Rating: K+

Word Count: 1,128

I do not own TMNT.

02. Turtles

Staring through the tinted glass of the shop display, Raphael stood and watched in silence as the turtles wandered around their terrarium. The display, he supposed, allowed them to bask during the day, when the sunlight came in through the window. It was a nice thought, but the terrarium seemed all too small for the bunch of them. They hustled around each other, pacing circles in the crowded box. Raph never liked seeing animals in cages.

That's why he had never kept Spike in a container. He had come to the strange conclusion that he could strike a deal with his pet, somewhat ridiculous in hindsight.

"Don't make a mess, and don't get into trouble," Raphael remembered having told Spike. He had taken the pet turtle into his room for the first time and placed him carefully on the bed. "Do that and I'll let you go wherever you want."

Spike had blinked slowly at Raphael, and Raphael had figured that such a slow little creature couldn't get into much trouble anyways. Maybe if he had been a little smarter about it, kept him penned in somehow when they weren't around, the accident with the mutagen wouldn't have happened.

Some strange sort of self-pitying masochism made him linger here at the shop window. His mind was swimming with old memories and the longer he stared at those waddling turtles, pacing circles in their box, the more those memories hurt.

He was so absorbed in reliving the past that he hardly noticed when Leo came up to stand beside him. "Raph," Leo said, snapping Raphael out of his thoughts. "We can't sit out here too long. Come'on."

"What?" Raphael asked dumbly, blinking in confusion for a moment. "Oh yeah, right." Leonardo's eyes narrowed and he appraised his brother with a hint of suspicion.

"Something distracting you?" Leonardo probed.

For a moment Raphael was tempted to lash out at Leo, to snap back with some snarky reply. It would certainly deter his brother and instigate a fight, which for the time being would take his mind off of things. But he hesitated, and he couldn't seem to quite find the heart for it.

"I'm fine," Raph said with a shake of his head. "Let's keep going."

"Alright, now I know something's wrong," Leonardo snorted. "Since when are you reasonable?"

"Since when do you care?" Raphael bit back. More and more he was considering that his restraint may be pointless. Leo was apparently going to pick a fight with him either way.

"Raph, you've been acting weird all night," Leonardo pointed out. "If it's about what happened-"

"I said I'm fine," Raphael snapped. "Why don't you just boss me around like you usually do, and stay out of my shell?"

Raphael noted with a slight hint of spiteful pleasure that Leonardo's face was heating up with frustration. Raph knew he shouldn't say things to purposefully aggravate his brother - he knew it but somehow it was just so easy and so tempting.

"I'm not going to start some stupid fight tonight. I've matured past that, unlike some people," Leonardo accused.

"Oh of course, Fearless," Raphael snarked back at him. "I forgot how much higher and mightier you are than everyone else."

"Fine. You want to fight, let's fight," Leonardo invited, though it wasn't as hot-blooded as Raphael expected.

In any case, Raph was ready to jump at the opportunity now. Anything to get his mind off of the uncomfortable feelings that had been festering while he had watched those turtles in the display window. He made a wide swing at Leonardo's head.

"Your arm's too stiff Raph. Relax," Leo said calmly as he blocked his brother's swing.

Raphael's only response was a frustrated grunt. So, Leonardo was going to turn this into some sort of training session. It wasn't exactly the heated, feverish fight Raphael had been craving. Raphael ground his teeth together as he made a desperate punch towards Leo's stomach. Leonardo easily twisted out of his way.

"Sloppy," Leonardo proclaimed bluntly. "You're not focusing."

"We'll see who's the one not focusing when I slam your face into the ground!" Raphael snapped back. His angry words however, did not help his poorly executed attacks. Even he could see that he was only serving to embarrass himself.

Raphael made an attempt to sweep Leonardo's legs from under him, but Leo easily avoided the kick, responding to the attack with a swift and forceful punch to Raphael's brow. Raphael yiped and lost his balance, falling onto the ground with a mortifying lack of grace.

"You're acting like more of a pain in the ass than usual," Raphael retorted, trying to cover up his humiliation. He staggered back to his feet.

"And you aren't?" Leonardo easily replied. Raphael grumbled unhappily but couldn't conjure up a good response, so instead chose to broodily glare at the sidewalk.

"The incident with Slash is still bugging you, isn't it?" Leo asked, his gaze softening a touch.

"It's just weird," Raphael admitted, albeit a bit tensely. "Not having Spike around." Leonardo visibly softened.

"You were really attached to Spike," Leonardo sympathized. "I'm sorry about what happened to him."

"Yeah," Raphael sighed, staring at the turtles in the terrarium display. "I'm sorry too. I didn't think he would…" Raphael shook his head and sighed in frustration. That uncomfortable feeling was welling back up and dissipating the anger that he had tried to replace it with. Even baiting Leo into a fight hadn't worked tonight.

Raphael thought about his other two brothers - currently confined at home. He wanted to be angry with Slash for what he had done to his family. But Raphael couldn't seem to find the energy to sustain his anger, not for very long at least.

For a while Leonardo and Raphael stood in the street, staring into the pet shop window at the turtles. The silence was long, but not uncomfortable, and it seemed in that moment finally they had come to some semblance of an understanding. Leonardo placed his hand on Raphael's shoulder, and in a rare moment of peace between the brothers, Raphael did not draw away from him.

"Come'on Raph, let's finish this patrol," Leonardo finally prompted. "Mikey is probably driving Don up the wall. We need to get back home before anyone loses their sanity."

Raphael glanced back inside the pet shop window, at the turtles in their terrarium. For a brief moment Raph remembered with warm reverence the many times he had spent with Spike, when Spike had eagerly tried out a new flavor of pizza or when he had curled up on Raphael's stomach at night. Raph basked in the sweetness of those memories.

He wished he could hold onto that feeling just a bit longer.