Stretching his arms widely as the new day broke; Raphael gave a ferocious yawn as he walked groggily down the stairs into the kitchen. Looking around with tired, harlequin eyes, he noticed the kitchen was empty excusing the appliances, the half-empty boxes of cereal strewn across the counter, and the glass-stained coffee pot which was just begging to be filled up with a fresh batch of steamy Joe.

"That's weird," Raph mumbled with a little yawn, "Usually Donnie's the first one up."

And it was true: Donatello or Leonardo, most of the time, but more frequently then not it was the purple clad turtle who got the day started.

"Must've been working late on some invention or somethin'," Raphael scoffed as he fished through the refrigerator for the carton of orange juice, "Pfff...Nerd."

Pouring the orange liquid slowly into a tall glass that sat on the maple-wood kitchen table, Raphael looked up abruptly and gasped as a thought shot into his mind. Before pursuing this thought, Raph engaged himself into 'ninja-stealth mode'. First, he turned his head sharply to the left-

"Alright, nobody there," he whispered out loud...

-Then the right...

"If I do it really quickly, nobody'll even know I did it at all."

And with that, Raphael tumbled out of the kitchen, through the living room: hiding behind every couch he came across before he had reached his destination.

"...Mornin', Spike," Raph hummed gently as he stroked Spike, his pet turtle with his forefinger on the top of his little head, "Got somethin' for ya."

Reaching into Spike's bowl, Raph pulled out an old half-eaten carrot and replaced it with a bright green lettuce leaf. Spikes smiled happily as he chomped on his breakfast.
"Didja have a good night sleep," Raph asked.

Looking up with big eyes, Spike stared blankly at his master before directing his attention back to his breakfast. Smiling contentedly, Raph-of course-took this as a 'yes'.

"That's good," Raph replied, "Didn't get much sleep myself. Had all kinds of crazy dreams last night! I've got those stupid Kraang to thank for that- those sons of...ah, never mind. They don't scare me! Now, I know what you're thinkin', Spike: if the Kraang don't scare me, then why'd I have a nightmare about 'em? Well, the truth is, buddy, I'm not scared of who they are: I'm just scared of what they coulda done...But I guess it doesn't really matter, right? As long as I got my pal-er, that's you, Spike-everything is-"

"Rrraph?..."

"H-HUH?"

Turning instantly, Raphael jolted up as he saw a sleepy Michelangelo wipe his cyan eyes tiredly.

"Mikey! I, uh, um-"

"Wwwhat's goin' on dude," Mikey mumbled with a yawn.

"Oh, u-uh-nothing! Nothing-I was-"

"Wait," Mikey hummed as a coy smile stretched across his freckled face, "Raph...You were you talkin' your pet turtle again, weren't you?"

"W-what," Raphael exclaimed boldly as the bones of his cheeks burned with the shade of crimson beneath his hunter green skin, "No!"

"Yes you were," Mikey proclaimed coolly as he crossed his muscle-bound arms confidently.

"P-prove it," Raphael protested, his face still flushed scarlet with agitation as he yelled.

"Well, your face is all red," Mikey pointed out with his cereal spoon as he crunched on his Cheerios, "And the only time I've ever seen your face get red is when you're embarrassed about somethin'. AND every time I call you out on talkin' to your pet turtle: which you were, by the way: you get super-duper embarrassed."

It wasn't that Raphael didn't like Spike: in fact, it couldn't be more opposite! He loved that little guy-he'd take a bullet for Spike! It's just that...Raphael had an image to uphold, and in that image, compassion didn't really fit in too well. So, when people saw his "soft-side", well, Raph got a little flustered...and his face had this nasty, uncontrollable habit of blushing stark red whenever his embarrassment started to show.

"'EMBARRASSED," Raphael exclaimed frantically as his cheeks flashed a bold shade of burgundy, "I AM NOT EMBA-"

"Mornin' guys," Leonardo interrupted happily as he walked into the kitchen with Donatello not too far behind.

"Good morrow, brethren," Donnie sang cheerfully as he fixed himself a cup of coffee, "Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphae-"

Donatello stopped short and stared as he took a good look at his red clad brother's face.

"Oh, I see," Donnie nodded, taking a sip from his coffee mug, "Raph's been talkin' to his turtle again, huh?"

"I HAVE NOT!"

"Well, of course you have," Donnie giggled as he sat down at the breakfast table, "Your face is as red as your mask: and you only blush like that when-"

"WHY THE SHELL DOES EVERYBODY ASSUME THAT I'M BLUSHING?! I'M NOT BLUSHING! TURTLES DON'T BLUSH! ...I...uh...I-it's just hot in here, that's all!"

"It's November, dude," Mikey commented confusedly.

Before Raph reached his youngest brother, which he surely would've strangled, if big-brother Leo didn't decide to step in.

"Alright, just calm down, Raphael," Leonardo reassured his brother, "It's nobody's fault here. I mean, YOU can't help it that your face gets so red-"

"My face is NOT getting red-"

"Well, then that's a pretty weird shade of green, if you ask me-"

"WELL, THEN- MIKEY- IT'S A GOOD THING NOBODY ASKED, YOU!"

"He's right, Raphael," Donnie chuckled as he looked closer at his brother's face, "Gee, you're red as a tomato!"

"To be honest, I've seen some paler than that," Mikey laughed as he elbowed his purple-clad brother in the plastron.

Trembling with humiliation as his brothers laughed at his expence, Raphael's face only grew more inflamed. As his cheeks burned with a vermillion tint, Raphael clenched his fists as he spoke to his brothers.

"For the VERY...last...time: and I'm gonna say it very,very slowly...I am not...turning...RED."

"'Not turning red'," Leonardo repeated as he wrapped his arm around his flush-faced brother with a laugh, "Now, c'mon, Raph: who do you think you're fooling here? We're your brothers: we can read you like a book-"

"Or, to be specific," Don snickered, "'The...Scarlet Letter! Ha ha ha!"

"HA HA HA HA," Mikey cackled as Donnie continued to chortle himself, "Aw, man- 'THE SCARLET LE-' Whoo! That's a good one, Donny! Ha ha! ...Wait, what's 'The Scarlet Letter?'"

As Leonardo began to chuckle himself, Raphael exploded from his eldest brother's grip as his cheeks immediately deepened along with his embarrassment into a bright shade of amaranth.

"Would you guys just quit it?!"

"Oh, lighten up, Raph," Donnie replied, calming down from his laughing fit as he wiped a tear from his ochre eye, "Everyone gets embarrassed-"

"Yeah," Mikey intruded, "They just don't show it as much as you!"

"YOU LITTLE-"

"Kiite-Kudasai!"

Immediately, the four turtles responded to the attention call of Master Splinter as he stared at his sons disapprovingly.

"Why are you not all in the practice room," the wise rat inquired.

"U-uh..."

"W-well, um..."

"We, uh..."

"Y' see, Sensei-"

"ENOUGH," Master Splinter ordered as he pointed his long, defined finger in the direction of the dojo, "You are already late enough. Go...NOW."

"Aye, Sensei..."

"Aye, Sensei!"

"Aye, Sensei."

"Aye, Sen-"

"One moment, Raphael," Master Splinter demanded as the whole group stood still.

"Hmmm," Master Splinter pondered as he stared as his red-faced son, "You are blushing, my pupil...Have you been talking to Spike again?"

Trying desperately not to laugh, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello grabbed their mouths as they pitifully attempted to stifle their laughter. Sneering at his brothers with his cheeks bright with embarrassment, Raphael sighed as he looked into the eyes of his master.

"...Aye, Sensei," Raphael replied quietly.

"Ah, just as I thought. Have you ever noticed, my son, your face always glows such a bright shade of red when you are embarrassed?"

"Aye, Sensei..." Raphael responded, trying to keep his patience.

"Yes, quite unusual," Master Splinter shrugged with amusement, "Proceed to the dojo, my pupils: and since you indulged so plentifully during your breakfast this morning, you should have no trouble practicing an hour later than usual, aye?"

"WHAT," Donatello shouted.

"Aw, c'mon," Raphael exclaimed.

"Bummer, dude," Michelangelo moaned.

"Sensei," Leonardo whined.

"AYE-perhaps you four would prefer two extra hours instead," Master Splinter suggested, inquiringly raising an eyebrow.

"...No, thank you."

"I'm good!"

"T-that's okay-"

"An hour's fine with me!"

"I wagered you'd all say that...heh heh."