The distant sound of fighting woke Splinter up. It had been a long time since he’d been woken up to the sounds of his children squabbling, but he still woke, already tumbling out of bed to make sure everyone was all right and in one piece. When his memory of just how old his sons were kicked in he stopped, robe half on, and looked at the clock. It read 2:11 AM. He groaned and finished pulling on his robe and followed the quiet sounds.
The lair was dark, and the main rooms empty. Splinter passed by all the bedrooms, like a shadow, until he came to the garage and training room. He listened for a moment before opening the door and peeking in.
There was one dim light, Raphs phone turned flashlight, sitting on the table.Raphael had Frankenfoot locked in a hold, one massive arm around the throat of the paper ninja. Frankenfoot didn’t need to breathe, and he was wailing on Raph, knocking his head back into Raphs face, elbowing him, and raining hits on the arm that held him.
Splinter crept into the room. He might be a rat man, but he was quiet as a mouse, sticking to the shadows, slipping behind the combatants. He coughed.
Raphael jumped, his grip tightened and Frankenfoots head popped off. Splinters fur and tail all stood up and he jumped back from the sight.
“Ohmigosh.” Raph nearly threw the blinking paper head, juggling it between his hands, before he took solid hold of it and dumped it back on the shoulders of Frankenfoots body. The body had been groping the air around it, searching.
“Hold on, I’ll get the tape, Buddy, you’ll be fine!” Raph said, the air heavy with his fear stink and he grabbed the duct tape he kept, just for putting Frankenfoot back together. He pulled a long strip and approached , with it held neck-high.
Splinter coughed again.
“His head is backwards.” He said, pointing. Raph let go of the tape with one hand, it wrapped around his arm, and reached out to turn Frankenfoots head the right way around. He pulled the tape off his arm, with a wince, and crumpled it into a ball. The tape ball ended up stuck to his plastron as he pulled a new strip of tape and secured Frankenfoots head to his body. He ran around Frankenfoot, wrapping several layers of tape around his neck. He used his teeth to cut the tape and patted the end into place.
He grabbed Frankenfoots shoulders and looked him over.
“You okay?” He asked. Frankenfoot smiled with his eyes, and grabbed Raphs shoulders. He lifted Raphael and threw him, head first, into the ground.
“You’re okay.” Raph said, voice labored, airy, and quiet. He fell down from his enforced headstand, to flat on the ground, with a thud and flailed as he sat up straight, crossing his legs.
“What are you doing up, pops?”
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“Couldn’t sleep. I figured this might help. Or really tire me out” Raph said, shrugging.
Splinter sat next to Raph, with a thud and a grumble about his back.
“You want to talk about it?”
“Donnies battle shell got torn up out there. I was getting thrown around like nothing. That Shredder thing shredded us, we barely could stop him, even for a little!”
“Well… He is a demon. And we took care of it.”
“Yeah, but the foot are still out there,” Raph stabbed the air with his finger, pointing up to the ceiling “what if they get him back?”
“Then we’ll figure out a plan and work together to get rid of him again.”
“But what if he gets Donnie next time. Or Mikey, or Leo. Or April. Or You!”
“I think your missing someone from that count,”
“He’s made of paper, pops, I can put him back together.”
Splinter sighed and shook his head.
“I meant you.”
“Raphael.” Splinter said. Raph squeaked, leaning closer, with his eyes shining. “It’s not that unusual.” Splinter muttered “Anyway, Raphael. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I know that we’ll find a way, no matter what.”
“But how do you know that, the first time we barely stopped him!”
“But we did, you and your brothers came up with a plan and it worked.”
“I dunno. I’ve just been worrying about them ever since. What am I even good for if I can’t protect them?”
“Oh a lot of things. I always thought you were great for opening jars.”
“Trying to lighten the mood.”
Raphael sighed and fiddled with the edge of his bandana, eyes cast down, and a frown on his face. Splinter sighed and reached up to take one of Raphael’s hands in his own. He held it tight.
“My son. I cannot promise that we will never have an enemy that will be too much for us. But I know that we will protect each other, and even if we have to retreat and regroup we will get through whatever life throws at us.” Splinter looked up at Raph and smiled.
Raphael didn’t look entirely convinced as he smiled back, it didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“Red. You remember The Family of the Flying Fists of Fury?”
“The movie where they introduced Lou Jitsus family to start a spin off movie series for his sister, Sue Jitsu?”
“Yes, that one. What did that movie teach you?”
“If you’re going to bill a new spin off movie series as an action movie series, don’t have it be a romance instead?”
“Well, yes, but besides that.”
“Trust your family and they’ll always come through”
Raphael smiled again, and it turned out a little better than his last one had. But it was still fighting against the weight in his heart. Splinter took Raphs hand and squeezed it.
“You boys are good, you’ve got April and me, and even,” He sighed “Draxum with you. I would bet on up against any odds.” He said, with absolute conviction. Raph sat there for a moment and then squeezed Splinters hand back. In fact he pulled Splinter into a hug, holding his dad to his plastron as securely as he did any stuffed toy
“Are you going to go back to bed, dad?”
“Hmmmmm. Want to watch a movie?”
“It’s 2am.” Splinter said. Raph looked down at him, with big, sad eyes. “Yes, fine, let’s watch a movie.”
“Can we watch the Sue Jitsu movie?”
“That one? You sure? I mean it wasn’t a good movie, even if you ignore that they totally screwed up by not making it an action movie.”
Raphael nodded. Splinter pushed himself up to a standing position.
“Then I guess that’s what we’re watching.”
When morning hit in the Hamato home and Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo made their collective ways to the kitchen to eat. On the way they found Splinter and Raphael, on the couch, with the projector going, the last reel spinning and the screen dark. Splinter was jammed against the arm of the couch, Raphaels head and shoulders were in his lap. Splinter’s cheek was pressed against the top of Raphaels head. They both snored.
“Aw, that’s sweet.” Mikey said.
“Sure is.” Leo said, walking to the projector and turning it off. He picked up the empty reel cases and held one in each hand. He smirked and threw his hands apart, holding the reels like cymbals.