A.N: Ok, so I was watching TMNT reruns this morning (Series two where they're in space) and it suddenly hit me like one of Raph's roundhouse punches, only thankfully not as hard. Where did Leo's perfectionist attitude come from? I mean, was he just born with it or did it develop after a…series of events? Well that's what I'm investigating. Where did Leo's perfectionist attitude come from?

Disclaimer: I do not own TMNT, nuff said.

Black Balloon

Chapter One

"Whut we doin' today Mastah Splinta?" The five year old asked his adoptive father, slurping noisily from his glass of milk, dripping it all down his green chin.

"Please do not gulp your milk like that Michelangelo, it is rude," The old rat reprimanded lightly to his youngest son. He waited for Michelangelo to obediently start drinking properly before answering his pervious question. "I believe it is time for us to start something very exciting my son," He smiled warmly as Michelangelo's face split into a huge grin, lighting his emerald eyes.

"What? What?" He asked eagerly, leaning forward and almost upsetting his bowl of soggy cornflakes.

"Watch it Mike!" His older brother Raphael huffed, snatching his own breakfast out of his destructive baby brother's way. Mike's two remaining brothers gave something of a laugh.

Master Splinter merely shook his head, telling his boisterous son it would have to wait. A little disappointed, Mike returned to gobbling his cornflakes, sitting through and laughing off Raphael's teasing. The old rat master raised his mug of steaming green tea to his mouth and sipped delicately, observing his sons over the rim of the porcelain cup.

He'd been a father for five years now. If you had told him ten years ago that he would be mutated and become a father of four turtles overnight, he'd have simply laughed at you. Or laughed at you as best as a pet rat could. But he had indeed adopted four brothers as sons and they had all mutated into a were-rat and were-turtles, if you want to call them that.

For the past half a decade, he'd struggled to house and cope with them. It wasn't as if they could live comfortably in their city of New York, so they had to settle for old chambers and subway carts and such in the sewers. It was difficult to find food and supplies, and they barely managed.

Because of this his sons had learnt the meaning of sharing and selflessness and value, something most children didn't learn until they were much older. If truth were told, Splinter had been a good father. It certainly wasn't easy raising four boys, especially when you had no money or experience with children whatsoever. But his sons loved him with all their little hearts, he meant everything to them. And they meant the same to him. To be honest, they were the only things he lived for.

He watched each of his sons in turn, eating their breakfasts and bonding together. They were extremely close, but very, very different. He'd named them all after famous Renaissance artists, and their names suited them tremendously well. He was exceptionally proud of them, how could he not be?

His youngest, Michelangelo, was a whirlwind. Splinter had no idea where his energy came from. He was naturally athletic and bouncy, often running around and singing and playing at the top of his lungs. However he adored listening to the radio and watching the old portable television and looking at the pictures in old tatty comics just as much. Michelangelo, or Mike and sometimes Mikey, was one of the happiest children Splinter had ever seen. Sure, he was something of a crybaby, but he was the baby, it was expected. He looked devotedly up to every single one of his brothers.

His second youngest, Donatello, more often Don and maybe Donny, was a lot quieter. And he was also extremely clever. He was the first one to speak, first to walk, everything. He was even reading and writing at a level twice his age. Splinter found it hard to curb Donatello's thirst and curiosity for learning and knowledge. He was also reluctant to argue with his siblings, and was very interested in pulling things apart to see how they worked, particularly anything mechanical, like the radio and TV. What amazed Splinter more was his ability to put them back together again, albeit a little haphazardly.

Splinter's second oldest son was Raphael, a child with a seriously short temper. It wasn't that he was a selfish and spoilt boy, far from it. He just found near enough everything infuriating. He argued a lot and was even sometimes a little violent. But Splinter knew Raph's heart was in the right place, he was rather protective of his brothers, especially Michelangelo, even if he did play a little too rough sometimes and was often the cause of Michelangelo's many hurts and discomforts. It was hard for him to show affection towards his brothers and father, whereas Donatello and Michelangelo had no problems whatsoever displaying fondness. But they all knew he loved them, deep down.

And finally, Leonardo, his eldest. There was no one more protective and caring than him. Leo was always looking out for his brothers, always the one to pick them up when they fell, do something with them when they were bored, comfort them after nightmares and scrapes when their father could not. He was also very quiet and obedient; acting upon every order Splinter gave him. He was polite and reserved too, not really having any hobbies for himself. He didn't openly show his feelings either. Yet he was so clumsy! He was far from graceful or athletic; often breaking many things he set his hands upon, tripping over his own two left feet, he didn't have great stamina either. Yet he was also very determined, and didn't seem to let it get him down.

Splinter mentally sighed, knowing his eldest son was going to have much difficulty in the paths he was going to set them. Michelangelo would do fine with his hyperactivity, Raphael could finally tame his violent strength and Donatello could get some confidence. But Leonardo was not nimble, or strong, quite the opposite. Splinter couldn't leave him out, and he saw potential yet, it might just take a lot to drag it out.

The growing turtles soon devoured breakfast and the dishes were washed each in turn. They were still learning to clean up after themselves (Michelangelo and Raphael rather reluctantly) and having them clean up their own cutlery and pots was a reasonable way to do it. After all the dishes were stowed away in their boxes (Leonardo's miraculously unbroken), Splinter led them to one of the old chambers in the sewers.

He smiled, listening to Michelangelo's excited babble of spaceships and pets and other childhood fantasies that may be behind the locked wooden door. The others patiently listened, Raphael often throwing in his own suggestions when Michelangelo's grew a little farfetched. Donatello offered his logic whereas Leonardo remained silent; he had a bad feeling about this.

Splinter pulled an old, rusty iron key from the inside of his ragged kimono and with the air of unveiling something spectacular, unlocked and swung open the old door, which creaked upon its ancient, corroded hinges and let his children peer eagerly inside the previously forbidden room. They all let out gasps, not sure whether or not they should be disappointed or impressed.

They were looking into a very large room, with no furniture except for wall racks and a couple of hand made punch bags. Upon the racks were weapons of various sorts, ranging from swords and staffs to nunchucks and spears and so on. The floor was covered with a soft spongy material to aid falls and it was clean and empty, indicating it was used often. So this was where Master Splinter went to for hours sometimes!

Splinter rested his paws onto his two most eager sons' shoulders before they darted forwards to upset the displays. They all peered curiously up at their father and he indicated they should all sit down on the squashy floor in the middle of the room. They ran forwards, excited and a little nervous, their eyes flickering everywhere, trying to take it all in greedily.

"Now my sons," Splinter began, kneeling down, his bones creaking, and laying his cane before him. "I know you are all very eager to explore and satisfy your curiosity but please listen to an old rat first," He smiled at their different expressions.

Raphael was frustrated as if enthusiastic to discover and play. Michelangelo was bouncing up and down, clearly hyper and thrilled. Donatello was patient and a tad nervous. Leonardo looked calm and ready for anything, although deep down, he was terrified. He knew this wasn't going to be good.

"You ain't old," Raph pointed out, his beak twisting cheekily. Splinter gave a laugh. Kids.

"Still, please listen. First and foremost children, I cannot stress to you enough, you should not come in here or touch anything without my permission. As you can see, the objects in this room are extremely dangerous, and could seriously hurt you, possibly kill you. Do you understand?" He asked serenely, fixing each of his children with a stern look. They all nodded, obedient and fascinated.

Leo gulped and bit his lip; he really didn't like the sound of this. He didn't like this room; he didn't like the weapons, the feel, any of it. He felt out of place and small, especially next to his excited younger brothers. Even Donny was starting to get energized now.

"Good. Now, I have told you about my own father, Master Yoshi, but what I have not told you, is that Master Yoshi, and myself are ninjas," Splinter revealed, fully expecting to have to explain what ninjas were.

"Ninjas? Like them on TV?" Mike asked breathlessly, eyes lighting up in glee.

"No Michelangelo, ninjas in real life, are much, much better," Splinter replied, his own beady black eyes twinkling.

"Aw can I be a ninja Mastah? Please, please, please!" Mikey pleaded, almost jumping up and down now. Raph was throwing in his own impatient 'Yeah, me too Mastah!' and Donny was grinning widely in anticipation. But Leonardo was not pleading, or fervent, or expectant.

"Patience my sons, patience. What you must understand is that Ninjitsu is not like how it is portrayed on the television. It is much more serious and complicated," The rat said seriously, noting Michel's slightly disappointed look.

"You mean there's more'n kickin' butt?" Raph frowned. Splinter sighed, he was already getting tired of correcting Raphael's language, but he knew it would just be one of those things he would not be able to alter.

"Yes Raphael, a lot more than that. Bushido is a traditional Japanese code of honour, self-discipline, bravery and simple living. Ninjas follow that code. Shadows are their friend, light is their enemy," He answered brightly; he truly loved his way of life.

"But Mastah, I don't like the dark," Mikey muttered uneasily, calming down and cowering a little for the first time that day.

"It's ok Mikey, dark can't hurt you," Leo smiled, leaning forwards to squeeze his little brother's shoulder and speaking reassuringly. Splinter smiled widely.

"Leonardo is right, Michelangelo. The darkness cannot hurt you. A ninja practices stealth and secrecy, the darkness will aid you in your assignment," He knew Michelangelo's greatest difficulty would be getting over his fear of the dark, but he had great confidence in him. Mikey frowned as if doubting but let it slide.

"So, are we going to be ninjas too Sensei?" Donny asked enquiringly.

"Yes Donatello, you are," Splinter smiled again as Mikey squealed, Raph whooped and Don gasped. Leo remained blank.

And so Master Splinter began his sons' first Ninjitsu lesson. It was just as he'd feared. He wasn't expecting them to be brilliant and have natural gifts for the art, but Raph had been too eager to pick up the sharper weapons, Michelangelo far too boisterous, Donatello reluctant and shy and Leonardo was nervous and disastrously clumsy.

The amount of displays he'd knocked over was uncountable, and he'd tripped when there was nothing to fall over. He'd gotten his feet ravelled up when kicking, stumbled when punching. All in all, not a good session for the eldest, especially not when his brother's had been slightly better.

Raphael and Michelangelo's laughing and teasing had not helped. Yet Leonardo had appeared not to get frustrated, seemingly ignored and tolerated it. He simply tried again, trying to get it right. But he hadn't. He was simply terribly inept and nothing seemed to come to him.

Master Splinter sighed and dismissed them a couple of hours later. Raph and Mike aawwed and unwillingly traipsed off to go do their own thing, talking animatedly together about being ninja. Donny wasn't as hesitant to end their training but Leonardo stayed where he was on the squishy mat in the middle of the dojo, looking deep in thought.

"Are you alright Leonardo?" Master Splinter enquired, looking down on his eldest.

He'd worked really hard, but it hadn't been enough. He was determined though; the old rat would give him that. He was just not the right concoction for the perfect ninja. Splinter had always had a dream, of raising a group of great ninjas, who were talked about all over the world, and they were all like shadows, swift and sudden in the dark. Who better to be those ninjas than his sons?

But Leonardo was questionable. Raph had a fiery power to back up his strength. Mike had great stamina for his agility. Don had logic to support his disinclination to engage in unnecessary battle. But Leonardo? Sure he was determined, but no ninja. Splinter loved his sons and wouldn't change them for the world, but he had a feeling his dreams had just gone down the drain.

"Yes Master. Um…can I…may I practice a bit more?" Leo asked politely, turning his small beseeching face upto his master. It was hard for Splinter to deny those bright sapphire eyes.

"I'm afraid not Leonardo, too much practicing can be bad for you, we don't want you overexerting yourself do we?" He smiled, putting an arm around his small son's shoulders as they walked together.

"No Master," Leo replied submissively.

A few minutes later Leonardo found himself curled up in a tatty but comfy armchair, reading a picture book to himself. It was one of his favourites, The Ugly Duckling. His brothers didn't like it much, but he loved the story of a duckling transforming into a beautiful swan.

He sighed, not really reading though. He was alone for once, Master Splinter had taken Donatello on a scavenger hunt for supplies and Raph and Mike were in their room playing violently with some old Action Men, one missing an arm, the other completely naked. It didn't bother them though; a toy was a toy, whether it had clothes on or not.

The little boy couldn't help but think of the earlier ninja class though. He'd been a disgrace compared to his brothers. He felt frustration and anger at himself creeping through his veins? Why? Why couldn't he do it? Why was he so clumsy? Why, why, why? These were only the basic moves, what on earth would he be like attempting the more advanced ones?

He hated letting Master Splinter down. He could see the disappointment shining in those ebony eyes no matter how hard he covered it. Leo felt his eyes burn and his throat close up. He would not cry! He would not! He would do it, he would be the great ninja Master Splinter wanted him to be, two left feet or not.

Stubbornly and determinedly, shaking a little with aggravation, Leo made his way to the only room in the 'house' with a lock besides the dojo, the bathroom. He made sure he veered well clear of anything he could knock or trip over and snuck in there.

That was the first time Hamato Leonardo, aged five years old, trained silently by himself, for only half an hour, it was all he could manage without looking suspicious. It was long enough for his anger at himself to deepen, strengthening his determination.

To Be Continued

A.N: All done lolness. Hope ya liked that and please review! If ya got any constructive criticism or ideas for what could happen don't hesitate to drop me a line. Much love to you all!