I know this must be impossible for you to believe, but yes, romance is listed in that first genre category. Yes, I am writing a romance.
Believe it or not, this is actually the second one I've planned. The first is a trilogy I plan to begin in a month or two. But trust me, you won't be seeing much of this from me! If any of you know me, I like stories where Angst and Action are the primary genres. Romance… oh boy. I'm in a new ballpark here.
This fic actually wasn't supposed to happen. It only happens for this reason- On the forum, we were challenged to write a story where Raph wasn't the seducer in a love interest. I was planning on doing that in the second of my fics, but well, that's gonna take some time. And if any of you are surprised, I only taught of this story after riding the bus home yesterday.
Oh, and this takes place directly after Tales of Leo. The main part anyways. The other part is two years later.
So here we are. Well… please enjoy!
Disclaimer: Peter Laird would never give me ownership of the TMNT. With this fic, I break one of his cardinal rules.
With a yawn, Raphael rolled over from his carapace and onto his side, ignoring the coldness of the hardwood floor. At some point during the night, the fire Casey and Mike had made had gone out.
Frowning, the turtle in red stood, popping his shoulder and stretching his tired muscles. It'd been a hard trip up here… no better with Leo looking like death frozen over. But it would do none of them any good if the fire stayed out like this, being cold-blooded and all. And last Raph had checked, it was snowing.
He turned, trying to remember where Case had kept the firewood outside. He was sure he'd seen it when they'd entered the farmhouse. It wouldn't hurt to be out in the weather long enough to get some wood, he was sure.
Raph froze in his steps as he looked at the futon they'd laid Leo atop of when they'd come in. The one he'd remained unconscious on for hours and, since regaining that, had slept on for the rest of the night. Firewood would clearly have to wait because Leo was gone.
About to search the entire house, Raph stopped upon hearing a creak. He turned sharply, trying to make it out. That was one thing he was coming to love about this place- it was so quiet that when all was silent, the slightest noise could be pinpointed. Still he longed for the noise of the city and its action- and even more so, finding the bastards in it that had harmed his brother.
The sound turned out to be the door, which hadn't closed all the way. The wind, having settled down some, was gently tossing it open and shut. Now Raph knew how the fire had gone out. Curious, he went up to the entrance and peered outside.
On the porch there was a wooden swing. Casey had said that his grandfather had crafted it years ago; it was a surprise that the thing still held. Everything else in this house seemed to be falling apart. But more shocking was the fact that Leo, bruised and injured and already weakened as he was, was sitting out there on the darn thing, wrapped up in the heavy blanket they'd covered him with earlier.
Walking onto the porch, Raph took note of the snowflakes drifting down lazily from the sky and onto the pristine and undisturbed white world around them. It was deceptive- that's what it was. Beautiful in its appearance but deadly in its affect on them. And though Raph wasn't a genius like Donny, he knew well enough that in Leo's condition, his brother was at an even higher risk of becoming sick or worse.
He closed the door quietly and stepped over to him. "Hey, Leo," He said. "What're ya doin' out here?"
Leo stared at the gentle sloping of the snow on the ground just ahead. "Hot in there. It was cool… cool out here," The injured turtle said slowly. "Never realized how nice the snow looked. It's… peaceful up here."
Raph rubbed his arms, moving closer to the swing. His brother didn't sound right. "Yeah but it'll make ya sick, too." He felt Leo's forehead, which was quite warm to the touch. "Damn it, bro, ya already are sick. How long ya been out here?" Leo's coloring looked normal; it couldn't have been too long.
The ninja shrugged, his shoulders moving beneath that heavy blanket. "Five minutes… maybe?"
Sitting down beside Leo, who was in the center of the swing, Raph made sure he was wrapped up properly. He was half-glad no one was out here- he couldn't believe he was pulling off a mother hen routine. "All right. Well, c'mon, bro. Let's get you back inside. You're off bad enough as it is."
Closing his eyes, the turtle leaned against Raph, surprising him. "Just a few more minutes. Please?" His breathing was easy. "… It's nice out here."
Before Raph could've even replied, Leo was asleep. His temperamental brother grit his teeth and shook his head. "Damn." He had no desire to wake him up, but he had to move him. Fine, Leo. He thought, looking down. Just a minute or two.
He heard that familiar creaking and turned to find April stepping outside in surprise, wrapped up in a purple coat. She held another blanket in her hands and a brown jacket lay on top of that. The redhead smiled softly at him. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
The turtle chuckled. "Yeah, time for me to be running back inside and denying anything you might be accusing me of." He looked her over. "Whatcha doin' out here, Ape?"
She walked over to the swing and sat down on the opposite side. "I heard you get up. Here, this will keep you warm," She said, handing him the jacket. Nodding, Raph reluctantly put it on. He didn't have plans to stay out here long, but the gesture was nice. And hell, maybe April would keep quiet. He watched as she draped the second blanket over Leo's sleeping frame, careful of his more serious injuries. When she was done, she looked at him. "You're a kinder brother then you let on, Raphael."
Raph sat back, rocking the swing a little. "Knew I should've bolted," He said.
April smiled, then looked at him seriously. "So… how are you doing?"
He looked at her, a little confused. Against his arm, Leo shifted his head into a more comfortable position. "I'm… well, I'm all right." He looked over his brother and was silently reminded of how upset, maybe even frightened, he'd been just a few hours ago. "Things are better now though."
The woman drew her legs up onto the swing, folding her arms over her knees and resting her head in her coat. "It was hard for you," She stated knowingly.
After a moment of silence, he nodded and drew the first blanket a little closer to Leo's neck. "Yeah… Me and Leo, well, we don't always get along sometimes, and God he's one of the most difficult people to get along with." He paused. "But I've never hated him. He's a pretty good guy, really. I just didn't really get how much I…" Glancing up at her, Raph debated finishing the sentence or not. It turned out he didn't have to- April nodded seeing him. She understood what he meant. Taking a breath, Raph quickly changed the subject. "So, how's things with you?" He asked, having nothing better to say.
The redhead's smile fell. "I… I still can't get over the whole thing," She said sadly. "I mean, I'm so happy Leo's all right." She looked at him in relief. "It was horrible seeing him like that. But…"
Raph stared. "But what?"
She turned away, her fingers going through strands of her hair. "But… now that I know he's going to be okay, I just keep thinking back to what happened. The shop… my apartment." April sighed and Raph saw a single tear, though she tried to hide it, running down her cheek. "Raph… I lost everything in that fire. Everything but my life and the clothes on my back. You guys. I know I should be grateful for that, and believe me, I am but…" Sniffing, she shifted her body, further hiding herself.
Leaning forward, being more careful when he heard Leo mumble, his sleep disturbed, Raph spoke to her. "Hey, it's gonna be all right." He frowned, smacking himself for not having anything better to reassure her with and for bringing up the subject in the first place. He should've known she'd be upset- should've remembered she'd just lost her home. "April, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up." He looked her over. "You okay?"
April nodded. Turning to him, she forced a small smile, but Raphael could still see her tear-streaked face. "Yeah, I'll be fine." She scooted a little closer. "I just… needed someone to talk to, I guess."
"What about Casey?"
She laughed sweetly. "I want to. But… I don't know." April looked at him, her green eyes boring into his. "You were here. There's just something about you, Raph," She said, putting her legs back down on the ground. "Sometimes, it's easier to talk to you."
That was the first time he'd heard that one. But Raph had neither the time to wonder nor ask her why that was because the next thing he knew, the distance between himself and April had been filled. One of her hands, so soft, gently held the side of his head and pulled him closer to her. Their mouths met and he could feel her upper lip above his; her lower lip pressed between his mouth.
The kiss was tender but it made him shiver. Perhaps it was just the cold, but he felt it was this. And he didn't pull away, even though he knew. No, this might not have been wrong- though she was special to Casey, she wasn't his girl. And the age difference wasn't that big. But he still knew.
Still, he didn't pull away.
Seventeen seconds of pure, absolute bliss. Then they separated. He opened his eyes and looked at April, who stared back at him in a mix of shock and pleasure. Quickly, the woman looked away and rose to her feet, going inside the house.
Raph watched her until he could breathe again then turned back to the winter scene. With the heels of his feet, he began to rock the swing. He took it in for a minute, maybe two or three. Leo was right, it really was peaceful.
Thinking of his brother reminded Raph of the main reason he'd come out here. He looked down at Leo, who still slept against his arm, little puffs of air flowing out of his partially opened mouth. His skin was looking a bit paler now, so Raph knew it was time to go inside.
He got up off the swing, supporting his brother with his hand. "All right, Leo. Time to head in, bro," He said, pulling Leo's uninjured arm over his shoulder. The turtle in blue moaned, eyes opening halfway. He muttered something unintelligible but complied, getting into a standing position and then leaning against Raph, who brought the blankets which had fallen in the movement back around him.
Carefully, he brought his sibling back inside and laid him down on the couch. Leo gave him a grin and whispered something that the turtle again couldn't make out. Raph patted his shoulder. "Go to sleep, bro." He felt Leo's head- it was still warm. Raph wouldn't be surprised if some of his wounds had gotten infected. He'd have Don check it out in a little bit. He had something else to do first. "Ya had your fun. Just rest now. And don't you dare go outside."
With a light nod that showed he'd at least understood, Leonardo closed his eyes and drifted back off into sleep. Raph watched him for a second or two, then shed his jacket and made his way upstairs to where he knew April had a room somewhere.
Finding it, he knocked on the door. Eventually, the soft pitter-patter of sock covered footsteps could be heard on the other side. The door cracked open, revealing April in her pajamas- a pink t-shirt and purple pants. She looked at him and he saw shame in her eyes. "Yes?"
"Mind if I come in?"
After a moment, she nodded and opened the door. When he was inside, she shut it softly. "How's Leo?"
He regarded her sincerely. "Sleeping," He laughed. "Inside." Raph watched her. "April… you don't have to be upset-"
"I shouldn't have done that," She cut him off, folding her arms. "I'm so sorry, Raph."
"No, no," Raph said. "Hey, don't apologize. You were upset, April. It's all right. There's nothing to be sorry for." He moved for the door. "Just wanted you to know that. Besides…" The ninja looked at the floor. "I kinda liked it."
With a smile, he reached for the doorknob, but stopped when he felt her hand on his shoulder. "You- you did?" She asked.
Raph nodded, serious. "Never been kissed before… but I bet it's safe to say that you're really good."
She bit her lip and looked him over. "Then come here," She said, placing her hands on his biceps and bringing herself closer to him.
He braced himself for the kiss, for the feeling it gave him. But he couldn't have been prepared. It was even better this time. He felt his shell press against the wall, then her hands as they glided down his muscles and the grooves of his plastron. His arms slid around her petite waist and he held her close.
Her mouth left his and touched his neck lightly. "It's okay," She whispered before looking him in the eyes. "You okay?"
Slowly, he nodded. He'd never known this side of April, the silent seductress. But she was reeling him in. He'd never wanted something like this before.
His fingers tracing the outline of her back, unable to help himself from slipping them beneath her shirt, Raph nodded again. "Yeah," He finally said.
Then he brought his hands further up her body, over the small of her back and pressing between her shoulder blades; she was wearing no bra. He grinned and pressed her into him. And he kissed her back.
Two years later.
Sitting on the swing, Raph rocked back and forth. He rarely wore suits, they weren't meant for turtles after all, but today was a special occasion. Though April and Casey had been married in a church two days ago, today, they had held a separate ceremony to include him and his family, along with anyone else who knew who they were. Raph had been the best man.
Two of his best friends were finally united. Raph couldn't have been happier- just seeing the looks on their faces as they said 'I do' was something to behold.
But sitting on this swing, he couldn't help but think of something else. Of another time when he'd sat here… and when his best friend's new wife had sat on that other side.
Coming from around the house, Leo, who'd had the honor of being another groomsmen, climbed the steps and sat beside him, in the exact same place he'd been that night. Leaning forward, he folded his hands and regarded his brother. "How're you doing?" He asked.
That seemed to be the question for this swing, Raph realized. But he didn't know what Leo meant by it. "What're ya talkin' about?"
Sitting up, his elder brother looked out beyond the porch. Once it'd been a Winter scene but today, it was a colorful picture of Spring. "You know."
Raph shook his head, about to get up. "No. I don't."
Leo grabbed his arm. "Yeah you do." He looked Raph over. "I know how you felt about her, Raph."
Blinking, the red-banded ninja sat back down and forced a laugh. "You're some kind of crazy, bro."
The leader was silent. "I was here," He said softly. "I was here and you know it."
Raph looked up at him, knowing now what Leo was talking about. For the past two years, he'd gone on certain that no one had known of what had happened between him and April but the two of them. Not so apparently. "I thought you were asleep."
Brushing something off his suit, Leo nodded. "You woke me up." He shook his head. "I wasn't really sure if I'd seen what I thought I'd seen. I was sick then, remember? Thought maybe I'd dreamt it up." He paused. "But more time went on and… I'd see the way you'd look at her sometimes, when you thought no one was watching. And I knew I hadn't." Leo turned to Raph. "Mind if I ask you something?"
Sighing, Raph leaned back and eventually shook his head. "Nah… I guess not."
"Did you…" Leo looked embarrassed. "Did you do more than…?"
Grinning, Raph shook his head. "No. We didn't have sex, bro. Just kissed. Sometimes, it would go a little father than the light stuff… we'd touch," He said, remembering. "But we never did anything else."
Leo nodded. "How long did it go on?"
"Until we left for New York," Raph answered. "She was really ashamed. Always apologized to me. Finally said that she couldn't do it anymore. So we didn't."
Patting him on the shoulder, Leo looked at him sympathetically. "I'm sorry. If you ever need anyone to talk to-"
Raph shrugged him off and stood. "Thanks but no thanks. It's just something that never happened, bro. I decided to leave it at that awhile back. So should you."
Leo still sat. "It might not have happened, but you've never forgotten it," He said. "And I don't think you will."
Shaking his head, Raph walked away, heading to the back of the farmhouse. There was a party going on- a bride and groom to congratulate on their big day. And it was the best man's job to make sure everything went over smoothly.
Not to remember the way a woman felt in his hands when she touched him. Or how he'd felt when she loved him.
There! All done!
So… what do you think? (looks around) How'd I do?
No flames please!