A bead of sweat tracked down the side of Leonardo’s temple and he brushed it aside in irritation.
The blue wire or the red wire?
The cutters hesitated over the tangled nest in indecision. Donatello always made this look so easy and it’s not like he had a manual for every situation. Leo swallowed and then took a deep breath.
Focus. You can do this.
Though his audience wasn’t helping his concentration. Raphael was tapping the table impatiently. ‘You gonna stare at that thing all day, bro? Kinda runnin’ out of time here.’
Leo shot his brother a frustrated glare.
‘Would you like to take over?’ He demanded.
The emerald turtle raised his hands in mock surrender. ‘I’m just sayin’ … ain’t like it’s a bomb.’
Leo looked back down at the mangled toaster. It was a mess. Somehow all the bits that had once slotted neatly into the device had unravelled until he found it hard to believe it had all fit in there in the first place, and while he had plenty of experience doing odd jobs around the lair, electrical appliances were an entirely different field of expertise at which he was sadly lacking.
It was the second time this week … the fourth time in a month the toaster had hissed definitely, spat out a few angry sparks and promptly died … and Don was utterly, royally pissed. Leo had no idea why the appliances hated him so much … perhaps it had something to do with the power of his Qi because nobody else seemed to have the same problems. Regardless, Donnie may have the patience of a Saint but even he had his limits and Leo really didn’t want that acidic glare directed at him again if he could help it.
Raphael rolled his eyes. ‘C’mon Leo. It’s already broken. Not that I don’t enjoy watching you squirm but try something already - it ain’t gonna detonate on ya.’
‘No, but Don might.‘ he muttered painfully.
‘Yeah well, takin’ it in there before his morning coffee wasn’t your brightest tactical moment, bro. Shell, even I know not to bug him with the shit I’ve broken til he’s in a good mood.’
‘Not helping, Raph.’ He growled flatly. The toaster mocked him with its brightly coloured wires and tiny springs. He took a deep breath, glared in irritation and silently swore not to make another bet with Don unless there was no other choice.
‘What are the stakes again?’ he demanded quietly.
Raph put his chin in his hand with a lopsided grin of evil amusement. Of course Leo recalled the stakes … he was just fishing for motivation.
‘Two week's of chores, bro.’ He glanced at the clock on the wall. ‘An you only have another hour to get this baby toastin’ again or he wins.’ He shook his head with a faint snort. ‘Admit it, Leo. You’re screwed.’
Leonardo shot him a dirty look. ‘Hey, are you going to help me or just be a pain in the ass?’
Raph waved the instruction booklet in his direction. ‘Shell, I ain’t the one who went and broke the damn toaster for the millionth time and you’re the moron that accepted the bet in the first place. Re-soldering the blue wire outta do it. You don’t believe me there ain’t much I can do.’
Leo leaned across the table with a dangerous look. ‘You’d better be telling the truth Raph, or guess who’ll be helping me with those chores.’ There was always the possibility of sabotage in a house full of brothers, especially with this particular turtle.
Raph grinned smugly. ‘As good as you’d look bent over an’ pushing a mop around, I ain’t messing with this one. Donnie promised to help modify some parts for the shellcycle later and I ain’t riskin’ that when he’s been so damn busy lately.’ He tossed the manual across the table. ‘See for yourself, since ya don’t trust me.’
The manual was little more than a few stapled sheets of paper ripped off the internet, showing the model of their ancient toaster with some barely comprehensible schematics.
Leo’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the diagrams. He was fluent in three different languages, competent in two others … yet the information on the pages made little sense to him. Raph was right. He was screwed.
‘Y’know … there is another alternative to this.’ The emerald turtle offered at the fifteen minute mark.
Leo didn’t look up. ‘Which is?’
His brother rocked back in his chair, crossing his arms behind his head. ‘I could have the toaster fixed in five minutes … and then you’d owe me instead of Donnie.’
Leo eyed him flatly. ‘And exactly how does that improve my situation?’
Raph smiled, his gaze turning suggestive. ‘You got no imagination bro or you wouldn’t even need to ask that. Just trust me when I say I got better things for you to be doin’ with your hands than menial labour.’
Leo eyed his brother’s deliberate pose … the impressive biceps and the too-confident smile, sexy as hell and deliberately tempting. It set warning bells off in his head. There was a trap here. ‘You’re suggesting that I cheat? A bet’s a bet, Raph.’
Raphael rolled his eyes lightly and the chair came down with a sharp bang.
‘Think of it as one bro helpin’ another out.’ He got up casually and walked to Leo’s side, then leaned close, placing one hand on the table next to the toaster, trailing his other fingers through his brothers bandanna. Leo shivered at the soft touch, distracted despite himself.
‘But hey … if the thought of moppin’ turns you on that much … I”ll just havta find other ways to amuse myself while you’re busy playin’ janitor… ‘ His voice dropped until it was a low seductive growl and Leo swallowed, aware of the faint smile in his peripheral vision.
Raph pulled away. ‘Fifteen minutes, Bro. Good luck.’
Leo stared at the tangle of wires for a long moment …. mopping floors …. or Raphie’s slave …. running long tedious fault checks on miles of Don’s tunnel surveillance system …. or lying in bed, Raph ‘s thighs pressed against his own, that powerful body and the angle that his brother knew perfectly … A flush crawled up his face.
Raphael was leaning against the counter with his arms folded … waiting patiently for the inevitable.
‘Two weeks.’ Leo offered.
‘Three.’ Raph countered.
Leo slumped in defeat. ‘Deal.’
His brother grinned. ‘Sealed with a kiss?’
Leo gave in, smiling wryly. ‘Are you going to make me regret this?’ He asked quietly, moving in close. Raph’s response was a hungry murmur as he pressed their mouths together.
An unknown amount of time later Leo pulled away. ‘Raph?’
‘You have six minutes left or no deal.’
‘Crap.’ Raph shoved off the counter and slung himself into the kitchen chair, digging his fingers into the toaster, looking for the right cable.
Leo watched him with a faint smile. In the end it only took four minutes to find the loose wire responsible for the fritzing toaster and solder it back in place, replacing another piece of corrupted wire with salvage from a previous incarnation. Leo got the distinct impression that Raph had already figured out the problem long beforehand.
Don wandered in right on time to see fresh toast pop golden brown out of the resurrected device. He checked the clock and studied the repairs with approval.
‘And it’s not even burnt. Looks like I may have lost this bet.’ he said mildly.
‘You owe me those extra training sessions, Donnie.’ Leo told the genius with a completely straight face. Don nodded in concession to his defeat, completely unfazed.
‘Amazing what we can accomplish with the proper motivation.’ He stated with a faintly smug little smile.
Raphael clapped him on the shoulder as he walked past towing Leo behind him, their fingers entwined.
‘I couldn’t agree more, Donnie-boy.’
Don turned to watch the two of them shove and then chase each other up the stairs until he heard Leo’s door slam shut with a ring of finality. Convincing Don to lose the bet was one of Raphs more cunning moments, the only question was how long it would take Leo to figure it out.
The smell of fresh toast made him smile as he poured a steaming mug of coffee and dumped a few spoons of sugar into it. Now that he’d taught Raph how to fix the toasters it was a job he wouldn’t have to perform for a while and sometimes the currency between brothers was infinitely more useful than money. Raph now owed him two weeks of help with some of the heavier and more tedious jobs around the lair for turning a blind eye to Leo’s little cheat. Leo got the extra training sessions he had been bugging Don for - which he now had time to do, and Raph got Leo beneath him for an extended period of entitled you-owe-me sex. With any luck Leo wasn’t going to feel much like those extra training sessions once Raph was finished with him.
Don grinned again as he wandered back to his lab armed with his coffee, toast and a healthy dose of smug satisfaction. Sometimes you had to lose to win.
Well …. win-win-win, really.