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Aggressive Empathy in the Abyss (AEITA)

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[1]

It was raining.

It was always raining these days, always drizzling tears that made him shiver and quake. It was raining and dark and there was the sound of his brother’s rumbles but Raphael wasn’t here, he was at home, but--

The sky was clear. Why was the sky clear? Why could he see all of the stars and--

He could see Venus. The little planet--it really isn’t all that little, about the size of Earth, actually--glowed in the black abyss, snailing its way across the sky.

How did he know it was Venus? Astrology had never really been his strong suit. He was lucky if he could find the Little Dipper.

But there she was, glowing and shining and--

Raph?

 

[2]

“Raph?”

He was in his room, in his bed. Raph was there, too, and Leo was wrapped up in his arms, and Raph was rumbling, and he was shivering and cold and--

“Why am I wet?” he wiggled a little to look Raphael in the eye. Why would he leave him wet? That wasn’t very considerate. He could at least dry the poor turtle off.

“What?” Raph giggled. He shifted and Leo realized he was in Raph’s lap, his heels against strong thighs. His tail flicked, then curled around and under the warm thing beneath it.

“Why am I wet?” Leo was shaking now, confused and frightened. He didn’t remember anything from before the rooftop, the frigid rain.

“You ain’t wet, Fearless.”

“Yes--” he paused, realizing what had happened--”I’m not wet.”

“No, Leo.”

“It was just a dream.”

“You had a nightmare, yeah.”

“A dream.”

“Uh-huh…”

“…Stay…”

“Sure.”

 

[3]

Raphael awoke alone several hours later, Chompy nestled between the two pillows and his own head rested on Leo’s plush sea turtle Captain Silver.

There’s was a note on Leo’s nightstand--well, it might as well have bee Raph’s by this point. He’d been the only one to use it in the last month or so after all. The alien trilled while his owner grumbled agitatedly, the paper crinkling as it was unfolded.

The note read:

 

Raphie,

I got restless; I don’t know how you sleep so long, but I envy the ability. You know where to find me.

<3 L

 

He grabbed Chompy around the middle and exited the room.

The green-eyed terrapin had the urge to grab a pen and grammar-check his brother’s note, just to watch his face puff up and turn red with embarrassment, but he figured it wasn’t a morning for smartass-ness. Leonardo had left notes for him all month, alternating between signing with a heart and with a tilde. Raph didn’t know how to respond to the hearts.

“If he starts randomly showing affection--more than usual, I mean--you need to tell me.”

They were only fifteen when Donnie had to start lecturing him and Mikey about trauma and PTSD and flashbacks. It was too young for anyone to need to worry about such things, too young for anyone to have to experience it themselves. Too young to worry every time their brother was alone.

But that was all years ago! Surely Leonardo was better, recovered. He was okay, because Raph had promised Mikey that their big br was okay, they didn’t need to worry anymore, IT’S OKAY .

But is he really?

 

[4]

It was raining. It was raining and cold and the sky was clear and Raph wasn’t here, but Leo could hear him rumbling and he could see Venus and he could see the moon and the stars and--

Sensei?

 

[5]

Leonardo!

Hai , Father!” Leo jumped straight to his feet he was so startled. He whipped around to face his sensei, a sheepish smile on his lips.

“You are distracted, my son.”

Hai , Father.”

“Why?”

Leo thought about the question. Really there were many answers: his recent nightmares were extremely troubling, not to mention tiring. They left him weary and disoriented for days but they weren’t scary , per say, just… eerie.

Then there was Raphael.

It wasn’t that his hotheaded brother was giving him a hard time, but rather that, lately, he hadn’t been… and Leonardo wasn’t sure how to feel about that. He knew how he did feel--honestly, he kind of missed the confrontation, the… what was the right word for it?--but he doubted that was how he should feel.

In the end, he decided to be honest and concise: “I’ve been having some really weird dreams lately, and I’m figuring something with Raph out… both things have me pretty off balance, and I’m really just tense. I’m alright, though, Father.”

Splinter nodded slowly, a calculating glint in his eyes. Leonardo stood still, holding eye contact in the hope that the rat would see something he didn’t, discover something he himself had overlooked. It was terrifying.

What do you see, Father?

Confusion. Concern. Bewilderment and disbelief flashed through the unguarded gaze of his father, the mocha colored orbs widening in comprehension as their owner drew up a conclusion, a theory to be tested and, likely, proven true. Then, like a steel trap catching a fawn’s leg, the eyes hardened, the walls went up, and the Gaze of Disappointment and Scolding emerged. A clawed hand came up to rest on the young terrapin’s shoulder and the ninja master looked ready to say something--to give a command or issue a scolding for some wrong the leader didn’t know he’d committed. The eyes went purposely blank and the snout closed as the shoji door slid open, the second eldest turtle stepping inside the dojo.

“Oh, hey, Papa .*” {*“Dad.”}

“Raphael.” Master Splinter took note of the soft look the two turtles shared, and the quick nod of his eldest. They were both guarded, closed off to him but they seemed to have a perfect understanding of one another. How odd…

“How ya’ doin’, Fearless?”

“I’m okay…”

From the moment he’d walked into the room, the red-banded terrapin knew something was up. Splinter had that look in his eyes, the one that said Leo fucked up. But Leonardo had that look that said I don’t know what I did wrong , and it set something ugly off in his stomach, something… possessive .

“Wanna go out into the tunnels for a bit?” he arched a brow, tilting his head in silent, secret suggestion. Father wouldn’t know what the purpose was, but he knew Leo did. It showed in the glint that appeared in the azure orbs.

Their father was not appreciative of being left out of the loop--and the deep flush and hesitant nod of his eldest did nothing to reassure him. My sons, what are you doing?

Before he could issue any inquiry on the matter, Raphael was nodding, turned around and out of the dojo without another word. He didn’t turn his head, but the rat sensed his gaze as it traveled back to them.

“Is there anything else, Master?”

He turned back to his eldest and eyed the turtle critically. He was hiding something, telling half-truths and sneaking behind his elder’s back. Splinter wouldn’t tolerate it, but he didn’t have the evidence he needed to pursue the matter any further right now. Blue locked on brown and the father felt his heart squeeze at the unshielded turmoil he saw in his dear son’s eyes. “No, my son.” He said softly. “You may go.”

Hamato Yoshi looked on solemnly as the turtle followed after his brother.