My night was very restless as I kept tossing and turning in my bed, finally sitting up. It was futile to try to sleep when I just couldn’t so I stood up and dressed while checking the clock which showed time to be a bit after 3am. I made my way quietly into the kitchen making tea to myself. After having my tea I went in living room area looking towards Splinter’s room after opening TV. I wanted to go see him and make sure he was alright but I didn’t want to go disturb him and his sleep.
Something on the news got my attention and I turned to look at it. There had been a fire in one building but luckily it had been empty so none hadn’t got hurt. I felt heavy hit against my right leg and my instant reaction was to get battle ready but I relaxed when I saw sobbing and scared little Leo standing there with his teddy bear. He looked me in a way which made it clear he was afraid of bumping into me. I gave him small gentle smile while kneeling down.
“Why are you up? Can’t sleep?”
Little Leo shook his head few times still sobbing and I saw how those small hands tightened their hold around his teddy. I also noticed he made few small blob sounds while looking around.
“Did you had a bad dream?” He nodded still making those small sounds. Instead of bell he had start to call us with those blob sounds… Or actually call Raphael. He had become father figure to him. I gently placed my hand on that small shoulder receiving eye contact from little Leo. I smiled before turning to point towards Raphael’s bed.
“You see that bed over there? That’s Raphael’s bed. You can go sleep next to him.” Little Leo kept his eyes on sleeping Raphael’s form making one small blob sound before he rushed next to the bed, stopping. I stood up as I watched how he approached Raphael and called him few times with small blob sounds. Of course I didn’t hear them but I saw his mouth moving in the same way. Raphael was kind of heavy sleeper when he was very tired and it was sure he was tired since he didn’t react on little Leo’s sounds.
Turning to look at me with unsure look I nodded and made small shoo movements with my hand, encouraging little Leo to go on. When he was unsure he sucked his thumb and he did it even now while gathering courage to climb on Raphael’s bed, laying down next to him. I got curious so I went more closer but still keeping my distance. I watched how Raphael woke up, realized little Leo was sleeping at the edge of his bed and pulled him in his armpit smiling gently. That small body was covered by his blanket and gentle small kiss was placed on top of his head. After Raphael had fall back to sleep I just had to go see them from more closer.
Little Leo’s head was resting on Raphael’s bicep as he was gently placed against Raphael’s massive body, teddy bear being sealed between them. Raphael’s other arm went over little Leo so protecting way still lightly not to crush that small body. I could only imagine how it felt to feel little Leo’s, or Raphael’s, warm breath hitting a skin. It must had been nice under warm and comfortable blanket while being safe and sound in another person’s arms.
I found myself drifting off into my childhood memories when I had slept few nights with Splinter like this after bad dreams but for a some reason it didn’t give me the feeling sleeping in Raphael’s arms would be the same. It would be… different in some way. Shaking my head I took deep inhale closing my eyes. No, I cannot have such thoughts. We are brothers, nothing else. But still, such closeness with Raphael instead of constant argues. I would give my right had for that.
Sounds made by Raph alarmed me about his awakening and opened his eyes looking down at little Leo and then me. “Huh? Leo?”
“It’s okay. Keep sleeping. I just came to make sure you’re not crushing little Leo.”
He looked down in his arms again with small smile, resting his head back on the pillow and rubbing his chin gently on top of Leo’s head. “I would never do that.” and he fell back to sleep. I sighed with smile since I knew even in his sleep he would never harm little Leo. Never. Watching the two of them being so closed made me think how they would be and react when and if little Leo one day would decide to leave us. Raphael loved him so deeply it would be painful thing to happen to him.
Around 7am all of us were awake except little Leo who still slept in my bed. I had no heart to wake him up for breakfast so I left him to sleep. Leo had served breakfast to Splinter in his room and we all had took turns to go greet him and wish good morning which were returned to us. In the kitchen Leonardo wanted to know what our plans for today were.
Don obviously was going to start to fix battle shell and I said I would help him if he needed any help. Mikey stated he was gonna play video games, read comics and play with little Leo as well. To this Leonardo nodded stating we all should spend time with him today and he offered to spend some time alone with little Leo as well but he had things to do before that right after our morning training.
Training was normal except I went to see from dojo’s door was little Leo awake already but he still seemed to be sleeping in my bed so I went back on training. It seemed to piss Leo a bit I went back and forth many times during the training so after an hour he called it for the morning stating we would train more later today which was fine by me and my brothers. I looked at the clock and I was getting worried since it was already 11am and little Leo still was sleeping. He never hadn’t slept this long but then again this was his first time sleeping in my bed and it made me think had he sleep in other nights at all? Did he have so much sleep dept he was sleeping long now when he knew to be safe in my bed?
Suddenly my phone rang and I answered to it.
“What is it, Master? Are you alright?”
“I’m most fine, Raphael. I just wanted to ask if you could bring little Leonardo to me in my room.”
“I need to check is he awake since he was still sleeping few minutes ago. I think he hasn’t dare to sleep much before now.”
“Poor little child… Bring him to me after he has wake up.”
Father closed his phone and I closed mine. I couldn’t stop wondering why father wanted little Leo alone in his room. Perhaps it was some sort of training to make him get used of master. I kept my eyes locked on my phone thoughts running wild in my head when hand slapped on my shoulder. I jumped and growled out loud facing Don who all calmly lifted his glasses better on his nose.
“Just thought to let you know I will go work with battle shell now. She won’t fix herself.”
“Why didn’t you told this to Leo? He’s the boss.”
“I would but he’s not in the lair.”
“Nope. Keep your phone close to you since I might need you to lift me some heavy stuff.”
I watched after Don as he disappeared in the garage and soon he was all on it, all kind of bangs and other sounds echoing from there.
“Oh, hi little guy! You finally woke up!”
Michelangelo’s happy greeting made my head turn around so fast I felt my neck snap a bit but I needed to see it on my own that little Leo was awake – and he was. He was yawning as he sat on my bed Mikey being there instantly to help him down and escorting him to bathroom to do his… routines and wash his teeth before going in the kitchen to eat.
I marched there steadily watching how Mikey filled Leo’s bowl with cereals and milk, giving him small bowl of yogurt, fresh fruits, juice and few slices of bread too.
“Isn’t that too much for little turtle?”
“Nope. Not at all. He needs lots of food to grow up big and strong like you. Plus I want to give him choices so he can choose freely what he wants to eat.” Mikey surely thought about this and made good points so I crossed my arms on my chest and nodded.
“Fully noted. Oh, little Leo. Splinter wants you in his room after you have eat and wake up some more.”
His body tensed and he turned to look at me worried. Mikey tapped his small shoulder gently with his finger and bend forward whispering something in Leo’s ear so silently I didn’t hear it but it made Leo’s expression more bright and curious and Mikey only nodded to that look as reply. I have no idea what Mikey had said but little Leo ate as fast as he could and then “said” ‘blob blob’ and ran off to get his teddy bear. He was heading towards Splinter’s room already but he then stopped and ran back to us in kitchen reaching one apple from table, running off again and stopping behind Splinter’s door.
He was slightly nervous but he bravely knocked and entered after getting permission. Now I turned my focus on Mikey, raising my eye ridge a bit. “What you said to him?”
“Sorry, can’t tell. It’s a little secret between me and him.”
“You can have and keep a secret? Now that’s surprising.”
“Maybe it is to you who can’t keep his mouth shut. Now for lesson one; Shut your mouth and lesson two, help me to do dishes.”
I snorted unfolding my arms as I made my way next to Mikey, splashing some water on his face from full sink. Mikey made his usual scream and I couldn’t help but to laugh as I started to wash the dishes by his side.
I heard tiny knocking from my door and soon little Leo looked at me behind the door, coming in slow and carefully after I invited him deeper in. He looked unsure and slightly scared as he closed the door but he bravely came to me and handed me fresh apple.
“Is this for me?” He nodded and I gave him my warmest smile. “Thank you, my son. This is very nice thing to do. You are not all that afraid of me anymore, aren't you?” To that he did not know how to answer. He placed his hands behind his shell and looked down at his feet.
“It’s most alright. I’m extremely happy and relieved we have make some progress already. I honestly do not wish to harm you in any kind of way.” Again he nodded. Little Leo was gathering courage until he looked at the small electric piano and slowly pointed at it.
“Ah, I see. You want to start already. Michelangelo surely told you the reason why I wanted you here. Even that Michelangelo is behaving like little kid sometimes… Or most of the times, that doesn’t mean he would be stupid and wouldn’t know how to read between lines.”
I watched how little Leonardo went to get piano from lower shelf and for a moment I wanted to jump after him and help him since he seemed to have struggles to get it. He was so thin and fragile I was scared he might would hurt himself but he still was Leonardo and Leonardo always had, and always would, find a way. He managed to get the piano and brought it me, placing it on the edge of my bed climbing on my bed afterwards.
I lifted piano better in my lap looking at little Leo’s curious, waiting and confused eyes.
“I want you to listen this at first and then it’s your turn. Is that alright?” And he nodded after few seconds of hesitation. I smiled with a nod placing my fingers on piano’s keys and started to play silently a song what I had been practicing for hours night before since I just wasn’t tired… Or actually this old rat was so happy and excited to have a chance to teach little Leo that it was causing it I couldn’t sleep too much. Little Leonardo’s eyes widened as he heard the music and his fears and tension seemed to fade away as he crawled next to me and slightly, so very slightly, leaned against my arm to see keys better what I kept pressing.
When the music finally ended I smiled at him. “Do you want to play now?” I got few eager nods. “Very well. Would you sit on my lap so I can watch over your shoulder your fingers and teach you better?”
His small form tensed slightly and he didn’t know should he had stay or run away. Swallowing in so very nervous way he slowly and carefully made his way in my lap and his body was trembling so hard. It felt like if I had small earthquake in my lap. If he was even little bit like my Leonardo in this time I knew good way to relax him. Placing my 2 fingers at both sides of his small neck I started to rub it with small and gentle circles. It had most wonderful and instant effect. His little body relaxed right away so much and if I would had kept on going a while longer, I’m sure Leo would had fall asleep.
“See now, dear little Leonardo? I’m here with and for you, not against you. I will not harm you.”
He looked at me with his blue eyes over his shoulder, nodding few times with more confidence this time. Good, very good. He was now ready so I placed my hands on the keys and pressed few of them in order first, then encouraging little Leo to mimic my moves. When he pressed the first key and the sound came out, he got so happy and excited. He was gently wiggling in my lap as he shook his legs carefully not to hit my injured leg, making raspy sounds what I knew to be his laugh and giggling sounds. He was so excited and happy I allowed him to play his own song just by randomly pressing the keys until he calmed down enough for us to go on.
It took about an hour or so before Splinter came out from his room with little Leo, both of them wearing a smile they were having a secret. Of course we all had tried to ask what they were hiding but Splinter had been very strict, in good way, about it that they wouldn’t tell us just yet but he promised we would find out about it sooner or later.
The day was very long and boring since there was no any activity from the Foot so Master told us to stay at home and clean the lair. I admit we had made a bit of a mess in there. What pissed me off most was that big Leo wasn’t home so he didn’t need to clean. That jerk. But then I stopped in the middle of wiping dust; Where was he anyway? He had been gone a whole morning and day soon too. It was like magic since one on of the doors to the lair opened and Leonardo stepped in with a bag.
I couldn’t hold myself so I came to him and threw that dirty and dusty fabric on his face. “Where have you been?! You knew today we would be forced to clean the lair so you ran away!”
“It’s so nice to come back home, Raphael. And yes, I had a good day outside thanks for asking.” Leonardo kept his blue eyes locked with mine and I heard weird walking sounds knowing Splinter was coming to us. When Leonardo saw him he instantly pushed past me and helped father to sit on the couch. They stayed close to each other as they talked and I couldn’t hear a word and that pissed me off.
Leonardo tapped gently my father’s shoulder and went in his room with the bag and I was gonna find out what was in that bag.
I helped my family to clean rest of the lair as the day was coming to an end. I wished my little brothers and Splinter good night as they went into their rooms and beds to sleep, even Raphael with little Leo. I thanked God for this since it would give me some peace. I went in my room and sat on the floor pulling that bag out under the bed. That bag rustled so loud when I took paper roll out of it that I didn’t hear someone entering in my room. Only then when my candles showed a shadow of big turtle on the wall I knew I wasn’t alone.
I sighed deeply still keeping my eyes on the paper roll. “I’m not in the mood to argue with you, Raphael.”
“I’m not here to argue. Just curious about what you’re hiding.”
I looked at him over my shoulder. He looked calm so I leaned backward on my arms, moving out of his view.
“Is that Christmas paper?”
“Few months to Christmas. I want to be a bit early about getting gifts so I don’t need to stress and hurry later.”
Smirking Raphael sat down next to me, leaning on his thighs. “So what gifts you got for us?”
“I haven’t got you, Don, Mikey or Splinter anything yet.” I pulled out few different toy packages from the bag showing them to Raphael. “These are for little Leo. He wanted new car toys like you know so I went, with April’s help, to get him some new toys. There’s few different cars, few new plushies, new little bandanna and belt what April made for him. April said she will bring him some Christmas candies later when they arrive in markets but for now on he will be having these.”
“Damn, Leo. He’s gonna freak out in a good way, you know?”
“Perhaps that’s what I want. Him to see life in here with us and Splinter is good. And that we honestly care about him even that there’s moments when our fights or words scare him.”
“You are such a big softy.”
“Says even bigger softy.” Both of us smiled with little snort to each other. But then Raphael’s eyes nailed on something and he stood up walking right next to my bed, looking at the art what little Leo made for me about him and I.
“So you put his drawing on the wall.” I stood up and made my way next to him looking at the drawing.
“Yes, so that I can see it. So that it reminds me he’s me. That I have been a little child as well and I still have that small inner side inside of me… suffocating.”
“Darn, this is getting very negative and deep but… You really haven’t realize that until now?”
“No, I haven’t. I have been thinking so much all other things.”
“Then you most surely haven’t think this; He look up to you so much. You present him that what he could and will grow up to be. You’re his role model. Keep that in mind when you are around him.”
This made me gasp and realize the deep meaning of Raphael’s words. Words what I never hadn’t thought myself. I felt my chest getting tight and I closed my eyes panting slightly. Raphael gave me silence and time to calm down and get a hold on myself. Bringing me more comfort he placed his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it gently, leaving his hand there.
“I think it’s time for you to start to spend some one on one time with little guy. He would love it.”
I looked up into those gentle light green eyes releasing long but silent sigh, becoming more relaxed. “Yeah, I will spend more time with him. In fact I could spend tomorrow with him if you or Master don’t have anything against it.”
“I don’t but you have to speak with Splinter.”
“Good.” Yawning long and loud Raphael made his way to my door, turning on his heels looking at me. “Well, I better go to sleep and leave you wrap those gifts. See ya in the morning. Night.”
“Good night, Raphael.” He gave small smile and snort closing the door behind him.