((alright, as I promised, I have brought up Leo's 'revenge fic' that many have asked about. a LOT of thanks to Splinter for jumping on me and getting me to write this thing. I couldnt have done it without her naughty lil Mikey.. :) ))

Returning the Favor

It was relatively quiet in the lair. Splinter had gone for an early evening supply run and left the boys to chores and free time. Once the boys had finished their daily chores of sweeping and de-cluttering their rooms, they strayed into different areas of their home to play or read. The littlest had taken out a small puzzle, only a few pieces missing. A pair of clear green eyes peeked into the bedroom. The blue masked boy pushed the door open, stepping into the bedroom.

"Hey Mikey…" The little turtle looked up from his puzzle. Brown puppy eyes peeked up from the fragmented picture. His older brother walked over, looking excited.

"Yeah Leo?"

"Come with me, there's something I gotta show you!" Leo quickly grabbed his brother's hand, pulling him to his feet.

"Huh?" Mike blinked confusedly.

"Come on!" Leo said, pulling him to the door.

"Wait wait," Mike said, dragging his feet, "where are we goin?"

Leo opened the door, glancing up and down the hallway. He let go of Mike's hand, slowly stepping into the hall. Raph and Don's bedroom door was closed, and he couldn't hear anything else in the lair.

"There's something out in the tunnel you need to get," Leo replied.

"But…we're not supposed to go out of the lair," Mike said, blinking at him. Leo groaned a little and started pushing Mike down the hall. The little turtle eeped, stepping into the den. He looked around nervously for anyone else who might see them. He caught his footing again as Leo let him go and walked to the door.

"Don't be a baby, Mikey."

"Leo, we can't go out there, we'll get in a lot of trouble," Mike said before getting shushed. He watched his brother step up to the door, putting his ear against it. Leo scrunched his face a little before nodding. He opened the lair door, keeping it from banging against the brick wall.

"It'll only take a minute, I promise," Leo said, giving him his best 'Ani' Older brother face.

"But…but its dark out there," Mike said, his thumb popping into his mouth.

"I'll keep the lair door open. Plenty of light, ok?" Leo replied, "You can even see if from here."

"I drnrr…" Mike slurred around his thumb. He pops his thumb out of his mouth, peeking out to the dark tunnel.

"You'll be fine Mike," Leo replied, looking at him, "You get the thing, and I'll find something to clean it off with, ok?"

Mike blinked, shaking his head. There was NO way his brother was going to get him out there alone. He backpedaled from the door, only to have his brother catch his arm.

"Are you crazy! I'm not goin out there all by myself!" Mike yelped.

"Stop being such a baby Mikey," Leo said, folding his arms.

"I'm not a baby," Mike said, scowling, "Why don't you go?"

"Because I have to keep an eye out for Don and Raph. Please Mike, just this one favor, please?"

Mike chewed his lip, looking out at the darkness. He hated the darkness. He had slept with a nightlight in his and Leo's room for as long as he could remember. He even had to trade rooms with Donnie because he was driving Raph nuts and getting made fun of in return. At least Leo was nice enough to let him share a bed whenever he got scared. He looked at his Ani nervously.

"Come on Mikey," Leo said, "you know all the stuff Papa's told us about being brave ninjas and stuff."

"Papa's told us not to go out of the lair too," the little turtle replied. He trembled slightly, knowing the punishment for disobeying such an important rule. Their father would eventually become a bit more lax in this rule when they were older, but for now he was very strict about keeping them hidden and safe.

"I'll cover for you, ok?" Leo said smiling. "I'll help you get it to the bathroom and clean it off and stuff. Think of it like a treasure hunt... Like that book Papa always reads to us."

Mike smiled a little at his brother's enthusiasm. He had always wanted to go out and find stuff from above. It was always a special thing to find something from humans. He even had his own collection of comic books and picture books from trips with Splinter to the dump. The favorite book of him and his brothers was 'Treasure Island', where the pirates were searching for a hidden treasure and had to go through all sorts of adventures. He sucked on the inside of his cheek a little before nodding.

"Ok… but you gotta stay and help."

"You just jump down there and get the thing," Leo replied, "I'll keep watch."

Mike nodded, peeking out the door nervously. He slowly put a foot out the door, stepping onto cool wet concrete. He shivered slightly in the darkness, glancing back at his brother. Leo gave a small nod, and kept the door open for light. Mike swallowed, getting both feet onto the concrete ledge. Just as his brother had said, a slight gleam could be seen in the gully of sewer slime. He sat down on the ledge, feet dangling over the edge. He slowly slid down, his feet touching wet squishy newspapers and rotten trash. He slowly approached the gleaming object, like a fish going towards the shine of a fishing lure.

Leo watched from the inside of the door, keeping an ear out for one of their other brothers. He glanced at the clock, making sure he wasn't doing this too soon. He had to time this just right. Seeing Mike's shell in the faint light, he hid a tiny smirk. He backed away from the door and headed towards the hall.

Mike continued his trek across the sewerbed, the shiny object becoming brighter and more focused. He tripped on some unseen object in the gunk and falls to his knees, getting his legs covered in muck. He grimaced, sitting up on his knees. He reaches forward, his now greasy hand picking up the shiny object and pulls it towards him. He wipes away the muck and his eyes widen…

Leo peeked into the hallway, listening for voices. Hearing nothing, he moved slowly back towards the living room. He glanced at the clock again. Its almost time…

Mike gasped, looking over the knife in his hands. It wasn't just any knife. It was Master Splinter's tanto. It was a special blade that his master had kept while he had been alive. No one was allowed to touch it, whether Splinter was there or not. What was it doing out here?

Mike got his feet, looking up and down the tunnel before walking back towards the ledge. He had to tell Leo about it and get it cleaned up and back into Splinter's room before he got back from scavenging. He came up to the edge and reached up, just out of reach of the ridge to pull himself up. He tried hopping up to reach it, but to no avail. Cold sewer water ran around his calves as he tried to climb out. He tucked the knife into his belt and jumped up with both hands. He wriggled, kicking his legs as he tried to pull his chubby body up onto the ledge.

"Leo…anyone?" He grunted, trying to keep hold, "help me up!"

One of his hands slipped, slick with grease and grime from the gully. He yelped, his hand flailing and trying to grab onto the ledge again. Before he could call for help, someone or something scooped him up from the ledge, holding him under his arms. Mike yelped loudly and wriggled, the figure's face hidden in shadow.

"Lemme go!" Mike howled, kicking his legs. The figure slowly entered the light of the lair doorway, showing whiskers, a long muzzle and a deep frown. Mike froze, looking at his father's face.

"Michelangelo Hamato… what are you doing out of the lair?"

Mike blinked widely, moving the tanto down behind his back. Splinter sat Mike in one arm, wiping muck from his feet until bringing him into the lair. Mike clung to his father's shoulder as they went inside. Splinter set the mucked up turtle on his feet before closing the door.

Leo spun around at his brother's shouts. He ran to the bedroom door and almost to the den, until he heard the voice of their father. He peeked around the corner, seeing his brother

"Michelangelo, I asked you a question," Splinter repeated sternly, "What were you doing out of the Lair?"

Mike shrank down, chewing his lip. The three brothers in the hall peeked from the hallway.

"I…I…uh…I was…..do…doing something.. for Leo," He replied timidly. He saw his brothers in the corner of his eye and glanced to Leo hopefully, "Right, Leo?"

"What are you talking about, Mike?" Leo replied. Mike blinked, looking from their Sensei to Leo again.

"You… Leo.. TELL HIM…." Mike said, turning to Sp, "He told me to do it."

"Told you to do what?" Leo said, "I've been playing with a puzzle." Mike's jaw dropped. He looked at his brother in astonishment.

"NO you haven't! You told me to go outside!"

"How dare you lie about me," Leo said with his most convincing voice, " I didn't force you to do Anything!"

"Enough, both of you." Splinter's voice broke them from their bickering, attracting the attention of Raphael and Donatello and drawing them to the hallway. Once he had their attention again, Splinter turned to his littlest, and dirtiest son.

"Michelangelo…"

"But…but papa…" Mike said pleadingly, "he did…"

"Hush… Leonardo, come out here please," Splinter said. Leo stepped into the living room, looking from Splinter to Mike. He frowned, seeing the tanto in the back of Mike's belt.

"What's that thing in your belt, Mike?" Leo said with an air of curiosity. Mike's eyes snapped open, both hands going behind his back. He glared at Leo for not helping him.

"Leo," He replied quickly, "come on, it's the—" Mike stopped mid-sentence, remembering their father was listening. Splinter frowned slightly, looking to the muddy turtle.

"What are you hiding?"

"Nothing…" the little turtle replied, taking a small step backwards. Splinter shook his head, motioning to Mike with a dreadful finger.

"Show me what is in your hands, please."

The young turtle showed Splinter his empty left hand.

"Your other hand, please," he said.

Mike showed Splinter one hand, put it behind his back and then shows the other empty hand. Splinter sighed inwardly, giving his son a look.

"Michelangelo…"

The young turtle looked up at his father innocently. Splinter knelt down on one knee in front of the young boy, still not yet having removed his coat or scarf. Michelangelo gave his most innocent expression.

"Show me both of your hands, young man," Splinter said, giving Mike a small look. Considering his options, Mike inconspicuously tucked the blade into the back of his belt and showed his father both hands, giving his best 'I'm you're little boy and you love me' smile.

Unfazed by the look, Splinter took the boy by the shoulders and turned him around. He removed the tanto from his son's belt and looked at it. Mike turned back and blinked.

"How did That get back there!"

Splinter wiped the blade clean, his eyes narrowed slightly. He frowned at the familiar blade, and turned to the stricken turtle.

"Where did you take this from?" Splinter ordered. His voice was low, which was more dangerous than when he yelled. Barely audible whispers hissed between two little brothers in the hallway, trying not to catch the adult's attention.

Mike blinked at his father and the blade in his hand, his mind reeling for an answer. He kept telling Splinter that Leo had told him to go get the thing from out, but Leo was denying it. What could he do? An idea suddenly popped into his head.

"'Member when…we were studyin History?" Mike asked, biting his lip.

"Yes…" Splinter replied, giving him a little look.

"And…and you said there was a law," Mike continued, digging his toe into the rug, "a low that said a people don't hafta tell on themselves?"

"He's trying to plead the Fifth Amendment?" A tiny voice whispered in the hall. Another green hand clamped over his mouth.

"Shut up Donnie, 'm tryin to hear," Raph replied just as quietly. Don pulled away, returning his attention to the scene in the Den.

Splinter frowned a little, recalling the lesson back earlier in the week. While part of him was pleased that his son had actually remembered the lesson, the other part knew not to fall for his little boy's ploy.

"There is also a 'law' Here about taking weapons out of the dojo," Splinter replied, "as well as sneaking out of the lair. And do not forget what happens to those who do so."

"But I didn't take it out of the dojo!" Mike said, shaking his head fervently. Splinter gently caught his arm.

"I very much doubt that it could have gotten up and gone out to the tunnel on its own," Splinter replied.

"It had to! It was in the sewer slime! Maybe a rat did it…" Mike said quickly, trying to take a step back. Splinter got to his feet, keeping a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"Do not lie young man," Splinter scolded lightly, "you are in enough trouble now."

"Leo!" Mike squeaked, "Tell him the truth!"

This caused Splinter to look from Mike to Leo. Leo blinked, trying to keep his resolve.

"I—I was working on a puzzle. I can even show you…" The oldest boy said. Mike looked at his brother, astonished.

"No you weren't! That's' MY puzzle!" Mike yelled.

"Hush, both of you," Splinter said, nudging them both towards the hallway. Mike shrank down, throwing a hurt glare at his brother.

"Mike's dead," Raph said, shaking his head. Don shushed him, not wanting to get caught eavesdropping.

Leo ignored the other two watching the scene and opened the bedroom door. In plain view, was a partially completed puzzle, pieces carefully put into lines beside the completed part, just as Leo liked to put it when he made a puzzle.

"See, Papa?" Leo said, looking at his father innocently. Mike was not the only one who could use that face. Splinter nodded slightly, and Mike gasped a little.

"You liar, I Did that!" Mike said, a little growl in his throat.

"Stop trying to put the blame on me, Mikey," Leo replied, frowning at his brother.

"Enough," Splinter said, frowning down at Mike, "Go into the study, and stand in the corner until I get there."

"But…Papa.." Mike pleaded, looking up with misty eyes.

"Now," Splinter said firmly. Not to be swayed by the act, he turned Mike slightly, giving him a small swat to the backside. Nothing hard, just a small attention-getter. But one could almost hear the sympathy 'oohs' the brothers were thinking.

"I didn't…" Mike yelped, glancing at the peanut gallery with a blush.

"Go, young man," Splinter replied. He turned to the others, "back to your rooms, young ones."

The other three fled to their rooms, all too happy to obey their Papa. Leo kept his door open an inch, watching his brother get led down the hall. He felt a small knot form in his stomach.

This isn't how it was supposed to happen. I wanted Mike in trouble, but… not THAT much.

Later that evening, Leo sat on the couch in the living room, arms clasped around his knees. His mind kept going back to the trick he'd pulled, and his brother's hurt desperate looks. He felt worse when his brother came out for supper—the bright blush, rubbing at his eyes. He was so quiet… he barely spoke at the table, and came and left as quickly as he could.

Leo glanced up, seeing Splinter walking into the hallway. He'd heard Mike had been given an early bedtime. Leo slid down from the couch, leaving Don and Raph to watch MacGuyver. He slowly made his way to the hallway, seeing the door to the bedroom mostly closed. He glanced back at the living room before tiptoeing towards the door. He held his breath and peeked inside.

Splinter sat in Mike's bottom bunk, the lil turtle curled up in his lap. Splinter was rocking gently, rubbing his shell and speaking to him in soft Japanese. They all knew the language, it just allowed them to feel more private when they talked. Splinter gave Mike a hug before tucking him into his bed, and got to his feet. Leo backed away from the door, disappearing into the next bedroom down. A moment later, Leo saw his father emerge from the bedroom, leaving the door open a few inches to let some light in.

Once his father disappeared down the hall, Leo slowly crept down to the bedroom, inching the door open. In the bottom bunk, a small figure lay curled up on his side, facing the wall. A quiet sniffle brushed past Leo's ears, and he sighed inwardly.

I went too far..

Leonardo slowly inched into the room, closing the door behind him. The figure on the bed froze a lil, pulling the blanket tighter a round him. Leo felt the knot in his stomach grow worse as he walked up to the bed.

"Mikey..?" He whispered. The little turtle in the bed didn't reply. Leo slowly inched closer to the bed, chewing his lip a lil.

"Mikey?"

"Go 'way."

Leo blinked at his brother. He knew he'd gone too far. Mike usually wanted attentions and comfort after a punishment. But would he want it from the brother who got him into trouble?

"Mikey, I...I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen," Leo replied quietly, taking a small step towards the bed.

"I hate you."

Leo blinked again. He couldn't believe he was hearing this from Mikey… Mikey. He never hated anything. Except for vegetables. Hate was such a strong word, and it hurt as much to hear it as it was to say it.

Mike sniffled quietly, scooting closer to the far wall. He 'turtled up', pulling his limbs into his body, leaving a small trembling shell in the covers. Leo blinked a few times, his own eyes stinging with tears.

"I'm sorry Mikey… I shouldn't have let it go so far," Leo said softly, "I didn't think Sensei would punish you so bad." He glanced at the unresponsive shell, taking a small step forward.

"Its ok if you hate me, Mikey," He said, looking at his feet.

Mike murmured something from inside his shell. Leo looked up at him questioningly.

"You Lied." From the shell came a small whimper.

Leo felt the knot in his stomach grow bigger. He had to right things, both with his brother and himself.

"I...I'll confess," Leo said solemnly, "I'll go to papa right now and tell him I did it, and take what you got for punishment and more."

The little shell's whimpering paused, and the room became quiet. Leo's green eyes sparkled in the dim light.

"I…I'll go do it…now," he said. The boy blinked a few times before turning for the door.

"Leo…"

Leo turned back to the bed, wiping his eyes. Mike was on his hands and knees, blanket still over him. His mask and gear was off, only shadows playing on his face. Hurt and betrayal played over his features.

"You... you gonna tell the truth?" Mike said, sniffling. It sounded more as a statement than a question. Leo nodded slowly.

"I'll tell everything," Leo replied, "the tanto, telling you to go out. And lying."

Mike looked at his brother, lower lip slowly jutting out.

"Why…why did you do that?" the little brother said, his voice wavering. The oldest boy looked at him regretfully before walking over to the bed.

"I… I was mad. Cuz.. cuz you'd done the same thing to me," He replied. Mike looked at him and thought back to a week ago.

"Leo.." Mike sighed, "I didn't get you into this much trouble."

Leo looked down at his feet. Mike was right. He had only received a scolding and early bedtime for what Mike had done. But Mike… he'd received the worse of the situation.

"I promise I'll never do that to you again, Mikey," Leo promised, "I won't get you in trouble for anything I did. I'll… I'll even protect you from Raph and Don if they do it."

Mike looked down at the pillow, unsure.

"Mike," Leo said with a touch of desperation in his voice, "I'll even help you… when Papa's gotta punish you. I'll…I'll take the blame…I'll…do anything. Please.. don't hate me."

The young turtle looked up at his brother, his face wet with tears. Leo's lower lip quivered as he looked at his lil brother. After a long moment, Mike reached his arms up to his older brother. Leo almost ran to the bed, wrapping his arms around his brother.

"I'll be a good older brother, Mikey… a really good one," Leo swore, " I'll be the best Ani you could ever wish for." The little turtle put his head on his brother's shoulder, sitting back on his knees.

"Love you, Ani," Mike whispered. Leo hugged his brother tightly.

"Love you too, Oto Little brother ", Leo replied.