Title: The Square Root of Infinity
Author: Stormy1x2 (travelingstorm)
Word Count (fic portion): 2213
Rating: PG-13 for language
Summary: Takes place after S1, Ep4 'Meet Casey Jones' – I wanted a bit more resolution to the whole, 'Raph-almost-caved-Mikey's-head-in-with-a-lead-pipe' thing.
Notes: This is NOT a part of Child's Play.
You think you're better than me?
No, Raph – wait!
Sweep and kick. Spin, crouch, leap, STRIKE – back flip away and then lunge forward, strike again – there!
Raphael moved through each move of the kata, projecting all of his energy into his form. Battling the air, fighting his shadow, striking the earth that crumbled away beneath his touch. Safe. Harmless.
What the shell did I almost do?
He increased the tempo slightly, feeling his footwork slip somewhat – he wasn't used to doing katas, especially ones without weapons. Leonardo was the one who spent hours perfecting them. Raphael had always considered them too boring, preferring the straight-forwardness of hand-to-hand sparring. The rush of battling an equal, the thrill of combat, adrenalin surging through his veins giving him a natural high that wiped out everything else, making him focus on the job at hand. That was the way it was for him.
His foot slipped again; a curse escaped him as he struggled to keep his balance.
Strike, parry, kick, spin back around, STRIKE-
At least until yesterday.
--cool metal felt solid, real in his hand, the laughter grating, insulting--
That wasn't a high. It was a blinding red haze, the heat and sweat he'd worked up turning to a ball of burning cold, spreading outward until he was sure he'd been coated in ice.
You think you're better than me? DO YA?
Numb. He had been numb. And so goddamn ANGRY--
Flip forward, leap – split kick, drop and roll.
No weapons kata. His sai's were at the other end of the room. If anyone walked in and was wondering why there was a pile of junk stashed as far away from where he was practicing as possible, he didn't know what he'd say, but--
Spin again, strike, strike, strike, leap, kick.
Laughter in the living room. The harsh sound of his own breath almost blocks it, but he can hear his brothers in there, laughing at something on the television. Part of him wants to join them, but the other part-
It's not safe. He's not safe.
Speed up again, repeat.
Sweat flies, flung off muscles limbs, exertion making his chest heave, but he has to keep moving, has to burn out whatever is inside of him that's so wrong, wrong, wrong--
"SHIT!" Raphael nearly jumped out of his skin, and lost his balance completely, hitting the ground with a thud, another muffled curse escaping him as his wrist absorbed the impact.
He sat there a minute, automatically cradling his arm to his plastron, breathing heavily. Sweat dripped into his eyes, but he ignored it, staring steadily at the ground.
Footsteps coming towards him. Raph felt exhaustion sink over him, and he closed his eyes, exhaling.
"You okay dude?"
He blinked and looked up. Mikey was looking down at him, concern practically pouring off him in waves. Raph's throat was dry and wondered vaguely what had happened to the water bottle he'd brought--
Oh. Raph nodded at his sibling, accepting the water with his other hand. A big gulp, a smaller sip. "Thanks."
"No prob." Mikey squatted down next to him. "We're starting a movie – April rented 'Office Space'. Donnie's making popcorn. Ya gonna come watch with us?"
Raph contemplated the water bottle. "Nah. Gonna work off some excess energy." He had another one in here somewhere. Shrugging, he tilted his head back and chugged the rest of the bottle, wiping his mouth with the back of his wrist pad.
Mikey was still watching him. "You should give that arm a rest. Get Donnie or Splinter to check it out--"
"I'm fine," Raph cut him off, standing up. "Besides, I ain't using weapons, or hitting anything so it don't really matter."
"Yeah, I noticed that. Since when do you do no weapons katas without Splinter holding you at stick-point?"
Raph shrugged again, tossing the bottle to the far side of the room. "Since now." He turned and paced back to the center of his room, taking a deep breath to resettle himself.
"Love what you've done with the place," came the comment he'd known was coming. Mikey was glancing back and forth between him and the pile of his junk – weights, an extra bat of Casey's, his blades, his sai.
"Thought you were gonna watch your movie," Raph ground out between gritted teeth. Breath in, breath out. Calm, calm, calm...
"I want you to come watch too. So I guess I'm stuck here."
Raph's breath exploded in a rush and he whirled around, striding over to his brother, one fist raised. "Get OUT--"
He froze, arm still in the air, and then he cursed and backed away from Mikey, wrapping his arms around himself. He was sick, had to be sick. What was wrong with him?
Suddenly, two more arms were there, wrapping around him like a shield, protecting him from – what, exactly? Raph growled, and pushed his brother off him, eying him warily. "What are you doing?"
Mikey beamed. "Giving my big brother a hug, naturally!" His eyes opened wide in mock-hurt. "Unless you don't wuv me anymore, Raphie--"
"STOP IT!" Raphael snarled and watched with sick smugness as the goofy look fell from his brothers face. "Just stop it Mikey! What the hell do you think you're doing? Why are you here?"
Mike shrugged, twirling one of his bandanna ends idly. "I told ya."
"I ain't watchin' the damn movie--"
"That, and I wanted to make sure you were okay."
Stumbling like he'd been sucker-punched, Raphael took another step away from his brother. He shook his head, a harsh laugh escaping him.
"God, you're so fucking STUPID, Mikey," he rasped. "Such a goddamned idiot."
"Gee bro, don't hold back, tell me how you really feel."
"Always with the jokes." Raphael, straightened slowly, checking his location. His eyes flickered to the far side of the room and he felt a small wave of relief wash over him, before his gaze flitted back to Mikey. Who was watching calmly. Knowingly.
"I thought I told you to leave."
"And I said I'm not going." Resolutely.
"Yes you are. You HAVE to. Get out." Why was his voice cracking?
Raph looked up, confused. "Huh?"
"Why do I have to leave?"
"It's my room, you have to." Raphael growled and began stalking back towards the irritating orange menace that would. Not. LEAVE. "It's not--" he broke off and stopped again, feeling like a yo-yo being pulled back and forth. Forward. Back. Forward. Back.
"It's not what?"
"It's not your room!" He burst out. "It's not your business! It's not--"
Raphael whirled around and raced to the side wall, rearing back and then slamming his hand home into the unyielding brick. Flesh shredded, blood began to stream, pain, pain, cleansing PAIN, lifting the red haze and calming--
"Jesus Raph!" And Mikey was there, apparently having teleported across the room, prying Raph's hand off the wall, gently uncurling his fist, ignoring his brother's indrawn hiss. "Let me see."
The fight was gone. The exhaustion was not. And now the pain was starting to set off bells in his hand. Almost docile, he let Mikey herd him over to a small stool. His orange-banded brother pointed at him sternly. "Stay there."
Raph watched hazily as Mikey went to his door, opened it and said something. A few minutes later, he said something else, closed it, and came back over, the med kit in his hands.
Raphael didn't even think of arguing. He simply raised his damaged hand and let Mikey go to work.
Mikey gently flexed each finger, checking his reactions, and growling when Raph didn't do anything other then watch blankly. Pulling a pack of antibacterial wipes from the kit, he set about cleaning the wound thoroughly, wiping away brick dust, grit and bits of skin.
"You're a lucky son-of-a-gun, " he said matter-of-factly. "I think you managed to avoid broken fingers the same way bats keep bouncing off your skull without doing damage. Too damn tough for your own good." He whistled sharply. "But yer gonna have some nice bruises as a souvenir for a while."
Raph didn't say anything. He watched as Mikey anointed the cuts with more antibacterial cream, and then carefully wrapped his hand, weaving the bandage around his fingers skilfully. Then he turned his attention to his brother's wrist, checking for fractures. Not sensing any, he pulled another bandage spool from the kit and wrapped that up as well, before starting to repack the case.
"Why are you helping me?" Raph's voice sounded...lost.
Mikey smiled at him sadly. "You're my brother."
"I almost killed you, you know." Still lost, almost dreamily. Or nightmarishly.
"But you didn't."
"I had a fuckin' lead pipe in my hand--"
"And you apologized for it." Mikey closed the kit and clapped his hands. "There! All done!"
"Mikey." Hard. Determined.
Mikey sighed, looking down at his brother sitting on the stool, staring up at him in utter confusion and bewilderment. Exhaustion, pain, fear, all catching up to him at once, and Mikey wouldn't able to resist the assault. Never could.
He dropped to the floor, folding his legs and propping his chin up with one hand, obviously contemplating his wild and untamed brother. Animal brother.
"You scared me," he said quietly.
Raphael inhaled sharply. Animal. "I know."
"You...it was like you weren't even in there for a split second, ya know? Angry and lunging after me with a pipe, and Leo holding you back."
His eyes closed. Mikey, Mikey, I'm sorry...
"When you came back..." Michaelangelo trailed off for a second, eyes down, and then back up. Fierce. Confident. "You were scared."
"I almost bashed your skull in. I was fucking terrified."
Christ, he MUST be tired if he was admitting that. Raph watched as Mikey smiled.
"I know. I saw."
"You should hate me."
"Now whose being a stupid idiot?"
"Raph, you're my brother. I could never hate you. I love you." Mikey was staring steadily at him, his brown eyes burning with a fierce determination to make him believe. "I love you and I trust you."
"Safe?" Mikey waved with his free hand. "Please. You think I don't know what's going on in that head of yours? You think I don't know that you moved all the stuff in here that could do some serious damage to someone? Put it across the room, pile it up, make it harder for you to have something in range? You think I can't tell what it means for you to voluntarily do katas without your weapons?"
"You didn't scare me me anywhere close to as badly as you scared yourself. It was an accident, Raph. You lost control." Mike's eyes were serious for a change, oddly hard. "I know you won't do it again."
Raph found himself nodding. His throat was dry again."Yeah."
"So it's okay then." And Mikey was up, flipping to his feet and then reaching back down. Raph stared at his outstretched hand.
"How can you forgive me so easily?" His voice had stopped cracking, was coming out low, rough. "How can you care, just like that?"
And that sad smile was back. "I think the question is how could I not?" Mike sighed and shifted slightly, balancing on the balls of his feet. "Raph, there was never a question in my mind about whether or not I trusted you, or would forgive you. I did the second I saw you with the pipe in your hand."
"It's like, counting the stars, picking up every individual grain of sand from a beach, or calculating the square root of infinity." Mike's eyes were like twin lasers, pinning Raph in place. "You're my brother – it's impossible for me to hate you. It can't be done. And I'm not gonna waste my time trying, when I could be stopping Donnie from eating all the cheese popcorn." His hand was still reaching out for him. "Understand?"
Raphael looked at the hand, and then reached out, grabbing it, letting his baby brother pull him up, and up, and then he was there, crushing Mikey, hugging him as though trying to keep him in one piece. Mikey hugged him back, burying his face into his brother's shoulder. If he felt Raph shuddering, or the feeling of hot tears dripping on him, he didn't say anything.
A few seconds later and Raph pulled away, abruptly turning around and roughly rubbing his non-bandaged hand over his face. Mikey politely looked away, letting his older brother pull himself together.
"Gonna watch the movie now?" Mikey made a face. "And Don probably put butter on the popcorn since I wasn't there to stop him."
"Shut up, doofus. I'll make another batch," Raph said roughly, a tiny smirk on his face. Mikey grinned full-blast.
"All right! With extra cheese powder?"
Bantering lightly, Mikey led the way out of the shadowed room, into the warmth and light of the living room, of their family, and let the door slide shut behind them.