Author's Note: I want to thank everyone for sticking with me up to this point and to remind you that FEEDBACK is GREATLY appreciated. Special thanks to Gadoken King for his feedback, and to Jeriminah—thanks so much; I will indeed be continuing to write in this section. The first chapter of the sequel is complete, and should be posted very soon. As a note to everyone about the Nightwatcher backstory—I did not make it up. It is from the Raphael movie prequel comic from the notes of and authorized by writer-director Kevin Munroe and hence by creative director Peter Laird, and part of the continuity of the 2007 TMNT film. As there are five of these prequels and I've only so far read the first two (Raphael and Michelangelo), there is a chance that after reading the others I will come back and change or add to the chapters of this story. Everything is a work in progress. I hope you've all enjoyed—see you next fic!--Aubretia Lycania
Raphael sat silently up in the warehouse, before his bike, polishing and concentrating hard on the bright shine of the silver and black that had accompanied him through the darkness. He heard someone walking silently into his circle of light, but knew it was a brother, and didn't bother turning around.
"Hey, Raph. Back to the old routine so soon, I guess," Leo's voice found him.
Raph saw him at the corner of his vision. "Yeah. Casey left me diagnostics for those two mopeds over there. Older ones, too—the kick-start dealies. Should be fun. Probably rusted all to hell, from the look of 'em."
"And with all that work ahead of us, why are you endlessly cleaning that bike of yours, little brother?"
"Can't let myself forget about it, now can I?" Raph responded, elusively. "Besides—I've been waitin' for you."
Story of my life.
Both brothers thought this, as they sat down around the first little moped and examined it for some way to get the panels off the motor without the jaws of life. Leo found himself looking back at the black motorcycle, which he knew belonged to the Nightwatcher.
"How did you get that thing, anyway? Did you build it?"
"Naw. Just repaired it." Raph let this be his answer for a few minutes, while he considered his brother. At last he continued, sensing Leo was waiting for him to do so. "I got it from an old man, who I wasn't in time to save. He didn't want anyone to know about his life, so that's my secret to live with. But I made him two promises—and I kept them both. I kept on keepin' them. I think now he's finally been put to rest."
Raphael could sense a pressure and warmth behind his eyes, and avoided his brother's face; he felt Leonardo's hand on his shoulder, however.
"How did he die?"
"D'you—you remember, right before you left, when I disappeared and you called me, and I wouldn't tell you where I was? And there was a gunshot behind me, just before I hung up? That was Nightwatcher being born—or I should say, becoming a ghost." Raph took a shuddering breath; he couldn't believe he was at last illuminating his brother on the context of their last conversation before Leo's pilgrimage, and before his own descent. "Some punks shot him. No good reason, other than to steal a TV and a coupla bucks. This guy knew about ninjitsu, and he'd read more books than I've ever even seen. He had a family, who he didn't want to know about his life. So he hid it with me. I still don't know why… he wasn't afraid of me, or even surprised. He acted like I was just a normal teenager, like himself when he was my age. He wasn't scared of sticking up for himself or for his neighborhood… I didn't know people like him really existed, unless they were nuts. And then he just died… for no good reason… 'cause of a bunch of punks. Shot through the heart."
Leonardo watched him for a long while, and put down the screwdriver he was holding.
"Raph… I want to ask you a question, but I need you to promise me that you'll tell me the truth, no matter what it is. Can you do that?"
Raph considered him again. "Unless it's somethin' I promised I'd keep secret, then yeah, I guess so."
Leo took a long, deep breath. "While I was away—when you were Nightwatcher… did you ever kill anyone?"
Raphael had gone perfectly still; he put the grease rag he was holding down slowly, looking his brother right in the eye. His voice came out cold and steady.
They sat silently watching one another for a long time, this simple and terrible answer between them, somehow holding them close together yet frozen in time. Leo at last let out his breath, only then realizing he'd been holding it, and nodded.
"When you were in Central America, protectin' those villagers—did you?" Raphael asked in kind.
Leo swallowed hard.
"Yes. I did."
Raphael nodded, and did not comment further. They remained tied together by that thread in the pool of light, yet no longer still; both could feel it, the tugging of that spider's web upon which they both must lay, making of them wooden marionettes to one another's actions—tugged this way and that, hand-cuffed to strange semblances. They took up their tools and resumed working, stuck together through truth that did everything save set a body free. Leonardo found he was glad to share the burden, even though he gained one in return; he found Raphael looking at him, a kind of relief etched into his features—gratitude, too, for being brave enough to ask the honest question.
The blood was invisible on his red ninja mask, the blood of the punk with the gun in his hand, whom he'd slashed, drunkenly, as the fulfillment of a deathbed promise taken a step too far. The ghost settled, tamed between the two of them, between their identical eyes, trapped in the spider's web.
Leonardo supposed this was the life's blood of brotherhood: this lifelong sharing of the dark, as well as happiness. Never were they closer than in the shadows; never were they more one than in the face of evil; never did he more understand his brother than through reflecting sins. Never did he need his brother more than through the confession, than through the acceptance of equality, of being cogs in the same wheel that made their family run. As they got the paneling off the motor successfully, Leo felt Raph briefly grip his hand, before they tucked the matter away. Closeness in the spider web.