Once again Raphael and Leonardo had been arguing, very aggressive way this time. It was both shocking and worrying since it had started to seem that with each argue they became more and more aggressive. No punches were threw, yet, but it started to look more obvious they would fly soon.
To get a moment of peace in the lair Master Splinter ordered all his sons go out to patrol and cool their nerves. Raphael had been the first to march out the lair, feeling more or less happy to get some fresh air, Mikey and Don looking after him and then Leo.
“You guys go with him. I will follow you all soon.”
No questions were asked as Don and Mikey nodded, following their grumpy brother. When the road was clear Leonardo followed his instincts, heading towards Raphael’s room. For a whole day those voices in his head had been screaming him to go there. Leonardo stopped right behind the door, hand froze in the middle of the air not far from the door handle.
He knew perfectly well going in any of his brothers’ room was rude without permission, breaking their privacy but he HAD to do this. Otherwise the demanding voices wouldn’t die. Opening the door Raphael’s strong scent hit his face and Leonardo found himself taking deep inhale before closing the door behind him.
Raphael’s room wasn’t the cleanest but not the messiest either. Walking around without a sound Leonardo soon spotted open diary on Raphael’s hammock. No… No. He couldn’t. But the longer he stared the item, the stronger his senses screamed him to go read it. Closing his eyes Leonardo released a sigh as he apologized in his mind, starting to approach the hammock, sitting on the edge of it. Turning the light on on nightstand Leonardo picked up the diary. God, he felt so sick in his stomach.
His eyes slowly started to move on letters, admiring it how lovely and sharp Raphael’s handwriting was. But his writing style didn’t hid the pain in the words. He was pouring his heart out to his diary – only because he no longer couldn’t do it to Leonardo. Reading the words over and over again Leonardo felt his throat become more tight, huge regret filling his soul.
“I hate my life. I hate my relationship with Leo. I loved him so much years ago. I still wish I could feel the same love towards him, but he instantly pisses me off when I see him. He doesn’t need ta say anything, just a sight of him pisses me off. I hate it. I hate how I’ve grown ta hate my brother… I don’t want ta hate him…”
There were dried drops on the paper and Leonardo instantly recognized them as tears. So many of them decorated the pages of Raphael’s diary…
“… I miss the time when he and I were best pals. How we used ta hug each other in every morning and every evening, wishing either good morning or good night. Not anymore, not in years. My arms feel so cold since they still remember the warmth of his body. How happy those hugs always made me… How eagerly I always woke up, rushed out of my room just ta get that hug. It was always the first thing in the morning what I did. My day never started without it.”
Sniffing softly Leo blinked few times to get his vision clear again.
“… What I would do ta get him back… Get him hug me once again… Helping me kill this hate. Replacing it with love… What once was my strongest emotion towards him.”
Deciding he had read enough, Leonardo placed the diary back on its original spot. Exhaling strongly via his mouth Leonardo closed his eyes. He needed to calm down before heading out. He couldn’t go to his brothers with teary eyes, sniffing.
“What took you so long?”
Mikey asked when Leonardo finally arrived on the rooftop where brothers had stopped to wait him.
“Sorry. My stomach felt a bit funny. Didn’t want to risk anything.”
Eyeing his big brother suspiciously Mikey leaned closer. “Are you trying to blame my cooking?”
Leonardo laughed, his laugh reaching Raphael’s ears. That laugh. It was light, honestly and truly free. It made Raphael’s heart ache. How many times they had sat side by side, laughing and doing things together as tots. Standing up Raphael growled, giving his shell to his brothers.
“Let’s go. My ass will rot on this roof if I have ta sit another second.” He didn’t wait any of his brothers to reply as he ran and jumped on another roof, never looking back.
Boys made their way back home via junkyard because Donatello had requested it. There was small parts what he wanted and needed. Walking on the yard Leonardo heard Mikey and Raph talking further away, Don making noises by himself in another direction. Kicking one bolt gently Leonardo realized he felt empty, cold. He had his brothers there with him but Raphael’s written words kept rolling in his mind. How he could start to make any difference when Raphael had stated he hated him? He just couldn’t walk to the turtle and give him a hug.
Noticing small item shining on the ground Leonardo stopped, picking it up. It was bracelet. It had metal plate and 3 small chains which all would go around the wrist. Eyeing it Leonardo decided to keep it. It might would become handy. Placing it inside his belt, which had small pockets, Leonardo heard Donnie call him. It was time to go home.
At home Leonardo waited for everyone to go to sleep. When the road was clear he made his usual tour around the lair before heading behind Raphael’s door. Light shimmed faintly beneath the door and it had some sort of warmth in it. Leonardo couldn’t explain it but it made him feel calmer, certain that all would go well and that Raphael wouldn’t bite his head off.
Lifting his hand Leonardo knocked softly few times. He heard small grunt so he opened the door, stepping in. Raphael instantly tensed in his hammock, sitting up while closing one of his motorcycle magazines.
“What do ya want?” That voice sounded so venomous, nasty spark shining in his eyes. Leonardo stood at the doorway looking deep in those eyes. Only now he, truly, realized and saw it how bad this situation was. How far it had escalated – him without even realizing it. He had been blind to it for so many years. For too long…
“Can I come in?”
“Ya’re already inside my room.”
Not saying another word Leonardo took that as an invitation, carefully making his way near Raphael. He stopped, looking down at his brother who was ready to snarl at him at any moment.
“Can I sit down? Next to you?”
“Why? Just spit yer shit and leave.”
Ignoring that Leonardo slowly turned, placing his hands at the edge of the hammock. He kept his eyes on Raphael all the time as he slowly sat down next to him. It felt kind of weird… To be this close to Raphael.
“I got something for you.” He finally said, breaking Raphael’s anger. Or at least lowering it greatly. His brother said nothing, but kept watching him like a hawk as Leonardo pulled earlier bracelet out of his belt. Leonardo never looked at Raphael as he kept the bracelet in his hands, smiling at it softly.
“I found it on the junkyard. It made me think of you since it reminded me so much about you.”
“That should be more fitting ta ya. Ya’re as cold as a steel.” Raphael snapped. Yes, those words hurt Leonardo, but he didn’t let it show. Instead he continued.
“You are strong like a metal, but even metal has its weakness. When it becomes too hot it bends, even breaks. It also rusts and breaks when too much time passes without any kind of care.” Now looking up at his brother Leonardo sighed slightly.
“I’m so sorry I haven’t taken good care of you. I fear you have start to break already, but I wish you would give me a chance to start to repair you, to take good care of you.”
Reaching for Raphael’s hand Leonardo held it softly, placing the bracelet on Raphael’s palm.
“You don’t need to answer to me yet. Think about it as long as you feel the need to. I will wait.”
As Leonardo stood up Raphael eyed the bracelet, then suspiciously looking at his brother’s shell. “What is this all about? Did city air poison yer brains or what?”
Leonardo sighed. He was fully aware he needed to tell the truth. Bracing himself he turned around, still keeping his body language and expression relaxed and soft.
“I know I did wrong earlier today when I sneaked in your room and read latest pages of your diary.”
“YA WHAT!?” Raphael growled as he jumped up, coming to stand in Leo’s personal space, their chest scutes almost touching. “Ya little shit...” He growled.
Not letting Raphael’s intimidating posture shake him Leonardo continued with soft voice.
“I know I did wrong. I felt so bad while doing so, but at the same time it was the most helpful thing I have ever read.” Turning to look away, far in the distance, Leonardo continued. “For years already I’ve been trying to find a way of how to deal with you. How to make things work between us. But nothing. I’ve been in the darkness for so long, not knowing what to do. After seeing your writing…”
Now Leonardo faced his brother, looking deep in those fierce eyes. “… I now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have hope. Hope of how to make things work between us once again. I’m willing to give my all – but only if you’re willing to accept my all. My help. My effort.”
There was no mistake. Leonardo’s eyes were more bright and watery which was… at least confusing to Raphael. He had never seen Leo tear up, not even as a child. Taking a step away from Raphael Leonardo gave him small smile.
“Like I said before; I will wait.”
Those as his last words Leonardo left, leaving confused turtle behind.
Few days went by and one thing, what had changed, was the fact that Raphael no longer was trying to argue with Leonardo. Not as bad as they previously had done, that is. He wasn’t afraid to express his thoughts, but it didn’t lead to huge arguments.
Leonardo also had noticed the bracelet around Raphael left wrist, just above his brow wristband. It had warmed his mind and heart. It wasn’t complete victory yet, but it was a good start.
More time passed and Raphael hadn’t given Leonardo any hints or answers. It was eating Leonardo. He needed to confront his brother and ask him. He couldn’t wait any longer – even that he’d said he would wait. After hours long patrol brothers returned back home late in the night, obviously tired.
“I’m gonna hit the bed.” Mikey said before yawning loud and long. “Night, guys.”
“Good night.” Leo and Don said while Raphael simply said; “Night.”
Looking at Donatello Leonardo smiled. “You too. Go to bed. I’ve seen how you have been yawning the whole trip back to the lair.”
“But I have to -”
“Sleep.” Leonardo finished the sentence for his brother with a smile. “Go to bed.”
Sighing Donatello gave in, instantly yawning long. He, in fact, was pretty tired. His eyes didn’t lie when they just barely could stay open long enough for him to reach his lab, which was more closer than his room, and sleep there.
Now Leonardo turned his focus on Raphael who was collecting Mikey’s earlier magazine mess in the living area.
“I will go to bed too.”
So no good night wishes for him? It hurt, making Leonardo stay on his spot and watch Raphael collect those magazines in his arms, then gently tapping them against the table to make them to be perfect pile. Leonardo watched in silence how Raphael placed the pile on the edge of the table. Raphael’s side profile was beautiful.
His feet, on their own, started to take him towards his brother. Raphael didn’t realize Leo’s approach until arms suddenly made their ways around him, head pressing against his shoulder. Standing up in loose hug Raphael stared down at Leonardo in confuse. This was… Confusing, embarrassing, weird.
Leonardo kept his eyes closed as he held on Raphael few seconds longer. “Good night, Raphael.” He finally whispered, withdrawing from his brother’s presence heading in his own room.
Raphael was stunned, speechless, blown away. His eyes were wide as he looked after his brother, a hint of tear shining on his shoulder in dim light.
In the next morning Leonardo stood in the dojo, eyeing Donatello and Michelangelo who were standing side by side, watching him. Turning to look at the door Leonardo huffed. Raphael was late. It was not like him at all. Raphael was usually the first one to come in the dojo after Leo.
Hearing Mikey and Don whisper with each other made Leo’s focus turn on them, but soon he heard dojo’s door open. Raphael stepped in locking his eyes on Leonardo. He didn’t apologize for being late, he made no excuses. He just stared Leonardo with his steely gaze and it made Leonardo stiff. One of these mornings again…
Raphael snorted silently to himself before starting to walk towards his brother who, obviously, tensed more as Raphael came closer. It would be the matter of seconds for fight to start. Mikey and Donnie had witnessed this way too many times to know the pattern.
However their jaws dropped when Raphael, suddenly, wrapped his arms around Leonardo, pulling him in tight hug, not giving any signs of letting go. Leonardo gasped out loud in surprise and for a long moment he couldn’t do more than just stare forward over Raphael’s shoulder, holding his breath.
“Morning.” Raphael whispered silently for only Leonardo to hear his voice.
Leonardo’s expression softened, his eyes tearing up. Hiding his face against Raphael’s shoulder Leonardo slowly wrapped his arms around Raphael, sighing deep softly.
“Good morning.” He replied with muffed whisper. Neither of them didn’t seem to be in any rush of letting go, but when Mikey whispered to Don asking was that kind of greeting allowed in the dojo, it made big brothers separate. Taking few steps back Raphael turned around going on his spot in line, bowing deep to Leonardo with his younger brothers, their leader bowing back to them.
Training was light and there was new warm feeling in the dojo. Perhaps first time in years training was so pleasant to everyone of them.
Ever since that day Leonardo and Raphael shared a hug in every morning and every evening, with good morning and good night wishes. The road was long to get them back to that state where they’d been as kids, but the start had been good so far. But most importantly it had started to bring brothers closer to each other, arguments and fights decreasing between them dramatically. With time they would sneak out in the tunnels or above ground, share secrets while sitting side by side, laugh and have fun – like they did all those years ago as tots.