You can never truly learn to appreciate the meaning of teamwork until you tackle a sink-load, a cupboard-load, and a table-load of dirty dishes by the Hamato Clan's Dinner Party.
In the past, Leonardo remembers working in pairs cooking and cleaning. Since they've hit their teens, it somehow managed to be official, either Raph or Mikey cooks, then Leo or Don cleans. Don could cook when he needs to, but for reasons beyond Leonardo, anything other than pasta and coffee would erupt into a foul mess. Leo's gifts lies within the drinks- only.
Now at sixteen, he's become so used to cleaning up after one of Mikey's extravagant experiments, that he honestly doesn't need a partner. He didn't expect himself to attain one either. Leonardo certainly doesn't need help.
But elbows deep in suds and apron stained, Leo nearly regrets denying April's help. Even Karai was willing to help, but no¸ Leo's been eating off of Raph's plate a bit too long, and his stubborn attitude left him alone in the kitchen facing one of the biggest battles of his life.
Leo heaves a long sigh, making a dramatic scene of withdrawing his foamy hands, "Guess I'm alone for this one."
He hears someone, and recognizes the heavy fall of footsteps and the crunch of boots. No one else wears such boots- and Leo finds himself smiling.
"Hey Casey," Leo brushes off the soap, but doesn't turn, "Whatcha up to?"
The man stops just before the overflowing sink, and his grin is knocked right off his face. Leo forces himself to keep his- but it's fading, especially when Casey gazes at the dishes with a slackened jaw.
"I was gonna put the glasses in the sink but…" Casey wrinkles his nose, "There's no space!"
Leo sighs, and holds out his hand, "I'm on dish duty- I'll take it."
Casey doesn't let go, in fact, he holds onto his plate with both hands, "No- lemme help ya."
It's a nice gesture- Leo needs the help, but does he accept? Of course not- the leader pulls a brighter grin and waves it off. Yet Casey doesn't release the plate- and it ends up in a tugging match- until both Casey and Leo are in danger of pulling the plate in half.
"Lemme help ya- ya stubborn turtle."
"It's my duty."
"Whoever said ya can't share duty?"
Leo almost lets go- but he executes a sudden tug that renders him victor- Leo almost laughs, but then contemplates what kind of turtle he'd be if he laughs at winning a tug-of-war with plates. Casey, on the other hand, is utterly glowering- but not at Leo, at the table still waiting to be cleared.
"Fine- suffer in silence." Casey brushes his hand quickly, "Looks like some turtles don't know the benefits of friends,"
"As if you're some friend with benefit," Leo rolls his eyes- but catches it just as soon as Casey does. Neither mentions the slip- but Casey storms out the room, and Leo is left alone with one plus plate.
The kitchen's never been lonelier.
If Leo wasn't Leo- he would have called out to the man, but when Casey's back disappears out the door, Leo feels rather small. He knows he can manage, but maybe… if Casey comes back, he'd let him help? Maybe… not. Casey wouldn't return.
He didn't expect the man to bring backup- in the form of a wicked smile and glinting eyes. Leo merely arches a non-existent brow.
Casey marches to the table, and points an accusing finger, "He won't accept any help!"
"So you call Karai?"
Honestly, Leo is just a little bit touched- and surprised. Why the kunoichi? Come to think of it, if he were in Casey's shoes, he'd do the same. Yet, by her subtle glance, Leo could tell Karai was just as surprised.
Karai didn't disappoint though, she put hands on her hips, and it was a pose just as threatening in her armor as her casual jeans, "Leonardo."
Why does he feel scolded? But it's like being scolded by an older sibling- having just enough respect to adhere but barely hiding the smile. He answers sweetly, "Yes Karai?"
"Hand me an apron- and Casey too,"
Leo doesn't have time to protest, because Casey is already getting aprons from the rack and he's pulling his hair up. Leo can't help staring- even as Casey puts on a face that belong in the battle-field and tackles the sink. The turtle whips around to give impressed eyes at Karai, and she mirrors it. Not before jabbing a thumb in the man's direction, and nodding in approval.
"Here's what- I'll handle scrubbing, Leo you want the rinsing or the packing?"
Karai steps beside Casey, and shakes her head, "I want the scrubbing- I'm better at it, you'll rinse and Leo will dry and pack- he lives here."
"Deal!" Casey doesn't hold back his glee when Karai takes the sink- and he walks back to the table to clear it, "Leo- aren't you glad you have helpful friends?"
"It's…" Leo has an armload of soiled plates, "Beneficial,"
Karai calls over her shoulder, "I'm waiting for the thanks- turtle."
Leo chuckles, but slowly piles his dishes into the sink, "Thank you Karai, and Casey?"
"Thanks for the help," Why Leo flushes, he can't put his finger on it. But Karai arches a brow at the action.
"Hey- what's the use of friends if you can't benefit from us?"
Casey turns red- just as Leo deepens. But Karai only giggles- and doesn't say a word.
"Hey Bonehead- woah, didn't know there was an after-party here, mind me helping you Fearless? Yo Mikey! Don! We're on Dish Duty!"
Without waiting for an answer, Raph collects a rag and starts to dry the dishes, "I don't know how you got him to accept help- Leo's more stubborn than me sometimes,"
Casey laughs, and replies before he could think, "I just reminded him that we're friends with benefits!"
Author's Note: Friendship? Budding romance? You decide- I just had to put the dirty joke- it's like a necessity for every Caseynardo scene these days. I don't think I want to stop writing them. To be fair, I wrote this on DeviantArt and decided the Fanfiction community deserved to see it. Tell me your thoughts!