Brotherly Love

A/N: A little idea I had about how Robert shows his love to Ray, even indirectly. These are the top four ways. The layout (particularity the last example) was inspired by 'The Secret Language Of Raph."

Defending

Ray watched in shock as his brother defended him. He hadn't known what to expect tonight, and was surprised to see Robert there at all. But of course, how could he miss a chance to see someone say how much they hated him? At least, that's what Ray had thought. When Robert started tearing into the guy, verbally, Ray was surprised to realize that he was hiding behind his brother, just like he used to do when they were kids.

Robert patted him on the shoulder. "Come on Raymond," he said in a 'big brother' way. With one half hearted glare at Jerry Muso, he followed his brother.

"Hey, you know, thanks." He told him.

"Yeah yeah." Ray looked into his brother deep brown eyes. Almost immediately he glanced down under the intensity of his brother's gaze. He would never admit it to anybody, but Robert's eyes were his favorite part of his brother. There was just so much he expressed in them. So much depth.

"He called me dumb." He tried to sound casual when he said it, but Robert heard the catch in his little brother's voice. It still bothered him.

"You're not dumb, Raymond."

"And even if I am, is that any reason to hate me?"

"Of course not." Robert grinned and ruffled his hair, just like he used to do when they were little. He smiled at Ray's look of false annoyance. "There are so many better reasons." He turned around to walk out.

Ray smiled as he walked behind him. "Yeah… and by the way, that's not a pimple, that's an ingrown hair." Robert had his back to him, but Ray could hear the smile in his voice when he responded.

"Well it's weird and it won't go away."

Playing

The Barone family sat at the table, eating breakfast. All was quiet, a rarity at their table, when twelve year old Robert chuckled softly.

"Assume." He said. Ray, Frank, and Marie stared at him.

"Assertive. Assent." Ray caught on then and a grin slowly spread on his face.

"Assassin." Robert directed his now large grin at him.

"Assertion."

"Asset."

"Assail."

"Assurance."

"Assiduous."

"Assembly!" They said together. The effect was almost automatic. Ray succumbed to the fit of laughter he had been holding in since Robert started this odd game. Robert repeatedly thumped his hand on the table, his grin threatening to split his face in half. Frank just ignored them.

"Robert!" Marie yelled, annoyed. "Don't hit the table so hard. It's real mahogany you know."

"Sorry." Robert said, his grin never ceasing.

"Yeah Ma," Ray piped up. "You better make sure to assign him a punishment later."

"Yeah, and whatever it is, I'm sure Ray can assist me." The boys surrendered to their fit of laughter again and Marie threw her hands up and left the room. When they finally calmed down, they noticed Frank staring at them with his eyebrow raised. A small smirk accented his face.

"Assault," he said simply, the small smirk never leaving his face. The boys exchanged glances at each other and smirked back.

"Assure."

"Assumption."

"Associate."

"Assistant."

And the 'game' went on for quite a while.

Protecting

Ray was born on December 21, 1957. When he was a month old, the family took him to the doctor to get him examined. Four year old Robert gazed wearily at the doctor when they were called in and stopped him just before he started to examine his baby brother.

"Wait," he said. "You washed your hands first, right?" the doctor gave him a look that bordered on amusement.

"Yes son, I did." Robert nodded and visibly relaxed, silently allowing the doctor to examine Ray. Marie smiled at her son's watchful eye; she was worried at first that he was jealous of Ray. She was especially worried at the look of contempt that she had thought she had seen in his eyes too. It resembled jealousy… And now, he was doing his best to protect him. Protecting him from the evils of unclean hands, yes, but hey, you start small. Marie smiled as Robert casually teased his little brother. Maybe things won't be so bad between them after all.

Teasing

Amy's frowning a little, like she isn't sure what to say or even if she should say anything at all but really wants too. Marie finally takes pity and asks; "Is something wrong Amy?"

"Oh, no it's nothing, its just… Ray and Robert sure do seem to fight a lot."

Debra starts laughing and Amy glances sideways at her, thinking maybe she'd said something rude. She's still not used to them; after all, it takes a while for anyone to get used to Frank's… TV viewing habits.

"That's nothing," she says sourly. "You want to see Ray argue? Because I can show you Ray arguing."

"No thanks," Amy says warily. "I'm not trying to be rude. It just seems like they don't get along very well. Their always bickering, and Robert, well, he kind of puts Ray down a lot."

It's true, sort of. Debra shrugs and listens to the boys fool around in their parent's basement, the occasional thump and indignant shout indicating that the argument is still going full force. To an outsider, Debra admits, it probably looks kind of violent.

"Ray's an idiot," she said, ignoring eloquence in favor of simplicity, and ignoring the glare she received from Marie for doing so. "Really, he won't say anything unless he can say it in a joke." She arches an eyebrow as there's a crash and a startled shriek downstairs. "They aren't really fighting you know."

"It sounds like a fight to me."

"Well, the thing is, you see them wrestling and brawling, but that's all it really is. They grew up together, and they see each other every day. They know what each others limits are, and they never push them too far."

"Some brothers play tag," Marie offers. "They wrestle."

Amy still appears skeptical. "So… you're telling me Robert smacking Ray upside the head is his way of playing?"

Debra nodded. "Well, sometimes. Sometimes, Ray just really needs a good smack upside the head."

The End

A/N: The 'Jerry Muso' scene is from the episode "Somebody Hates Raymond." The rest is inspired from personal experiences.