Title: Gloomy Sunday (mostly just because that was the song I was listening to)

Author: Bunny MacCool

Rating: Eh, mostly fluff, but some graphic images at the beginning... PG?

Genre: Angsty Fluff

Fandom: 2003 cartoon/movieverse

Summary: Mikey has a nightmare and needs a little comfort from who my TMNT girlfriends and I have affectionately titled Mommy!Leo (We're not the only ones who've noticed his mother-hen tendencies, are we?)

Blood and grit and gore, covering his hands, slipping through his fingers, spinning round and round in the air between his palms and the floor. Dripping, plip plop, to the dirty murky water that swished around his ankles. Falling, plip plop, twisting and turning in the air like tear drops coming to life.

So much of it. Streaming down his arms like strawberry syrup. So much. So much. But not his. Not his life-force spilling, plip plop, turning brown water a mottled deep burgundy. Not his blood leaving little rivers of rich wine down his thighs and shins. Creating small ripples, plip plop, in the ocean of grime.

Whose? Whose? Looking down. Peering down. Straining his eyes to see the face he knew would appear from the depths of swirling darkness that concealed his own feet from sight. Waiting and waiting until finally a dark shape. A liquid shadow creeping to the surface. Slowly. Ever so slowly. Even as the blood continued to plip plop in the silence.

What he dreaded. What he feared. Breaking from the water silently. A face he knew almost better than his own. Looked to for strength. For protection. For love and acceptance and kindness and concern. Eyes clouded over white and gray. Skin pale and lifeless. Mouth frozen in a death scream. Blue cloth stained nearly black from the mixture of gore and sewer.

He screamed.

He was still screaming when he jolted out of bed and flew from his room. Still screaming as he ran, quickly as his trembling legs could carry him, ran to the room that was always occupied at this time in the early hours. Always warmed by the presence of smoldering candles and the soft sounds of morning katas.

The screen was flung carelessly in his haste. He ignored the sound of splintering wood. Ignored the cries and shouts of others in his one track mind. Ignored the world as a whole until his arms were clasped tightly around a warm body. Face pressed into the startled, but breathing, chest of his big brother. Even ignored his big brother's voice as he weeped and mourned and released the tension of the nightmare. This time the plip plop came from his own tears hitting the age old mat beneath his feet.

When the roaring in his ears and the choking gasps of his breathing eased, he could make out whispers from above him, and felt a warm hand stroking the top of his fevered head.

"Sshhhh…. Ssshhhhhh… it's alright, Mikey, its okay."

He bubbled out a few more sobby breaths before his mind caught up with reality. Looking up, all he could see were warm cinnamon eyes filled with concern.

"L-Leo… Leo … dream … bad dream."

His big brother smiled warmly and continued to rub soothing circles across his scalp.

"Yeah, I figured that, Mike. You wanna talk about it?"

He shook his head resolutely. Didn't want to talk about it. Didn't want to relive it. Wanted to pretend he'd never experienced it. Ever. Ever ever.

Leo smiled and gently turned him towards the door, placing a strong solid arm around his shoulders. They started walking slowly towards the main living quarters. For the first time, he realized his father and other brothers were standing in the doorway. All breathing heavily and bent over in relief.

Now he felt guilty. His scream must have woken the entire household. They parted to let Leo guide him from the dojo. He sniffled apologetically as he watched Donatello place a hand over his heart like he was trying to get its frantic beating back under control.

Before he even realized it, Leo had steered him to his favorite spot on the worn leather couch. Easing him down and settling himself beside him. Almost immediately, Michelangelo curled himself around his brother like he was Leo's own personal blanket. There was a stunned second of silence, but his brother quickly relaxed into the position and allowed him to cling.

No way was he letting go of Leo right now. No way. No way. He closed his eyes and listened to the rest of his family disperse. It was still too early to be up and at 'em. Raphael jumped and rebounded off a couple columns to disappear back into his room. Master Splinter walked by to place a gentle hand on Michelangelo's head, and give him a warm, whiskery nuzzle full of reassurances. Then he retreated to his room. Donatello made a beeline to the kitchen to grab some coffee. Mike smiled. Knowing that brother, he probably figured a near heart-attack was reason enough to get a head start on experiment X, Y, or Z today.

Leo must have motioned to Don, because suddenly the lights of the main room were dimmed. Mikey sighed happily when he realized Leo was giving him free-range snuggling time. He wrapped his arms around his big brother again, and practically plastered his face to the strong plastron supporting him. He was pleasantly surprised when Leo relaxed his body and sank deeper into the cushions of the couch.

They sat in silence for a few moments. The comforting sounds of Leo's deep breathing finally calmed his nerves and settled his mind. However, there was no way he was falling asleep again this night. The visions of the nightmare were still too fresh in his head.

"Leo?"

"Hmm?"

His brother always sounded so secure to him. So at peace with his world, his surroundings. Sometimes Michelangelo wished he could be that solid. That stoic.

The pallid face frozen in a scream popped into his mind. He grimaced.

"Promise you won't ever die, 'kay, Leo?"

The body beneath him tensed for a second. But only a second. His voice remained low and comforting.

"Mike … death is just another part of life. We can't escape it."

"Baxter Stockman has!"

Leonardo chuckled warmly and Mikey could hear it rumbling against his ears. He grinned. He loved it when his brother laughed. It was so rare and so genuine.

"Yes, well, I suppose … but would you really want to live like Stockman does?"

Mike sneered.

"You mean as a floating brain with an eyeball? No … not really, I guess."

Leo patted his back gently, and then let his hand remain there. Michelangelo's mood turned somber once again. There was something he wanted to say to his brother. Something vital. But he couldn't think of the best way to express it.

"Okay then … um… just don't die before me then?"

The hand on his back suddenly tensed, clutching Mike's shell and causing him to startle a little. Gone was the soft tone of this brother's voice when he spoke this time.

"Never. Not going to happen, Mike."

"But, Leo, what if-"

Leonardo suddenly gripped his baby brother's face with both hands and tilted it up so their gazes met. There was a determined resolution in his eyes that Mike always identified as the 'Leo look' … no room for second guesses, no chance left for change.

"Little brother, as long as there is a breath left in my body not a single one of you will fall before me. Not a single one."

The emotion in his eyes was so intense that Mike couldn't force himself to look away. He realized suddenly that Leo must think about this stuff a lot, to feel so passionately about it. A thought struck him then.

"But, Leo … what about us?"

His brother blinked, but didn't speak, so he continued.

"I mean … is it fair to us if you choose to die before we do? What would we do without you?"

A slow smile warmed his brother's face, and it was so sweet and so sad that Michelangelo felt tears watering the surface of his eyes. Leonardo leaned forward until their foreheads bumped and he shook Mikey's head gently.

"You'll be fine, Mike. As long as the three of you stick together, you'll be fine. I wouldn't be. I-"

If he didn't know his big brother so well, he could have sworn emotion was causing Leo's voice to break. He wouldn't dare mention it, however.

"I wouldn't be, Mike. I'm nothing without my little brothers. I wouldn't cope."

Mike shook his head in disbelief, but he found himself too choked up to speak.

"The decision was made long ago. Back before Master Splinter titled me as the Leader … our Father titled me as the eldest. The eldest to look after his three little siblings. The eldest to make sure nothing bad could ever befall them. The eldest to love them and cherish them … and … the eldest to protect them with his very life."

The strong arms were around him again, and Michelangelo relished in their warmth, burrowed himself deeper into his brother's chest and felt hot tears streak down his face. He couldn't imagine ever being without Leo. Ever being without his big brother. He didn't realize he was sniffling until Leo was gently shushing him again, even humming a little song under his breath.

He chuckled wetly. Leo had never been able to carry a tune. Not even humming it, apparently. Mikey smiled a little and squeezed the unforgiving strength of his brother's shell a little harder. The nightmare was slowly drifting away into his distant memories. He'd always been the one to live in the moment. To not worry about the future. This night was just a momentary lapse in his sunny-day outlook … and Leo had gotten him through it. Like Leo would always get him through it. Until they were old and wrinkled and hobbling around with canes as April and Casey's great-grandchildren swarmed around them.

Michelangelo nodded his head resolutely. Yup. That was the way it was going to be. Nothing else would be good enough. Nothing else would be permitted. He grinned and fought a loosing battle with an oncoming yawn. It was answered with a matching yawn from above. His smile widened.

"Love you, Leo."

The arms around him squeezed a little tighter.

"Love you, too, little brother."

Even Raphael refrained from waking them when they were found snoring in tandem hours later.

El fin.