Hi everyone. I know I've been absent for a really long time, and I do apologize. I was distracted by the amazingness that is marching band. But, since that's over, I have more time for fic writing. I needed to write this. Leo's new personality is just...well, I don't like it. So I'm gonna try some angst. I'm not really a big fan of angst. Angsty music is good, angsty people, not so much. But I tried. I hope you like it!


Michelangelo

Leo's training again. But when isn't he training, these days? Ever since our last battle with the Shredder, it's like he's become a completely different person. He's becoming more like Raph, which kind of freaks me out a little bit. Now, there's nothing wrong with Raph, but I'd just rather not have two of him hanging around.

Leo's blindfolded, using the blades of his katanas to extinguish candle flames. It's become a favorite exercise of his. While the three of us watch TV, or go and visit April, Leo plays with candles.

He'd hurt me if he heard me say he was playing. The guy's really wound tight. He blames himself for all of the injuries we sustained that night. He believes he couldn't protect us. We try to tell him that it's not all up to him, that we function as a team. But then there was that business with Karai…

"Too kind," she called him. And then she stabbed him. Leo believed that there was something good in her, something that he could trust. He thought he could save her from the Shredder. He was banking on her honor, and she stabbed him. I can't blame the poor guy, but he really shouldn't take it this far. It worries me.

I sigh. Leo doesn't even acknowledge the small sound, just continues with his katas. I've been standing here for twenty minutes, and he hasn't even shown that he knows that I'm there. It's almost like he doesn't sense me. But of course he senses me. He is Leo after all.

I frown. My definition of Leo has definitely changed. He used to be the slightly uptight one, the one who was the most responsible and ninjitsu oriented, but could still have a little fun once and a while. Now he trains and, well, broods. He stands in the corner and acts all pensive while the rest of us try to have some fun. Not even Donnie can get him to come out of his shell, if you'll excuse the pun, and he's the one all of us can open up to.

I study Leo, the candlelight dancing off the metallic blades of his katanas. I just want to confront him, to grab him by the shoulders and yell till I'm hoarse. "We don't like this new Leo! Please, Leo, the REAL Leo, come back to us!" But I'm sure it will fall on deaf ears. He would get defensive, or rationalize, or tell me I don't understand.

I don't understand?

We all understand. We all feel it when we suffer a loss. I know he's the leader, and is bound to feel it slightly more, but not like this.

Master Splinter has tried reaching him. Leo will listen to no one. I remember walking in on a conversation that was not meant for me to hear. Master Splinter was telling Leo that his new take on attacks and strategy would one day get him, or someone else, hurt. That his anger would be a detriment to his skills and that he would ultimately do something that he would regret. Leo told Master Splinter that he would hurt no one, that his actions were only for the good of us all. Master Splinter left, shaking his head.

I thought about that. Leo is becoming more rash, taking on a "Strike them before they can strike us" kind of attitude. I wondered then if Master Splinter's words had any merit behind them. They came from Master Splinter, so obviously they're good counsel. But I still wonder.

I'm usually not this pensive. I find myself lost in thought. Leo looks increasingly agitated, but I'm too busy pondering other things to take a great notice. Which is why what happened next took me completely by surprise. All I could do was stand frozen and watch.

Leonardo

I'm training. Again. I know my family thinks that I'm overdoing it, but it's really for them. They could take a page out of my book and train harder. We never know when a new enemy might rear his/her ugly head.

I tried telling this to Master Splinter, but he didn't seem to understand. He, of all people, should understand. He was always the one telling us to be prepared. He was the one who told me to be a good leader. So why am I all of a sudden going too far? I need to make up for a mistake that I've made. No one seems to understand that.

They say it's not my fault. I hear them, but don't take it to heart. It's always someone's fault, and this time, it's mine.

I work through my exercises, not even hearing the faint sounds of the candles extinguishing as I cut the wicks with my blade. I do this exercise so much, I could perform it in my sleep.

That's good, though. That's the type of readiness and experience that a good leader needs.

I grit my teeth, remembering a discussion I had with Master Splinter about doubling my training efforts.

"You are working too hard, my son"

"Sensei, you don't understand. I NEED to do this."

"Leonardo, your incessant training worries me, and this new hardness to your personality is even more troubling. I am afraid this change will cause harm to you or someone else."

"Master, all anyone can do is benefit. I am working, to protect this family. It is my duty, and I will hold to it. There is nothing that you can say to sway me."

Mikey walked in then. How much of the conversation he'd heard I couldn't tell, but he looked troubled. Master Splinter walked out sighing, and Mikey followed him with his eyes. Mikey hates it when there's tension in the family. I think some of his goofball antics are more for keeping high spirits than anything.

I swing my katanas faster, becoming agitated at the memory. Why can't Sensei understand? Why can't anyone understand? I'm just doing this to help protect my family! I must never fail again!

With that thought I hurl my katana away from me in a blind rage. I sit, breathing heavily, angry with myself. A small choking noise reaches my ears. I spin toward it, ripping off my blindfold and raising my remaining katana.

My mouth gapes in horror and my katana slips from my grip and clatters nosily to the floor of the dojo. Master Splinter was right. He was right all along. I would one day hurt myself, or…

Mikey stands with his shell against the wall. I was too absorbed in my own thoughts; I didn't even know he was there. He stares at me in surprise, his hands clutching the katana that protrudes from his midsection.

"Le-o," he manages to whisper. Then he slides to the floor.

I scream.