Title: - One I Always Miss.

Summary: - Leonardo is exhausted; completely and utterly. And nobody seems to be able to understand why. It's not the constant fighting with the Foot; it's not the rigorous training; it's not even the ceaseless arguments between him and Raphael. It's something that runs much deeper – something that's made him explore the depths of his soul and find things he never wanted to admit were there.

Disclaimer: - I don't own the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – and, unfortunately for me, no amount of wishing upon stars is going to change that. I don't own Splinter, Casey, April, Shredder, The Foot or any other characters from the world of Kevin and Peter. Also, I don't own New York City or the sewers underneath it…or any of the rest of the World – and it would be very worrying if I did!

Author's Note: - I know, I know, I deserve to be chased with pitchforks! I promised that this story would be up over a week ago now, and it's only just gone up! However, it wasn't just me being lazy! My computer had to be carted off for nearly 2 weeks and totally wiped. Thankfully, all my school-work and writing was safe, otherwise this chapter wouldn't even exist right now! Lesson learned? Back everything up! Now, read and review…and enjoy!

One I Always Miss

'I need some sleep,

I can't go on like this.

I've tried counting sheep,

But there's one I always miss.

Everyone says I'm getting down too low,

Everyone says I just gotta let it go,

I just gotta let it go…'

The sewers of New York City; deserted, odorous, dank and gloomy tunnels that criss-cross and intertwine so many times over that it even the most capable and intrepid explorer would get lost, although quite why a capable and intrepid explorer would be exploring the sewers of New York City is a mystery to me. But this is merely an illustration of what can happen in a person's life if they do not keep track of where they have been, where they are and where they will be going in the future. The World is a dangerous place, especially for those who feel they are different from others, whatever the reason, and into that category fall the four mutant turtles and their father, who happens to be a giant rat, that live in a lair in the sewers of New York City.

However, this extraordinary family also extends to two close human friends, a male and a female. This unusual mixture of the species would lead you to believe that either their lives would be incredibly tedious or impetuously exciting; and if it were to be revealed that the four turtles and the rat were ninjas, you would probably think 'Superheroes' and class them as superhuman, invincible, out-of-this-world, surreal or all of the above. You would not think twice about their everyday lives and the problems they face when they are alone and outside of the realms of the physical world. After all, four mutant turtle brothers in their teens who just happen to be ninjas and have to fight for their lives on a regular basis couldn't possibly suffer the same problems of the mere mortals of the world above the sewers of New York City, could they?

Without a doubt…

"I know you're worried, Raph – shell, we're all worried about him, but what else can we do? I'm sure he'll sort it out by himself, if we just give him a bit of space." Donnie raised his voice so as to be heard above Raph's fuming.

"I'm telling ya, guys, he ain't right! He's been acting all funny for a while now and it's really starting to tick me off! If he don't snap out of it soon, then I'll---"

"You'll what, Raph?" a quiet voice from the doorway indicated their brother's arrival. Raph cast his eyes to the floor, unable to look at his brother directly.

"Bro, you gotta get some rest – you look dreadful," Mikey piped up from where he'd been raiding the fridge, getting sick of Raph's constant ranting about the state of Leo at the moment. But even he couldn't deny that Leo was looking awful; prominent dark circles ringed his eyes, which seemed to have dulled over the past few weeks, and he was pale, almost pasty-looking. Donnie just watched, sighing and shaking his head as Leo stepped into the room and made himself a cup of tea.

"Listen, guys, I'm fine, okay? I'm just a little tired, that's all…"

"A little! Leo, you look like death that's been killed five times over and warmed up six!"

"Thanks for that, Raph," Leo remarked dryly, practically ignoring his brother.

"Fine, you know what? You just carry on like this and you'll see that I'm right – get a grip, Leo!" Raph threw up his hands in exasperation and stormed out of the room. He could be heard stomping up the stairs and the remaining three turtles flinched, grimacing at each other, as the door to Raph's room was closed with enough force to make the walls of his room shake from the vibrations. Leo sighed and sat down at the table, massaging his temples,

"I can't win, can I?"

"Leo, if you'd just let Donnie…" Mikey trailed off, seeing the warning look Don shot at him, "Just try and relax, yeah?"

"I'll try, Mikey," Leo replied wearily, "but I can't promise anything…"

"He's falling apart, Sensei," Raph confided in their father and teacher, Master Splinter, having stormed out of the kitchen after yet another row with Leonardo over his current state of exhaustion.

"I am well aware of that," Splinter replied calmly, fixing his second-eldest son with a stern glare, "But it is not our place to interfere,"

"Not our place?" Raph goggled at his Master, "Sensei, we can't just stand and do nothing! One of these days he'll lead us into some sort of death trap without even realising it!"

"My son, do you doubt your brother's ability to lead? Or do you doubt his ability to cope with his own problems?" Splinter leaned forward and met the red-banded turtle's eyes, searching them for an answer, "Or are you about to admit that you care deeply about your brother and do not wish to see him slide any further?"

"The second one," Raph muttered defiantly, a sour look gracing his features.

"I thought as much," Splinter sat back, half-satisfied, "Although I must urge you to put more faith in your brother's strength of character – I am certain that, at least for the moment, that this is nothing too serious. I shall, however, speak with him if this madness continues – I do not know the reasoning behind it but I am certain that it will not be justified."

"You got that right, Master Splinter," Raph mumbled.

"Raphael, please do not trouble Leonardo any further – and do not try to obtain answers from him or any of the others, as I believe they know no more than you. Now, leave me to meditate," Splinter closed his eyes and, upon hearing his son leave the room, fell deep into meditative thought.


"Uh…Leo?" Raph edged into his brother's room, but Leo's eyes snapped open and he sat bolt upright as soon as Raph had taken one step into the room.

"Get out," he ordered his brother sharply, his eyes cold.

"You can't keep this under wraps forever, bro – sooner or later, your problems will out and there ain't nothing you can do about it."

"I said: Get. Out." Leo repeated, narrowing his eyes.

"Fine, I'll leave – but don't expect me to help when ya can't hack it any more – you wanna be stubborn then it's your call, but don't you dare to even think about getting my help in the future!" Raph fumed.

"I never wanted your help to begin with, hot-head!" Leo growled sharply, "I never asked for it, I never wanted it and I certainly never needed it!"

"Good, because I never wanted to give it – who, in their right mind, would want to be lumbered with listening to your moans every minute of the day!"

"Firstly, I do not moan every minute of the day!" Leo stood up and strode over to his brother, until their faces were inches apart, "Secondly, unless I'm very much mistaken, you came in here originally to check up on me! And thirdly, take a look in the mirror, Raphael, and look long and hard at yourself and just think about how much of an asshole you actually are!" he pushed his brother backwards out of the room and slammed the door in the red-banded turtle's face.

"Oh, yeah, Leonardo – that was real mature!" Raph yelled through the door, "Slamming a door – how original!"

"Just piss off, Raph, and leave me alone!" was the livid reply.

"Fine! I don't need you and your stinking morals! I don't need to be burdened with your petty troubles! I don't need your stupid lectures! And I don't need you!" Raph stormed down the stairs, unaware that his and Leo's screaming had woken up their other two brothers, who were watching from the doorways of their rooms, not wanting to intervene. The hot-headed turtle was headed straight for the lair door when a flash of green and blue landed in front of him.

"Oh no you don't, Raph," Leo's voice was dangerously smooth as he addressed his brother, "Every time you storm off like some toddler having a tantrum I get stuck with giving an explanation to everyone else, along with an apology for waking them all up. Well, guess what, Raph? This time you're going to do it."

"You think you can stop me leaving?" Raph sounded almost amused.

"Problem?" Leo arched an eye-ridge.

"Yeah – a damn big problem," Raph replied, "And it's stood right in front of me."