AN: I know that I haven't been around for such a long time, my life has been rather hectic and it's caused an extreme case of Writer's Block that pretty much stopped me from writing anything at all. I wrote this tonight whilst I had the evening off and it's the first thing I've written for months, I hope it's okay and that it's enjoyable. :)

A quick thank you to everyone who reviewed the last chapter of Recovery, I really appreciate them all, they make my day. Thank you:)

And a quick apology to Pi90katana for forgetting to reply to her review, I'm so sorry :(

Disclaimer: I don't own the TMNT or any related characters, I simply borrow them for fun. They are the property of Mirage, 4 Kids, and anyone else who has legal rights.


Chapter 1

"I want to go topside... Alone" It was a simple request, nothing special. At least, it wouldn't have been if it were one of his brothers that asked for permission. But alas, Leonardo's circumstances were different and he found it very uncomfortable whilst he stood before his father who merely stared at him in surprise. Splinter would not agree, he knew that already, but if he didn't ask then Splinter would never be aware of his desire to leave the lair without an escort. It was true that whenever Leo left their home, a brother would be by his side always insuring his safety, a habit that he was beginning to find irritating. After all, he considered himself to be as good as his brothers were and should be permitted to leave when he chose to, it wasn't much to ask, was it?

"Absolutely not." Came Splinter's firm reply, "You are not ready to leave unaccompanied, it is still too soon for you."

Leonardo didn't hide the angered expression and Splinter was momentarily surprised, he said nothing as he waited for his eldest son to speak his protest.

"But Sensei, I am ready, I've been training for a long time now and I know I can handle myself should I be forced to confront any of the Foot." Leo's arms folded together in a sign of retaliation and his posture stiffened, Splinter allowed his son to bristle knowing that he simply wanted to prove that he was ready.

"You may be ready physically, but do you believe that you are ready in mind? You have come a long way and I do not wish to see our enemies undo everything that you have achieved." Splinter said softly, his tone lightening to placate his son's anger.

Leo mumbled something that Splinter didn't hear, "What was that, my son?"

"Nothing." He replied, his head dropping quickly, "I just want some space, I feel so confined. What could it hurt for just an hour topside?"

"Eight months of your life were taken from you, you endured pain and suffering at the hands of our enemy…"

"I know what they did to me!" Leo snapped, "Don't think that I'd forget that so soon!"

"Leonardo!" Splinter replied sharply, his eyes burned into Leo's harshly for his outburst, but he soon found his temper easing, his anger at his son short lived simply because he knew that Leo would always find his past sensitive, it was an understandable reaction but even this son would not be permitted to speak to him in such a fashion.

"I do not appreciate your tone, and I will not permit you to do so again but you must understand that I care for you and I do not wish to lose you once more. The first time was hard enough for all of us."

Leo sighed heavily, his shoulders slumping tiredly. "You don't trust me."

Splinter's eyebrow raised surprisingly, "How could you even think that? Of course I trust you."

"Then why won't you let me breathe? You're smothering me!" Leo found his voice raising once more, he began to care little for his tone as Splinter refused him continuously. "You force me to have a nursemaid whenever I leave the lair, I can't move without someone asking me what I'm doing. Even my brothers can't get on with their lives because you force them to stick with me all the time!"

"They choose to stay with you! They care so much that they give up their time to ensure that you have everything that you want!" Splinter stood sharply and faced his son, the anger apparent on his face as he grew frustrated with Leo.

"Everything I want?" Leo spat, "What I want is to spend some time alone topside!"

"Have you heard nothing of what I have said to you? It is dangerous for you to go alone, you are still too vulnerable!"

They were getting nowhere, each so set in their ways that they both knew it was pointless to continue. Leo let out an angered huff and turned to leave without waiting for Splinter's word to do so.

"I have not given you permission to leave!"

"I don't care!"

With that, Leo stormed out of Splinter's room.

Don watched as Leo headed straight for his room, his angered pace and frustrated expression coupled with the argument that was heard throughout the lair forced him to head for Splinter's room.

He knocked gently and heard a depleted voice call back, "Come in, Donatello."

Don smiled at his father's ever impressive senses, that and the mental training that enabled him to know who was standing by his door. He quietly eased the door open and walked inside noticing his Father sitting in his meditative position in the centre of the room, he approached softly and smiled.

"You heard?" Splinter said, although he didn't need to ask the question.

"Yes." Don replied.

Splinter sighed, "He isn't ready and yet he believes that he is, I do not like containing him like this, it is… harsh."

"I know, and I respect your position, I don't want anything to happen to him if he's left alone and gets into trouble." Don said softly, "But if we keep him wrapped up in a blanket it'll slow his healing process down. He's come so far and this is the last hurdle for him to get over, he needs to know that he can confront the demons that haunt him at night."

Splinter remained silent so Don continued, "He still has nightmares about the Foot and Saki, that's really what this is about. I think he's hoping that he'd get the opportunity to face them so that he can see how he deals with it. It's the fact that he doesn't know how he'll react that scares him."

"You are right, Donatello. As always." Splinter smiled warmly at his intellectual son, "This old rat is too protective, isn't he?"

"We all are, it's natural." Don smiled back, "None of us want to go through that again, but we can't spend our life hiding from it. The truth is, Leo needs this and we're holding him back. I think you should let Leo have his freedom, let him leave the lair."

"No." Splinter said quietly, "Not alone."

"He won't be alone, we'll be following him from a distance and he'll get the freedom that he wants. He won't even know we're there." Don chuckled at the look on Splinter's face, his Sensei seemed surprised at Don's suggestion that they secretly follow their brother and allow him to believe that he is 'alone'.

"You would willingly lie to your brother in that way?"

"I'm just as protective as you are, I'm simply compromising to allow both you and Leo to get what you want."

Splinter nodded his approval, "It is a good suggestion, one that I think would work nicely. Thank you, my son."

"No problem, Dad."

Leo lifted his head from the pillow when there was a knock on his bedroom door, "Yeah?"

"It's me, Leo." Don replied gently, "Can I come in?"


Another dejected voice, Don noted. As he entered he smiled warmly, "You okay?"

"Depends," Leo replied, "What's up?"

"I thought you might like to know that I spoke with Splinter, he's willing to let you go topside for a little while, no more than an hour though."

"Alone? I doubt that." Leo replied sharply, "He just told me that there wasn't a chance in hell."

"Well I spoke to him, he's considered it further and he'll allow it for a short while, just long enough to see how you cope. But if you find yourself in any trouble, any at all, you've got to get out of there as fast as you can."

Leo couldn't believe that Don was capable of swaying Splinter so fast, there had to be more to it, "What's the catch?"

Don raised his hands defensively, "No catch. You just have to keep your cell on you so that we know where you are, and if there's any trouble you hit the alarm button and we'll be with you within minutes."

Leo raised an eye ridge, "Within minutes, huh? Something tells me that I won't be as alone as I think."

"Yes you will," Don affirmed, "We won't be anywhere near you, but we will be ready if you need us."

Leo didn't think that that was so bad, at least they weren't connected by the hip and he was allowed to go alone. He gave Don a smile and patted his arm, "What would I do without you?"

"Oh I don't know, no television, no hot showers, no coffee…" Don chuckled.

"The coffee's your thing, I don't like the stuff." Leo laughed.

They allowed their brother a head start, Don used the tracking device to keep a check on his location but they didn't get too close. Leo wanted freedom and it wouldn't do to have him discover his family had been tailing him, it would most likely cause Leo to lose trust in them.

Don could understand his frustration and personally, he wanted to know how Leo dealt with this situation just as much as Leo did himself. He wanted his brother to be himself again and he knew that that was a lot to ask, it was selfish of him to want it and he knew that there was little possibility of Leo fully recovering. He'd always be slightly different but that wouldn't make his family love him any less, he would always be a fighter.

"Where is he now?"

Don broke from his thoughts as Raph pulled on his shoulder to see the tracking device in his hands, he tilted it a little so that his brothers could see. "From the look of it, he's heading to Central Park." Don replied.

"Do we go there?" Mike asked.

Don shook his head, "We're close enough to reach him if things go crazy, I don't think we have to worry."

Leo breathed deep, the air being cool and refreshing. The freedom he felt here was amazing and he could stay here forever, but he knew that his time was limited so he did his best to enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasted. He had to duck for cover when a couple walked past, but there was little threat, the lovers walked hand in hand whilst staring into each other's eyes and whispered loving words between them.

When they had walked a safe distance away, Leo continued to walk, his pace as casual as those that had just walked by. He intended to enjoy this time away from his family, not that he hated them or found them irritating, but simply because he felt crushed by their concern, a heavy weight on his chest whenever they asked him if he was okay, or where he was going, what he was doing.

It seemed that only minutes had gone by and he glanced at the clock on his cell, he let out a sigh as he realised that he should head back to avoid being late for his curfew. As he turned he heard a scream, then a man's voice yelling, without thought he quickly turned in the direction of the sound and made his way quickly towards the source.

He ducked behind a tree when he noticed the pair that had passed him earlier, but this time they weren't alone. Three men were with them, two holding the man to the ground forcing his head to make him look towards the third and the woman he was with. The third man was trying his best to rip the woman's clothes whilst trying to stop her flailing arms and legs and keep her from screaming out.

Leo started to move but held back for a moment, his eyes drifted to the cell that was tucked into his belt, he reached for it with the intention of calling his brothers for help but stopped inches away from it. He could handle three thugs on his own, he told himself.

He ran towards the group with as little sound as possible, not willing to give away his advantage. Bowling into the two that held the man, they all tumble to the ground in a heap, his elbow hits one man hard and he hears and feels the bone break, he slams his elbow back again and the thug slumps to the ground, out cold. The other doesn't seem phased as he jumps onto Leo with heavy force, his fist reaching up to strike Leo's chin. Leo wasn't fast enough to block the first punch but quickly blocked the second and returned the favour with a harsh blow to his opponent's ribs. Not wasting any time, he rolls to a stand and kicks out hard, the blow sending the thug into a refreshing darkness.

Leo searched for the third but found that the now free man had recovered enough to take the thug down and console his partner, she wept frantically and the man allowed a small nod of appreciation before whisking his partner away from the ruckus. Leo smiled back, pleased that his help had not gone unnoticed before getting on his way.

He had only travelled a short distance when more trouble came his way, had he known that the noise would attract them like vultures to fresh meat, he would have made his departure a lot faster. The fact that he suddenly felt a terrifying shiver reverberate through his body filled him with a level of fear that he hadn't felt for sometime, and within seconds of their arrival he found himself hitting the button on his cell.

"What's going on?" Raph asked with concern.

"He's in trouble." Don answered quickly, taking off down the street as fast as he could, Raph and Mike hot on his heels.

They had only been roughly half a mile away and reached Leo's position quickly, they found their brother fighting furiously against a small number of the Foot, Mike counted six.

It was obvious that Leo had taken some blows and was leaning heavily on his right leg, his expression was determined but there was something in his eyes that gave away his hidden fright. Raph and Mike barrelled forward yelling a cry, Don vaulted over a wall of Foot and landed next to Leo.

"You okay?" He yelled over the sounds of the fight, Leo nodded and dropped back leaving Raph and Mike to take down the remaining opponents, "I'm fine, just a little bruised."

Don didn't take it further, there was a time and a place to talk about 'other' things and right now they had to deal with the problem at hand.

After the last of the Foot had dropped to the ground, the brothers quickly departed and headed for home. Don found himself imagining Splinter's reaction to the events of the evening, and could see how his Sensei would be angry that he had agreed to Don's suggestion, maybe he'd even be angry at Don for coming up with the idea in the first place.

As if reading Don's mind, Leo draped his arm around his shoulder, "He's not going to blame you for this." He whispered, "He knew it would happen, it was just a case of when."

Don forced a smile, 'Yeah,' he thought, 'can't help but blame myself though.'

AN: There we have it, the first chapter with hopefully more coming soon, please let me know how I did, pretty please :)