“Again,” Leo barked angrily.
They’d been training for hours in the dojo. They were all sweating profusely and their legs felt like jelly from repeating so many katas. His brothers stared at him warily. Leo’s shoulders were tensed and his mouth was set in a thin line. They knew he was stressed about their most recent run in with the Foot and had been acting uptight and moody since. It was really starting to grate on Raph’s nerves.
“No Leo, not again,” Raph growled, tossing his sai’s behind him and lunged at the young leader. “I’m done with your shit Leo.”
Leo’s eyes widened as Raph crashed into him, pinning him to the ground. Leo’s swords clattered on the floor just out of reach. Raph’s eyes flashed dangerously as he balled his hand into a fist. Leo struggled against him, but Raph’s stronger and heavier physique was unmovable. Leo closed his eyes and braced for impact. Instead of shouting out in pain like he had expected, a laugh bubbled up inside of him, completely catching him off guard. Leo opened his eyes in surprised confusion and laughed again as Raph tickled his sides.
“St-stop Raph!” Leo laughed angrily and tried to buck his brother off.
Raph grinned evilly and shook his head. Behind him, Donnie and Mikey exchanged mischievous glances and closed in on their older brothers. Mikey attacked Leo’s feet and Donnie tickled underneath Leo’s neck.
“Guys! Guys stop it!” Leo choked out between his laughing, desperately trying to dislodge Raph and kick Mikey away.
“What was that Leo? I can’t hear you over all the fun you sound like you’re having,” Mikey teased playfully.
“If- if you st-stop,” Leo was howling with laughter, “W-we can be d-done training today.”
“I don’t know Fearless, I’m not convinced you’ve loosened up enough yet,” Raph smirked and dug his fingers into Leo’s armpits. “What do you think Don?”
“Leo’s been so sick worrying about everything and trying to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. You know, laughter is the best medicine so as the family doctor, I prescribe more of it,” Donnie’s eyes twinkled.
“M-Mikey,” Leo begged, hoping his youngest brother might take pity on him.
Mikey just grinned, “Sorry bro but this is too good. I don’t think we’ve heard you laugh in months.”
“I- I have too,” Leo wheezed.
“Your chuckle snort doesn’t count!” Donnie said and then was met by the incredulous looks of all of his brothers. “What?”
“Chuckle snort?” Raph repeated slowly, not trying to mask his amusement.
Mikey burst out laughing, “Donnie! Chuckle snort?”
“That’s what Leo does!” Donnie said defensively, crossing his arms over his plastron.
“Hey Mikey – let’s see if we can make Donnie-boy chuckle snort,” Raph guffawed and got off of Leo so he could approach his other brother.
Mikey smirked and nodded as Donnie’s eyes widened and he tried scooting away. Leo, who was forgotten for the moment, took advantage and tackled Raph back. Leo smiled and sought tickling revenge on his immediate younger brother. Mikey was still stalking Donnie who gulped. Mikey shouted out a battle cry and dove at the purple banded ninja, pinning him on his carapace.
“Leo – get off of me!” Raph growled between his rumbling laughter.
“No mercy!” Leo laughed back and continued his tickle torture.
Somehow Donnie had flipped his and Mikey’s position and was now ruthlessly tickling the youngest brother. Mikey’s shrieks and giggling echoed around the dojo.
“Donnie! Donnie I’m gonna wet my shell if you don’t st-stop!” Mikey gasped, writhing on the floor with tears forming in his sky blue eyes.
The brothers' eyes widened and they all paused. Donnie, who had been kneeling previously, sat back on his heels and smirked at Mikey who was now blushing. “That’s one mess I don’t want to clean up!” The purple banded ninja teased and helped Mikey to his feet.
“Training is done for today,” Leo announced with a hint of a smile in his eyes.
“Whoo! We should do this more often to get out of training!” Mikey exclaimed and raced out of the dojo.
Donnie shook his head, smiling and called dibs on the TV as he too left the dojo. Leo and Raph watched them go before turning their attention back to each other. Leo offered his hand to help Raph up. Raph smirked and clapped Leo on the back of his shell once he was righted.
“Why do you look so smug?” Leo asked and raised an eye ridge.
“Gotcha to lighten up.”
Leo rolled his eyes and followed him out into the living room.
“Thanks Raph,” he whispered before heading for the bathroom to shower.
“No problem Fearless.”