Waiting Rooms

A/N: this is all SilverSmile's fault. After Empty Rooms she asked me if I would write one about Leo going through Raph's room. So during a very long car trip, this is what I came up with.

Leonardo stormed into the room with carefully controlled strides, just managing not to slam the door behind him. Raphael had left the Lair without permission again, and Leo had been unable to stop him. Again. 'I swear I don't understand him sometimes,' Leo fumed silently, 'I just- wait, this isn't my room…' and indeed it was not. Somehow he had stormed into Raphael's room as his mind was clouded by anger. He turned to leave, intending to retreat to his own room, but something stopped him. He really didn't want to talk to anyone, not yet, and after a big row like that, Donatello or even Master Splinter would probably be walking by his room soon. 'And it's not like Raph will be back anytime in the next few hours,' he thought bitterly. Taking a deep breath he tried to center himself, realizing that his current state of mind would get him nowhere. When he opened his eyes they drifted slowly over the room surrounding him.

He had been in his younger brother's room before, usually to drag his protesting and often violent sibling out of bed and into practice, but he hadn't really looked. The room had significantly more in it than Leo's own, but it was definitely less cluttered then Michelangelo's- perhaps even cleaner than Don's. Of course, Raph's free weights held the place of honor in the room. 'Probably why he keep it so clean,' thought Leo, half approving, half dismissing. 'He'd need a clear place to use them.'

It the corner there was strung a rope hammock in which Raph spent his nights. When Leo was a child he had suffered from a terrible and paralyzing fear of heights. He had conquered it, obviously, and could spend as much time as needed in any place that the situation required, but the thought of voluntarily spending every night suspended precariously in the air… but, really, he supposed that the hammock was Raphael all over again. Complicated, unstable, but undeniably comfortable, at least for short periods. Underneath the bed, and Leo used the term lightly, there were several boxes. Leo didn't open them. Not only would it be a gross invasion of his brother's privacy, but he already knew what Raph had stashed in there. And no, not because he had sneaked around and looked in them before. No, it was simply his job as leader to be aware of everything that could affect the performance of his team. But he figured that the few beers and random magazines that Casey had passed to Raph were acceptable- especially since their father had never broached the subject, and Leo would bet his katana that Sensei knew about it. Instead he found himself drifting past a small bookshelf tucked away in the far corner, as if hoping to be overlooked.

There were a surprising number of books on the shelf. It wasn't that Leo didn't think that Raph read; it was more the difficulty of actually obtaining readable books. As turtles in the sewers, they had very little access to conventional book stores. Most of what they read came from dumpsters or was fished out of sewers, and yet Raphael had an impressive collection of novels. Most of them were just that, novels, fiction. Flipping through them it was obvious that Raph preferred crime stories and conspiracy plots, but Leo also found a battered copy of Agatha Christie and a collection of Grimm's fairy tales. Raphael was lucky that it was Leonardo perusing his things, or he would never had a moment's peace again. 'Not that it isn't tempting,' mused Leo before shaking his head and reluctantly returning the books to the shelf.

Leo didn't open any of the drawers that made up Raph's much battered dresser. Instead he ran a finger along it's surface, marveling at the amount of dust that his brother allowed to accumulate there. But he also took notice of the toolset, partially unrolled across its surface. Everything there was well taken care of, as were the various parts that littered the surface. Leo could only assume that they were replacements for when things went wrong with the red banded turtle's bike, but at least one looked like it would be better suited in a sink somewhere. 'Of course, that could be what it is for,' thought Leo, frowning. For people, or turtles, and especially brothers, as different as they are, Raph and Donny spent a surprising amount of time together. Without killing each other. Not a small accomplishment. 'Why couldn't Raph help Don with some of the things that go wrong around the Lair? Not everything requires Donatello's scarily large intellect to fix,' Leonardo thought slowly, ashamed of himself for never realizing this before, for never taking the time that, looking back, it was obvious Raphael had.

There was a punching bag hanging silently in the corner. It wasn't as large as the one in the dojo down stairs, and there was limited room, but it was obviously well used. In fact, it was sewn up far better than master Splinter's fingers had managed of late. Leo supposed that Raph had had a lot of practice, what with how often he turned his sies on the poor defenseless bag. Still, Leo wished that he could talk to Raph rationally once in a while. He would ask his younger sibling to take over the mending of Master Splinter's clothing. As much as he didn't want to think about it, Leo knew that their father's fine motor skills were waning. He was still a fearsome fighter, more than a match for anyone around, but when it came to the small things like writing and sewing… sometimes, when he was feeling especially brave or morose Leonardo would think about the future and what that would inevitably bring. His biggest fear was that he would be unable to keep the family together, especially the brother in whose room he was standing.

Raph never listened to Leo, at least not when he could possibly help it, and even then he seemed to question and second guess the eldest at least half of that. If Raph couldn't trust him now, how could he expect any more after his father's death? Donatello would probably still do as he asked, but Michelangelo always had the tendency of trailing after the more volatile of his elder brothers- and if that happened, if they were separated, drifted apart… what would be his purpose then?

Leo sat abruptly in Raphael's hammock, unconsciously clutching the dull red pillow as it tumbled toward the gravity well of his presence. Raph had wanted to be leader for as long as Leo could remember. Well, at the beginning they had all wanted to. Don was the first to give up the dream. Well, maybe give up was too strong a word, lose interest would be better. Even then Donny was more interested in building the better car then going into battle, even if said cars were still of the remote variety. Mikey, well, Leo was never quite sure just how serious their younger brother had ever been about being the leader. He had always piped up whenever they had their tussles over who was the 'bestest and the strongest' but often it seemed more to just be included than anything. Even Leonardo had stopped viewing every challenge as a way to prove that he was better than his brothers. Instead he became absorbed in his training as a way to insure their safety. He hadn't even considered that this would make him an ideal candidate for Leader in Splinter's book; he had just needed to protect them.

Raphael though, he had wanted to be leader with all of his heart. Raph really had been the bravest and the strongest, the first to rush in, and the last to retreat, but in the end that hadn't been enough for him to surpass his elder brother. Leo sometimes felt guilty for taking that away from the younger turtle. It was certainly still a sore point between them, but he honestly believed that Raphael would despise the weight and responsibility that came with the job that Leonardo had been handed. Sometimes even Leo despised it, sometimes like these times. He shook his head and deliberately put aside the pillow he had been unconsciously strangling. It didn't matter that Raph had left without permission, it didn't matter that it would be left to Leo to take the heat from Splinter, protecting again, it didn't even matter that Raphael would rather be roaming the streets of the surface world then spend time with his family… it didn't matter if- 'What is this?' Leo thought distractedly, tugging at the paper that had been poking him relentlessly in the thigh. 'Not paper. A photograph?' he questioned. Not only was it a photo, but it was a picture of their family. Leo thought that it was taken during Raph's last birthday party. It had to have been a recent one, anyway, because they were all in the picture- Casey or April must have snapped it.

Raph was in the middle, trying to look as though the whole affair both bored and bothered him, but managing neither. Splinter sat beside him, proud and happy of all his sons, but a clawed hand rested gently on Raphael's shoulder this day. Donatello stood to Splinter's left, holding a piece of cake in one hand. Leo stood behind and between the seated forms of Splinter and Raph. His arms were crossed loosely over his plastron and the camera had caught him in a slightly awkward expression. It seemed as though he had just opened his mouth to say something to Donny. Michelangelo sidled in from the far left of the frame, ending up just to Raph's right, in a perfect position to give both of his oldest siblings bunny ears.

He was slightly surprised that Raph would have such a picture lying around, but that Leo hadn't seen it before- it must have been under the younger turtle's pillow, and judging by the worn edges and creases, it had been there for quite some time. Raph ...cared? No, Leo was being unfair. He knew that Raph cared for the family, he knew that he cared whether they lived, died, or were hurt. He even cared, marginally, about whether they were happy, but this- this was something different.

Carefully Leonardo stood, put the picture at the head of the hammock and placed the pillow back over it. He had a lot to think about. Raph was rather more complicated then Leonardo liked to admit at times, his actions motivated by more than Leo would credit him. 'Fairy tales?' But really, perhaps Leo needed to reevaluate how he looked at his hot headed brother. Perhaps Raph's blatant disregard for Leonardo's authority, council, and concern was just a smoke screen, or at least driven by more than just pettiness. 'Or maybe Raph can just be a shell for brains.' Leo sighed. Whatever the answer he would not find it here, and it would be best if Raphael did not find him here either.

He looked back at the room as he opened the door. It lacked the clutter of Donatello's and it was not the disaster area that was Mikey's, instead it was comfortably askew without being disorderly. 

Lived in. this was not an empty room, it was just… waiting. Leo closed the door softly. If the room could wait with so much patience, perhaps he could too.

A/N: I hope that you enjoyed this oneshot. Please leave a review if you can!

p.s. and to whom it may concern-(I'm really very sorry for not posting more on Absence, but a hole lot of bad and/or time consuming stuff is happening at the moment, so I'm afraid that this is all that I have to offer you guys at the moment. Sorry again– till later, D.R'N.)