A.N: You know what?? THIS STORY WON FIRST PLACE IN THE 2006 TMNT FANFICTION AWARDS FOR BEST LEONARDO SCENE!! How much does that freaking rock?! It shows to me you guys are still with me on this, and to say thank you, I need to get to grips with my writer's block on this story and kick its ass! So that's what I'm gonna do! Thank you so much guys YOU ROCK!!

Black Balloon

Chapter Four

The young boy bit his lip, peering around the doorframe. He'd avoided his father since he'd had that lecture a few days ago. He was still scared. He was still feeling upset and angry with himself. The only words he'd spoken to his Sensei were along the lines of goodnight and thank you at bedtimes and mealtimes. He was frightened of saying something wrong, in case he got told off again. He was just a child, who could blame him?

He watched the large rat potter around the 'kitchen' with curious blue eyes. For once, Michelangelo wasn't asking to help. Mike loved it in the kitchen, he loved helping his daddy bake cakes and make dinner, even if he did make more mess than food. Leo had wanted to ask if he could spend time in the kitchen before, but he knew Mikey would have been disappointed, so he never asked.

But this time, he didn't want to try out his culinary skills. All he wanted was a little one on one time with his father. He'd woken up from his nap, craving some attention, just like every five year old. He'd never really asked for consideration, he only seemed to get it when Splinter realised he'd been concentrating more on his younger brothers, and that wasn't often. But this morning, despite still being afraid of another lecture, Leonardo wanted some reassuring words.

"Sensei?" He asked timidly, his voice quiet.

Splinter spun towards the door, halting slicing up some vegetables. He smiled at his son, then went back to what he was doing, expecting him to ask if he could help out. He didn't notice his eldest's subtle fear, simply thought it was mere shyness on the child's part. Leonardo, after all, had already proven he was an extremely shy little boy.

"Yes Leonardo?" The rat replied, wondering how on earth Leo could help with his wrist splinted.

It had only been a week, but already Splinter knew Leo detested the thing. He constantly scowled at the splint whenever it hindered his activities, which was pretty often. Splinter didn't think it was possible for the boy to be any clumsier, but he soon found it was. Having to use his left hand more than his right now, the young boy knew his father was always on edge whenever he was in the room, just so he wouldn't trash the place. Unintentionally of course, but it still made Leo feel guilty.

"Um, do you think, I mean, will you sit with me Sensei? Just for a few minutes? Please?" The little turtle child questioned, his voice a whisper.

He was expecting to be rejected straight away; he could see his father was busy. But a little part of him hoped the rat could put aside a couple of minutes in his day, just for him. After all, he sat with Donatello for a whole half an hour earlier, listening to him read a book meant for someone twice his age. It wasn't Leo's turn to read today, and it wouldn't be until the day after tomorrow, but Leo just wanted to sit with him, nothing more.

"I'm sorry Leonardo, but I'm simply far too busy to sit with you right about now," The rat sighed, tipping all the vegetables into the pan on the stove and barely giving his eldest a second glance.

"Oh. That's…that's ok Master Splinter," Leo smiled, fighting hard to keep the disappointment from his young voice.

He turned on his heel and wandered into the main room, suddenly feeling a lot worse than before. But it was all right for his father to be busy, he understood that. Still, it didn't really make him feel any better. Maybe one of his brothers would give him a quick hug and a smile? After all, he gave them plenty. Surely they could spare one for him?

They'd just had their nap, so Mikey and Raph would more than likely be playing some raucous and extremely noisy game, in fact he could hear them in their room from there, and Donny would be reading presumably. Splinter had scrounged some old books from one of the dumpsters topside, which the clever child had taken a shine to.

He didn't really want to face Raph in a mood like this; he would most probably make it worse, especially if he was in a particularly energetic and aggressive temper. So he decided to go find Donny. Their room was quiet, but he poked his head around the door anyway and smiled when he saw his younger brother curled up on his bunk, a book Leo could hardly comprehend in his hands.

Raph had the top bunk between him and Mikey because the youngest turtle wanted to be as near as possible to the night-light. Raph didn't mind, he liked it up there; he enjoyed jumping down in a morning, despite Master Splinter constantly reprimanding him and telling him to use the ladder. And in Don and Leo's room, Donny had the top bunk, simply because the first time Leo spent the night up there, he ended up curled right up in the corner with the sheets over his head, petrified of the height. So Donny willingly swapped, he didn't mind heights at all, and Leo took the bottom bunk, much closer to the floor.

"Um, Donny?" He asked meekly.

"Hm?" Don didn't even look up from his book, too absorbed in the dry, rough pages leaping to life in his young brain.

"Can I…can I sit with you? And have a…have a hug?"

Donny didn't even give him the satisfaction of looking at him. He just licked his finger and flicked over the page, his hazel eyes scanning the words so fast Leo wondered if he was actually even reading them. But then he reminded himself, it was Donny, of course he was reading. Some of the books looked pretty interesting, he'd have to ask to borrow them sometime.

"Sorry Leo, but this book is really, really good. Another time ok?" Don murmured, hardly paying him any attention.

Leo's heart sank.

"Oh, alright then,"

But it didn't show in his voice.

He turned on his heel and walked dejectedly towards his other brothers' room, his head low. He could hear Mikey's excited squeals and Raph's exuberant yells from here. He dragged his heavy feet, pulling a sigh from his little lungs. His brother was busy too, that was ok. He didn't have to spend time with him if he didn't want to. Still, Leo couldn't help but feel even more upset.

Peering into Mike and Raph's room, he found them racing their figures, Sergeant Kick-Your-Butt and Cap'n Arrgh-Maties, which were taped onto two very dented and very battered old toy trucks. The vehicles still had four wheels each however, and therefore worked just fine. Biting his lip, Leonardo remembered when they wouldn't let him play with them a couple of weeks ago. He hoped it wouldn't be the same.

Bravely he moved forward into the room, resting one hand on the doorframe.

"Um, guys?" He ventured quietly. Raph and Mike halted their trucks, mere centimetres from barrelling straight into one another.

"No Leo, ya can't play, there ain't anymore Action Men 'n' yo' even more clumsy wi'that arm," Raph replied instantly before Leo could even say another word.

"That…that wasn't what I was gonna ask," Leo murmured, blushing a little. Mike tilted his head, reading his expression.

"D'ya want a hug Leo?" He questioned kindly. The youngest turtle often woke up craving hugs and cuddles, he knew how it felt. Blushing harder, Leo nodded, avoiding their eyes.

"Huggin's fer babies!" Raph snorted defiantly, sitting on his heels and folding his arms across his small plastron.

Mikey had made to get up instantaneously the moment Leo nodded, after all Leo always gave him an embrace and sat with him when he asked. But as soon as those words spilt from Raphael's mouth, he hastily pretended to shift into a more comfortable position on his numb butt and copied his elder brother's rebellious pose. If Raph was too old for hugs so was he! Sure he was the youngest, but he wasn't no baby!

"Yeah, I…I guess they are," Leo gave a small smile and retreated back down the corridor. He didn't think it was even possible to feel any worse.

He knew Mikey would have comforted him straight away if Raph hadn't said that. The littlest turtle was just far too under the influence of his brothers, especially Raphael, who found Mike's willingness to copy him amusing. Mike hated being the youngest as much as Leo hated being the eldest. Michelangelo wanted to prove he wasn't the little baby they treated him as (Five years old was of course, very grown up!) and Leonardo wanted to prove he wasn't the annoying older brother he was treated as.

Leonardo sighed and leaned back against the locked door, letting the breath out in a long slow exhale. He felt full and sleepy from dinner, but his troubled mood hadn't altered any. And now it was time for bath and bed, and he still felt rotten. He'd tried doing a little reading, but he couldn't concentrate, the words just seemed to merge into one huge black scribbled mess. He'd tried just lying in silence on the couch, but Raph laughed at him and Splinter asked if he was ill, so that hadn't worked out how he'd hoped it would either.

He padded towards the tub and dipped a finger into the clear water Master Splinter had prepared for him. Hot, but not too hot his body couldn't stand it. He wasn't supposed to get his splint wet, and up to yet, he'd found it hard. He'd had to wrap it tightly in a towel and totally depend on his left hand with washing and getting in and out. At first, he'd make such a mess, Splinter had had to help him bathe, just when they had learnt to do it themselves. But now, he was better.

He brushed his fingers through the hot lake, causing ripples and mild splashes. He hadn't trained in such a long time, it felt like years! But of course, it had only been weeks. He hated his lessons, really truly despised them, but he knew already they were important. If Master Splinter wanted them to have Ninjitsu lessons, they were more than important. And Leo felt bad about letting his daddy down. He was going to be an even poorer ninja now.

Dismally, he pulled the patched and worn hand towel from the rack and began to wind it around his injured arm tight, tucking in any stray ends to protect the splint and bandaging from the water. It didn't hurt so much now, just every now and then when he attempted to rotate his wrist at a more than sluggish pace. He didn't know how long two months was, but he knew it was a very long time, and he had a lengthy time to wait before he could take the splint off, pain or no pain.

He clumsily clambered into the tub, holding his bad arm high to avoid the droplets splashing as he sort of stumbled into a sitting position. Grumbling, he rested his limb on the side of the bath, and leaned back, basking in the water. It wasn't deep, only a couple of inches, but it was sufficient. He liked baths. He made sure he had one every single night, whereas Mikey and Raph had to be forced most of the time.

Splinter had been hesitant in letting Donatello bathe on his own the first time he asked a few weeks ago, after all, a few inches was more than enough for tots to drown in. He'd made Donny promise not to lock the door and yell if he needed help. Of course, Donny was absolutely fine, and it wasn't long before the others were eager to prove their solitary bathing skills also.

Leo secretly preferred bathing with his brothers like they had done when they were a little younger. He loved their company, loved Mike and Raph splashing each other, loved Donny asking Splinter what water was made of, loved his Sensei's look of utter perplexity at the question. He missed the fun they had. But he knew it wasn't to be had again.

Pulling the washcloth from the crate beside the bathtub, he dunked it in the water, soaking up the liquid until the material became heavy. He dreaded to think how much of a disaster his lessons would be once he was fit again. His brothers would be so much better; they'd have two whole months of practice, however long two months was. And he'd have nothing, nothing whatsoever, when he was the one who needed it the most.

He thought back to when he first trained on his own all that time ago. And then again when he had first broken his wrist. They had helped, just a little bit. He was free from distractions and pressure (Besides his own of course, which would probably turn out to be the worse); he was able to concentrate without anybody laughing at him or getting disappointed. He smiled weakly, his first smile all day, his eyes twinkling with an idea.

Hurriedly, he squeezed the water from the washcloth over his body, scrubbing away the dirt so fast it seemed as if his life depended on it. It was hard one-handed, but he was getting used to it now. He had been using his left hand for a number of weeks now. Satisfied his shell was as clean as it was going to get, he scrambled out of the tub as softly and suspiciously as possible. He knew he wasn't expected out of the bathroom for a while yet; he always spent the most time bathing.

He dried himself off as best he could; making sure every centimetre of his smooth green skin was rubbed waterless. Tossing the towel back in its rightful place, he began to unwind the other hand towel from his arm, careful not to pull his wrist. Holding his arm in front of him, he lightly began to flex his fingers, opening them and clenching them. The ache was dull, and quickly passed as he worked it out. His smile grew wider and he moved into the centre of the tiled floor.

Half an hour later, he slumped against the plastic coldness of the bathtub and slid down to the floor, panting heavily. His wrist ached, but he felt so much better for taking matters into his own hands and doing something about his ineptness. He hated sitting alone in his room whilst the others where having their lessons. He was bored, felt useless.

Sure, it wasn't like a true lesson with Master Splinter, but it helped. Well, not so much his skill, but it helped the way he felt. He wasn't feeling so hurt and upset anymore, he felt…relaxed. He didn't think about the whole secret part though. Because he knew if he did, he wouldn't be able to stop that swamping, gnawing guilty feeling.

Once he'd regained his breath, he closed his eyes for a few seconds, listening to his heart thud in the quiet room. Boy was he going to sleep tonight! He smiled sleepily and turned on his knees to reach down into the now lukewarm water and pulled out the plug. He rested his arms on the rim of the tub and leant his head warily down, watching the liquid gurgle and spin down the hole.

As soon as the last droplet sunk in to the darkness, he climbed up and unlocked the door, moving his feet absent-mindedly, and rubbing his face tiredly. Coming into the main room, he found Mikey already sound asleep on the sofa, an old children's' cartoons tape playing fuzzily to itself. Leo giggled and went to wake him up. It was bedtime now anyway. A glass of milk and a cookie each and then they were off to bed, ready for the dreams of night.

"Goodnight Leo," Don murmured with a yawn, snuggling down into his pillow and pulling his bedcovers tightly around himself like a cocoon.

"'Night Don," Leo mumbled drowsily up to the bed above him.

He sighed contently, curling up into the foetus position and closed his eyes, knowing he was going to fall asleep almost instantly tonight. He was so tired. He smiled softly, only half listening to his brother's low snores, and Raph's louder snorts in the room next door. Raphael was adamant he didn't snore, but then why else would Mike take earmuffs to bed with him, even if they were pink and fluffy?

Soon enough, the little boy drifted into slumber, at first not dreaming about anything at all, just resting peacefully. His little yellow plastron heaved gently up and down as he breathed deeply, wound up tight and warm in his blanket. His hand secretly searched for Mr. Monk-Monk, the tattered old monkey soft toy Splinter had given him when he was three. Besides Mikey, he was the only one who cuddled it as if suffocating it every night. When he woke up in a morning and found it clutched in his arms, he'd hurriedly stuff it down the side of the bed before anyone saw.

He frowned in his sleep, hanging on to the covers and Mr. Monk-Monk firmer than ever. Master Splinter was screaming at him, reprimanding him for working out all on his own, broken wrist and all. He whimpered and the rat simply yelled more, seemingly growing in size, filling the claustrophobic blackness all around. He scrambled backwards, and still his father advanced upon him. The words erupted from Splinter's mouth again and again.

Useless.

Pathetic.

Sad.

Clumsy.

Wimp.

He felt like his chest was being crushed, he couldn't breathe. He moaned once more, shaking his head so fast he felt dizzy. He wasn't listening! He clamped his hands over his ears, but the words crept through his skin and pounded within his head over and over. He looked up, fearfully, into those furious, beady black eyes. He saw the claw rise high into the air. He saw it speeding towards his upturned, frightened face…

He toppled out of bed with a noisy thump, tangled within woollen blankets and Mr. Monk-Monk. He fought his way to the surface and threw the cover off as if it where the bogeyman. Panting, he looked frantically around, wide eyes taking in every inch of his Splinter-free surroundings. Once he realised what had happened, he closed his eyes, breathing deeply, sniffles of shock stabbing at him.

"Leo? Was that you?" He heard Donny ask frantically.

If he squinted up, he could just see the shadow of his brother sat up in his bunk, peering down anxiously, hoping to see a turtle and not the bogeyman Splinter told them would come to take them away if they don't go to sleep.

"Yeah, yeah, it's me," Leo breathed, still in too much of an astonishment to move. Donny relaxed significantly.

"Was it a bad dream?" He asked kindly. They'd often wake to hear Mikey yelling about monsters and whatnots late into the night.

"Yeah…bad dream," Leo muttered passively, gathering up all of his sheets and dumping them back onto the bed to wrap him up in once more. His wrist ached again.

He looked up to see Master Splinter hurrying in, dressing robe pulled tight against the attacking cold, and with two more turtle tots at his heels, one of them yawning and tugging an orange blanket behind him.

"Leonardo! Are you alright?" The rat asked anxiously, hanging on to the doorframe. The five year old being addressed peered at his father.

"Yes Sensei, it was just a bad dream," He murmured politely. The fear he was keeping locked well away was making him feel physically sick.

"Are you sure? Would you like to sleep in my bed for the rest of the night?" Splinter queried, stepping a little closer to the small boy.

Leo couldn't see Raph's scornful face, but he knew what his brother would say if he accepted their father's offer. Not only that, but the prospect of being so close to his father after such a dream was just downright terrifying. Taking a deep breath, he answered as respectfully as he could.

"No thank you Sensei, I'm grown up now,"

Splinter raised an eyebrow, and fought the urge to look down at Raphael; this was his doing the rat knew. Raph always griped about being grown up and able to do things on his own now. Being so rebellious, Splinter didn't expect anything less. However, he also didn't expect Leonardo to follow his younger brother's example. With a weary sigh, he nodded.

"Very well, you know where I am if you have anymore bad dreams. Come along Michelangelo, Raphael, it would not do for the bogeyman to drop by, would it?"

That made even Raphael scramble furiously towards his bed. With a final goodnight to his other two sons, Splinter made his way back to his own bed down the corridor.

Leonardo quietly echoed Donatello's goodnight, then wrapped himself in his sheets once more. He held Mr. Monk-Monk so tight to his plastron; the poor old thing almost had its head squeezed off. It wasn't long before Donatello was off snoozing again and Leo felt the tears begin to trickle down his cheeks and onto the pillow. He pulled the sheets high over his head, sniffling in the dark.

The old rat sighed and rubbed his aching temples. It sure was tiring raising four young boys. Especially four boys who were the same age and had a tendency to get on each other's nerves. But still, he loved them to death and wouldn't have them any other way, that's who they were after all, he couldn't change that. And what sort of a father would he be if he wanted to?

Splinter shook his head exasperatedly and pulled an incense stick from the packet on the table next to the chair. He lighted it from the flame of a candle, and then set it in its holder, wafting the smell of sandalwood with his paw, sniffing appreciatively. He took his tea and settled back, closing his eyes, basking in the blissful silence.

Leonardo's splint had been removed yesterday, after two very, very long months. He pitied the poor child for having to put up with it for so long, but he was secretly grateful it was the eldest who had broken his wrist and not Michelangelo or Raphael. Now that would have been a real nightmare. At least Leonardo didn't kick up a stink and complain about it like his younger brothers would have done. Michelangelo yells the house down if he grazes his knee, Daimyo knows what he'd be like if he broke a bone.

Thankfully Leonardo's wrist had healed without a hitch. It was still a little stiff but it didn't ache and it seemed to have mended well. In fact, he felt able to join in their lesson that day. Splinter had allowed him reluctantly, but he kept a very close eye on the boy. He was ashamed to admit it, but he had enjoyed lessons without Leonardo there. Sure he wanted to learn just as much as his brothers, perhaps even more so. But he wasn't as adept as his brothers, and it really frustrated their father. How was he supposed to teach a student like that? Leonardo would never be like his brothers in this aspect, so why was he even bothering?

Because a part of him couldn't tell the child it was hopeless. He just couldn't break the little boy's heart. He was so determined to please and do everything right, Splinter just couldn't tell him to forget it. Besides, another small part of him hoped Leonardo would pull through, and show some skill for the art, however tiny it may be. He wanted to pass on the skills of Ninjitsu, but how could he do that when his student was so clumsy and unskilled?

And the boy would have made a brilliant group leader with his temperament. Sure Raphael was turning out to be the more ninjaesque out of the four of them, but Splinter could already see Raphael could be no leader. He was brash, hotheaded, sometimes violent. Whereas Leonardo, he was patient, calm, modest. They were almost exact opposites, it was just a shame Leonardo couldn't be more like Raphael in the ninja department.

He would have been perfect.

Practice today was just a jumble of tumbles and madness. Maybe he had been hoping for some sort of miracle, for Leonardo to incredibly acquire an ability equal to Raphael's. Well, he didn't get it. Leonardo remained just the same as ever, much to everyone's, including his brothers' and his own, irritation. Raphael had grumbled and raised his fist many a time.

The problem was, Splinter couldn't continue Leonardo's lessons hoping he would improve, because if he didn't, it would have been a waste of time. And surely it would be kinder to tell him to quit now than in ten or so years time? But was Splinter willing to take that risk? He who dares, wins after all, but still. What if Leonardo never aspired to the great ninja Splinter wanted him to be? It was certainly starting to look out that way.

Nevertheless, Leonardo had shown the slightest slither of improvement this morning. He didn't compare to his brothers on the other hand. Maybe being on the sidelines for so long made him think more about his actions? Whatever the solution was, Leonardo certainly tried his hardest; there was no denying that. But this sudden progress wasn't enough to change the rat' mind about the whole never be a great ninja thing.

Draining his cup, Splinter sighed again, watching the ember on the incense stick dim before finally burning out with a last, feeble puff of scented smoke. He set the chipped china down with a chink on wood and heaved himself out of the chair. Preparing himself for bed, Splinter decided to leave the whole thing to develop a little more. It was early days yet, however unpromising they may look.

"Mastah Splinta, Mastah Splinta!!"

The rat turned from observing Leonardo endure an endless amount of unrewarding drill, to give Michelangelo his attention. The littlest forcefully and excitedly demanded him to watch, and then preceded to perform the kata Splinter had been teaching them. It was sloppy and hard to determine which move was which, but the young boy had indeed remembered the whole sequence, much to his delight.

"Very well done Michelangelo!" Splinter beamed, laughing at how proud and thrilled his youngest son looked.

His brothers all cheered and congratulated him, especially Leonardo. No one could have been more pleased for him than Leonardo. After giving Michelangelo a few words for improvement, Splinter returned to instructing Leonardo's drill, a tiring task for both master and student, particularly as the student was less than capable. It had to be done however.

Noting the satisfaction Splinter had shown when he saw Michelangelo complete their first kata; Leo was determined to make their father proud of him too. That was all he wanted, just some recognition that he was making progress. He'd never concentrated more in his whole life. Granted he was only five years old but still, he hadn't, he knew he hadn't. He only wanted to make Splinter proud, was that too much to ask?

He moved his body as slowly as possible, thinking it through again and again in his brain. Realising where he usually went wrong at normal speed, he corrected his feet at the last minute and came to a stop, upright, in the accurate position. He'd finally achieved a stepping side kick without tripping over his own feet. Grinning widely, stupidly, he peered up at his father, hoping for praise.

"Again Leonardo, faster," The rat's voice was almost cold, so unlike it had been a couple of minutes ago when he had congratulated Michelangelo's performance.

Leo opened his little mouth to say something, then thought better of it. So what if he finally did a move correctly? His brothers had been doing these exercises fine for weeks, they were nothing special. It wasn't as if he'd made up his own kata or anything, why should they make a big fuss about him? He understood it perfectly, he didn't mind, really.

Really.

Really really.

Sighing, Leo rolled over and faced the wall, rubbing Mr. Monk-Monk against his cheek. He'd do better tomorrow; he'd make Splinter proud of him. He'd done his little bathroom trick once more this evening, and it had worked fine. He'd probably do it more often. It was only fifteen minutes or so, but it was fifteen minutes away from Splinter and his brothers, fifteen minutes away from their constant pressure and teasing. It was fifteen minutes of pure heaven. And he'd use them wisely that was for sure.

"Hey Leo, you awake?" Donny whispered loudly, peering over his bunk to dip his head into Leo's bed space. Leo quickly stuffed Mr. Monk-Monk under the covers, although he knew Donny wouldn't bother him about it.

"Yeah, what's up?" He asked, turning his head to face his brother, seeking his hazel eyes in the darkness.

"I was wondering, d'you know what'd be a really cool idea?" Donny asked enthusiastically.

"What?" Leo took the bait, heart sinking; he didn't have a good feeling about this, despite Don appearing so eager.

"We could have bandanas like those super heroes on TV!" Don laughed pleasantly at his idea. They all practically worshipped the TV, especially Mikey and Raph, and, just like most little boys, shows about superheroes were their favourites.

"Yeah…really cool,"

"And I could have purple, and Mikey could have orange, and what colour do you think Raph would have?"

"…Red. Raph loves red,"

"Oh yeah! And you could have blue, you like blue, don't you?"

"…Yeah,"

"I'll tell them tomorrow. Well, good night Leo!"

"Good night Donny,"

Donny's grinning face disappeared and Leo heard him snuggle back into his bed, deep and warm in his sheets. He heard him sigh contently and fall into his usual deep sleep. Leo always envied him for that. Don had never had any trouble sleeping, whereas it took Leo ages to finally drift off. Leo sighed and pulled his sheets tight and close for warmth and Mr. Monk-Monk for comfort.

He hated blue. He thought it was boring. Nothing interesting was blue! Light wasn't blue, stars weren't blue, and nothing he liked was blue. It was red he liked, a bright fierce red, but Raph would just say he was copying. Raph always chose the red crayon, the strawberry flavoured milk, the red toy truck, everything red. And Donny liked purple and Mike loved orange. So Leo had no choice but to go with the leftovers. He usually didn't mind if it kept the peace, but to have a blue bandana?

Why did Donny have to be so smart? Leo wasn't really jealous, that was his brother's gift, but he wished Don didn't come up with some of these ideas sometimes. Sure they were really good ideas, like taking it in turns to have the free toy in the cereal box, but some of them Leo thought they'd be much better off without them, like these bandanas for instance.

And why did Raph always get what he wanted? Leo liked the red crayon and the red truck too, why couldn't he ever play with them? Maybe because he'd never told them. He was that used to using whatever was left, he took the blue crayon and blue truck first. So it wasn't really Raph's fault for always picking those was it? He just assumed he was the only one who liked red, so Leo couldn't really blame him, could he?

He rolled over onto his shell in the dark, staring at the shadows of Don's bunk. Why were they all so different? And not just to each other, but to those people topside too. What gave them the right to walk freely and happily in the sun, whilst they had to endure life hidden away in the sewers? Leo wasn't stupid. He knew why their father had forbidden them to leave the house alone. He also knew why Splinter kept the closest eye possible on their surroundings and also had his nose in the air frequently when they were out.

They would be captured, like those animals on the documentaries Donny liked. Those animals weren't kept very nicely at all. They were locked in cages and didn't have much food and were beaten up. And all because they were different. It almost made Leonardo cry, to think of such things, so he rubbed his cheek against Mr. Monk-Monk's face. He liked where they lived, he liked being with his family. The thought of being away from them simply terrified him. That was why he didn't protest like they did when Splinter forbade them from going out. He knew the reasons.

He knew Mike and Raph wouldn't understand. All they cared about was having some great big adventure with sewer crocs and giant monsters. Donny knew though, that was why he watched those documentaries with so much intensity. His huge curiosity for knowledge baffled them all. He wanted to know what would happen if the slightest thing was miscalculated, if this person did this instead of this, if you put this thing in this environment. His insatiable ream of questions certainly tired their father out.

That was probably why Donatello was so fascinated with dinosaurs at the moment. After watching 'Jurassic Park' on their old, battered black and white television, Donny intended to find out everything and anything he could about the prehistoric creatures, from a pterodactyl to a stegosaurus to a tyrannosaurus rex. He adored them, felt sad that they were no longer around. He would have loved to just catch a glimpse of one. That was another reason he enjoyed 'Jurassic Park' so much perhaps. His brothers undoubtedly didn't share his enthusiasm for the film.

Consequently, when Splinter had asked them that morning how they wanted their rooms repainted, Donny instantly piped up with a shrill, excited 'Dinosaurs!' It was supposed to be a joint decision of course, but Leo saw how thrilled Don was at the prospect of having all his beloved monsters all over the walls, Leo just couldn't disagree, no matter how much he despised them. In fact, he loathed them just as much as Donny loved them. But, because Don was already flicking through some books for picture ideas, Leo murmured his agreement to dinosaurs.

He knew he was going to be too scared to sleep at night once the room was finished. Just the thought of all those beady, hungry eyes and the rows and rows and pearly needle sharp teeth made him shiver. And he was going to have to share a room with these things! Their bed was right next to the wall; he could even end up with one staring him right in the face! He gave a little whimper at his over-active imagination, and buried himself and Mr. Monk-Monk a little deeper under the sheets.

He was going to have to start getting used to sleeping totally under the covers if this carried on. He couldn't do that forever however. He was going to fall asleep with his head above the blanket at some point, exposed to all dinosaurs that might want to glare hungrily at him. Was it possible to have nice dinosaurs? Dinosaurs who were really fluffy and cuddly and didn't eat turtles and rats? Leo didn't think so; he'd never seen one in Donny's books. He knew some were vegetarians, but they still looked rather scary to him!

For the first time, he wished he were sharing a room with Mike or Raph. They wouldn't choose dinosaurs. They'd both chosen their favourite superhero, Spider-Man to decorate their walls. Leo didn't particularly like spiders, but he liked Spider-Man a whole lot more than dinosaurs. At least Spider-Man had super powers and could chase away the dinosaurs! He could catch them in a huge sticky web and then they wouldn't be able to scare him anymore.

He soon fell into a deep sleep full of Spidey's twists and turns and dinosaur roars from the shadows. He clutched Mr. Monk-Monk tight as if it were Spider-Man himself and they were swinging through the skyscrapers of Manhattan, dodging and spinning to avoid those famished claws. And then Spider-Man left him on a rooftop, alone and cold in the snow, growls and snarls echoing all around.

And he was no longer a little boy anymore! He was taller and muscled and older. He was agile and strong and clever and sprinted in the shadows and leapt over rooftops like the great ninja Master Splinter wanted him to be. He ran away from the dinosaurs, leaving them in the dust. He wasn't scared of them anymore, he could punch and kick and fight like all those incredible ninjas on TV, like his father.

That was all he wanted, to be just like his father, to make him proud. He wanted to see him smile at something he had done, wanted to hear the words 'Well done' and not 'Again Leonardo'. He wouldn't be able to do that if he was scared and clumsy. Master Splinter wasn't frightened of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs didn't even exist! Why should he be scared of something that wasn't real?

Again.

Again.

Again.

He would do it again! And he'd do it a thousand times more if it helped him gain his father's respect. He'd do it until his legs dropped off and his brain didn't work anymore. He didn't care how long it took. He wanted to be just as good as his brothers. He wanted to be a good son. He wanted to be perfect.

If he wasn't perfect, then what was the point in even trying?

If he weren't perfect, then Splinter wouldn't even want to know.

If he weren't perfect, his brothers wouldn't want him.

To Be Continued

A.N: Oh my freaking gawd lol. I can't believe I've finally finished a chapter!! Can't believe how many different methods I've tried to change 'scene', stupid thing lol. Lolness well I hope you enjoyed it! Sorry there was a lot of time skipping, but it's just one of those chapters you know? Need all the quick changes for the development of the story. Anyway, thank you again so much for voting this first place for best Leo scene. I LOVE YOU, YOU ALL RAWK!!