~A Father's Pain~

Summary: Splinter always knew that Raphael was the Night Watcher, so why did he never say anything?

Disclaimer: I do not own TMNT. Though I do wish I owned the Night Watcher *Wishful fan-girl sigh*

A/n: I was rather surprised that in the movie Casey was the only one who figured out that Raph was the Night Watcher. I had a feeling that Master Splinter to, knew that the Night Watcher was Raphael, he just didn't say anything. And then I asked myself, why didn't Splinter say anything? Hence this drabble was born.

I had known that Raphael was the vigilante known as 'Night Watcher' long before my sons fight on the rooftop. After Leonardo left, I noticed a change in Raphael. The anger within his soul that I have been trying so hard to help him overcome seemed to have increased over night. I found that, no matter how hard I tried, I could not control him anymore.

Raphael soon stopped listening to everyone, and pushed us all aside. He wouldn't let us talk to him or help him deal with his pain. Instead he became more distant, drawing into himself and away from everyone else. I was afraid that soon there would be nothing left of my son but an empty shell.

I could feel his anger and pain much stronger down. I could feel the guilt and confusion wrestling in his heart and all his rage that, when I looked into his eyes, was all but pouring from his sockets. It pained me to see my son like this. It pained me to look into his tortured eyes, eyes that once had held so much warmth and compassion for everything in life, now shone as bright as the fires of Hell.

When Leonardo didn't return from his training when he was supposed to, something snapped inside of my son. Instead of seeing all the pain and anger in his eyes when I looked at Raphael, I saw instead carefully constructed walls that blocked me from seeing my son. He became silent and withdrawn, showing no signs of his previous emotions. He became impassive and in constant anger.

Soon he didn't spend any time with his other brothers. I would often hear him in the dojo late at night, grunting from exhaustion as he attacked his punching bag like a demon unleashed from Hell. Then one night, I didn't hear him anymore. Feeling worry start to bloom in my chest, I quietly walked into his room, only to discover that he was not there.

I instantly felt worry consume me for my son, and despite how much I yearned to go out and find him, and to make sure that my son was safe, something held me back from going after him that night. Instead I waited, hidden in the shadows, until he returned just as the sun was rising into a new sky. I didn't question Raphael, nor did I question him the next night when he disappeared, or the next. It did not surprise me to find Raphael gone every night, slipping out of the lair when his brothers were asleep and creeping back in early the next morning.

It was then that Raphael fell into a new pattern. He would leave in the dead of night, return early the next morning, and sleep most of the day. When he wasn't sleeping he was either working in the garage or working out in the dojo. Soon I noticed that whatever Raphael was doing at night, was starting to change him physically. On the rare moments when he would be with his other brothers, it was hard not to notice how much wider Raphael had become. His shoulders, which had always been broad, were now more so, and the muscles in his arms and shoulders were considerably bigger and more defined then they had been previously.

It made me wonder, what it was exactly that my son did when he disappeared at night. Then one day, whilst Raphael was sound asleep in his room, I sat down to watch the news, and saw a lot of news bulletins for a strange new vigilante dubbed as the Night Watcher. And somehow I knew that this was my son. A feeling deep inside me told me that the Night Watcher, that this metal-wearing vigilante, was my son.

I never did ask Raphael about it, but it was obvious then, why he left every night. Raphael was, by all means, a warrior, and the warrior that he was could not sit by and live a normal life, like his other brothers were falling into. Raphael could not sit around all day, he had to be out there fighting and protecting. It is who he is.

Soon both Donatello and Michelangelo noticed Raphael's strange new sleeping patterns and the new battle scars he occasionally came home with, but I don't think they made the connection that Raphael was the Night Watcher. Sometimes I saw Michelangelo studying Raphael with a frown, as if he were trying to figure something out, but in the end he would just shrug and go back to whatever he had been doing previously.

I wondered, as I mediated through the night, waiting for Raphael to return home from his activities, if this new vigilante role was a way for helping him cope with his older brother's continued absence. I knew better. I knew Raphael could only push aside his feelings for a while before they would return again, as they did when Leonardo returned from his training.

After the fight on the rooftop and saving Leonardo from the Stone-Generals, something inside of Raphael seemed to have calmed. The anger was still there, but I had learnt that the anger was a part of who Raphael was, and if it was gone, so to would Raphael. But know it was easier for Raphael to keep his anger in check. He no longer tried to hide his emotions behind a wall fa├žade. He no longer tried to push us away and slowly, he began to tighten the ties with his brothers that had been all but severed before.

I admit I was rather surprised when Raphael came to me after the fight with the Stone-Generals, offering to me his Night Watcher helmet, an offer that he was no longer going to hide behind the metal suit. And though our family is now, for lack of a better word, happy and whole once more, I cannot help but wonder if Raphael will ever pick up the Night Watcher helmet again.

After all, it is who he has become. Donning the Night Watcher gear helped Raphael in the end to overcome the turmoil within him and protect his family in a time of need.

So the Night Watcher helmet sits proudly on my shelf, for now forgotten. But that doesn't mean I don't clean it every once in a while.

Just in case.