Walking out here, in the cold Autumn gives Casey the chills. Even though he's bundled up in a ridiculous amount of sweaters, the wind keeps teasing his skin and sending prickling goose-bumps everywhere it kisses. He walks among the fallen leaves, taking this quiet moment, the long way back to the lair. It's been a while since he's walked through this old park, far too long since he's been this quiet. It's… refreshing.

One can only go so long without craving some quiet, even the great Casey Jones. As loud as he may be, as brash and as bold, it's easy to forget that sometimes… the quiet does him good. And he enjoys it- pushing his feet through small piles of leaves, kicking the twigs away and making a mess out of his already dirty sneakers.

He doesn't want to be disturbed; he doesn't let himself be disturbed. Turning away from the seven different paths that each could lead him to a sewer escape, even ignoring the foot prints of some large-footed human earlier, and especially avoiding the play park with young children and their families. Not today- today Casey wants to just… be.

He should have known he'd never get that chance- not when he practically lives with four teenage mutant ninja turtles with a tendency to magnet trouble by merely existing. Casey barely has enough time to breathe in the sweet air when his phone buzzed with a text.

He ignores it. The second text has him shoving his hand into his pocket and pressing that button to switch the phone off. It signs off with a little musical note- and Casey swears to himself that he'll check the messages as soon as he reaches the sewers- because who else would contact the teen these days? Classmates didn't even exist anymore- there were more important things than school to bother with when troublesome aliens, ninjas and mutants alike rampaged the New York Nights. Casey smirks, when did his life get so weird?

The boy sighs, pulling up his hoodie to cover his head. The wind teases it back, pushing it off and coaxing his bandanna to the same fate. Casey rubs a hand across his forehead, shifting the black cloth securely.

It's pure reflex that has Casey whipping around with arms held high at the intruder. But it only takes a second to recognize the burly coat fastened up to the winter mittens and hanging over giant rain boots. Casey suppresses a groan, but mutters out, "Leo…"

It has to be the turtle- Raph wouldn't be caught dead in that horrid jacket, Mikey actually has good enough taste not to wear the neon boots and Donnie… Why would Donnie be out here in the first place and not complaining or arguing or not be doing anything in general?

Leo's next words are in a rush, "Where were you? I tried calling you," and he folds his arms over his front, "You didn't answer. Why?"

Casey rolls his eyes, and shoves his hands into the pockets of his hoodie, "Was just taking a walk- no biggie."

Leo splutters out, "Yes biggie! You can't just disappear from the lair," that turtle's voice is beginning to inch just the slightest upwards, "Be gone for six and a half hours, and then not answer your phone."

Casey let his eyes slide halfway, almost lazily, "I left a note."

Leo raises a hand into the air, pointing at the sky as though accusing it of some horrid crime. "Scribbling a barely legible 'I'm leaving - Casey' is not leaving a note."

And his covered arms fold across his chest again, feet squarely planted on the leafy floor, "Come on Casey- you should know better than that. You had me worrying when I couldn't find you when it was nearly lunch time. Did you even eat yet? A cup of tea doesn't count-"

That turtle could go on and on and on- and honestly? Casey drowns him out half the time, how Raph lived fifteen years with this was beyond the boy. No wonder Mikey had such a short attention span and why Don had mastered the art of tuning out noise. If Leo continues at this rate… would he run out of breath? Doesn't seem so, how long could turtles hold their breath? Too long in this case. Casey has to stop this- even if it means drastic measures.

The boy holds up his hand quickly, putting a finger on his lips, "Leo… Shh…"

It was like an automatic action, Leonardo's mouth slides shut with a clamp of his teeth. Casey could swear the turtle's eyes were wide- if not pure white under his mask. Stiff posture just waiting to spring at any danger.

Casey darts his eyes around, "Hear that?"

Leo, stays quiet, then after a good minute of peace, he whispers just the faintest above the wind, "There's no one here within a mile radius Casey… Except the animals in the park- a family of squirrels in that tree over there. Birds… No humans… did you hear something?"

Casey shakes his head, keeping his smile bitten, "Not that… listen closer…" he cups a hand around his ear, "Hear that?"

One more minute of silence, and another. Finally, without either of them moving from their spot, Leo admits, "No… just the rustling of leaves."

"Exactly- it's quiet," Casey holds up a finger, "It's supposed to stay quiet." He points that finger at the still turtle, "You're disrupting the peace Leonardo. What kind of ninja are you?"

For a moment, the wind is all that Casey could hear. The wind spiraling the leaves and the wind whistling in his ears and even the animals had the decency to quit their lively humming. All when Leonardo didn't speak.

Did Casey say the wrong thing? Not that Leo would ever hurt him… but that's a lecture Casey literally interrupted Leo to tell him that he was making too much noise. Can someone even do that? Leo is clearly prepared for action- and to know Casey just wants him to get it over with, this could end in another hour-long lecture. Great. Now Casey has to endure two talks, one on leaving the lair without proper info, and the other about interrupting his lectures.

But a good five minutes of just standing there pass, and Leo has yet to speak. Casey knows the turtle is staring at him- but it irks him to know that he can't see a single part of his face under that ugly getup. Not even the shell can be glimpsed- nothing. Body language? Stiff- unreadable.

If this were the enemy- Casey has the odd feeling that he would have long been maimed by now. Not killed- death would be a relief. This is… unnerving.

Oh well, at least Casey got what… five, six hours of quiet before Leo showed up? Sure it was just walking around without even knowing how or where he was going, but at least his mind is clear. Now he could jump right back into the adventurous life he relishes with the turtles- as soon as the leader commands him to go home followed by a lecture.

Which he ought to start any time soon. But Casey stands there idly, with hands in his pockets, then examining the leaves on the ground, drawing patterns in the dirt he unearthed… The turtle still doesn't speak, until he shatters Casey's world with his words.

"I was terrified you'd leave."

The boy's head shoots up, eyes uncomfortably wide, "Huh?"

Leo's voice is low… barely drifting on the breeze, "When you turned off your phone- thought you were finally running away."

Casey takes a step back, hands up in defense, "Woah, me? Leave?" he splutters out, "What… Wh…Why would I leave?"

There's something… so young about Leo when he shrugs, "Lots of reasons- maybe because we're turtles, mutants living in a sewer, you're a human boy who could charm his way through anyone… Why'd you want to stay with us…?"

Casey's heart is beating a mile a minute, eyes about to pop because this just comes out of literally nowhere, "Leo I'd never leave you! Dude, I love you!"

This time, it's Leo who takes a complete step back, "What?"

Casey holds up his hand, shaking them wildly as though making sure he could keep Leo's attention, "I don't know where all this stuff is coming from- but you guys are like family to me. Raph's my best bud- man, Donnie's the weird frien-emy, and Mikey's the coolest little bro ever! Even though Master Splinter's like… looks like a rat- he's kinda like a dad these days, you know? April's always got a special place for me- she could even be my best friend I guess… And you? Shell Leo… you're special."

Casey takes a deep breath, and exhales, letting the raw words just fall out, "I'd never leave you,"

Leo shoots back quickly, hands jumping to land on his own chest, "But what about all that nagging you said I do?" he circles his two fingers almost nervously, "And when you said last night you'd be doing more stuff anywhere else than there with me,"

Casey runs a hand through his hair, letting the strands tug at his fingers, "Shell Leo, I didn't mean it like that- all I, like, wanted to say was that since you're always cleaning up the dojo by yourself, it makes no sense I'm there with you, cause I ain't even making a difference with you doing all the work. Guess that came out wrong…"

Leo's voice is small, and Casey has to strain his hearing to listen, "You mean… you didn't mean you're going to leave?"

Casey groans into his hands, noticing just how Leo winces at that. He shakes his head, sending the turtle the most sincere smile he could, "I'm telling you this Leo, and I promise it. I'm not ever, leaving you. You know why?"

Casey waits until Leo whispers, "Why?"

The words roll of his tongue like he's meant to admit them all along, "Cause I love you Leonardo. Always will. You're special to me- I ain't ever leaving you."

Before the turtle could even protest, Casey closes their distance by locking his arms around the smaller male. Leo stiffens, but Casey is too close to try to push away, "Get that through that stubborn head of yours- I love you Leo."

Casey tightens his arms around the coat, squeezing the turtle as hard as he could because this is one of those moments where words can't compare to a hug, " And I ain't ever leaving you."

Soft words, when Casey rests his chin on the top of the hoodie because it's the perfect height to do so, "I love you Leo…"

Leo doesn't emit a single sound- not for a good minute. And Casey's left wondering how long he could stay this close to the turtle, how long would they hold their breaths again? Surely he didn't… break Leo, did he? Maybe saying I love was a bit too much too soon. What kind of love was he talking about anyways… The kind where he would protect Leo and want to take care of him and want to share everything with him and make him happy, right? That's love, isn't it? Did anything else matter? Not to Casey, anything else seems kinda… trivial.

When the turtle finally moves, it's a miniscule movement. A sharp intake of breath that sounds so… little… so young, nothing like the confident leader he tries to portray all the time. Casey doesn't say a word, he grips the turtle tighter- Leo could handle it. He doesn't say anything else when Leo starts to tremble- but Casey does smile when two slow hands wrap around him, and hug him back.

"Thank you… Casey."

Casey chuckles- but only withdraws when he feels Leo's hands move from hugging him. He pulls away a bit unwillingly, but the last thing he wants to do is make the turtle feel uncomfortable. Casey lifts his hands, and reaches out to put on Leo's shoulders.

"You believe me, right?"

Leo nods, slowly, "That you… love me?"

Casey purses his lips, "Yeah. I do- weird huh?"

"I guess…" Leo rubs a hand on his own shoulder, "It's… different."

Casey rolls his eyes, and brushes his hand over the top of Leo's hoodie, "We can figure that all out later- but you know Blue, sometimes… you really need some quiet moments- stop trying to be there for everybody, like all the time,"

Leo gives a nervous chuckle, his hand moving to rub the back of his neck, "Yeah… I do that sometimes,"

Casey gives him a look- that has the turtle laughing and admitting, "Okay- a lot of times!"

Casey uses his free arm to gesture to their side, "Just relax, you know? Listen to the wind, the world will keep going on even when you're not there to make sure it does. So, relax sometimes."

The boy tilts his head, letting his bandanna slip just the slightest, "It's good to have somebody take care of you for a change- you deserve love too,"

Something about the way Leo winces has Casey wondering- just what was going on in that turtle's mind. Judging by the way Leo suddenly stills and takes another step back had Casey's mind snapping to attention.

The boy grabs Leo's shoulders, "Not like that Leo!"

"Whew!" the turtle heaves a sigh, letting his body fall forward in the slightest, "Cause for a moment,"

Casey narrows his eyes playfully at him, "Dirty minded turtle,"

Leo chuckles, it's light and a bit more carefree than Casey's used to hearing, "That's what you get for living in a sewers,"

Leo turns, and Casey believes he's closing his eyes, "This… fresh air- the breeze… it's… refreshing Casey…"

The boy nods, "Rustling leaves, right?"

Leo sighs, and like all the weight on his shoulders just slip away for just one moment, just for Casey, "Yeah… I like that- rustling leaves…"

...