Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Fan Fiction ❯ Masked Insecurity ❯ Flayed Open ( Chapter 7 )
They all sat up, gasping. They looked around. They were in Raphael's room, but Raphael wasn't anywhere in sight. The bed was empty. They suddenly heard the door to the lair open and close. They were shocked and bewildered, especially Splinter. But not Michelangelo. He sighed.
"He's worse than I thought, but I'm not surprised," he said.
"But Anger…" Leonardo said.
"Has every right to be there," the orange clad turtle said firmly. "He was right about everything. Even you, Sensei. Even now, unless he's in trouble, you still don't give him very much attention. Raph used to come talk to me about everything. After he freaked and punched you in the bathroom, Leo, he mostly stopped. He needs somebody to talk to. And besides me, nobody was ever willing to listen."
Splinter sighed, placing his head in his hands. "What have I done?"
"Isolated him to the point of him thinking you don't love him," Michelangelo said lightly as he stood.
"Mikey!" Donatello and Leonardo hissed.
"What? He asked."
They glared at their brother then glanced worriedly at their father.
"I need some time to think," Splinter finally said, standing shakily and hurrying to his room.
Leonardo and Donatello stood as well, walking out of Raphael's room with Michelangelo. The orange masked turtle walked into dining room and began to eat the pizza that was left. He froze.
"Mikey? What's wrong?" Donatello asked.
"It's impossible," he said. "We were gone for days!"
"What are you talking about?" Leonardo demanded.
"It's still hot!"
Donatello and Leonardo were there in an instant. They touched a piece and Michelangelo was right. The pizza was still fresh and hot. They sat and ate, suddenly realizing how hungry they were. They also noticed that one box was gone.
Hours later, everybody was asleep but Leonardo. The door to the lair opened and Raphael came in. Leonardo immediately leaped up, hurrying over to him.
"Raph, I want to say—" he started.
"Not tonight Leo. Rage really did a number on me," Raphael said weakly, walking into the kitchen.
"I need to say it, Raph. I'm sorry. I really am."
"That doesn't take care of my problem."
"I know! If I could take it all back I would!"
Raphael turned, taking his mask off. "Leo, you hurt me. A lot. It's going to take a lot for me to ever feel safe around you. Okay?"
Leonardo nodded. "I guess it can't be helped. I love you, Raphie."
"I…I guess I love you, too, Leo. I mean, I wouldn't want anything to happen to you, but…" Raphael looked down and hugged himself. He took a soda out of the fridge and headed for his room.
Raphael acted strange for the next week. He wasn't his usual, tough-as-nails self. He was constantly curled up, and would run from the room when he suddenly began to cry. He finally broke during training and sat down, hugging himself, a gesture they were really getting used to. Splinter wrapped an arm around him.
"My son, my son, what is wrong?"
"I don't know," Raphael muttered. "I feel…weak around you guys. Like I'm flayed open and you can see everything. I feel…"
"Vulnerable," Donatello said gently. "The word you're looking for is vulnerable."
Raphael nodded. "Why? I don't understand."
"Come," Splinter said softly. "We have done enough training for today, I think. It is time we talk."
They were soon settled in the living room. Raphael stood away from everyone else as they sat down. He was still hugging himself.
"Now, mind walking is a very intimate thing, to be sure," Splinter said when they were settled. "But opening yourself up as deeply as you did, Raphael, is to become vulnerable. What you are feeling is the aftereffects of such a connection. You need to feel close to us again, but you are holding back."
"I don't want to be close," Raphael muttered.
"Why not?" Leonardo asked gently.
Raphael looked up at them and answered honestly. "I'm afraid of being hurt or laughed at for the way I feel. I don't want you to be disgusted or put off that I have anger issues, or that my greatest Enemy is my own Insecurity. I want you to…"
"To?" Splinter prodded.
"No. It sounds stupid."
"We love you, Raphie," Leonardo said softly
Raphael frowned and sighed. "I want you to…h-hold me and tell me that everything's going to be alright. I want to know that I can cry whenever I need to and not be hurt by somebody laughing at me. I need…"
Raphael trailed off and shivered, tightening his arms around himself. Leonardo stood first, drawing the red masked turtle over to sit down. He pulled Raphael's arms apart and wrapped one of them around himself before embracing Raphael.
"Raph, you're the only one who thinks we're going to do the bad things and not do the good things. It's alright. It really is. Now relax. Please? You haven't relaxed since that clearing in your head. We love you, okay? We really, really do. Right?" He asked, looking around.
"Of course dude," Michelangelo said with a nod, quickly going over to grab his brother's free hand. "We're family. We always will be."
"I concur completely," Donatello said with a note of amusement in his voice; Raphael always teased him about using strange words. "I love you, big brother. You don't have to be tougher than all of us all the time. You are allowed to feel. I promise."
Splinter walked over and placed his hand under his son's chin, tilting the green head up to look at him. "I love you as well, my son. You needn't fear us."
Raphael slowly looked them over and nodded then burst into tears. He still felt so very vulnerable, but he could tell they meant it, so it didn't matter. True to their word, he was embraced and held as his feelings burst forward. He finally relaxed and pressed into their arms as his tears were spent. His mask was quite wet, and Leonardo hesitantly reached for it. Raphael turned his head to look at him, but didn't stop him. The blue masked turtle used the dry parts of the mask to wipe the excess water off his brother's face then Raphael lazily opened his eyes.
"Dude! Your eyes did change colors!" Michelangelo gasped.
"They fit together quite well," Donatello said as he studied them.
"Eh, I like 'em," Raphael said softly.
"They fit you quite well, my son," Splinter said fondly. "But why did you stop showing us your eyes."
"Because I had black eyes. And what does that mean Leo?"
"That means…the devil's gonna getcha," Leonardo muttered in embarrassment.
"Ya know, Leo, I have a retort to that now," Raphael said, smiling and making his eyes gleam.
"What is that?"
"Father's got black eyes. So whaddaya say to that?"
Leonardo blinked. "Wow, I was a stupid kid."
They laughed. Leonardo took off his own mask and the other two followed. "Well Raphie," Leonardo said. "What do you want to do now?"
Raphael shrugged. "I don't know. Watch a movie?"
"But we've seen all our movies," Michelangelo whined.
The golden eyed turtle smirked. "No ya haven't. I got some hidden away."
"Raph!" Donatello yelped, gesturing at Splinter with his eyes.
"Oh, he used ta watch 'em with me."
The three turtles were so stunned that Raphael laughed. He stood, left the room, and came back with several DVDs. He handed one to Donatello, who cringed and looked at it with Leonardo and Michelangelo. The orange eyed turtle burst out laughing. The other two relaxed and laughed, too, albeit a bit relieved.
"What kinda movies did ya think I meant?" Raphael asked knowingly.
"Well, certainly not cartoons," Leonardo said with a shake of his head.
"Eh, I'm not inta that as much as ya probably think. I mean, we've all looked around at the stuff, but it didn't really tickle my fancy."
"Uh, dude, you know Splinter's in the room, right?" Michelangelo asked.
"Uh, dude," Raphael mocked. "Do ya think he didn't know that we were getting inta that kind of thing?"
The other three looked uncomfortable as Raphael gave their father the selection. He picked up one.
"As I recall, you liked the one with the puppy and the six rabbits."
"Yep. I like all of 'em, ta be honest."
"When did you get into cartoons again?" Leonardo asked as Raphael set up the system and popped in the DVD.
"I never outgrew 'em. I just watch 'em when you're all in bed, or when you're not home."
"Well, that's stupid. I can take a good cartoon every once in a while," Donatello said.
"Good. 'Cause this is a good cartoon."
Raph went back and plopped down beside his older brother. They sat there contentedly as the movie started, feeling like more of a family than they had in years.