Disclaimer - Re-wrote some of chapter one, to reflect more Mikey-speak. I didn't feel I had enough 'dudes'. :0) As before, I'm only borrowing the TMNT's. I promise to put them back where I found them when I'm done…which might be soon, hopefully.

Favorite Son

by reinbeauchaser

Chapter 2

Seriously, Dude, I thought my heart would pound right outta my chest as I watch Raph sheath Leo's broken katana. I can't believe they're busted, but when he places both into his belt behind him, I wonder if he's doing it so Sensei doesn't see them right away, before Raph can explain what happened. I can just imagine how Master Splinter will react, too.

And I really, really want to know what happened to Leo. Why didn't he come home with Raph? Is he hurt…is he…dead? Wouldn't be the sickest kind of irony to lose him once he's back in New York City? The more I think about it, the more I feel a block of ice take root in my stomach.

As my brother steps through the doorway and disappears into the tunnel, heading for the dojo where Master Splinter is, I know I should stay put and let Sensei handle things. He always handles things so well and I always seem to screw things up. But, my curiosity is driving me nuts.

Pushing off the sofa, I quickly head over to where Raph stood a moment ago and when I get there, I can hear him easy enough. Donnie once told me that the concrete and brick tunnels help amplify sound better. I guess he's right, too, because I don't have any problems hearing Raph. Gee, I'm glad Donnie's so smart! Hmm...better be quiet, too. Can't give away my position.

Anyway, I listen real quiet like and I can tell that Raph sounds more upset than he did earlier, when he first came home, but I keep out of sight, since Sensei would have my hide for eavesdropping. I look back and wonder where Donnie is, wondering what he might think about Raph bringing home Leo's katana, all broken like. I'm sure Don can figure it out, but a loud sound of something crashing suddenly jars my attention back to the dojo.

"Did Raph just push something over?" I ask silently. I lean forward a bit, trying to hear better, holding onto the door jam for support, wondering how Splinter is going to react. That was when I hear him - and he's not happy, either.


"Hoo wee, Dad's pissed." I shake my head and smile a little, but instead of waltzing into the corridor, I linger there, waiting, silent, like a good ninja should.

Now, Raph starts talking again and the more I listen to him, the more I realize he isn't the confident and arrogant brother I know so well. This time, Raph sounds uncertain, chastised, and he's mumbling, going on about something happening and then he growls again, and - again - something else falls to the floor.

"Oh, that's probably the weights. Raph must be really upset," and I half expect Splinter to fine him fifty back-flips, too. Instead, I hear Sensei tell Raph to kneel in front of him.

Sometimes Sensei surprises me, but then, he's ninja, he's a master at surprise. Heh. He's such a cool dude.

After a moment, I hear Raph tell Splinter something, something about trouble, but he's talking softer, now, and even the tunnel walls can't help me hear him. So, I have to see what's happening, even if I get into trouble. After all, Leo's my brother, too.

Easing into the tunnel, but keeping myself in shadow, I can see Raph clearly. Well, his back anyway. He's kneeling on the tatami mat in front of Father, just as I pictured him doing. He has his head bowed and I can see that he's trembling. It's not much, but I can tell. I can always tell when any of my brothers are upset. Yeah, I might not be smart like Donnie, but…I know my bros.

Suddenly, Raphie's next words are loud enough for even me to hear - and they cut through me like a knife.

"I know why you chose him, now, I know there's a reason why he's the better son…and I'm not."

Seriously, dude, I'm in shock; I never expected Raph to say something like that. I mean, he always felt he was better than Leo, stronger, faster, more determined. The way they used to fight and all, Raph was always trying to prove his point, with Leo always winning. But now, to hear Raphie say just the opposite?

I wanna find a calendar and write it down for posterity's sake. I have half a mind to run up to Donnie's room and tell him about what Raph just said, too, but…then what Sensei says next stops me cold.

"Raphael, you always bear the world's problems on your shoulders. It is an admirable quality when you are…a protector of others. But you must realize that while at times you may not be my favorite student, it does not mean that you are my least favorite son."

Suddenly, my mind goes into overdrive. Sensei has a least favorite son? I didn't even know he had…favorites.

I'm numb with shock and I swallow hard. I thought all of us were Dad's favorites! Heh, boy, guess I haven't been paying attention, much, but now that I am, I wanna know that if Raph isn't Dad's least favorite, then who is? Leo's gotta be number one and Donnie's definitely up there in the rafters, too. I mean, the guy's a genius and easy to live with. and he's earned tons of money with his tech support company, so...what's not to like, ya know?

But, with the way Raph can be so stubborn and belligerent, the way he just flips everybody off, the way he disrespects Splinter's request to not go topside, to actually hear straight from Dad's own mouth that he has favorites and that Raph isn't his least favorite, would only mean one thing.

And the last time I checked, there're only four of us that Master Splinter calls 'sons' - and I don't think Casey counts!

I'm bummed out…royally. I can't believe my father would even have favorites - well, other than Leo, but that never bothered me, not really. Leo's always tried to be the best student, the best son, the best…at everything. I can't compete with that, but at least I thought if Dad had favorites, I had an edge over Raph. I mean, for cryin' out loud, I bring birthday cake home for everybody. Dessert's gotta count for somethin', you know.

As Splinter keeps talking to Raph, I kind of zone out on what he's saying, kind of caught up in my own little pity party. So I don't catch all of it. There was something said about loyalty and honor and compassion, though.

Still, before I can get any more depressed than I'm already feeling, Raph interrupts Dad, which isn't always a smart thing to do, but this time Dad doesn't go ballistic, like he did with Leo this morning.

"But, Masteh Splinteh, I messed up big tonight…I mean…big!"

His words are so soft and he put so much meaning into them, it's hard to believe Raph is the one talking. He's just so un-Raphie-like right now. I'm kind of afraid, afraid what it took to bring my brother to his knees.

And that's when Raph takes Leo's broken swords from his belt and my breath catches in my throat. Was the 'big' part concerning Leo? What did he do to Leo? I know he was pissed at him and Leo was mad, too, but…

Anyway, I'm assuming Raph lays the mutilated weapons in front of Splinter. With Raph in-between me and Sensei, I can't see real good, but I can see Splinter's expression. He seems to be looking at them, surprised, just the way I thought he would.

Simply, I hear Raph go on to explain, "They...took 'em."

I kind of zone out again, even though I know Splinter's upset. All I could think about was who took him, who took Leo? In that moment, I forget about being Splinter's least favorite son. Someone took my big brother and broke his swords. And another question kept nagging me. Why didn't Raph rescue Leo if this other guy took him? I keep wondering about that and about why Raph is acting so guilty, so… responsible. I can understand why he's upset, because Leo got captured, but the broken swords just didn't make any sense to me, unless…and then it hit me like a ton of birthday cake.

Raph…must've broken Leo's swords, which explains why he's acting so contrite! They must have fought - somewhere, and I know Leo's good with his katana, but Raph is just as good with his sai and I know a sai can break a weapon such as Leo's, if caught just right. I know they were angry at each other this morning and I know Leo blames Raph for that fiasco at the construction site, too. But, to fight each other that hard and end up destroying weapons? It's not like we can just march down to Weapons R Us and get new ones. Sheesh…what was Raph thinking? Yeah, dudes, he wasn't. Like always, he probably rushed in, acted rash, probably pushed the issue with Leo...and Leo reacted. He's been a lone wolf, too, down there in South America, probably has a whole truck-load of confidence because of it, too. Probably, he wanted to prove his point like he did all those other times before, only...this time, Raph won!

Yet, before I can muster up some of my rare, righteous anger, Splinter makes a sudden declaration, one I never thought I'd hear him say.

"Then the time for hiding is over; we must return to the surface to take back what is ours."

Dude! My eyes are bigger than dinner plates. Splinter is calling for a war? This time, I just know Raph's in deep, but as I watch Sensei move around him, he puts a hand on my brother's shoulder instead, to comfort him.

I can't believe he's not verbally bashing him, telling him how irresponsible he is, how his temper has betrayed our family. Isn't it obvious that Raph, his third favorite son, is probably responsible for the broken swords, maybe even for Leo getting caught? Doesn't it occur to Sensei that because of Raph's anger, he put Leo in danger? I mean, if I can figure it out, why can't Splinter? He's the master, right?

Nevertheless, as much as I love my brother and as worried as I am for Leo, I know if Raph did break the swords, I don't think I have to worry about being Sensei's least favorite son anymore.

A/N - Yeah, I know, would Mike even think this way? He's always the clown and always upbeat, but if he overheard Splinter's remark to Raph, would he assume that Splinter had a 'least' favorite? I think if he did assume this, his 'happy face' would fall a bit. I mean, just the look he gave Splinter earlier in the movie, when he offered him an aluminum-foil wrapped slice of birthday cake, told me he idolizes his dad.

And that's what came to mind the first time I saw this movie and what spawned this plot bunny. Wow, talk about a parental faux pas - and from Splinter, no less. :0) Oh, and this story isn't over, yet, either. And the next chapter will be in flashback mode to the events that follow this chapter, cuz I don't think you need me to give a play by play account of the battle. :0)