Summary: It all started out like any other day … until Leo collapses and suffers a seizure and a stroke. In the passing of a few minutes, their lives will be changed forever. They have faced many challenges in their lives but will this prove to be too much?

Disclaimer: I Own Nothing

I had held the meeting with all my sons, Leonardo included, though he already knew what was to be discussed. It had not gone well. As expected, my sons were surprised and upset. I was destroying their identity; of course they would be upset. The debate raged for hours, long after Leonardo became bored and fell asleep. We paused long enough for Donatello to get a blanket to cover him and then, the debate resumed.

The main bone of contention was Karai's honour. Would she uphold her truce or not? Would she win the war and then come for us? Answers we would only get with time. In the end, amazingly, they all somewhat, detesting agreed. I let them think about it over night but when we met again the next morning, their decision still held.

We would sign a truce with Karai. We would no longer fight against the Foot Clan. We would fade into the shadows. We would live.

Michelangelo's P.O.V.

Tonight was the night. Tonight it all ended. Tonight we made a truce with Karai.

This night has approached with such force; I cannot even believe it was here. It only seems days ago we had discussed the truce; then we had to contact Karai, wait for her reply and now, it had to be formally recognized.

I felt so underdressed.

Something so important and we were only going to wear what we wore everyday! I raised the question of hiring suits, Raph raised his hand to hit me, I dropped the subject. I didn't ask again.

In an effort to put something into this event, I washed my pads, belt, bandanna and cleaned my weapons. It didn't make much of a difference, now everything was just clean … and scratchy.

Deciding I can't waste any more time in my room, I left, heading towards Donny's.

"You ready?"

"Yeah" comes a voice from somewhere within the workspace Donny likes to call his room. Out from the gloom he comes, fiddling with his belt.

"What's the matter" I asked as we descend to the ground floor.

"Washed my gear" Donny grunts, struggling with his belt "Must … have shrunk in the wash"

I let out a laugh. So I wasn't the only one.

The lair is unusually quiet. I can see candle light flicker from Splinters room but as I head over, I see Leo and Raph emerge, closely followed by Master Splinter. Splinter is holding a small wooden box and as they all walk over towards the lifts, I see Raphael is also carrying something wrapped in an ornament sheet. As they kneel, Master Splinter at the front and them facing him, he puts it on the ground besides him.

Not quite sure what is happening but going with the flow, Donny and I also kneel, one on either side of our brothers. Settling next to Raph, I see the sheet covers Leo's swords.

What is happening?

Slowly, Sensei bows towards us and we copy his actions. Once finished, Raphael picks up and unravels the swords from within the sheet before handing them to Leonardo with a short bow. Bowing in return, he stares at them for a few seconds before presenting them to Master Splinter, bowing again as Sensei bows as he receives them.

All this bowing is making my back ache and I'm not even doing it!

Sensei than stands, taking the swords with him and walks over to the display we had made to house Leonardo's swords. The display is now empty.

He again bows, what is with all this bowing, and places the swords in a cross formation. Not realizing he has moved, I nearly jump as Leonardo stands besides Master Splinter. They turn and face each other, shock horror they bow again! But then Leonardo begins to undo his belt and pads, slowly discarding his gear.

Lets be honest, I'm not saying we don't run around half naked anyway but still, slightly awkward!

Having discarded most of his gear, Leo finally unties his bandanna and slowly hands it to Sensei. Raphael appears at his side and hands him a simple brown tunic, something a peasant would wear in a far off land, which he slowly pulls on. Fastening it at the waist with a belt, he turns to face us.

Leonardo is no longer a ninja.

I expect to see tears yet there are none. Leonardo has accepted his fate. I wanted to get up and give him a hug but I knew that wouldn't be appropriate, I instead settled for giving him a quick pat on the shoulder as he sat down. He turned, gave me a brief smile and I was amazed to be able to see his eyes, a sight we had all been denied since we had received our masks as children.

So that was it. Not only were we giving up our birth right to fight the Foot, Leonardo was giving up even more. He was no longer a ninja.

Kneeling again in front of us, Master Splinter placed a quarter staff in front of Leo. There was another flurry of bowing and then Sensei sat in front of us again.

It felt like the whole process had gone on for hours yet I knew it had only been minutes. My older brother, the protector, striped of his birthright and now dressed in peasants clothing, given a simple weapon. It seemed so unreal. I wanted to shout "stop!" to put an end to this madness. Yet, I am now mature enough to know that this was the only possible outcome.

This was how it had to be.

Master Splinter than slide the little wooden box in front and slowly lifted the lid. Intrigued, I learnt forward to see ….

My mask.

Not the simple white one that I wore, my orange one. My breath caught in my throat, I watched as a smiling Sensei pulled it from its box and slowly handed it to Raph. Bowing, he slowly turned and presented it to me.

Gingerly reaching forward, I couldn't help a small squeal of happiness when I touched the soft fabric. It had been so long since I had held it. I could feel responsibility creeping up my arms. With this mask, I was not just any ninja, I was A NINJA.

I understood what this mask meant, yet it felt wrong. Knowing what I must do, I got up and knelt in front of Leonardo, presenting my mask to him and bowed low to the ground. I heard a sound of approval from Master Splinter but no other as Leonardo slowly unfastened my white bandana and tied my old bandana in place, it felt so right!

Before rising, I gave Leo another bow to which he returned and then quickly slide back into my original place.

Looking at all of us with a smile, Master Splinter gave one last bow to which we all did likewise … and I knew it was over.

"I am so proud of you all my sons" Sensei said, slowly rising "You are all mature beyond your years".

"Some of us anyway" Raphael laughed, punching me lightly on the arm.

"Don't even try it!" I laughed, jumping into a fighting stance "I can now, again, officially, KICK YOUR BUTT!"

Laughing, Raphael gave me a slight push before turning towards Leonardo, who was staring at his swords on display. Giving him a pat on the shoulder, Leo slowly turned away, a smile on his lips.

"At least one of us has finally learnt to dress correctly" he murmured.

Not know what to do, I gave him a quick hug and whispered in his ear "You will always be our elder brother".

"Thanks Mikey" he whispered as we pulled away.

"Now my sons, you must get going" Master Splinter said, reaching into his robes and pulling out a sheet of paper. "Take our reply to Karai but do not drop your guard. She may be honourable but the does not mean the rest are."

Nodding, Raphael took the piece of paper and tucked it into a small pouch he had on his belt.

Walking over to the elevator, Donny, Raph and I got in and turned to face Master Splinter and Leonardo.

"Be safe" Leo murmured, not quite meeting our eyes.

"We will" Raph said, confidence filling his voice. "We won't be long".

As the door shut, I couldn't help but wave. My last sight is of Leonardo laughing and waving back beside a proud looking Splinter.

As one door shuts, another door opens.

Raphael's P.O.V. (1 month later)

The sounds of staffs cracking against each other rang throughout the lair, followed by a series of whirling sounds.

"Somebody is showing off" I thought to myself, lifting my head from the newspaper I was reading.

Looking towards the practice area, I spied Leo and Donny dancing around each other. It had not taken long for Leo to adopt the quarter staff, soon even giving the more experienced Donny a run for his money. It seemed this was another occasion. While Leo could not put as much weight into his swings and his speed was off, his accuracy and skill easily made up for whatever advantage Donny had.

"Anything interesting?" Mikey inquired, plunking down in the seat next to me.

"Nope" I replied, pushing the paper away to join the others. "Taxes are going up; the driving laws are changing and some famous person lost weight".

I look in time to see Leo send Donny sprawling to the floor, probably not to get up for quite awhile.

"Nothing at all"

Mikey nodded slowly.

"So it's true, Karai must have won"

I begin to nod, thinking back. A few nights ago, we had ventured topside to find the streets quiet and alleyways deserted. Word on the street was Karai had landed the killing blow, cutting off the head of the snake to say.

Apparently, they are finding pieces of Hun all over the city. As her main contender was destroyed, Karai reabsorbed the Purple Dragons into the Foot Clan but in a surprise move, did not go after the other rival gangs.

As Master Splinter summarised, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't".

"It's not our problem anymore Mikey" I said, pushing away from the table, "The truce still stands".

The same night we had ventured outside, just before reaching home, we had come across a group of Foot Ninja who decided to run along the same rooftop as us. Without thinking, we all dropped into defensive positions, waiting for the usual attack. Yet, none came. The leader of the group watched us for a few moments, bowed and left in the opposite direction, his voice carrying across the distance.

"The truce still stands"

Now all the news had dried up in the papers, the "Great Gang War of New York" was no longer front paper news and we were left to pick up the pieces as the wave of life bubbled along without us.

Walking towards the practice area, thinking of doing some katas, I felt a hand descend on my shoulder. Turning, I found the hand belonged to Leonardo. He gave me a smile.

"Let's watch a movie?"

I looked back towards the practice area.

"Don't worry, it will still be there once the movie is finished" Leo said, steering me towards the TV's. "Besides, you deserve a break".

"Yeah" I said, settling on the couch next to Leo, Mikey bringing popcorn from the kitchen, Donny rifled through our DVD collection and even Master Splinter came out to watch.

"We all deserve a break".

Donny's Logbook (Last Entry)

And so it came to pass. Our family was whole again. Yes we still fight. Yes we still get on each other's nerves. Yes, we are still a family. We are together. Our pact with the Foot Clan stands. We are not equals, we are not friends.

But we were not enemies.

We still train. We still fight. We still protect those who can't protect themselves. But, we are mindful of what we can lose.

We want to survive.

We will survive.

Life is not the same, life has changed. But that does not mean we cannot move with these changes.

Master Splinter has passed on the responsibility he always felt for us, to us. The safety and responsibility of our family is now our problem, not his.

Myself, I have learnt to be able to accept what I cannot fix, what I cannot change. I can work miracles, but I am not a miracle worker.

Michelangelo has matured far beyond his years, far beyond what we thought he was capable of. We are so proud of him.

Raphael has evolved in the best leader we could hope for. He has learnt compassion, patience and humility. No, he is not Leonardo but then, there will only ever be one Leonardo.

Leonardo has gained yet lost so much. While he still trains, still adheres to Bushido, he is no longer a warrior. He is no longer a ninja. He has become an artist, an academic, a valued advisor ... and video game fanatic. He has become the brother we never thought he would be because of the role he had to play. Yet, he has come back to us. For that we are so grateful.

Maybe change does happen for a reason ...

In the passing of a few minutes, their lives will be changed forever. They have faced many challenges in their lives but will this prove to be too much? Or will they rise above it all and come to respect that some people cannot help being ...



Wow. This has been such a long time in the making. I just want to thank every one who has ever read and reviewed this story, you make writing these stories half the fun ;).

Please let me know what you think about the ending and the story as a whole.

Thank you ;) And until we meet again, see ya!