For those who are sending several lines of curse words in my direction, do not worry, I shall update Suicide and dead of Night soon. I promise.

I just need a break. I've been writing on the same two stories for about five months now, with a few shorter stories in between. But that's just it; they're too short! So, I've come up with this story. It won't be as long as my other two, but definitely not as short as the other three. I'd say we're lookin' at about eight chapters here, my friends!

Okay, so you know, this is actually a branch off of Dead of Night. More like a twig really. For the people who've read the story, you may remember a part earlier into it (Chapter 5, I think) where Leo mentioned running away twice. This is that story.

So, who wants to read?

By the way, the guys are ten years old… for now. They'll get a couple years older in later chapters.

Disclaimer: I do own the TMNT! Wait, do TMNT merchandise count? No? Ah, bummer. Never mind.


"Raphael! Leonardo! That is enough!"

The old rat came between the two young turtles. It never ceased to amaze him how his older sons could always turn even the simplest things into serious arguments and competitions, even at the tender age of ten.

Granted, he could see how a sparring session could become a competition between children, but this was ridiculous.

When sparring became more like street fighting, and when street fighting quickly turned into wrestling, Master Splinter knew it was time to stop.

After physically separating them, the red-clad turtle still trying once more to hit his brother, he gave each a stern look.

"Now what is the meaning of this? My sons, you have been fighting like this for several days now."

Leonardo put a hand over his bruised shoulder at these words. There were many more that decorated his, as well as his younger brother's body. Yesterday, their earliest fight had involved one of the thicker parts of a brick wall.

"You are lucky you've only sustained bruises, Leonardo." Splinter said, turning his head slightly to face him. "Next time it could be much worse."

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the other turtle grin.

"That goes for you, as well, Raphael."

The grin disappeared and was replaced by a frown.

Splinter looked at each one of his sons before speaking again. "Now, will one of you please tell me what is troubling the both of you?"

Neither one met his gaze, Raphael out of rebellion and Leonardo out of shame. They were both so stubborn.

Master Splinter's pointy rat ears flicked up the tiniest bit. "Donatello; Michaelangelo. Do you have anything to say on this matter?"

Two little green heads slowly popped into view from around the corner of the dojo, one band in purple, the other in orange. He'd told his younger sons to go to bed a few minutes earlier, after they'd successfully completed their sparring session. Apparently they hadn't listened.

Big surprise.

The two boys shook their heads. They knew nothing either. After a pause of silence, Splinter sighed. "Very well. All four of you, to bed." He said, gesturing down the hall.

They walked away, Michaelangelo and Donatello, having been closer to their rooms, in the lead. Splinter kept an eye on the other two, who were quickly gaining on their brothers. He didn't want their fight to continue.

The four of them made it to their rooms at the same time, coincidentally. He heard four doors shut, two distinguishably louder, then waited for the lights to go off.

When they did, he let out a long breath and silently made his way to his own room.


Raph made sure to slam his door extra hard before turning off the lights and climbing up into his hammock. He'd recently decided he didn't like mattresses all too well. Hammocks weren't bound by the laws of gravity.

At least, that's what he thought. Donny had tried numerous times to explain to him that everything on earth was bound by the laws of gravity. Raph had started tuning him out after a while.

The hammock swayed slightly back and forth as he climbed into it. Very gently it rocked, making Raph realize just how tired he was. He and Leo had had a long day of kicking the crap out of each other.

Drowsy or not, the ten-year-old refused to go to sleep. He was too mad at his elder brother.

In all truth, he couldn't remember what had started him and Leo's continuing brawl. But every time they fought, both treated it as mortal combat. Whatever it had been must have been pretty important.

Turning on his side carefully, the hammock rocked again and Raph closed his eyes slowly.

It'd be nice… he thought …if Leo just disappeared for a while.

Upon falling asleep, almost instantaneously, Raph started to dream. It followed the plot set up by his last conscious thought.

It wasn't until around one o'clock in the morning, after waking up an hour earlier (only to fall asleep again later on that night) that he realized he hadn't liked the dream so much.


A light tap on his shoulder registered in his brain, creating a signal that told him to wake up. Opening his eyes to semi-darkness, Donatello was able to see one of his brothers before him. The orange bandanna tied around his head identified him as his little brother, Mikey.

Donny rubbed his eyed groggily. "What's going on, Mikey?"

His brother looked embarrassed, turning his gaze to the floor. "I can't sleep."

In other words: he'd had a nightmare. Despite his age, Mike still preferred the advantages youth brought, sharing a room with a sibling after being scared in particular.

Mikey had brought along his own pillow and blanket, like he always did. And like he always did when this happened, Don tucked his legs in closer to his body, making room for his little brother on the end of the bed.

He saw Mikey grin before leaping onto the mattress, trying to make himself comfortable. After a couple minutes of silence, Donny had hoped he'd gone to sleep, but a little voice rang out, disproving that theory.

"Hey, Donny?"

He groaned under his breath. "What?"

There was silence for a moment as Michaelangelo tried to gather his words. "How come Leo and Raph hate each other?"

Don opened his eyes. This wasn't one of Mikey's usual midnight questions. He sat up a bit in bed, immediately noticing the two watery eyes looking back at him.

"They don't hate each other, Mikey."

"Yes they do."


"Then why are they always fighting?"

The purple-clad turtle opened his mouth, only to shut it again. He didn't really know the answer to that. There were several, actually.

What his two older brothers never realized was that their fighting had a direct impact on them, too. The four of them were very close, since they knew no one else, with the exception of Master splinter.

Unable to provide an answer, Donny got up and walked to Mikey's room, coming back quickly so as not to worry him. His brother still had a slight fear of the dark. Sitting down on his bed, he laid the retrieved object before him.

"Who made you this?" He asked, holding up the nightlight. It had been made with colored glass.

Mikey sniffed and took it into his hands, fingering the colored glass gingerly. "Leo and Raph."

Donny nodded. Their older brothers had spent weeks fitting and gluing the broken pieces of glass they'd found together after Mikey's original nightlight broke. In the middle, four pieces of glass connected to make the letter 'M'. The only time they'd asked for help was when it came down to making the thing work.

Taking the nightlight from him, Don plugged it into the wall. It filled the room with colors of dark yellows and oranges, as well as some light blues. He watched Mikey smile as the darkness vanished.

"If they could spend that much time together making that for you, then they don't hate each other."

Mike seemed satisfied with the answer. Donny did too. After a brief goodnight, the two were lying in bed, fast asleep.


"Release." Leo tested the word silently on his tongue. He'd been saying it to himself once every night for the past several months. It'd never sounded as good as it did now.

Things were getting too heavy. He couldn't talk to anyone. Even though he'd told himself several times that things would be different, Leo couldn't shake off the idea that they wouldn't understand.

There were so many times when he's tried to say something, but it always seemed that nobody was really listening. They were too busy discovering new aspects of themselves, new things and hobbies to look upon with favor. He needed time to do that. But there was never any time.

Leonardo's eyes fell upon the left corner of the room. A small, but wide nightstand sat there, hiding the thing that could very well give him all the time he wanted.

"Release." He said softly once more.

The blue-banded turtle walked over to the nightstand and quietly moved it, revealing a small hole, only large enough to allow passage for someone as small as him. And that path led out to the sewers, a couple feet beside the entrance to their home.

Before he knew it, Leo was gathering a few things together: a blanket, his swords, and a flashlight. After a minute, he decided that he'd need food. Master Splinter would hear him if he entered the kitchen.

Fine. Forget the food. He was planning on coming back anyway. Just a little while on his own. He smiled. It would actually work out perfectly. Often, after Splinter caught them in the middle of their skirmishes like this between him and Raph, the two would stay in their rooms for two or three days, sulking.

Splinter had long learned that it was better to leave them alone for that time. He'd slip meals under the door for them so they wouldn't starve, but that was as much contact as they'd get for that time. Before the third day was over, however, he was sure to come in.

Leo often wondered if his sensei checked on them while they were unaware of it. If so, that'd be a problem. Staring at his bed, Leo quickly took two pillows and stuck them under the bedcovers, forming them to look just enough like a small body. There was a large chance that this wouldn't work, but Leo decided that if he got caught, he'd suffer through the consequences.

Breathlessly, he turned to the hole in the ground. A though occurred to him. Why was he really going right now? He laughed, having already known the answer. Raph. Why do I have such a big problem with him?

He looked over his bruises. They fought a lot. Leo silently wondered why. Another thought occurred to him. Why was he willing to leave all of his family, even though it'd only be for a few days, just because he was mad at one brother?

There was a small thud as the flashlight hit the ground with the blanket. Leo made himself dismiss the thought. He'd finally convinced himself to do something completely against his nature. Or rather, what others believed to be his nature. He couldn't let this slip out of his hands.

Three days, that's all. Jumping down the short distance of five feet to the earth, he picked up his stuff and made his way out of the lair, within the very core of its being.


It hadn't taken long for him to get out of the passage. It only went one way. The hard part came when he decided that he wanted to go in a direction that his family would be most unlikely to follow. That involved going in front of the entrance of their home.

That too hadn't been so hard. But it did succeed in making him nervous. Leo waited several minutes before moving, stretching every one of his senses, looking for a sign to move or not. Then, he finally poked his head out to actually check. Still, he waited. When Leo finally moved, he swore he felt someone watching. But when he checked, he was met with only darkness.

He traveled the tunnels of the sewers for a long time, trying to get as far away as he could. When Leo finally chose to journey upwards, finally lifting a manhole cover, he discovered he'd come to the docks.

It was late October, so the air was starting to chill. Leo almost kicked himself. This was why he didn't like impulsive decisions. He needed to think things through. Even if it wasn't freezing, turtles didn't do so well in cold weather.

The manhole cover was only raised slightly, so no one noticed. He had to wait before fully lifting it, though. A young man and woman chose to stroll by at that minute and begin their make-out session. Still quite young, Leo found it very disgusting.

Once they were gone, the ten-year-old checked around before climbing out of the sewers. Unfortunately for him, that was when another group of people came his way.

Leo quickly jumped over the dock, barely able to grab onto its wooden supports. After they too had left, he stayed put. His position was making the blood rush to his head, but he didn't mind that much. He was met with a wonderful picture; the most beautiful he'd ever witnessed, even if he was upside-down.

It was a full moon tonight. The giant luminescence in the sky was surrounded by a handful of bright stars, deplorably dimmed by the lights the city of New York produced. Bu they were still beautiful.

Among these were gray clouds, slender but by no means wispy. In fact, they were rather thick in their width. They were graceful in shape, moving like a wave of the sea, but abruptly cutting off, their edges flipping out into the dark oblivion of the night sky and occasionally over the moon. It was as if God had taken a calligraphy pen and wrote words only he could see and understand, allowing the earth to see glorious segments of His masterpiece.

And to make it even more magnificent, the scene was clearly reflected in the water, oddly still tonight, doubling the image.

Leo watched it a little while longer, taking in every bit of its beauty. He hadn't realized how long he'd been upside-down until he started to grow dizzy. Sighing, he righted himself, climbing up the poles that supported the dock.

Making sure there was no one around again, Leo swiftly got up onto land, grabbing his stuff, which he'd left up there, and made his was into an alley. There was a fire escape connected to one building, a restaurant. He climbed it and made his way to the roof.

Luck was with him today, he decided. The roof looked very much abandoned. There were burns against the cement; apparently there's been a fire at one point. Leo walked around the roof a few times before deciding to make a temporary home in a shadowed area in the back.

Resting his head on the cool concrete of the building, Leo wrapped his blanket around his shivering body, greeting its warmth with open arms. Closing his eyes, he thought once more of the serene picture of the night-sky he'd just seen.

Donny would've liked it. Leo thought suddenly. He frowned. They all would've. He felt guilty. Release from the mental torture he'd put himself through wasn't worth abandoning his family. What if something happened to them? Things went wrong every day around the world. If they died and he lived, he'd never be able to forgive himself.

It's only a few days. What can happen in a few days? Before his mind made a long list of the possibilities, Leo buried his head halfway under the blankets, his chin touching his plastron, and willed such thoughts away. He wanted freedom, but he just wished he knew if they were okay.

Almost instantly, he felt them. His brothers' presences were warm, steady. There was some hurt embedded in them as well. Leo briefly wondered if they knew he was gone, but dismissed the thought. It was more likely that Mikey and Donny were upset over Raph and his fighting. He had no idea what Raph might be upset over, but he was sure it wasn't over his safety.

His eyes fixed on a single star shining as brightly as it possibly could overheard, the only such one visible after the extreme light the city provided, he let the presence of each one of his brothers fill him.

Here, he found release. He wasn't yet sure if it'd be what he wanted, he'd find out soon enough. As long as he didn't worry about his brothers, instead just allowing their spirits to speak in that silent way to him, he'd always know where they were.

He could be alone and at liberty, and he wouldn't have to worry. He wouldn't have to fight with Raph or deal with Mikey or talk Donny into practicing.

It all sounded good. But Leo knew he'd want things to go back to normal eventually. He'd never been able to ignore his anxieties for very long.


Well, what'd ya think? How was it for a first chapter? I'd like to write another story soon. Another dark tale. Those ones seem to grab you reader's attention better.

Oh, if anybody's wondering what exactly Raph and Leo were fighting about, I plan to reveal it in the third or fourth chapter, so no worries.

Anyways, I hoped you like! Don't know how soon I'll be able to update, Internet access is being dragged beyond my reach again. But don't think that'll keep me away from you guys for long! I expect a bazillion updates when I get back!

Please review!