Author's Note: This is just an idea I've been mulling around since the premiere "The Wrath of Tiger Claw" last Sunday. I really like the whole concept of Raph being the only Turtle that still doesn't fully trust Karai no matter what she does and how he goes out of his way to try to prove this to Leo who, of course, does everything in his power to try to prove his brother wrong. Not only that, but I've been really itching to write a Leo/Raph story, so this is a great way to get some practice in.
This MAY or MAY NOT turn into a chapter fic. It all depends on how well this story fairs with you readers. There isn't anything graphic or overly sexual in this fic - just some subtle hints thrown toward the end. Just to be clear, this is meant to be a slash fic and will progress into a more obvious slash fic if I decide to continue with this story. Right now, it's just an angst-ridding one-shot that I hope you all will enjoy. And if you don't like slash, then you don't necessarily have to see it that way. Just play with your imagination a little bit. :)
Reviews, comments, and pointers are always welcome! Let me know how this story fairs since I'm working with my two favorite Turtles here. lol Read on, readers and enjoy the fic. :)
It was the unsettling whimpers that made Raphael tighten his fingers around his arms in a vice-like grip.
The sound of Mikey's pain reverberated from the infirmary down to the end of the hall where he stood, his shoulder pressed up against the wall in a lackadaisical manner as he tried not to pay too much attention to the sound of his brother's discomfort. Teeth ground tight and muscles coiled with aggravated tautness, he tried to no avail to quell his fueling anger, his tired eyes forcibly resting on Casey Jones lying lifelessly on the couch while April hovered over him with a damp washcloth and some bandages; tending to his wounds. It had been hours since their encounter with Tiger Claw and Raphael noticed Jones was still having a little bit of trouble getting some rest – the painkillers April was shoving down his throat doing little to nothing to ease the throbbing pain. Though he wasn't really the nurturing type, Raph offered to be of some assistance with anything April or Casey needed, but with every sound that passed through Mikey's bruised, battered mouth, Raphael couldn't help but freeze and fold his arms tighter against his plastron, the sound of his younger brother's clipped cries leaving an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Absentmindedly, he rested a hand over the lower part of his plastron, fingers numb from gripping his arms, yet they trembled anxiously without Raphael even noticing.
This all could've been prevented, he curled his fingers into a shaky, tight fist. This all would've never happened if it wasn't for … for….
Allowing his thoughts to wander, Raphael stiffened at the sound of footsteps coming his way, his head lifted just an inch; eyes locked onto his eldest brother. Though he carried himself with caution, Raphael could still detect a hint of vulnerability in Leonardo's gloomy, remorseful eyes, his shoulders hunched just a tad and his head lowered, but not enough to mess up his posture. In a way, it ticked Raphael off. Not even the element of death hanging over their youngest brother's shoulders was enough to shove Leo off his damn high horse? Who the hell did he think he was?
"How's he doing?" Leo asked, the tone of his voice held just above a whisper.
"Dunno. Donnie won't let me in until he comes out," Raphael answered, his gaze locked strictly on Leonardo as he folded his arms across his chest, pressing himself harder against the cold, cobblestoned wall. "Screams are dying down a bit if that's any indication."
"Oh. Well…" He didn't exactly know how to respond with that, his hands fidgeting as he shifted from foot to foot. Inwardly, Raphael smiled at his brother's discomfort. "Hopefully Donnie will be able to patch him back up. Nothing ever seems to knock Mikey down for good so I'm sure he'll bounce back real soon."
"Yeah? And what're you gonna do when that happens? Send us all back to the fields again so we can get our shells handed to us?" Raphael snarled, pushing himself away from the wall to get into Leo's face. "You saw how bad Tiger Claw messed Mikey up and what did you wanna do? Your happy ass wanted to go after Karai, your little princess of destruction. If it wasn't for me, Mikey would be wallowing in a puddle of his own blood right about now."
Leonardo took a step back from his brother, his eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. "What are you trying to say, Raph? That this is all my fault?"
The corners of Raph's mouth tugged into a highly amused grin. "Well, whaddya know? Fearless Leader's actually thinking with his head instead of his dick. Turtles first, right Leo? Bullshit."
"How can you say that?" Leo yelled, this time taking a step toward Raphael to get into his face. "How can you stand there and call me out on all of this when all I was trying to do was reunite Master Splinter with the daughter he thought he lost all those years ago? I was bringing Karai to our side. I was giving her a chance to unleash all that potential she poses. All the good she carries inside of her."
"Oh my God," Raphael groaned, throwing his head back before shooting his arms up in frustration. "You're not seeing the big picture, Leo! Karai is evil. She was raised by the Shredder and was fed lies throughout her childhood. Whatever 'good' she carries inside of her got squashed by her precious Daddy Dearest a long time ago. Face facts, Leo. Once an enemy, always an enemy."
"No, you're wrong about her!" Leo yelled, but Raphael wanted nothing more to do with this conversation, shaking his head and turning his back on Leo before he retreated down the hall to his room. With clenched fingers, Leonardo followed right behind him. "You just need to give her a chance."
"Ohoho, really?" Raphael chuckled derisively. He was only a few steps away from his room before he spun around on his heels and jabbed an accusing finger at Leonardo's plastron, the exasperated forcefulness of it making the katana-wielder grind his teeth and snarl. "You've given her enough chances, Leo. We all have, including me back at the docks. She's proven multiple times that she's not interested in turning over a new leaf, but the second you sense even an ounce of compassion, it's like your common sense just flies out the window. Bringing her back to the Lair? Are you kidding me?!"
"No! I'm done with this conversation, Leo. You can go back to the living room with the others and pretend you give a shit about Mikey's injuries or go out and rescue your little Princess of the Foot. I don't care. Just get out of my sight and leave me alone!"
"Raph!" Leo yelled, forcing his body in between the crack in the doorway before Raphael had a chance to slam it shut. The edge of the door banged right against Leo's shell, pushing the front of his body against the entranceway and nearly knocking his chin against the solid edge, pain bolting throughout his body.
Anger boiling, Raphael clenched his fists and ordered Leo to get out of his room, the leader doing nothing but letting his brother's words go through one ear and out the other. Stepping inside, he closed the door behind him in a calm and composed manner, making sure he and his brother did nothing more to cause a scene and get others involved in their disagreement. Right now, it was just between him and Raph and no matter how they decided to settle this – if they even settled this at all – Leo wanted no third party stepping in on their argument and causing them to separate. They needed to resolve things here and now and that's what Leo was intended to do. Even if it took all night and carried on to the next morning.
He could wait.
Silence settled and the darkness of Raph's room draped over the two brothers in a blanket of overwhelming tension, the faint glow of Raphael's Halloween pumpkin decoration outlining the ridges of each of their stiff muscles. For a moment, neither of them said anything, each staring darkly into the others' temper-infused eyes, a smoldering fire igniting the pigments of forest green and ocean blue. Neither one of them moved even an inch, but when Leo allowed the strain in his shoulders to retract and relax, Raphael immediately opened fire and let his brother have it with what was running through his mind.
"How many times does she have to betray you before you finally decide to throw in the towel?" It was clearly a question, but Raphael wasn't looking for an answer as he continued to speak, not even giving Leo anytime to come up with a response. "She's Master Splinter's daughter, Leo, I understand that. Technically, she's family and with the way we are and how we look, family's pretty much all we can rely on. Before we met April, before we met Casey, we couldn't trust anybody we met up in the surface—"
"But we did, and look what came out of it," Leonardo interrupted, referring to the only human friends him and his brothers had. "We gave them a chance, Raph, just like I gave Karai a chance. It's different with her because of the background she has. Falling under the tutelage of the Shredder – being lied to her entire life – she's not just going to come at us with open arms over night. These things take time…"
"Yeah? And how much 'time' do you think it'll take before she turns around and stabs us in the back again, huh?" Raphael asked, his arms crossed over his plastron in a defiant manner, the orange glow igniting the fire that was still burning deep within his evergreen irises.
Staring hopefully back into his younger brother's face, Leonardo tried with as much fortitude as he could muster to not appear beaten, letting Raph's words wash over him like the calming waves before the storm. But even in the darkness, Raph could still detect the effect his words had on his older brother, making him appear vulnerable, even just for a moment. He couldn't give in though. Not like this. Whatever it took, Leo had to understand…
Unfolding his arms, Raphael took one more step toward his brother and raised his hand just a tad, as if he had intentions of resting it atop of one of Leo's shoulders. At the last second, however, he quickly drew it back and rubbed the back of his neck in a nervous gesture, his gaze turned away so that he wasn't looking directly into Leo's eyes.
"Leo, look … biological or not, Karai is the daughter of our sworn enemy – the same man who intended to kill our sensei, our father! If you can't understand why I don't want her to become a part of this family, then…" He shook his head slowly, eyes searching for any hint or clue that would make him understand, make him realize what it was Leo saw in Karai that kept him interested – kept him determined to go crawling back to her every chance she screwed things up or left him heartbroken. He couldn't fathom why anyone would submit themselves to this kind of torture and as he stood there, staring into Leo's soft, overwhelmingly incomprehensible eyes, Raphael couldn't help but curl his fingers into tight, shaky, frustrated fists.
"Is that what this is really about?" Leonardo asked, the placating tenor of his voice causing the Sai-wielder to look up, staring straight into his older brother's still, composed face. "You're afraid of Karai coming into our family? But why?"
Raphael couldn't help but produce a loud, impolite snort. "Ain't you been listening to all the stuff I said earlier? I don't trust her. After all she's done—"
"But not everything she's done has been bad, Raphael." Leo barked, causing his younger brother to flinch at the emphasis of his full name, the tension in his shoulders growing rigid. "She offered to provide us with weaponry from her father to use against the Kraang. She spared Master Splinter's life before he was taken out by the hands of the Shredder. Now that she fully understands the truth about her real father, she turned against everything she believed in just so that she could protect us. Why, after all of that, do you still not trust her?"
"I just … don't," Raphael answered lamely, earning a stern glower from his blue-masked brother, the look pushing Raphael to glare and snarl right back. "Don't give me that look."
"Why don't you trust her, Raph? Tell me," Leonardo demanded, closing the distance between Raphael and himself, his gaze never faltering whereas Raph did everything he could to look anyone other than Leo's glowering stare. "Please, Raphael…"
"I just want to know—"
"I already told you."
"That's not the reason and you know it, Raph," Leo said with a glare. "I can see it in your eyes – your posture. Why don't you trust her, Raph? Tell me and I promise I'll drop this entire thing."
"You're full of shit."
"No, you're the one who's full of shit!" Leonardo shouted, his face now only inches away from Raphael's surprised, stunned expression; his mouth hanging open just a tad before he pursed his lips and took a cautious step back. Though he was usually seen as the tougher, stronger turtle who never backed down without a fight, Raphael felt an overwhelming pressure emanate from Leo's taller, firm-standing body; from the top of his head to the tips of his twitching, anxious fingers. In a situation such as this, he had absolutely no idea what to do, feeling as though he were being backed into a corner, his heart ramming viciously against his chest from the close proximity between him and his brother.
He couldn't speak, for his mouth was entirely too dry to utter a single word. Couldn't breathe, because the claustrophobic space between him and Leo was all too suffocating. Couldn't think, because the look Leonardo was shooting his way – a dark, unwavering glower of imperturbable exasperation – was burning through his wide, agitated eyes and scrambling his brain from any cohesive thoughts.
Raphael spit out not a single word, so Leo did all of the talking for him.
"Are you afraid she'll hurt me?" Leonardo asked, his tone rising just above a whisper; a question Raphael wasn't even sure he heard correctly despite them being at such a close distance from one another. With a small intake of breath, Raphael clenched his teeth and turned away from his brother, an action that caused Leonardo to take one small step back, his gaze never faltering, though his stance wavered in response. Head lowered toward the ground, unsure of what to say, Leo quickly looked back up, unsure of why his brother was trying so desperately not to look him in the eyes. "Is that why you don't trust her, Raph?"
"I-I…" He paused, his eyes flitting back and forth across Leo's concerned, yet gentle face, the sporadic acceleration of his heart going into overdrive. "…I gotta go check on Mikey—"
"Raph, wait!" Leo stood in front of him, acting as a barrier before his red-masked brother got the chance to brush past him and walk away, his arms stretched out to make it more difficult. He stared hard at Raphael trapped before him, his eyes trailing over every feature, every mark on his perspiring, nervous face. He wasn't sure why such a topic would make Raphael so uncomfortable, but he could sense it diffusing strongly from the way his younger brother's limbs shook in such a rigid fashion.
It pained Leo to see the strongest of his brother's in such a vulnerable state such as this. But he had to know. Had to understand…
"Raph, I … I can handle my own in a fight. You know that, right?"
"That's not what I'm afraid of, Leo," Raphael spoke, flicking his eyes up at his brother before staring back down at the ground beneath them.
Leo tilted his head ever so slightly, trying to get Raphael to look at him dead in the eyes. "Then what are you afraid of, Raph?"
"Shit, I'm … you know I ain't good at stuff like this, Leo," his younger brother stuttered, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot, his eyes still focused on the ground instead of at his brother's face.
"Then let me help you, Raph," Leo urged desperately.
"You just don't get it," Raphael growled, pushing past Leo with enough brute force to bruise his shoulder, his steps rushed and terrified as he reached out for the door handle.
"Then help me understand!" Leonardo shouted, causing his brother to stop where he stood, his fingers merely ghosting over the door handle. "For once, just … just let those shields down, Raph and talk to me! Help me understand what is it that you're feeling – what you're thinking. I want you to open up, even just for this moment. Here and now. Please, Raphael. Let me inside your head…"
"I just don't want her to play games with you!" Raphael shouted, catching his blue-masked brother completely off guard by the sudden rise of his voice. "It's bad enough seeing April mess around with Donnie all the damn time. Flirting with him, giving him all these mixed feelings so the poor guy doesn't know what the hell to feel. You're in too deep, Leo. Karai's already got you wrapped around her tiny little finger, but you're too love struck to even realize what the hell's going on. Not only that, but technically she's our sister. Our goddamn sister, Leo! Do you know how wrong that is? How sick and twisted and … just…"
For the first time that night, Leo actually got a glimmer of what he thought were Raphael's true feelings, that sudden spark flashing through his emerald green eyes that was instantly gone the second it popped up. At first, he spoke nothing of it, still quite unsure of whether he truly saw something or not. But when he looked – really looked into his brother's frightened, panic-stricken face – Leo knew that what he saw clearly wasn't an illusion and that thought alone made his body freeze at an immediate standstill, his mouth hung open, unsure of what to think.
"You're … you're not talking about Karai … are you?"
He opened his mouth to speak, intent on throwing a rebuttal back at his older brother, but the words immediately evaporated from Raphael's tongue, causing him to freeze, his hand still hovering over the door handle with trembling fingers.
Unsure of what to say, he lowered his head and shut his eyes tight, opening the door with such force, the gust of wind was strong enough to brush back the tails of Leonardo's bandana. He stood his ground, unsure if he could even move as he watched his younger brother duck out of his room, eager to get out of the tension-fueled quarters before muttering something under his breath.
"Like I said ... you wouldn't understand…."