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“Oh, hell yeah!”

 

“No, don’t you dare- That’s mine, Leo-!”

 

The distant crash makes Raph jump and wince at the resounding BANG! as the twins scramble away, shouting accusations and blame. Mikey winces the same, though he tries to hold a smile one his face a little better than Raph.

 

Ah, Takeout Tuesdays. A highlight of no one’s week- They always end in some type of bloodshed. 

 

“Leo! I specifically asked for the plain white rice because I knew I wouldn’t like the flavor profile of the--”

 

Leo blows a raspberry at Donnie, holding several assorted sauce packets in his hands. Raph drags a hand over his face as he watches the twins bicker over some flavor-texture thing. Leo clearly knows he’s in the wrong here and is owning it, proudly dumping soy sauce, ketchup, and--he doesn't even know what that is -- into Donnie’s practically flavorless food. 

 

“Just doin’ ya a favor, bro!”

 

Leo--!”

 

Raph knows, realistically, he should intervene, but at what cost? He doesn’t want his chicken being ruined with whatever monstrosity sauce Leo’s mixing up. Besides, Raph and Mikey are perfectly fine watching the show from where they are. AND, plus, Donnie gets to kick Leo’s ass without any disruption, so honestly it’s a win-win scenario. Raph is honestly doing them a favor.

 

(He’ll intervene if they start getting real mean with each other. Raph knows Leo ordered an extra thing of plain rice anyways- He always had a soft spot for their soft-shell brother.) 

 

Tearing his gaze away from the bickering twins, Raph goes back to shoveling his own food down his throat. It’s good- always is, even with the headache that forms in the back of his skull every Takeout Tuesday. 

 

“Mikey,” Raph begins, mouth full, “How’s ‘ur food?” It’s a little muffled, but he’s sure Mikey can understand. 

 

When Mikey doesn’t immediately respond, Raph glances over at him. 

 

Mikey’s set his food down on the table, his crab rangoon practically untouched. He almost looks like he’s watching the twins, but his eyes have a sort of far away look that Raph definitely does not like. 

 

“Mikes?”

 

Mikey flinches, eyes going wide as he jumps back. His face falls into a wince for a brief flickering second, before landing on a grin that’s a little too wide. “Oh! Sorry Raph, didn’t hear ya!”

 

“That’s…” Weird. “..Alright. How’s ‘da food?” 

 

“It’s great!” Mikey grins, beaming at Raph. Okay, now that’s a little more like Mikey. But still…

 

“Strange,” Raph starts, glancing back at the untouched food, “Considerin’ you haven’t taken a bite yet.”

 

Mikey blanches at that, face falling for a second before he sheepishly smiles and rubs his neck. “Oh! Oh, yeah, sorry,” He half laughs, looking anywhere but Raph. “It’s just… The fighting!”

Raph raises an eye ridge. Every older sibling instinct in him is screaming right now, the alarms in his head blaring. “The fighting?”

“Yeah!” Mikey says, leaning back in his chair. “Ya know how people make food with love? The fighting, the hatred-” He sniffs a dramatic fake tear at this, hand pressed dramatically to his forehead, “-It’s simply ruining the love! No food born of hate can taste good!”

 

Slightly valid point. Still though-

 

“This food ain’t born of hate, it’s born of some random little joint downtown.”

 

“I’m sure the minimum wage workers slaving away in the kitchen of their second job, desperate to pay New York rent, are putting so much love into our meals,” Mikey pauses to sip his water. “Plus, I don’t remember you being the chef of the family?”

 

“Uh.” Raph blinks. Damn. Dr. Delicate Touch was always a treat to have. 

 

“Anyways!” Mikey claps his hands together, and Raph swears that Mikey winces at the sound. “I’ll put this into the fridge for later, when there’s familial love in the air and Leo also stops wasting all our precious sauces on tormenting Donnie, LEO-!”

 

Leo turns from where he’s hovering over a screaming Donnie, threatening him with sticky sauce-covered hands, and smiles a sheepish smile that says Sorry-Bro-But-This-Is-Too-Funny. Mikey waves him off, moving towards the fridge with his untouched food.

 

Raph swallows the last bite of his food, turning towards Leo. Now it’s time for Big Brother to intervene. “Leo, stop messin’ with Donnie’s sensory issues, I swear if you ruin another’s brother’s appetite-”

 

Mikey sneaks away behind him, unnoticed.

 

///

 

Raph wakes up at three am with a throat drier than a desert. It really is a shame-he finally got into a comfortable position that didn’t involve him ripping the mattress to shreds with his back. But, alas, he’s pretty sure he’s gonna die of thirst if he doesn’t get a glass of water.

 

So, sadly, he pulls himself out of bed. Truly a tragedy. 

 

Dragging himself down the hall, Raph grumbles and mutters to himself. It feels grating against his dry throat, so Raph’s not doing himself any favors, but the cool water he gets from the kitchen is immediately heavenly enough to make up for any pain.

 

Now it’s time to attempt to get comfortable again. Damn his back and overly huge spikes that stab everything. Damn his thirst and inability to remember to get a glass before bed. Damn the legs he has to step over to get to his room. Damn the-

 

Wait. Wait. Roll that back.

 

Turning around, Raph sees that yes, there’s a set of legs laying out in the hallway. They’re mostly inside the room they’re sticking out of, but still. 

 

“Hello?” Why was someone laying on the floor? “Wh..?” Moving closer to the room (the bathroom- who was laying on the floor of the bathroom?), Raph cautiously peeks his head in.

 

Hanging partly out of the bathroom, passed out on the floor, is Mikey.

 

“Mikes?” He doesn’t respond, of course. He’s passed out. “Mikey, why’re you on the floor? Why aren’t ya in bed?”

 

Once again, no response. The body in front of him trembles a bit, curling in on itself. Mikey grabs his knees in his sleep, face falling into a hard wince. He’s not wearing any pajamas or armor or anything, except the familiar purple sweatshirt (did he steal Donnie’s?) hanging too big on his frame. The last time someone wore that sweatshirt was when Donnie got sick. 

 

Something is wrong. Something is wrong. 

 

“Mikey,” Raph says, shaking his littlest brother’s shoulders. “You okay, kid?”

 

The nickname rolls off the tongue with ease, a practiced thing. He hasn’t called his brothers kid in years-it started when he was six and Mikey was four. When Raph first learned he was the oldest and the big one, everyone else the little kid. 

 

Mikey shutters again, a tremor running through him. “R’ph?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, it’s me,” Raph says, trying to keep his tone gentle. Why was Mikey on the floor? “You don’t look too good, kid.”

 

Raph, he thinks to himself. Stop calling him kid. Do something more-uh, sweet?

 

He can work with sweet. “Hey..Sweetie..It’s bedtime. Lemme take you back to ya room, alright?”

Mikey doesn’t respond. His eyes are glazed over again, foggy and distant, like at dinner. God, Raph should’ve known something was wrong the moment Mikey didn’t eat! He should’ve- Ugh!

 

Grumbling to himself again, Raph picks up a limp Mikey and tosses him onto his back (gently, of course). Careful to not impale him on Raph’s spikes, Raph adjusts Mikey’s body so that the dead weight works with gravity, not against. With one hand on Mikey’s arms and the other on his legs, Raph’s ready to go.

 

Until: “R’ph. Take me…Take me back.”

“To your room? Mikes, I’m taking you back to your room.”

“No,” Mikey begins to sound panicked. “R’ph, take me back, now.” 

 

“Mikey-?”

 

Raph. Now.” The urgency in his tone is clear, and Raph is placing Mikey off his shell back into the bathroom as fast as he could. 

 

And thank God he did, because Mikey immediately rushes over to the toilet and promptly vomits, the previous sleepy wanderings forgotten. 

 

“Oh, jeez, I didn’t-Sorry, Mikes.”

Mikey doesn’t respond. He just heaves again, and Raph rubs Mikey’s shell with quiet Easy, kid, easy, ’s until he’s done gagging and simply just spits into the toilet. Ah, flu season. Or maybe food poisoning? Or maybe--

 

“I don’t feel good,” Mikey says, cutting off Raph’s anxious thoughts. The shake is back, and now Raph notices the heat radiating off of Mikey. Fever, probably. God, if only Leo was here. He’d know what was up.

 

“I bet,” Raph huffs a half laugh. He keeps his volume low, voice a whisper to not overload Mikey’s aching head. “Do you want me to stay with you or go get your room all ready?”

 

“I want…” Mikey pauses, for a moment, as if weighing the options. Or maybe he’s just trying to process what Raph’s saying. “Can you… Get my room ready? I wanna go to bed.”

 

Not quite the response Raph was expecting, honestly, but if it’s what Mikey wants… “Okay, I’ll go do that. Brush your teeth while I go do that.”

Mikey throws his head back, a low whine in the back of his throat. “I’m not puttin’ nothing near my mouth ever again.” 

 

That actually makes Raph laugh. A low and quiet laugh, sure, but a laugh nonetheless. “Yeah, but your teeth are gonna dissolve with the acid or whatever.”

“Leave the science for Don,” Mikey says, pressing his forehead against the rim of the toilet seat. Which, like, ew, but Raph also gets how desperate you can get for something cold when you gotta fever like that. 

 

A quick flash of sadness runs through him. His poor little brother- sick. And why did he try so hard not to tell anyone?

 

“Seriously, though, you should brush your teeth.”

 

Mikey dry heaves again-Raph honestly can’t tell if he’s being dramatic or if Mikey’s seriously sick at the idea. Either way, Raph’s immediately by his side whispering apologies, a hand rubbing Mikey’s stomach. Mikey whines, high-pitched, and Raph’s cooing I know ’s back at him.

 

“I know, your tummy hurts-”

“I’m not five, R’ph,” Mikey says (more of a whine again). Damn, Mikey always did get all sassy when he was sick. “I’m just-y’know..Just…”

 

Raph doesn’t get on his case for the mumbling. Humming an agreement with whatever Mikey just tried to say, Raph pushes himself up from the ground. “I’m gonna go get your room ready, m’kay? I’ll be right back.”

 

Mikey hums back, giving a shaky thumbs up. His head doesn’t move from its spot. 

 

And, with that, Raph leaves to go to Mikey’s room.

 

///

 

His handiwork is honestly impressive. He’s quite proud of himself, if he’s being honest (he is). 

 

The perfect blanket pile is constructed in the center of Mikey’s bed. Raph brought every blanket he could find that wasn’t accompanied (other than Leo’s. He totally stole Leo’s blankets. Consider it revenge for ruining half the family’s appetites- and, besides, Leo totally sleeps like the dead, he doesn’t need ‘em).

 

He also set out Mikey’s softest pajamas, so he can live in peak comfort until he gets better. A waste basket, freshly emptied, sits directly at the edge of the bed too-just in case. There’s also a bottle of off-brand flu medicine on the counter. If Mikey thought he was gonna gag at a toothbrush, Raph pities the poor boy trying to swallow the gross liquid. 

 

Oh, and of course: A few glasses of water. Yes, several- You can’t be over prepared for anything. 

 

Retrieving Mikey from the bathroom’s easy. He’s passed out on the ground again, the same sorta tremble from before wracking the tiny frame. Thankfully, when Raph carries him to his room, he doesn’t wake up in a rush again. 

 

Raph wraps his little brother in the blankets, good and snug. Only after he slides on the pajamas, of course, which is easier said than done with the limp body. 

 

“Let’s getcha tucked in, huh?” Raph finds himself saying to no one. Mikey is very much out, with little chance of waking up again. “There you go! Snug as a bug in a rug.”

 

The phrase, which usually would initiate a teasing response from someone, is left unheard. The sudden loneliness of the situation presses down on the back of Raph’s skull, but he represses that kind of worry deep down. 

 

“Get some rest, kid,” Raph finds himself whispering. He leans his head against Mikey’s blanket paradise, his own shoulders running with goosebumps at the cold chill of the room. “Sweet dreams. See ya in the morning.”

 

And, with that, Raph nods off.