It was another day of training at Splinter’s dojo.
One on one matches were a usual occurrence but this time around the pairs were different. Today it was red against orange.
The second oldest brother twirled his sai in his hands before gripping them firmly and bending his knees. His strawberry blonde hair was as spiky as his pet turtle’s name, and though he wasn’t sporting his usual scowl his entire demeanor said that he didn’t step on the mat to play games.
The youngest brother had his sandy blonde locks carelessly tossed on his head. Holding his weapon, he sported a laid back grin which quickly faded to a look of nervousness once seeing the look on Raph’s face.
“C'mon Mikey, you’ve got this!”
For a split second the two of them glanced toward the sidelines where the rest of the team sat along with Lauren.
Lauren was the one who’d spoke. Her dark brown eyes were soft and her matching hair was in a messy ponytail.
“Easy win.” She reassured clapping her hands together.
“Kick his butt Mikey!” Donnie exclaimed.
“Yeah, you’ve got this!” Leo chimed. Master Splinter shot them all a look instantly silencing the lot.
A confident smirk came over Mikey’s face just as a scowl came over Raph’s.
“Hope you’re ready Raph, cause I’m bringing the boo-ya-kasha, to this one!” Mikey taunted running on the positive energy everyone had given him like it was caffeine. Raph’s anger flared and you could see it from the glare in his intensely green eyes.
It wasn’t the usual anger Mikey was so used to seeing from his brother. It wasn’t the type where he was annoyed and wanted Mikey to be quiet. Raph was seriously ticked, and seeing this wiped the smirk from Mikey’s face immediately.
“Hajime.” Splinter said quickly signaling for the two to start. Raph was the first to charge. Letting out a small yelp Mikey dodged then rapped his weapon around Raph’s ankle causing him to trip and land face first into the floor.
Mikey was shocked by his own actions at first but quickly recovered enough to lift both fists in the air.
“And that’s how it’s done, son!”
“Rapheal! What have I told you?!” Splinter chastised as Raph sat up and Mikey continued his victory dance. “You must learn to channel your anger.”
Out of the corner of his eye Raph watched Mikey walk over to the sidelines where the rest of the team patted him on the shoulder.
“You totally owned him!” Lauren laughed as her and Mikey exchanged their secret handshake.
For as long as they’ve all known each other Lauren and Mikey have been practically joined at the hip, she and Donnie could talk for hours non-stop, and her and Leo have countless inside jokes.
After school whenever she stops by the dojo she always says;
“There’s my three favorite brothers!” Then she spares a glance at the most fiery tempered of them all “..and Raph.”
That’s how it’s always been and it drove him absolutely insane.
There was the occasion where the two would bond over the video games or have a halfway decent conversation only to be interrupted by Michelangelo and his annoying water balloon battle.
And then one day something happened.
They were at home just watching TV. Lauren was sandwiched between Raph and Donnie on the couch when his hand accidentally landed on hers. He wasn’t sure how, all he remembers is that they both saw it but neither of them made any attempt to move.
Then they found themselves consciously doing it. When at the pinball machine Raph would put his hand over hers in order to ‘show her how it was done’. When his anger would flare up Lauren would grab onto his hand and he’d immediately start to calm down, and whenever they sat by each other to eat at Mr Murakami’s their fingers were always intertwined under the table.
Then Raph took the plunge. Donnie was working in his lab, Mikey went to go get pizza, and Leo had put on some movie on TV. He was currently sitting directly in front of it which usually annoyed Raph to no end but sitting on the couch next to Lauren put him at ease.
It was somewhere in the midst of a battle that the leader of Super Task Force Five became badly injured. Leo was close to tears and Raph took the opportunity to plant a kiss on Lauren’s cheek. The first thing he noticed was her face was completely red but the second thing he found was the corner of her lips turning upwards causing Raph to smile in victory.
But he wasn’t smiling now. Seeing Lauren laughing as Mikey basically reenacted the fight. Him being overly dramatic and her affectionately ruffling his hair, he felt as if all those times they held hands, all the smiles she gave him, and all the times he’d think about her when she wasn’t even in the room anymore, meant nothing. He felt completely stupid.
Then in a flash a familiar staff came in contact with the top of his head.
“You will do well to heed my instructions.” Splinter chastised then turned towards the rest of the team. “Michelangelo! Lauren!” He called.
The two smiled at each other before taking their fighting stances.
“Don’t worry. I’ll go easy on you.” Mikey taunted twirling his num-chucks in his hands. Lauren lifted her dagger.
“That’ll only make it easier-“
“Hajime!” Splinter interrupted. Lauren made the first move which Mikey was barely able to block. The fight stretched every corner of the mat, both barely dodging each other’s blows and both quick to deliver one’s of their own. Lauren was just about to land a hit when in a desperate attempt to block Mikey swung out his num-chuck which then hit her right in her eye with a thwack.
Lauren yelled out and fell to the ground holding her hands over the pain. She was bleeding and crying at the same time.
Mikey’s crystal blue eyes shot open in panic as he reached towards her in attempt to comfort his best friend in any way that he could. But before Mikey even touched Lauren he was being tackled to the floor by Raph.
“IDIOT! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?” Raph yelled punching Mikey in the face.
“GET OFF ME!” Mikey cried back landing a punch of his own that split the corner of Raph’s lip. His rage intensified as he continued to pummel his brother to a pulp. Lauren who’d just barely recovered was working over time to stop the hammer that was Raph’s arm.
“STOP IT! LEAVE HIM ALONE!” Lauren ordered. Raph whirled around to face her.
"SEROUSLY?! HE HURTS YOU AND HE’S STILL YOUR FAVORITE?!”
Lauren flinched at the harshness of his voice and hurt flashed across Raph’s eyes for a moment but then was replaced with frustration as he turned around and stomped towards the sliding door.
“Rapheal!” Splinter called but was only met with a slamming door in response.
Once Raph was outside he kicked the trashcan over then threw the recycling against a wall. Pacing back and forth and counting wasn't calming him down. He was on 57 when Lauren came outside. Closing the door behind her she walked towards him. One hand was in her jacket pocket keeping out the New York wind while the other held a wet cloth.
“You’re gonna hurt yourself.”
“Shut up! I didn’t ask you!” he snapped.
“What do you care?!”
“Raph.” Lauren sighed grabbing onto his hand and turning him around so he’d face her. She kept her fingers curled around his and he let her dab the cloth on his lower lip. “You should calm down.”
“He hurt you.”
“It was an accident.”
“And what if I hurt you huh?! Would you be as forgiving?” Raph challenged. Lauren furrowed her brow in confusion. The skin around her right eye just beginning to bruise.
“What are you even talking about?”
“You’re always on Mikey’s side! Or Leo’s or Donnie’s, whatever side that isn’t mine! You’re always calling them your brothers and cheering them on!”
Lauren’s gaze shifted.
“That’s not fair.”
“Because you aren’t like them. You’ve never needed anyone to help you on your feet. You get up on your own. It’s one of the things I like about you.”
“Yeah right.” Raph snorted though there was an unmistakable blush coming across his cheeks.
“I mean it. With everyone else it’s like we’re connected. Like we have something that runs in our blood, so it’s like we’re family. But you know how with family you can sometimes feel like you’re stuck with them?” Raph held onto every word she said, soaking it into his skin. His hand was still in hers. “It’s never been that way with you. You’re my friend.”
He blinked. He wasn’t how he felt about the word choice. He wasn’t sure if he was reassured or disappointed.
“Friend.” He repeated.
“I like you Raph.” Lauren said squeezing his hand for emphasis as she stared at his eyes. “But I don’t like it when you’re angry.” She said touching her thumb to the scar on his lip.
“I only got angry because you were picking favorites!” Raph snapped grabbing the hand that was poking him.
“So, I’ll try not to pick favorites and you’ll try not to get angry.” She said simply with a hint of laughter in her tone that rode away any irritation Raph had felt. “Deal?”
In a swift movement Raph pecked Lauren’s lips.