Drabble: In Their Sleep

by KC

Raphael growls in his sleep. He murmurs obscenities at Shredder and his ninjas, snaps at Splinter and Leonardo, trades quips with Casey, even snarls at random thugs as his dreams allow him to argue long into the night. The self-control he fights so hard to keep during the day slips away in his sleep and the words that slip out with it are vicious, stabbing deep into anyone who might hear. He would never say any of it when awake. They know this.

Michelangelo tosses and turns in his sleep. Restless during the day, restless at night, he curls into a ball with the blanket wrapped tight around himself, then kicks them down to his knees and shivers. When the cold air wakes him up, he grabs up the blanket again, mumbles an apology to anyone who's awake, and burrows underneath again. They always come away in the morning with an extra bruise or two from where he accidentally lashed out. Sometimes he laughs in his sleep, loud barking laughter that wakes all of them up. Sometimes he doesn't laugh at all.

Donatello mumbles and murmurs throughout the night. Equations and formulae and theories whisper through the bedroom, strange imaginary numbers and dimensional laws that haven't been discovered yet cast into the darkness like spells. His mind spins ceaselessly to splice logic and illogic, magic and machines, until he comes so close to a solution that for an instant he merges spirit and metal. And then the spirit fades and the metal melts and he wakes up grasping for the answer that's already disappeared with the dream.

Leonardo confesses in soft breaths secrets he would rather keep hidden, choked apologies and the thousand feelings that he can't admit to during the day, in a fight, or amongst his family. Even in his sleep he fights his impulse to let go of his secrets. His whispers are so slight that it takes a keen ear to catch his consonants and puzzle out the words. Sometimes, when one of them wakes up and hears him breathing, they might give him his privacy. Sometimes temptation is too much.

But no one has told him that talks in his sleep. They understand his guilts and anxieties. Knowing that he was the reason they returned to their old habit of sleeping together would just be another needless weight he would place on himself.

Besides, they've solved a few of their own problems this way. Snuggling with any of his siblings curbs Michelangelo's restlessness, and a warm little brother curled against his shoulder calms Raphael's nighttime rants. The silence, instead of the previous hums and clicks of his mechanical projects, lulls Donatello into dreamless sleep. Without the night to exhaust his mind, he's no longer crafting that perfect mix of soul and machine in his dreams, but rather he's slowly crawling toward the solution during the day when he can take notes and record. And the relaxed family, the diminished squabbling and the inexplicable air of understanding that seems to be filling their home means that Leonardo's confessions are, one by one, falling silent.