Previouslyuntitled.Thanks to Pi90katana and The REAL Cheese Monkey for suggestions for titles. I hope none of you mind that I used one I thought of on my own. I still liked your suggestions, but this one wouldn't leave me alone.
Another challengeover at Stealthy Stories I answered. Not sure this fic fits the criteria, but I tried.
I suppose this would be slightly AU since I don't really think Leo would do this, but whatever.
Warnings (and inofficial spoilers): My attempt at writing Raph's accent. Language, thanks to aforementioned hothead. Mentioning of alcohol. And some death.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I would be rich. I also wouldn't be writing fanfiction about them.
His green finger trailed the edge of the glass in front of him, his mind not really registering anything he did. In fact, his brown eyes didn't seem to see anything in front of him. Instead, they held a faraway, glazed look that pointed to two things: wandering thoughts and alcohol.
He barely noticed as someone sat down next to him, someone similar to him. He didn't register the newcomers voice as he made an order. It wasn't until his own name was spoken that he reacted.
"Ya know Leo, someday ya gotta stop this," the deep, raspy voice said calmly.
"Go away Raph," came the reply, slightly slurred.
"Ya know I won't," 'Raph' answered, still calm and quiet.
"I don't deserve your company, so go away!" the older brother cried out, his emotions getting the better of him.
The alcohol in him probably didn't help.
"It wasn't your fault," his darker brother answered as a beer landed in front of him.
He knew it was a futile attempt. Leo had never listened to him before, and he wouldn't start now. Especially not when drunk. Still, Raph said the words he knew would be ignored, if for nothing else, then because he wanted to follow traditions.
"It was an accident."
Suddenly the older terrapin spun around, or at least tried to. However, due to the bar-chair he sat on and the amounts of ethanol in his bloodstream, he ended up losing his balance and nearly fell instead. Raphael, a lot more sober and a ninja to boot, caught him almost before he began his fall. For a second, there was a silence between them, the two of them were perfectly still. Then Leo jerked himself loose, without falling this time although he needed to regain his balance afterwards.
"There's nothing accidental about an existence!" he snapped, slurring slightly and finishing it off with a hic.
"Explosion," Raph growled, annoyed that his brother couldn't even get the words right.
He briefly wondered how he had ended up as the responsible, sober one. A few years back, he could have pictured this situation with the roles switched. Shell, he could still picture it. Only now it was more wishful thinking than a likely scenario.
Leo had lost his sense of responsibility to the alcohol somewhere in the past years. Somehow, Raph had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that he was the one who wasn't drunk and angry right now. Okay, maybe he was angry, but at least he wasn't wallowing in self-loathing. Something his brother shouldn't be doing at an age of twenty-two either. Something his brother shouldn't do, period.
"I sent them inside," his older brother mumbled, sounding a little more sober now.
A little, and probably not sober enough. Raph held back another growl.
"Ya couldn' know…"
"I killed them!"
The younger brother let out a deep breath and counted to five. Then he gave up. Counting had never helped him in the past, and it wouldn't help him this time either.
Neither would snapping at Leo.
"Ya know, Leo, I'm gettin' tired of yer self-loathin', I'm-the-biggest-failure-in-the-world-shit! Ya think I've never made mistakes?"
Of course, knowing than snapping wouldn't help, and actually keeping from snapping was two very different things.
"You didn't kill anyone, Raph!" his older brother yelled back.
The harbor was poorly lit, as always. It suited the four figures perfectly since it gave them an easier job. Becoming invisible was always easiest in the dark. And the lack of light from the clouded sky helped as well.
It did worry them a little though. If they could hide easily, then so could their enemies.
The thought hadn't more then crossed their leader's mind before several shadows dropped down into their alley, giving almost no sound at all. The leader of the small group raised his hand and made a gesture. His three followers fanned out as well as they could behind him, and soft swishing noises were heard as they drew their weapons.
Another gesture was made, this time by a sword, and suddenly the alley rang with the sounds of metal against metal. It was over in thirty seconds, with the four sneaking ninjas standing, all of them unharmed.
"That was no fun at all," one of them said in a deep growl.
"Yeah," another one agreed cheerfully. "They could at least have the decency to put up a fight."
Their leader shot them both a glare.
"Quiet!" he hissed and made his way over to the edge of the alley. "I think that's where they're holding master Splinter. Don, do you think you can open the back door?"
The fourth ninja joined their leader at the edge of the alley and peered out from it. In their line of sight was a huge warehouse with a small back door, guarded by what looked like two regular street-thugs. Street-thugs they were too, but regular was a matter of discussion. They were Purple Dragons.
"If you can keep my back clear," the one called Don promised in a hushed tone.
Their leader nodded, already going over possible actions in his mind. It didn't take him long to chose a strategy.
"Raph, you're with me. Mikey, when we give the signal, you and Don get over to the door," he ordered, somehow managing to carry an authorial tone even in a whisper. "We'll join you as soon as we can."
A collective nod was all the response he got, and it was all he needed. The four split into the assigned groups and shot off into different directions.
Raph and Leo made their way over to a big truck not too far from the back door. There they stopped and watched the shadows around them for any sign of their brothers. Leonardo was the one who spotted Mikey's sign, a movement an untrained eye would never be able to catch.
"So what's the plan, Fearless?" Raph's deep voice hissed next to him.
"We need something that'll make them look that way," Leo answered and made a gesture towards the ocean.
"And ya didn' make a plan fer that?" Raphael wondered instantly.
"Of course I did," his older brother responded with a hint of annoyance. "Unlike some, I don't rush into things without a plan."
The red-clad terrapin grumbled something that sounded suspiciously like 'Yeah right'. However, the leader chose to ignore him. Now wasn't the time anyway.
Instead, he opened the door to the truck they hid behind. Raphael forgot to breathe as his brother climbed into the big vehicle, completely ignoring the lamp that got switched on as soon as the door opened. The dark-green turtle had no idea what Leo's original plan might have been, since there was no way he could have known the keys would still be in the ignition.
He heard the engine roar as it came to life, and then the truck began to move. A split-second later, his brother jumped out and rolled a short distance before ending up on his feet.
"Always has a plan, huh?" the darker turtle mumbled as he watched his older brother.
Leo made a motion for Raph to follow him and darted of in the same direction as the truck. The younger brother didn't hesitate to follow. He might not always agree with the leader of the four, but he trusted his decisions. Most of the time.
They hadn't even made it halfway to where they needed to go when the first wave came. The guards by the door must have sounded some alarm, because there were more than just two Purple Dragons. There were at least twenty of them.
It barely took Raph a second to draw his sai. Leo already had his katana drawn and was ready for a fight.
The red-clad turtle didn't even glance at his brother, his full attention on the Dragons in front of him. Three of them charged at once, perhaps hoping to catch him off guard. They were out of luck. In fact, they probably never had any to begin with.
He dove straight towards them, his sai spinning wildly for intimidating effects. One of the humans got a kick in the face before they even had a time to react. The other two were out as the thought 'new strategy' entered their mind. And then he charged into the crowd of street-thughs, his sai slashing anyone and everyone that came within range. And when someone managed to block both his hands, his feet flew out to catch them off guard.
Out of habit, he threw a look over in the direction where he had last seen Leonardo. As he had expected, the Fearless Leader was doing fine on his own. Several thugs already lay at his feet, with more joining them every time his swords or feet lashed out.
Having made sure his brother was all right, at least for now, the dark terrapin returned his full attention to his own battle. A chain twinned itself around his left wrist, and whoever held the other end tried to pull him towards them. Raph planted his feet into the ground and punched out the woman that was coming at him with what looked like a broken pipe. Then he had the chance to focus his full attention on the chain-wielder. He growled in a mixture of disgust and pity when he saw the kid, not much older than fifteen.
However, an enemy was an enemy. Raph was never one to make a difference between them if his life was at stake. Thus he grabbed a hold on the chain and pulled back with as much force as he could muster. The kid lost his balance and fell, which loosened the chain and allowed the turtle to shake it off from his captured wrist.
He sent a kick backwards to knock out the human he knew was sneaking up on him from behind. One big clue on that was his brother's cry for him to 'look out'. Another was the presence he could feel looming behind him. However, a kick that, judging from the squeal, seemed to connect a little lower than intended, soon took care of that. Turning around, Raph saw that it really was a tall human, and that his kick indeed had hit below the belt.
With an amused smirk, he delivered a blow to the now crouching guy's neck.
Then Leo flew over his head, right foot first. Raph gave him a brief glance before something to his left caught his eye.
"Ah shell!" he groaned.
A tall and huge man stood there, surrounded by a group of black-clad people Raph instantly recognized as Foot Soldiers. However, they weren't the reason he cursed. It was the gigantic mountain of muscles that led them.
"Hun," Leo grumbled behind him, obviously having spotted the newcomers as well. "I really hope the others are doing better than we are."
It may or may not have been meant for Hun to hear. Raph didn't know, and he would never find out either. And neither would he ever really care.
"Oh don't worry about your friends," the muscle-mountain rumbled with his deep, hoarse voice. "They're having a blast. In about…" he paused a moment to look at something in his huge hands. "…ten seconds to be exact."
Raph, never one to think too clearly when someone issued what could be taken as a threat to his family, growled. His sai spun in his hands as he opened his mouth to speak...
"What do you mean?"
…only to be beaten to it by Leo. Only he sounded more concerned than threatening. Raph would have gone for a low growl and two spinning sai, accompanied by a glare. Not partially lowered katana, wide eyes and a concerned tone.
"You're about to find out," Hun smirked even through his voice.
How that was possible, Raph didn't even want to find out. Suddenly, concern drowned out all the anger he had felt as soon as the big man had appeared on the scene. Whatever Hun had done to Mikey and Don…
"If you've as much as…"
He was interrupted by a loud boom, followed by a shockwave hitting him in the back. He felt heat against his shell, and then he landed in the water.
It took him a while to get his bearings, but he managed. His head hurt, as did his left arm. He barely noticed though, his first concern was finding Leo. He shouldn't have worried, he realized as soon as he spotted him. His brother was already on his way upwards to the surface. A short distance away, the big form that was Hun was swimming towards what looked like a boat. For a split-second, Raph wondered why Leo didn't go after him. Then realization hit him like a ton of bricks. A cold hand grasped his chest, and suddenly he couldn't swim fast enough. The pain in his arm and head disappeared completely, forgotten as he forced his muscles to work faster and harder. It still took an eternity before his head broke the surface.
His older brother was already on his way up on the pier. Raph didn't waste any time following. Never before had it been that hard to climb up on the pier from the ocean. They had done it countless times, and never had his fingers slipped as much as they did now.
Finally he managed to get his head over the edge of the pier. What met his eyes was in no way unexpected. It still shocked him and nearly made him lose his grip of the pier.
Anger mixed itself with grief, denial and more anger as he watched the flames lick the dark sky. The warehouse, the one where Mikey and Don had gone in to save their sensei, their father, was nothing but a roaring inferno.
He felt completely numb as he pulled his body up on the pier. His entire body trembled, though he had no idea why. If it was the shock, the anger or the cold, he didn't know. He didn't really care either.
"No," Leo whispered next to him.
The sound made Raph's barrier burst. A loud roar escaped his throat, filled with grief and anger. Something ran down his face, and it took him a moment to realize that it was his own tears.
After what seemed like an endlessly long time, he had to stop to catch his breath. Panting deeply, he noticed Leo making his way towards the inferno that had swallowed their family. His older brother, the calm leader, didn't seem to notice the sirens wailing in the night, their distance clearly closing.
Perhaps years of training took over, there was no way Raph would have done what he did next otherwise. He got up on his feet as swiftly as was possible, which wasn't very swiftly at all, and half-ran, half-staggered to catch up with Leo. When he finally did, he grabbed his older brother's shoulder and forced him to stop in his tracks.
"Let go!" the blue-clad terrapin cried. "We've got to…"
He would never be able to figure out why Leo was the one not thinking that day, or why he was the one who was thinking. Maybe he felt, somewhere deep down, that one of them had to.
"There's nothin' we can do, Leo," he mumbled. "We need to go."
He made an effort to turn his leader around, but the older brother refused to move. He began to fight Raphael's grip, forcing the darker turtle to use both his hands instead of one.
"No!" he exclaimed. "They can't be… I can't have… I… I didn't…"
His voice trailed off, as did what seemed to be left of his fighting spirit. Raph would have worried about that, if not for the now screaming sirens.
"Come on," he said softly and began to lead his older brother away from the scene with a gentle yet firm grip on his shoulder.
Somehow he managed to keep his mind clear all the way back to the lair. And somehow, that day, he became the oldest brother.
Raphael closed his eyes and let the memories pass through his mind. That day four years ago still haunted his dreams, both when awake and asleep. But not as badly as it haunted Leo.
Raph had always thought that he would be the one who took the loss of a loved one the hardest. However, since Leo was the one who ordered Don and Mikey to try and get into the warehouse, he was somehow convinced that he had killed them.
For the months that followed, Raph had been forced to deal with his own grief as well as Leo's combination of grief and self-blame. It still surprised him that his former leader hadn't tried to take his own life yet. It surprised him, but he was relieved as well. It meant that, somewhere in that broken Leonardo, there was a will to live.
Or it could be his way of punishing himself for what he 'did'.
"Why didn't you leave?"
The question came so suddenly it took him off guard, and it wasn't only because his brother sounded relatively sober. Yet it didn't really surprise him to hear it. Just because Leo hadn't asked it in these four years, it didn't mean that he hadn't wondered. Raphael knew guilt and self-loathing enough to know that you wondered why people bothered to stick around.
Of course, he also knew why he had stayed. He had thought of leaving, he had nearly left several times during that first period after that day. However, every time Leo had stopped him. Not consciously, because Leo didn't seem too worried about what Raph did at all.
It didn't seem to occur to him that he was the only family Raph had left. The only close family at least. April and Casey were family, sure, but they weren't brothers.
Yes, Leo's question might be justified to him. That didn't mean Raphael had to agree, or answer for that matter. In fact, he didn't even have to accept that kind of question.
"You should hate me," Leo continued in the same low, depressed voice, not even noticing the growing annoyance within his brother. "I deserve it."
The darker turtle let out a deep breath and slammed his fist down on the bar.
"Quit sayin' that!" he growled. "Damn it, Leo! Get into yer thick skull that it wasn't yer fault!"
Several other customers turned to look at the angry creature at the bar. However, one glance at the angry creature and his sullen brother told them that whatever happened, it really wasn't their business.
"How can you say that?" Leo questioned, his voice once again slurry and probably a little louder than he had intended.
The drunken turtle made an effort to get up on his feet, but lost his balance halfway there so Raph had to catch him again.
"Stop talking back to me all the time!" the older brother continued with an odd undertone in his voice. "Stop arguing with me!"
He didn't seem to notice that Raph more or less held him upright only by a grip on his arms. In fact, he didn't even look at Raph anymore. His eyes were closed, and his body shook with something that was remarkably similar to sobs.
"I killed them," Leonardo mumbled, and Raphael was finally able to recognize the undertone in his voice. "I killed them!" Leo repeated, this time breaking into tears completely.
The younger brother sighed helplessly and put some money on the bar for the bartender to pick up. Then he grabbed Leo's right arm and threw it around his neck, ignoring the tears that ran down his brother's cheeks.
"Let's get you home," he mumbled tiredly and began to make his way to the door, half-carrying the former leader of their little clan.
He hoped the next day would be different. He doubted it would. For two years it had been like this. Ever since they had started to walk the streets among the humans. Leo had discovered bars, and however it had happened, he had developed a taste for alcohol. Perhaps he thought his self-loathing would disappear if he drank enough. Perhaps he got some kind of comfort out of it. Raph didn't know. All he knew was that his older brother, the one of them that had taken after their Sensei and father the most, had fallen down far below Raphael himself. And Raph knew that he had always been the black sheep, not the responsible one.
Four years earlier, Raph would have given up and left. Four years earlier, this wouldn't even have happened. And if it had, Raph sure wouldn't have stuck around. He would have left it for someone more capable of helping Leo. Unfortunately, it was only him now. And no matter how much he might want to at times, he couldn't abandon his older brother. He knew Leo wouldn't have abandoned him.
Thoughs? Constructive critisism? Anything at all?