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Big Brother

[ a random bit of thought from Raphael watching Leo after final battle with the Shredder.

Look at him. He finally conked out around 3 this morning. He is still so bloody noble, sitting by Mikey like that, while he's asleep. Stabbed all the way through and he is still sitting up and chasing demons away. Ya know, I'd never admit it to him but a part of me can't help but respect him. Always watching and taking hits he didn't need to keep the younger of us protected. It's not just something only he does but I reckon he seems to do it more.

When I heard that strangled sound and saw him go down on the Shredder's Ship, I thought we'd lost him for good. No one gets stabbed like that and walks away from it. But here he is: a hand on Mikey's forearm and sound asleep himself. When he went down, I think something in me snapped – for every fight on every level we had in the past, it didn't matter. That bitch had taken him from us…from me.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the cry baby like Mikey or a sap like Donnie. I'd never tell him. I mean, if we had lost him, if he didn't drag himself up to play fearless leader and support us in the biggest decision of our lives, what would have happened?

I really don't want to think about it, but I know some of the obvious points. Donnie would go all still and try and think his way through it. Splinter would bow his head and handle it later. Mikey. Well lets face it Mikey would go Ape Shit and try a Titanic line or something. As bad as that would have been, they'd of had me. I ain't no fearless leader but I'm still there brother. They'd of had me.

I can't ignore the chill that runs up my spine…me. What would I have done? I think now I would have snapped and got my fool self killed, but at that moment, even running head long into an attack… When I thought Leo was gone and I heard his name screamed. A scream I later found came from me. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

Because no matter how bad it gets, Splinter still has sons and Mikey and Donnie would still have a big brother.

Not Me.

It's never a thought I think about. I don't like to think I 'need' anyone but when I think how many times….hell if he hadn't grabbed my arm I might of killed my baby brother all those years ago. I never like to think of how much I need him, it makes me feel weak .

But now in the shadows of Grandmother Jones attic amid the quiet breathing and the smell of burnt fur, I can't imagine our world with out him.

The blanket over his shell slips as he jumps in his sleep; I hate to see what dreams he is dreaming. Silent as years of training had taught me: I walk across the floor. I bite back a groan as my ribs complain loudly. I return the blanket from where it had fallen around his bandaged shoulders. I don't try to move him because I have a feeling if his hand comes of Mikey's arm he'll wake up. Silent as I entered, I try and leave but I hear him take a deeper breath, one of consciousness.

I stand a little straighter with my back still to him.

"Thank you, Baby brother."

-I love you, Raphael-

I can't tell if he's teasing, insulting or just plain genuine but I can feel myself smile. In the darkness and my back to him he will never know.

"Yeah, whatever"

-Love you too, big brother-

Once again on the couch, I close my eyes. Mikey, Donnie: they'd always have me. But it's nice to know I'm still someone's baby brother and my big brother is still in my corner.

Not that I'd ever admit it.

Yeah, ok it got long…so it was a LOOOOOOOOOONG tid-bit…feed the hungry writer!

Thanks for reading!