light off and left the room, hanging his foot in some wire or other that hung out of the innards of some half finished creation.

Raph shuffled off to the living room, scowling at all the stuff that still lay about, needing to be put away after their move. He quietly switched on the tv and settled his aching self on the couch.

Don had warned them that once the adrenalin wore off they'd start to feel each and every one of their bruises and injuries, and as usual he'd been right. After they had pulled off Splinter's "ten flips now", for being snapped in the night club and made front page news, re-created the "Ninja Rap" for him, and scoffed a couple of pizzas, they could barely drag themselves off to bed.

Raph picked up the paper with it's headline "Ninja Rap Is Born!" and looked at his brothers. They four of them were a team, that was plain even in the black and white photo, and he knew they always would be, regardless of their poles-apart differences and frequent disagreements. He knew how lucky he was to have the family he did, and one day he'd tell them so.

One day.