Hey there folks, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Ok, this story has nothing to do with Halloween, but it seems I finished it just in time for the holiday. My first ever post! That doesn't mean to go easy on me in reviews, because I need to know where I can improve! *sparkles*
A disclaimer is typical here, no? I don't own the turtles or their copyrights. There. Are you happy now? *sob* Are you happy that you've ruined my dreams?
Leonardo sighed, staring blankly at his bedroom wall. For all of his dedication to the art of ninjitsu and incredible capacity for focus, he was only just now beginning to comprehend one of life's toughest lessons: one cannot force oneself to fall asleep. No matter if that particular someone had woken themselves up well before dawn on the preceding day and spent the better part of said day vigorously overseeing the training of both themselves and their 3 brothers in the dojo. No matter if that particular someone had continued training well after said 3 brothers had been dismissed. No matter if that particular ninja turtle felt as though his bones and muscles were likely to liquefy and leave a less-than-appealing puddle of mush in his place if he didn't get at least one decent night's sleep, and soon.
No, it seems personal preferences aren't taken into account when it comes to such matters as these. The blue-banded turtle rolled onto his other side, rather viciously tossing his innocent pillow onto the floor. In the sliver of light coming from beneath his doorframe, he could easily make out its lumpy silhouette. Mocking him with promises of pillowy comfort and pleasant dreams that had yet to be fulfilled. He narrowed his eyes, fixing it with a glare that, if he thought to use it correctly, could easily make the accursed object burst into flames. After a few minutes of glaring, Leo found the act to be generally useless, and wondered how it was that Raph could find any satisfaction in simply glaring for so long.
Then again, he reflected, Raphael hadn't been glaring nearly as much as usual. At least, not in his general direction. When Leo could actually manage to catch his gaze, all he received was an awkward nod before the emerald green turtle seemed unable to continue looking. As a matter of fact, after what was commonly referred to as 'The Winters Incident,' his temperamental brother had been almost avoiding his older sibling. The mere thought of it caused Leo's stomach to clench uncertainly. He had talked to Raph about it, then to Master Splinter. Shell, he'd even made it a point to talk to the two of them together; he was sure he'd made it quite plain that both he and Raphael forgave one another (and that his actions and words were what had led to the fight to begin with, if one thought about it, as he had been sure to point out to their sensei), but his younger brother still maintained a distance he longed to bridge.
Mikey, Don and Master Splinter all treated him like he'd never left to begin with after a few days of getting back into the usual pattern. There were still moments of sudden silence where they seemed to remember his absence all at once, the occasional glance downward that mourned moments together that they had lost, but as he spent more time with his family, those moments, those glances, occurred less and less. Leonardo was unfathomably grateful for that, and at the same time he couldn't help resenting Raph, just a little bit. In the same moment this thought popped up, he batted it away with all the force he could muster.
Even before returning, he'd known it would be difficult to reach this particular brother. His staying gone had hurt Raphael - not that the stubborn ass would ever admit it, he thought with an annoyed huff- who already had issues with the leader of their group. The younger turtle was slow to trust and even slower to forgive, and he had known that it would be a struggle to regain a relationship from the second he'd seen him again. Adding in what he had said to his brother and the look on Raph's face after their fight (the memory still made him shudder slightly), he'd mixed himself a complications cocktail of massive proportions. Leo sighed again and got out of bed, trying to push these thoughts to the back of his mind as he padded towards the door and opened it, resigning himself to an inevitably mushy future. Hesitating for a moment, he turned and delivered a swift kick to where he imagined the smug face of his pillow to be before leaving it in the room to suffer.
Once the door had closed behind him, Leonardo hesitated again, unsure of what exactly he planned to do. He was strongly tempted to go for a run topside, but his logical side (which sounded a lot like a coffee-deprived Donnie in the early hours of the morning) strongly objected. Being tired could cause his focus to slip, and even now he could hear the trickling that signified substantial rain showers overhead. Leo shook his head: not worth the risk. There would be nothing interesting on television, and the mere thought of eating so late made him nauseous (how Mikey managed to eat anytime, anyplace, was a source of great contemplation). For a moment, he wondered idly why he'd even bothered leaving his bedroom. The door leading to the dojo caught his eyes as they wandered about his home. He felt no interest in running through katas alone: he'd done enough training on his own recently. His eyes moved on until they fell on Raphael's bedroom door, which was slightly ajar.
The eldest turtle tilted his head in interest; Raphael never left his door open. Could the younger ninja also be awake? He was known for frequent bouts of insomnia, and still had trouble getting used to sleeping at night after his run as the Nightwatcher. Leo took a couple of steps forward. If Raphael was awake, chances were he'd be up for a spar, which could leave an opening for his older brother to confront him on this strange distance he was keeping and maybe get them both some peace of mind. Gaining confidence, Leo crept up to the door, placed a palm to it, and pushed. He gave his eyes a few moments to adjust to the lack of light once more before creeping over to the bed. As he raised an arm to tap his brother on the shoulder, Leo froze.
Well this certainly wasn't what I expected.
Raphael was stretched out across his mattress, one leg sticking out from under his blanket as he snored softly. His right arm was slung widely across the bed, hung around the shoulders of none other than Donatello. The genius brother's lower body twisted awkwardly away from a drooling Michelangelo, who had somehow wormed between his two brothers and locked his arms around Raph in a death-grip only the truly asleep are capable of attaining. The eldest turtle found himself jealous of Mikey's ability to sleep so soundly, and fervently hoped his pillow was in massive amounts of pain. The orange-clad turtle shifted, murmuring something about 'the frosting of doom', and Raph shifted in turn so he could re-tighten his grip. A slow grin crept across Leo's face as he observed his little brothers, wondering how he, in all his ninja-fied glory, had missed two of them sneaking into Raph's room. The urge to spar currently forgotten, he straightened up, feeling a small pang in his chest as he remembered the days when they had all shared the same bed. Back when they had all been the same, more or less, and Raph had been his best friend. Becoming leader had changed everything.
"You gonna stand there and keep me awake all night, or are ya plannin' on goin' to bed?" Leo jumped as Raphael's voice unexpectedly interrupted his memories, then felt his face warm up as he realized how off-guard he'd been. He should have known Raph would wake up: the hothead was notorious for his ability to sleep through just about any level of noise if he so chose, but if he sensed a presence that was potentially dangerous, he could be awake in a matter of seconds. Leo had known that since they were young.
"I, uh- sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, I just…I couldn't..." The leader said, fumbling over his words uncharacteristically. Raph grunted, cracking an eye open in a half-hearted glare.
"Ya couldn't what?" He prompted sardonically. Leo blushed further, murmuring the word 'sleep.' "Well, that would make two of us, now, wouldn't it?" Raph grumbled while closing his eyes again. A frown pulled at the corners of Leo's mouth as he felt a familiar annoyance rise in his chest. He took a breath, fighting the childish urge to start quietly lecturing Raph for being such a-a huge jerk-face, noting that fatigue made it a lot harder to fight than usual, when his brother cut him off. "You gettin' in or what?"
Leo's eyes widened considerably and he found himself doing a rather passable impression of a fish as his mouth flopped open and closed in surprise. Had Raph just offered what it sounded like he'd offered? Was he joking? Could he be suffering from the same hard-to-control motor mouth that accompanied being half-asleep? Maybe he was just insane. As Leo stuttered a few more syllables, Mikey's eyes slid open and the youngest turtle pushed himself up onto his elbows.
"S'goin' on?" He slurred, peeking around the room with seemingly little interest. Raphael opened his eyes once more as he nudged his little brother back down. Leo smothered a snicker - obviously his red-clad brother didn't like the idea of losing one of his side-warmers to curiosity.
"Just Leo," he mumbled lowly. Mike glanced up, regarding the afore-mentioned brother blearily before lowering his head again.
"'Bout time he got here," he said with a yawn, "But he can't have my spot." This warranted a weak nudge from one of Donatello's legs.
"He can't take your spot if you're already in it, Mikey," the genius stated, voice muffled by a pillow.
"Uh-huh. I got it back fr'm you, didn't I? 'Sides, he c'd pull a super-ninja thing on's..." Came the reply, which was immediately followed by light snores. Leo smiled warmly at the display, and then became aware of Raph's eyes on his face. It was strange (to say the least) being the object of such sudden scrutiny after the past few weeks. As though the same thought occurred to him, Raphael turned his face away slightly, eyelids drooping against his will. The eldest brother thought for a moment before gently tapping Raph's wrist. The hothead reluctantly glanced up at him.
"Raph...We're...ok...Aren't we? I mean...You forgave me, didn't you?" Leo asked sadly. For a moment, it seemed Raphael wouldn't answer his question, but then he dragged his gaze upwards once again, surprised.
"Forgive ya? Leo, ya dumbass, s'far as I can tell, I'm the only one that did anything stupid," he said with a slight snort. "An' I know, I know, you forgave me, but it's - it ain't really about you forgivin' me anymore. It's more about- it's-" he sighed. "It just ain't about you. Forget it already."
Understanding came over Leonardo with a wave of relief and sympathy. It really wasn't anything to do with him, he realized suddenly. This had to do with Raphael being able to forgive himself. The leader felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. At the same time, he wondered if there was anything he could say to make the task easier for his brother. He concluded that the only thing he could do was give it time. But did that mean he couldn't take Raph up on the seeming-offer? He knew, somehow, that he would sleep better with his brothers, but still...Would Raphael think he was trying to rush things? If he didn't take the offer, would his younger brother think he hadn't meant it when he forgave him? The last thing he wanted was to offend his brother now.
Glancing at the bed, Leo observed his family once more, deliberating, then turned his head towards the door behind him. A decision so simple shouldn't be so hard to make, his sleep-deprived mind screamed, throwing a full-blown tantrum. He heard his hotheaded brother snort before a sharp pull on his bandana tails sent him sprawling across the bed with an undignified squawk. As he tried frantically to right himself, prepared to fight off an unknown enemy if need be, Leo became aware of an arm anchoring itself around his shoulders.
"Ya think too much, Fearless. Now, I'll tell you what I told them: don't drool an' don't hog the covers, an' I won't kick your ass tomorrow," Raph mumbled, tossing a portion of blanket over his legs. Leo stammered a little, flustered by the sudden show of affection, then smirked.
"You? Kick my ass? Maybe in your dreams. Though, from the looks of things, you'll have your hands full with Mikey tomorrow." Raph looked down and groaned, choosing to ignore the teasing insult in favor of using the corner of Mikey's blanket to wipe his plastron clean.
"Ah, c'mon, that's disgustin', Mike," he griped quietly. Leo noticed that he made no move to shove the youngest turtle away, and smiled a little.
Suddenly, falling asleep wasn't so hard to do.
Right, so tell me what you thought. Cause I get the feeling that maybe they're out of character, and the ending might feel rushed, so I'd like whatever you have to say to be said...If you don't mind reviewing??? For cookie dough people, remember that. This cookie dough is THE BOMB.