Yakko climbed up the ladder with the groceries and opened the door to the tower.
"Okay sibs, I got…"
He broke off when he saw Dot sitting on the couch, pouting. He rolled his eyes, guessing the reason.
"Okay, what happened this time?"
Dot crossed her arms and glared deeper.
"He's such a jerk," she grumbled. Yakko resisted another urge to roll his eyes.
"Explanation, please?" he asked. Dot snorted.
"I was just sitting here, and he comes in with the dumb hat practically pulled down over his face. I asked what was going on and he went into his room and shut the door. I tried to ask again and he just yelled at me to go away."
She huffed and crossed her arms.
"If that's what I get for pretending to be considerate, I'm not even gonna bother."
Yakko frowned and headed down the hall to his brother's room with Dot following, undoubtedly relishing the scolding to come. But when they reached the door, she suddenly stopped.
"Do you hear that?" she asked. Yakko stopped, and his eyes widened. A soft sniffing sound was coming from behind the door. Slowly, he opened it and looked in. Wakko was curled up on the bed with his back to them. Both realized at the same time that the sniffling was coming from him.
As Dot stood at the door, Yakko slowly walked over. As he touched his brother's shoulder, he felt him tense. His frown deepened; something was definitely wrong.
"Wak, what's going on?"
"Nothing," he said quickly, his hat almost covering his face. Yakko turned his head, trying to see under it.
"If I was that gullible, I'd be in horror films."
He frowned when Wakko curled up tighter.
"Just leave me alone," he muttered.
Yakko squinted, then reached over and pulled the hat off. His jaw instantly dropped at what he saw.
"What the… What happened?" he asked, shocked. As an expert of physical comedy, Yakko knew a deliberate beating when he saw one.
His brother set his jaw and looked away, tears glistening in his eyes.
"Nothing, I'm fine," he said, but the quake in his voice made it clear he was struggling not to cry. Yakko reached over and gently turned Wakko's bruised face toward him. He heard Dot gasp.
"Wakko, look at me," he said softly but firmly. "Who did this to you?"
Wakko gulped and lowered his eyes as his lower lip started trembling.
"N-no one," he said shakily. "I… I fell."
Yakko raised an eyebrow.
"So, ahhh, you're telling me the ground split your lip, almost broke your nose, and gave ya a black eye?"
Wakko turned away again, as if he was still trying to hide it.
Yakko slowly climbed on the bed and wrapped his arms around his younger sibling. He felt him tense again, but didn't let go.
"Wakko, please," he said softly. "Just tell me what happened."
Sure enough, after a few minutes, the tension began to fade, replaced by trembling. Yakko felt a lump rise in his throat as quiet sobs reached his ears. He felt tears staining his fur as Wakko pressed closer to his chest.
"I d-didn't even… do anything…" he whimpered, and then broke off, seeming to shrink as he cried.
"Shh…" Yakko said gently. "It's okay… it's okay."
He looked up at Dot, who was still watching with wide eyes.
"Sis, can y' get some ice or something?"
She immediately nodded and hurried off without a word. A few minutes later, she came back in with an icepack and a wet washrag. Yakko smiled at her as she placed them in reach and quietly slipped back out. No doubt she'd be standing outside the door, listening. He turned back to Wakko and held him until his crying finally slowed and he managed to choke out the story.
Yakko felt a rare anger rising in him as he listened. He'd been mad before, sure, but only once in a great while did he feel rage like this. Nevertheless, he knew that the best thing to do at least for now was gulp it down and take care of his shaken sibling.
"It's okay, it's over." Yakko said. "No one's gonna hurt you now."
Picking up the rag, he gently wiped it across his brother's face, being careful of his black eye. He then took the icepack and placed it lightly on the eye. Wakko winced as he held it. Yakko smiled sadly.
"Guess you picked a bad day to leave your mallet at home, huh?" He was trying to lighten the mood, but Wakko looked down.
"I guess," he said softly, looking almost guilty. Yakko frowned, then sighed and placed an arm around his brother's shoulders.
"Wak," he said gently. "You know this wasn't your fault, right?"
Wakko shifted slightly, and then looked up with dull, sad eyes.
After trying to think for a minute, Yakko finally shook his head.
"I don't know," he said. "There's just people like that. They've got problems and think picking on smaller kids l' make them feel better."
Wakko frowned and cocked his head.
"That wouldn't make me feel better."
Yakko couldn't help smiling proudly at that.
Dot's ears pricked when the door to Wakko's room opened and Yakko stepped out.
"How's he doing?" she asked. Her brother smiled reassuringly.
"Okay now," he said. "But we should probably leave him alone for a bit."
Dot glared and crossed her arms.
"And by "we", you mean me?"
Yakko rolled his eyes and headed down the hall.
"Okay, okay… just don't ask about what happened, alright?"
Dot sighed, and then frowned.
"Hey, were r' you going?"
Yakko gave her a smile as he opened the door to the tower.
"Just out, I'll be right back."
Dot cocked her head curiously, and then shrugged. She immediately headed down the hall to Wakko's room, but hesitated. Despite what Yakko said, she would most likely end up asking about what happened. She couldn't help it; six year olds were just naturally curious. Finally, she turned and went back to the couch. She was familiar enough with her brother's moods to know he'd come out eventually, and she could wait.
About an hour later…
Yakko cracked his knuckles when he got to the top of the ladder. It had been a while since he put that much effort into a swing, and even longer since he used his big mallet. It would definitely take that guy a while to pry himself out of the pavement.
He opened the door to the tower and smiled when he saw his younger siblings sitting on the couch. Dot was apparently in the middle of talking, and Wakko was smiling; it wasn't his regular goofy one but at least it was genuine. Both looked up as Yakko stepped inside.
"Hey, where'd you go?" Wakko asked. Yakko smiled and walked over.
"Just to let Scratchy know what happened," he said. "Feeling better?"
"I'm okay," he said, gently touching his bruised eye. Yakko smiled and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't worry, it'll heal," he said, and then grinned slyly. "Besides, girls like scars."
He saw Dot roll her eyes. Wakko kept looking down for a minute, and then looked up with his familiar grin.
"Thanks," he said softly.
Yakko grinned back, but before he could reply, Dot startled him by scooting over and giving Wakko a quick hug.
"What?" she asked at their stunned looks. "I can be as nice as I'm cute."
Her brothers looked at each other, then Yakko rolled his eyes and headed down the hall to his room. Reaching into his hammerspace, he pulled out his mallet and opened the closet door. Even carried that way, it got pretty heavy after a while.
Yakko quickly turned to see his sister in the doorway, eyebrows raised.
"Need I ask?" she said. Yakko gave her a sheepish grin. Apparently that was answer enough. Dot crossed her arms and gave him a half smile.
"What about that corny after school special rule? 'Don't settle violence with violence'?"
Yakko shrugged and shoved the mallet into his closet.
"Well, sister sibling, when they made up that rule, they forgot about another one."
Dot cocked her head.
As he headed back to the hallway, Yakko gave her a smile and patted her shoulder.
"When you're a big brother, stuff like that doesn't count."
Disclaimer: I own nothing, unfortunately! This was just a little idea I had, and I hope you enjoyed it. Please review, and God bless!