Lackluster

It was three o'clock in the morning, and Raphael couldn't sleep.

Which was funny, because earlier when they'd all been cloistered in the library and forced to study every single damn book the Ninja Tribunal owned, that was all he had seemed able to do. Even Mikey had sucked it up and read at least half of a book in the time they'd spent there today. Raph just…couldn't do it. Couldn't concentrate.

Because Leo'd been huffing next to him all afternoon.

Hamato Raphael was, contrary to popular belief, very empathetic. He wasn't as thick-headed as everyone made him out to seem and in fact was the most adept, besides maybe Leo, at reading his brothers. It was a trait that came from letting all emotions out, explosively. You tended to just…pick up on things more. So when his older brother started to fidget and do that fingertips-tracing-the-table thing he always did when upset, Raphael had been the first and only one to notice.

He'd lifted his eyes from the book he'd been "reading" to watch Leo. Leo, who had earlier that day been the only one of the entire group of acolytes to not receive a weapon. Certainly everyone was floored by that, most of all Leo himself, and it didn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that he was still trying to puzzle it out even as the candles grew dim. He looked broody, which wasn't a big surprise for him coming off the tail end of what Mikey had called "A Glamorous Emofest". This was a little bit different, though. For the past six months or so (well, when he'd been home for it), Leo's eyes had been narrowed, opaque, unfocused. Now they just looked lost, confused, and adrift. Never before had he been so blatantly knocked off his perfect pedestal, and he probably just didn't know what to do with himself now. Actually, Raphael would bet he was having a very private, silent, personal crisis of faith.

When Mikey had won the Battle Nexus Championship, Raph had bitched and cracked his knuckles every time the little twerp got a in a good jibe. He had done everything he could to rub it in when Mikey did something wrong in training, sneering at the Champion when their father knocked him on his shell. If he did it for Mikey, it seemed sure as hell he'd do it for divine, perfect Leo .

But something in his eyes stayed his tongue. So he got up, stretched, flipped the book closed with a thud that startled everyone and headed to their room.

He'd tried to sleep. He really had. He'd stared at the ceiling and counted all the dots of light outside the window until his eyes had blurred, but it hadn't done him any good. In the end he was still wandering the halls of the library, running his hands across the book spines that he passed so that the only sound in the silence were the rhythmic thumps.

He was surprised to see that he wasn't exactly alone, either. The light slanted in oddly, making a silhouette of his brother who was leaning against the Second Level balcony in a slouch. Raph furrowed his brow. It was so unlike Leo to stay up past what he had deemed was an appropriate bedtime for a healthy ninja.

About to turn around and go back, the small sigh from his brother changed his mind utterly.

"Hey," he called, and had a moment of intense gratification when Leo jumped, swords at the ready in a millisecond to cover the fact that he'd been surprised. When Leonardo saw his brother, he relaxed.

"Jeez, Raph," he said by way of greeting, then went back to leaning on the railing, apparently disinclined to say much of anything else. So Raph joined him, mirroring his position with less of a droop to his shoulders. They stayed that way in amicable silence before Raph turned his head.

"S'not your fault, you know."

Leo looked up, blinking tiredly. "Beg your pardon?"

Raph made a broad gesture with his hand that indicated 'all this bullshit'. "The Ninja Tribunal's up to something. You not getting a weapon…it's not you. Something went wrong."

A strange, painful expression flashed quickly through Leonardo's eyes, but was gone by the time Raph registered it. His older brother sighed again and closed his eyes.

"I'm lacking something. I looked like such an idiot today."

Raph said nothing, but watched the patterns of moonlight play over Leonardo's skin, giving it a kind of stardusted shimmer that he found at once cliché and unsurprising. Divine, heavenly Leo with his choirs of angels and lambs rejoicing, always perfect, always serene…moping here by moonlight.

And here he was, the outcast, the Bad Guy, with an opportunity to shove all of that glory into his big brother's face…and he was the only one out here to comfort him.

Irony was a bitch.

He rolled his eyes and cuffed Leo on the shoulder, which caused Leo to narrow his eyes and glare at him while rubbing the sore spot. "What?" he demanded.

"If there's one thing you just aren't, Leo, it's an idiot. You're a heluva lot of other things – fussy, bossy, a control freak, a perfectionist, a worrywart, a goody two-shoes, and a royal pain in my ass…but you're not an idiot. Least…not to me. And, you know, the others."

This sentence hung between them, and Leo said nothing but continued to stare at the way the moonlight played on the tables and shelves below. After a moment, he quirked a small smile.

"Thanks, Raph."

Raph shrugged eloquently.

"…So how's it feel?"

Raph lifted an eyeridge. "How's…what feel?"

"Having a soul weapon?" Leonardo asked. Any other day, Raph might have pegged him for being petty, but he sounded wistful and genuinely curious. He turned down one corner of his mouth in a facial shrug.

"It's…weird."

"Weird?"

"Yeah. Weird." Leo obviously expected more, so Raph shifted his weight. "It's kinda like having a…another you, or something. Like you're holding a part of you in your own hands…an extension of yourself. Training is only half of it – the weapon kind of does its own thing as soon as you need it to, so long as you concentrate…" He trailed off and watched his brother, making it a point not to notice how glassy and glittery Leo's brown eyes had become.

"That's amazing, Raph. I'm happy you finally have something about training that makes you excited."

Raphael had the grace to snort, and duck his head. "Yeah, well."

Moonlight shifting positions, moving to indicate a quarter hour passed. The shadows teasing the dips and hollows of Leo's throat as he worked it in a swallow. Raph's hands made a peculiar sea green by the moon; funny, he thinks, how it robs the colors from everything. Leo's mask looks grey. Everything's…muted. Peaceful. Alright.

It took him a minute to realize that Leo's head had drooped a little and his breathing was slow and deep, though he was still standing up. And – because Leo wasn't awake to see it – he smiled, fondly.

He took the sight in for a moment only, then tipped his brother off his feet. Leo was ninja enough to recover, never really falling, but stumbling and becoming disoriented. He frowned at Raphael, who was laughing.

"Turtle tipping – Mikey loves a new sport." At Leo's perturbed glare, he chuckled, pushing his brother back a few more steps. "Go to bed, Fearless, or you'll fall asleep during meditation tomorrow and then what kind of favor will you gain with the shishou?"

Leo mumbled and rubbed his arm. "Probably can't sink much lower than this," he said, but he collected himself to go. Raphael shook his head.

"Stop being so fuckin' emo. Go to bed, and maybe if you're a good boy, I'll let you hold my Bonrai."

Leonardo might have gotten angry, but the moonlight looked favorable on his grinning little brother. He smiled.

They left the hall. The moonlight bore witness to the moment until it had stretched its fingers as far as they might reach, and it disappeared with the coming of the dawn like a candle finally snuffed.