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1

The first time Raphael understood what it was like to have an older brother was when he met Casey Jones. What started off as a physical representation of the intense and aggressive feelings Raphael had been suffering ended with the begging’s of a new friendship. At the end of their three hour long skirmish the unlikely duo had settled on a local park bench. A six pack between them. Raphael’s first of many beers, not that Casey need know.They’d, after a long comfortable silence, begun to introduce themselves.

“Freak” became “Raph”, “Psycho” became “Case”. And with that any last-minute lingering hostilities melted. There had been a brief description of the life he lived and how he came to be. Casey had taken a long quiet sip after hearing the quicker less dignified retelling of Raph’s origin. Casey’s story hadn’t been as elaborate. He’d had a pretty default kind of life being born and bred human being. Grew up in some run down council block and was left with several mental health issues when his father died. Pretty standard.

Despite their first meeting some sort of back-alley death match, no hard feelings had been brought into this conversation. He laughed and shook his head in disbelief. “So not only ya a weird sewer freak, but a weird sewer ninja freak?!” It hadn’t been said in a disgusting tone like before. It was humorous and light. “No wonder, worst god damned punch I’ve ever had…” Raph had taken the compliment highly, but still offered back a retort along the lines of ‘Casey’s “mug beggin’ for it”. He’d instantly found recognition in his words. He’d heard them many times from his younger siblings. Whenever big old brother Raph gave a complement, both his siblings would light up with glee, and send back cheeky replies. They would act as if it hadn’t meant a thing, when really it had.

The next few weeks he’d found himself obliviously sticking to Casey like glue. They’d set into an organised ritual almost instantly. Meet up, find some purple dragons, bust some skulls, grab a beer and gloat over their current victory. It was as if they’d been doing it for years. He was seeking the validation he’d always been seeking. At first it was clear it was because he was human. While Raphael understood how special and important he and his family were, he would ask nothing short to walk among people in the daylight. To be accepted, and friends, with the once mythical human being was almost a novelty. But as time passed Casey became more of a ‘male figure’ to him. In his eyes Mr Jones was what a man should be. The kind of man he’d hope to become; strong, gallant, charismatic and just a tad cocky. He begun to seek the kind of validation he simply couldn’t seek from his father. Casey knew but it didn’t bother him. When he looked at Raph he didn’t exactly see a man, but he didn’t exactly see a kid. He saw a fellow soul in need of the same kind of guidance he needed: anger management.

But while Raph held Casey in the highest regards it did not mean he wouldn’t challenge him. It was no different to how Mikey and Donnie treated Raph: Natural hierarchy rivalry. Yet it was refreshing for him to be on the other side of that rivalry for once. There was no pressure to be a certain person or play a specific role. Casey expected nothing from him and Raph nothing from Casey. It was far from the reality he and his brothers endured. He could show off, gloat and feel proud for once. Seeking well deserved attention was no longer frowned upon and emotions could slip without repercussions. 

Growing up hadn’t been difficult. It had been severe. Mutation was somehow the worst thing and the best thing that’d happened to Raphael ironically. It did not excuse the kind of childhood he had to endure however. When Splinter had introduced the idea of martial arts to the three young boys they’d been excited, keen even. Their lives had been restricted. Any distraction was welcomed and so the three turtle tots did not complain when their father, and now Sensei, huddle them up in a warm blanket and begun to teach his first lesson. First of thousands.

Raphael had been the enthusiastic. He’d read about human sports from rotted magazines that’d been thrown down through sewer pipes into their home. It was 1988 and the Ultimate Warrior had just won intercontinental Heavyweight Championship and every sports article was retelling the same tale. It had been perfect timing. When Raphael had first read it (or more so when Splinter had read it out to him and then explained what wrestling was and what a championship was) he knew exactly what he would like to be. Looking down at the man unable to contain both his passion and raw energy, the bright rainbow stripes of cloth hanging from his straining biceps, the colourful face paint that signified war on those against him and love for those with him, he knew what he would like out of life. To be a warrior of ultimate power. Respected. Loved. So, when training first begun no turtle took it more seriously. He listened carefully to Splinters samurai tales of heroic Japanese men and their honour almost longingly. He practiced when he could and sometimes pushed things to far for his young body. He asked questions and respected the teachings as best as he could.

He was working near thrice as hard as his younger siblings and Splinter saw the raw determination and focus of the warrior Raphael had the protentional to become. But he also saw something else, vulnerability. Splinter did what he could. On one hand he would train his eldest son to lead, to protect and of how to maintain honour. On the other, he would help him manage his feelings, help him cap the budding temper within him and teach him of the importance of love. Determined Splinter begun to work thrice as hard on Raphael.

The child understood what it meant to be a big brother. Although rougher, snappier and easier to agitate than his brothers he was protective, encouraging and loving. Later in their lives when befriending April, she would call him a teddy-bear for these exact qualities. But he was always rough around the edges no matter how hard his father tried to smooth them out. As he grew older he would become unconfident, self-loathing and defensive. He would constantly need his father’s approval for everything and no matter how much praise he’d get, he would feel weak. Worthless even. He had trouble containing his emotions and had trouble sharing them. Always one extreme and never in-between. This had made him independent in their preadolescent years where his brothers had become more dependent on him. Where Raph sought privacy, solitude and spent most of his free time honing his skills, he brothers did the opposite. They’d been clingy as kids but as young teens that were pretty much unbearable 70% of the time. When this encouraged aggressive antisocial behaviour, Splinter quickly offered meditation, mindfulness, and other therapeutic techniques. While they softened his spirits, they did not help the confusing emotions boiling within him. His internal struggles Splinter could only guide so far. He was beyond proud of his son wherever Raphael accepted it or not. In the present day, he looked on his son a fine warrior worthy of leading his clan. A fine brother and a fine man. What he did see, was parenting mistakes. Where he encouraged self-sacrifice, he did not see the future drop in his son’s self-worth. Where he promoted independence, he did not foresee the neglect his younger son’s would receive.  So when Raphael met Casey Splinter had made a silent prayer in hopes that this would correct his mistakes. While the new-found friendship gave his son some personal relief and a break from the burdens of leadership it did not bridge the gap Splinter had created. It seemed Raphael had received the kind of support he had been searching for all along but this new perspective was lost on him. He did not see the effects his attitude, behaviour and new found friendship had on his brothers.

And now things had reached their boiling point.

 

2

Donatello had always felt a failure; A slow invaluable asset. Since the start of his training considered himself an unskilled fighter. Not as talented as Michelangelo and not as driven as Raphael. He’d always looked at his big brother in awe. He was the family’s pillar of strength and a roof that sheltered them from dangers untold. The love he felt for his big brother was uncompressible. In their childhood Raphael had always been there to offer a bear hug when the storm drains filled with frightening sounds and had always been on protective guard duty when father would leave in search of supplies. His mind was filled with fond memories of three children that had once been so close. When they’d begun to train Raphael had begun to grow up.  And for the first time Raphael left them behind. And Donatello always feared one day he would forget to look over the rim of his shell back at them and run so far ahead he’d just disappear. Now more than ever that fear was ever present. While the arrival of Casey Jones and April O’Neil was wonderful it held many drawbacks. The main draw back the fact it aided Raphael in reclining from the comfort of his family. By gaining two siblings he felt he’d lost one.

Hunched over the computer screen he blinked away the sleep from his eyes. The blue haze of the monitor was no longer visible. Donatello was lost on his own thoughts.

He was remembering their first reading lesson. Due to the available resources at the time, it been a year into their training. While Splinter had taught them to talk well and he had taught them to spell, he had found the art of reading far more difficult to teach small children without the proper resources. Donatello had helped with writing and spelling. It seemed he had a memory like a library. It didn’t even matter if he understood what a word meant. If Splinter said it once, he knew how to spell it and how to write it down. When the rat had found their first tattered dictionary and an old nursery rhyme book he had begun teaching and no one picked it up better than Donnie did. Mikey was a slow learner but that was more to do with focus rather than ability. Raphael however struggled. He struggled to remember spellings, recite the alphabet and was terrible when it came to proper pronunciation. He spoke like the people above and as Donatello would later tease, “uneducated”. But Raphael had been determined, desperate almost, to learn. Splinter had liked it when they read things right and therefore Raphael had wanted to read it better than ‘right’. He’d ask his little brother for help when the baby brat had gone to sleep. They’d spend near an hour each night quietly going over the dictionary until Raphael got things right. He remembered how grateful Raphael had been. How he had said thank you each night after their little study session and how he’d called Don ‘simply da best’. He remembered it well. It was the first time he’d ever felt useful.

It was a slippery slope down the rabbit hole after that. Donnie loved to read all he could get his hands on. If he wasn’t the best fighter of the three he would find other way’s the be useful. To be of value to the family. As their situations improved, their skills and their resources, Donatello trained to become so much more. An engineer; a technician; pharmacist; nurse and doctor; inventor; walking encyclopaedia. He’d become, in Michelangelo’s words, “an absolute wizard dude”. And apparently that was just rad. Mikey was proud, Splinter was proud and so was Raph. Yet still he didn’t feel he met up to his big brother’s expectations. He was sure Raph saw Don as oversharing and submissive. He was no match for him, yet still many times he tried to gain respect by challenging him. It never ended they way Don hoped. He was constantly searching for that approval. And he thought at this rate he might search forever. They were 12 when Raphael first withdrawed from them. He simply one day stopped sharing a bed with his brothers. Asked Splinter for his own spot with promising eyes and begun to set up camp elsewhere. It had been the first step up the ladder of independence. Nothing for them to take offence at. He had been the eldest brother after all. He was pre-destined to grow up first. It was near funny to think that something as simple as that had been the start of heartbreak. After that small act he quickly became aggravated by his lack of privacy and by the presence of his brothers. Now that he was older Donatello could guess it probably all triggered off because he’d begun to enter their own special version of ‘puberty’. But little Don had not known that at the time and it did not justify the actions nor the withdrawal of his big brother. The two young turtles in those years did not understand Raphael’s absence and had begun to cling even harder like most children do.

Michelangelo had always craved attention. It was a natural part of his personality. He had this special ability where even the loudest of whines could sound almost endearing. He was the baby and he was both demanding and cocky about that fact. When the change begun, Mikey sought other ways of gaining Raph’s attention with did not aid the situation at all. He’d begun to set up jokes and pranks to gain the attention he craved and with hopes to draw Raphael in. He got pummelled nearly every day or even worse when the prank involved bugs of any sort, but to him, it was worth it. Raphael never hurt him (too much that is) and always forgave him afterwards. It was a clear sign of affection towards the baby brother that made Raphael’s distance bearable to him. But Mikey had always been different. A people person Don thought. Where he was highly empathetic, and respecting of Raphael’s changes Don was both jealous and hurt by it all. For him, the pillar crumbled with each passing day. He felt starved of any connection and no matter how much Mikey understood, he felt just as pushed aside as Donatello did. Raphael did not connect on any level deeper than basic mandatory interaction. He plain out refused to open-up and share. He resembled something more akin to a lonely old man that hated the world than a young spunky rebellious teenager. He kept everything pent up within himself. Unlike everyone who let out steam bit by bit he waited for his gatherings with Casey and released all the steam in one go. He took it one violent outburst at a time. All pent-up rage directed towards either foot or purple dragon. And still both siblings knew Raphael did not share the thoughts or feelings with Casey after those violent outbursts. No. he just dangled he legs off the roof ledge, made a few dick jokes and then drank it down. Sure he'd come back later and self-reflect over some meditation but he never found what he was searching for in his mind. Don assumed that Raphael was as clueless as they were. He had no idea why he did half the things he did emotionally, and Don was more than 90% certain Raphael did not even know how withdrawn he was from his family. Either that or he was in denial. Both were hard pills to swallow.

He gave out a small sigh so small it barely made a noise, and harshly dragged his fingers tips back and forth across his brow. He was tired. More than tired. But he couldn’t have a coffee. No, not after all the energy drinks he’d consumed this evening after his morning coffee routine. No, he’d probably have a heart attack. Yet he doubted he could sleep even if he tried. It was a strange kind of tired. Your body was heavy and hurt, but your mind softly buzzed wide awake. It was okay. He needed to stay awake anyway.

Needed to wait up for Raphael to return. He’d looked hurt when he’d left Splinter’s room before heading straight out the door to meet Casey. He wanted Raphael to see him when he got back indoors. Wanted to make sure his big brother was okay even if he’d just grumble, tell him to sleep and then ignore him.

He needed to remind him that he cared enough to wait for him.

 

3

Raphael groaned, not from pain, but from his thoughts. He was heavily conflicted by two key emotions: stubbornness and guilt. He hunched over his knees as much as his shell would accommodate and his arms rested in his lamp limply. There was no use thinking about the technicalities of his upbringing and why he was the way he was. It didn’t change the past and it wouldn’t change now. Something cold bumped against the back of his skull and he half hummed half grumbled a noise of gratitude. He sat up straight and grabbed the can. Looking down he titled the can and paid some attention to the branding design on its side. He didn’t care. Casey only bought one brand of beer: Heineken, and he didn’t need to look at the can to know that. He was avoiding his thoughts as always.

Casey plopped himself next to Raphael, one leg bending at the knee and pointing up at the sky, the other dangling over the roof’s ledge without fear of falling. He rested a weary arm on the bend of his knee and carefully sipped at his beer.

They sat in uncomfortable silence and drank. Every now and then Raphael found himself glancing at Casey’s profile. He was unshaven, scruffy even. The skin around his lower eye lid was purple and puffy. There were fresh cuts raw and red. His untamed masculinity was still ever present no matter how battered and bruised he got, so his battle scars remained unbandaged. Raphael frowned. It was 1999 and he was 17 going on 18. That meant he’d been battling the foot for nearly three years. How such a short amount of time had aged them greatly. Their talents had earned the Shredders first flesh appearance in the last year. Apparently, their efforts had reached the head honcho and he was not impressed by the mutant scum that threatened to crush his empire. The last time they’d seen him they’d been one step closer to avenging their father’s great master Yoshi. So close to fully validating the upbringing they’d endured; so close to finally gaining Splinter’s undying approval as both father and sensei. About six months ago the TMNT were under the impression that had defeated The Shredder, Oroku Saki, head of the foot clan and had brought the blood-stained helmet and cloak to their father to mount on his wall. Two months later long after the disappearance of the foot clan, Raphael was heavily ambushed during the soft snowfall of December. If it hadn’t been Casey’s annoying insistence he help Raphael’s carry some Christmas decorations from the sewers to April’s apartment he was more than sure he’d have died. The two of them had crashed landed into April’s apartment and shattered the window behind them in retreat. Both had looked like pain personified. They couldn’t look after their injuries. They needed to get out of the house. The foot was crashing in close behind them and throwing their deadly weapons through the window. They’d manage the escape and make a b-line for Casey’s farm house.

Splinter had been taken along the way. Stolen and held captive by Oroku Saki. Raphael had failed violently. For the first time the family felt truly lost and Raphael felt he had not learned a single thing from his father stories. His confidence plummeted along with his health. With careful observation from Donatello, and distractions from Michelangelo, both Raph and Case were quickly brought back into good health. But their spirits where as rotten as everyone else’s.

It was their first honest experience of adulthood. The kind of experience their fights against the foot could not prepare them for. Black eyes and crushed ribs were no competition to the pain left by their father’s capture. Getting him back had been the hardest testimony to Raphael’s skill. Unable to rely on the fall backs of his Sensei, he pushed forward, and led his brothers towards a battle they’d gratefully won. After their return to New York and a long period of intel gathering they managed to locate Splinter’s whereabouts and fight off the endless troops to get to him. As a leader he had maintained an overprotective yet distant position. Ever focused on the safety of his immediate family and concerned with the potential wellbeing of his father. He had originally prepared himself for the worst where everyone had been hopeful. His younger siblings had tried many a time to reach him past a subordinate level, but unless it was to talk about a strategy plan he showed no interest in talking, nor listening. They ended up giving up and simply settled for just one another when it came to emotional support. He’d had always rejected anything that broke down his strong resolve even before this. It was during this period did they see the cold contrast to Raphael’s hot temper. April had not thought someone so soft and emotional could be so hollow. It left a wound in the family even after Splinter’s rescue.

The Shredder probably felt now how a dog who’d been shot in the leg did: Kicked down and out of sight. This chilly night marked a month since the rescue of master Splinter. Yet Casey’s face was living proof that some things just don’t heal all that well or quick. He wasn’t any better off. His leathered skin was marred; littered with cuts that would morph into fresh scars. One of the worse cuts had been made on his left cheek just two centimetres left from his eye and one centimetre down. A long stripe made by the swipe of a long katana Raphael had just about been able to duck. It was more the location that made it one of the worse. But it hadn’t mattered too much when April reassured him that women liked a man with heavy scars. That it signified strength and protection. What he didn’t like so much was the fact his right eye was still badly swollen. It wasn’t as darkly coloured as Casey’s but it still hurt like an absolute bitch.

“You’re meant to drink your beer not finger it.”

Casey’s ushered tone woke Raphael from his thoughts. He’d been strumming the can’s key pull up and down with his thumb nail since he’d taken it. Even now he still did it but stopped after he finally heard the horrid metallic clunk it made. It was one of those sounds that made the top of Casey Jone’s spine rattle and it seemed he’d had enough of listening to it for one evening. Raph pressed down the keyring pull with the pad of his thumb in silence. “What it do?” He made a questioning noise of irritancy to convey his lack of hearing for his human friend and nudged his head to look at him. “Something’s eating at ya gunk-for-brains. So, what it do?”

The turtle’s head swayed from the left to the right and hesitantly he opened his beer and begun to sip. On a normal night he’d tell Casey Jones to mind his ‘own fuckin’ buiz’ and that would be that. But Splinter’s little father-to-son talk earlier on had changed that. Avoiding this subject would prove his father right. He swept his eyes as far away from Casey as his sockets would allow and pressed the cold can to the left of his swollen jaw. It covered half his face from Casey’s questioning gaze.

Daddy issues…”

“Oh yeh?”

“Just family drama. Nothing too serious.”

“Right.”

Case didn’t believe that, and the turtle knew full well of that fact. The human’s responses were sarcastic. If Raphael’s can hadn’t been full he’d flunk it right about then. Call it a night and wave him off. But that wouldn’t be right. No. So he braced himself and began to figure out how to say what he needed to say.

Splinter had called him in on a matter of urgent importance. It had nothing to do with training nor a mission. He’d called it “a matter of the heart that could no longer be avoided”.  He had no idea what that had meant at the time. Splinter relayed the thoughts and feelings of the family during his time prisoner. He talked of his younger brothers, the effects on them before Splinter’s abduction and the effects on them now. He talked of the small secrets both let slip in his presence. Their worries for the future and their heartbreaks. All in relation to Raphael’s behaviour prior and after the horrid affair.

“My son. You are strong, gallant and hardworking. You have taken my lessons, my teachings, and applied them well to protect this family, and to keep your brother’s safe. I have always been proud of my decision regarding you becoming this clan’s successor and I would not wish to go back in time and change a thing. However,” Raphael had somehow known there was going to be a ‘but’ somewhere in the praise. “I am afraid that while sticking to these teachings I have passed on to you, you have allowed the responsibilities you handle alone to cloud your judgment, and perhaps, your spirit.” His father’s voice had been full of worry and love, but Raphael only saw disappointment. “Yes, you have been there for your brothers. Protected them and loved them. I would never doubt such a thing.  Yet over the course of years before this chapter in our lives, even before the appearance of the foot, you have closed your heart off. And while we deserve to bask in the afterglow of such a victory I cannot ignore the damage I have caused in you any longer. It is this damage that makes your brothers afraid.”In the time of his father’s absence Raphael had put every effort into finding him. He had neglected the friends who helped and his own brothers. If they weren’t trying to look they weren’t trying hard enough. That had been attitude at the time. Stop crying and get up off your ass. He stood on guard duty each night fearful own of his siblings might disappear if he didn’t, but he did not console. His father was being tortured, or worse, was dead, so he could not afford to waste time on tears.

“I understand your fears my son. I understand why you supress the emotions that you do. That you are a pillar of strength that supports this family along side me. How you fear even the slightest act of vulnerability will crack the marble.” No matter how much Raphael tried to hide he was always laid bare before his father. A book well worn lack the tattered dictionary from their childhood.  “I thought I taught you the importance of brotherhood, trust and love. But I fear I taught you more about the application on the battle field outside and not the one in your heart. Your brothers will always love you. And while you will always hold their respect, you risk one day losing their hearts. Do you understand?” He’d said he’d had but he hadn’t really.

What did his father expect? You raise your kid to be a ruthless ninja, a killer, an assassin and a wall between his brother’s and the rest of the world. You teach him that his emotions can cause the worst mistake imaginable on the battle field. That the wrong decision could be fatal. That the heart had no place along the sai. You tell him to control his emotions; his rage and his fear, harness them and channel them away so you can be hollow and make the right choices that weren’t the best for you, but the best for those you surround yourself with. The importance of self-sacrifice and teach him to be prepared to give his own life when the time comes without hesitance. Teach him how to fear the death of others but welcome his own with honour. But then you say, ‘I made a mistake’, and ask him to be more vulnerable. ‘Open up’ and lay yourself naked for all to see.

 “He thinks I’ been neglectin’ my bros. Being leaving them out to dry and forgetting to bring them back in when the storm hits.”

“That an opinion or a fact Raph?”

Raphael slurped as his sipped. “Matter of perspective Case.”

“Know what your problem is Raph? You’re like April with that bad bottle of nasty wine. She hates it with every fibre of her being and avoids it when she’s looking for a good time. But when the going gets just a little too tough she takes it out the sink cupboard, wipes of the dust off and drinks herself sick until she hates herself.” The wine in question had been her father’s favourite brand and the irony was not unnoticed by Raphael. “Lemme’ guess. My family’s the wine but I’m the bottle?”

“Close but no cigar,”

Raphael snorted and swished a mouthful round before swallowing. “Wat den?”

“You are the bottle, but your also April here. You protect them with every part of you. Refuse to let anything get close. You are a wall around them that aims to get hurt so that they don’t. You are the bottle’s glass that keeps the air from spoiling the wine. But on the flip side’, you bury everything away in the cupboard to get dusty until you can’t ignore it anymore. And then you snap, grab it and fight it instead of accepting it. Drowning yourself in that miserable feeling and then the next morning instead of facing it, you tell yourself the worst has passed and bottle it all up again.”

He’d stopped snorting and slurping as Casey spoke. He quietly drunk his beer out of respect. “And how do you propose I avoid opening that bottle and drowning tonight Dr Jones?” His human companion tapped the beer can’s lid in thought. He glanced up curiously at the night sky, stars hidden behind black clouds of gas. “Open the bottle, but keep it uncapped until it’s ready to close again.”

Nah....” he announced taking another can from Casey. He made a comical show to open the beer and took a hungry swig. “Don’t sound quite like me.” But Casey Jones wasn’t laughing this time.

“Remember how emotional everyone got when ya got Splinter back home?” How could Raphael forget? His face suddenly became void of all humour. He didn’t like where Casey was going with this. Everyone’s face had been flooded with tears and sobs and snot. Everyone had been crying like no tomorrow.

“....”

“You didn’t even shed a tear that day Raph.” His jaw clenched tight as if it’d been wired shut. It had been the worst time in his life, lost without the guidance and love of his father, and the return of his father the happiest moment. He had wanted to cry along with them. Cry along with his father, but somehow deep down it felt worse to admit that than it did to shed one tear.

 

4

When Raphael wobbled into the sewer he was glassy eyed and two sheets to the wind. By the time he reached the tunnel his home resided in, half of the beers work had been undone. Didn’t mean he wasn’t fumbling like a giant oaf as he entered. His brain was liquid and swimming around his head in a strange but pleasant fashion. Casey Jones and several 6 packs had undone the uneasiness he’d felt earlier. Blanked out all the issues he was trying to avoid. As Stephan King once wrote,

Your mind is a blackboard and alcohol is the eraser.

Though, it didn’t keep things away for very long. His stomach gave out an ugly churn when he noticed the lab door slightly ajar. The light within struck out like some heavenly beam; blinding and judgmental. It made the dark enveloping Raphael seem so much blacker. It was 5:30 am and Donnie was still up. The thought made something inside bleed with guilt. Casey’s voice filled his head and he grumbled in irritancy. Peeling his jacket off his shell he stumbled towards the lab door and gently knocked with one knuckle.

(Fine, I’ll leave the jar open for a night Case. Then it gonna be promptly shut...)

 Donatello had been half way along the path to sleep and the sound jolted him awake. When he turned to face the noise he saw his big brother creeping around the door, one squinting eye searching for him in the blinding light. Don sighed and turned on the lamp. “Come in Raph.” He made some unintelligible grumble in response, flicked the light off from the wall and wobbled to a seat opposite his brother. His landing into the wheelie chair was heavy and the chairs spine made a cracking noise.

“Negh...rrry...”

Donatello blinked dumbly. “Sorry what?”

“’Orry...” When Donatello continued his blank stare Raphael shifted in his seat and lent back. “Made you wait up. Don’t like dat...” The words in his head were far more sophisticated than the slurred words that left his muzzle. It irritated him but he knew Donnie didn’t mind. He probably understood everything from the way he softly smiled in response. “it’s okay Raph. I was just a little worried that’s all.” He reached out a comforting hand and was more than elated that Raphael took it into his own.

They sat like that in a comfortable silence for a few minutes. If it wasn’t for the soft blink of Raph’s eyes and the knot in his forehead Don would have thought he’d dozed off. His breathing was soft and those eyes held a concentration that was almost endearing. He looked like a four year old trying to solve a simple maths problem. It made any anger within Donatello melt away. He couldn’t remember the last time Raphael actually wandered into the lab to apologize about coming home late. The fact he was pretty much a sip of water away from passing out did not take anything away from the moment. His thumb rubbed the knuckles on Raph’s hand as he waited with him. After a short while his beak started to open and words begun to finally tumble out.

“You know I, er... I luv ya. Luv both ya.”

“I know.”

“Do enythin’ for ya.”

“I know.”

Don’s free hand moved to join his other and cupped Raph’s as he listened. “I dun like talkin’ bout fins’ not cuz I dun trust ya. Its cuz, cuz...” His mind stumbled for a second and forgot how to talk. Don smiled eagerly, understanding what he wanted to say. “I jus’ don’t know how.” He looked up at his young sibling almost confused. There was a vulnerability in his eyes that was rare. Something he’d pushed down within himself over the years. Donnie cooed him slightly in fear he was about to start crying. He was glad when Raph started to chuckle and rubbed the side of his face into his palm; Just like a child. There was a cheeky grin on his face as he groaned. “I aint got no idea wat I’m sayin’.” Don snorted and stood up. “You need to sleep that is wat.” Donnie’s soft and happy smile got Raphael getting out the chair in agreement; the seat gave a satisfied groan when his arse lifted out of it.

He helped his brother to the staircase before he adamantly insisted he could do the rest himself. He watched him wobble up half the staircase before he turned away and went back to the lab. He wasn’t going to stay up longer. Just put a few bits and bobs away and make way for his own bed. It was 6am and there was no way anyone was going to get up and train in the morning for a while yet.

 

5

Raphael’s journey up the stairs was a tough one. At some point after Donatello’s absence Raphael wobbled on a not so strong leg and decided to take a break. Ten minutes later he got up off the step and managed to finally climb the remaining three to the top of the staircase. He was full of drunk triumphant glee. Still wobbling, he traversed across the second floor and made way towards his bedroom, grabbed the door handle and... Froze. Even in this drunken state his senses were keen. The nerves in his fingers twitched as he kept deathly still. He waited until; THERE.

There was a soft noise, like a heavy sigh, to the left of him, no, the room to the left of him. His fingers slid off the knob and he turned towards the other room. When he opened the door there was nothing remarkable about the sight of it. It was the same oversized storage cupboard it had always been. It smelled of metal and mould.

Raph’s forehead scrunched up. He never liked this room. He’d always had this uncanny feeling he was being watched whenever he was in it. Like there was something lurking within its depth waiting to strike. When they’d first moved here, fresh after the mousers’ invasion on their previous home, there had been four large spacious rooms on the second floor all suitable to become bedrooms. However, there were only three of them and therefore only three of those rooms became bedrooms. Raphael specifically choose a room on the side opposite of Mikey’s and Donatello took the room next to Mikey. It left Raphael with a room to his own with lots of space. Raphael had cheekily tried to get Splinter to let him knock the wall down and let him have a bigger room but he’d always been turned down. Over time unused junk got stuffed into it and Don soon turned it into an organised storage room with racks and shelves and the lot. With that came a coldness Raphael couldn’t put his stubby finger on. Almost like the act had defiled the room it’s self.

He waited another five minutes for it, but nothing came. Just the eerie quietness Raph associated the room with. Satisfied that the noise was a figment of his imagination he closed the door and headed to bed. But as he did so he did not hear it; the sounds of something scratching into plaster and the soft sighs of a familiar voice from a dark corner of the storage room.

“....Rapppphael...

 

 


 

 

Author Notes

My author notes section messes up so for this fan fiction they will be included in the actual text, at the bottom of each chapter. This story has been inspired by Stephan King and various horror film's I have watched of late. The writing style (breaking the chapter up into subsections that are numbered) is inspired by the book "Doctor Sleep" by Stephan King which is in fact the sequel to the book "The Shining". 

This chapter, and the next, are basically "setting up the plot" chapters! I'm so eager to share this story I've been working hard on it and I really love this opening chapter! The story will be Raphael focused, by will have a lot of writing from the perspective of the other three brothers. Yes... all three. Please feel free to comment below and share you thoughts on whats going on! There is no schedule for posting chapters. I'm putting all over writing projects on hold and will be putting all my efforts into updating the story. Chapter's will be put up when they are finished! If you like the story, please let me know! It will encourage me to update quicker! :) 

As always lovelies thank you for reading. Now, the question is where is Leo? What's happened to him? Will Raphael and Donnie's little late night chat sooth out any brotherly issues between them? Or is this the start of something really bad?!