Disclaimer: No, I don't own the Ninja Turtles. If I did, I wouldn't have had to buy the three TMNT DVDs that I have. I could have just gotten them for free. . .

I'm finally back! I can't believe how long it's been since I actually updated on here. I figured, "hey, it's summer; that means I'll have nothing BUT free time, right"? Wrong. What with three different trips, and getting ready for college in the fall, I wasn't able to do as much with my stories as I would've liked. And my stupid muse is being selective again, so I've had the middle and almost end of this story for ages, but I haven't been able to find or make myself write the beginning until now. And starting a story in the middle never works well. (lol) But at least I've finally figured out how to start this thing. And since I'm posting again, that will help me do better about working on it because I won't want to disappoint you guys. So hopefully you all will like this story, because I think it will be a pretty neat one. Enjoy!


Don woke with a jolt, thrown suddenly out of one of the oddest dreams he'd had in a while; the dream inexplicably involved himself, his brothers, and a group of Triceratons in business suits. His eyes flicked over to check the time, and he groaned to see the numbers read 6:25. It ought to be illegal to wake up before your alarm is supposed to go off, Don thought. His sleep-muddled brain struggled to figure out what had woken him, and when it came up with nothing, promptly decided that going back to sleep was the only sane thing to do. But just as he was about to lie back down, a muffled thump came to his ears, and it clicked in his mind that it was identical to what had woken him in the first place. Don wavered, most of him wanting to just lie down, ignore the noise, and go back to sleep. But as always, there was that one small part of his brain that screamed for him to get out of bed, that shouted that he knew what kind of things went bump in the night.

The tired part of him grumbled, but Don ignored it and quietly climbed out of bed. Grabbing his mask and bo, he softly padded out into the hallway with the intent of checking on his brothers. However, he had barely taken two steps out of his room before Raph appeared in the hallway as well.

Raph's eyes narrowed at the sight of Don also awake and armed with his staff. "So I take it ya heard it too?" he growled quietly.

"Yeah, just a thump of some sort. I came to check it out and see if you guys were alright."

"Same here. I'm freakin' shocked that Leo ain't out here already. With how he sleeps, I woulda expected him to have kicked our shells outta bed by now." Raph snorted, a small grin starting on his face. "That, or to have beat the crap outta whatever the shell it is, then wake us up. Can't figure why he hasn't showed up yet."

"Probably because it's coming from Leo's room," another voice spoke up.

Don and Raph turned to see Mikey emerge from his room too, a tired but wary look on his face.

"You sure?" Raph asked.

Mikey leveled an exasperated look at his brother, clearly not pleased with the early hour. "Bro, my room's right beside his. Yeah, I'm sure it's coming from his room. How long have you guys been out here?"

"Just a couple minutes, Mikey." Don shifted his grip on the bo, glancing at Leo's door, then his brothers. "So how should we do this?"

Both Don and Mikey turned to Raph, expecting him to give an order. But he was staring at Leo's door, a quiet, thoughtful on his face. When a few minutes passed with no movement, Don lightly tapped his brother on the shoulder. "Um, Raph?"

Raph turned, the odd expression still on his face. It melted away quickly, though, and he sent a reassuring look at his brothers. "We're goin' in there," he said quietly. "But don't get freaked out. This is Leo we're talkin' about, Mr. Ever Vigilant Ninja, remember? Ya can't even open the door without 'im knowin' yer there. Besides, I don't think there's anythin' ta worry about." He faced the door again. "I think Leo might jus' be havin' a nightmare."

Mikey just about dropped his nunchucks. "Are you serious? Leo never has nightmares."

"None that he admits to, anyways," Don added, agreeing with his younger brother.

Raph looked at them both. "You got any better explanation? Leo's door ain't open, he didn't come get us, an' other than some weird noises that could be Leo jus' hittin' the wall, there's no noise. An' if I'm rememberin' correctly, we ain't ever been in a fight that's this quiet. 'Sides, if someone did get in, wouldn't all of yer security crap have gone off, Don?"

Mikey chimed in as well, punching Don lightheartedly in the arm. "Dude, Raph's right! You designed all the security doohickeys and stuff around here, and we all know it works. If someone came in, wouldn't there have been like, I don't know, sirens and flashing red lights or something?"

Don glanced at his brother, amused, as he sheathed his bo. "More like 'or something', Mikey. Sirens and flashing red lights would let an intruder know that we know they're here. That's not very ninja-esque, since it gives them a chance to get away or get prepared to fight. The way the system is rigged up, I've got alarms set up in my room to let me know if any of the Lair's sensors have been activated."

"And…?" Raph stood with his arms crossed, smirking at Don. "Did any of yer alarms start freakin' out?"

The purple-clad ninja sighed. "No, Raph, they didn't."

"There ya go." Satisfied, Raph uncrossed his arms and moved towards Leo's door. "Come on, let's go an' see what's freakin' out Fearless Leader already."

One green hand had just reached the doorknob when Mikey spoke up timidly. "Um, Raph? Are ya…sure that's such a good idea?" When Raph just stared at him he continued. "I mean, no offense, bro, but when we've had to wake you up from nightmares—" He rolled his eyes at his brother's growl and quickly changed his words. "I mean, 'bad dreams', you're not exactly the friendliest turtle to be around. And Leo…kinda gets the same way about things like this."

Raph sighed in frustration, waving off his brother's words. "Look, somethin' is goin' on in there, an' whatever it is, it's gonna get taken care of, alright?"

Mikey raised his hands in surrender. "Whatever. It's your call, bro."

"Does anyone else realize how ridiculous we sound?" Don asked, smiling ruefully. "We're getting all riled up over nothing. If it is a nightmare, so what? Everyone has them," he stated, aiming a pointed glanced at Raph. "It's really not a big deal." He looked around and shook his head. "All this over a few noises…I'm switching all of us to decaf."

His brothers were silent while after he spoke, still staring at Leo's door, before Raph snickered.

"Dammit, Don, I hate it when you're right. Screw this, I must be spendin' too much time around Fearless…I'm gettin' my frickin' bandana in a knot." Raph snorted and stretched widely. "C'mon, let's get some breakfast," he said, turning and walking away. "Nothing's gonna happen."

No sooner had he spoken than a crash resounded from Leo's room. Raph turned around and opened the door in a heartbeat, quickly followed by Don and Mike. The red-banded turtle's hand darted to the wall, finding the light switch by instinct, and light flooded the room, drawing startled noises from the three younger turtles.

Their oldest brother was obviously in the middle of a nightmare, and judging by the state of his room, a violent one. Leo's room, normally almost obsessive in its neatness and order, looked worse than Mikey's on a bad day. Everything within reach of Leo's arms and legs had been hit or kicked. His chair was kicked over and lay several feet from his desk. The bedside table had been knocked onto its side, papers and books littering the floor. And at the epicenter of the mess was Leo, twisting and turning violently on his bed. The sheets had been kicked into a muddled clump at the bottom of the mattress, half of them hanging down to the floor.

Mikey gaped at the chaos, then glanced wryly at Don. "So, 'nightmares aren't a big deal', huh? The demolition derby in here would state otherwise."

"So sue me, Mikey. How was I supposed to know he was having such a bad nightmare? He hasn't had one of any kind in almost seven years."

"Enough with the talkin'," Raph said impatiently. "We gonna go in or what?"

He never got his answer, because at that point Leo muttered something in Japanese and twisted suddenly, as though avoiding an attack. Immediately after that he swung his arm and dealt a fierce blow to the stone wall beside him. The sickening crack that resulted echoed around the room, drawing cringes from his brothers. The skin on Leo's knuckles split open on contact, and blood spattered the walls.

Don frowned deeply. "That's it, we need to wake him up or he's going to seriously hurt himself."

"I'm not volunteering for that job," Mikey protested. "I'm worried about Leo seriously hurting me."

"We'll try waking him from here first," Don assured him. Clearing his throat, he leaned slightly further into the room. "Leo? Bro, you need to wake up."

There was no response from the sleeping turtle.

"Hey, Leo," Mikey tried next. "Bro, you overslept for practice, and Raph's about to hit me!"

Still nothing but another indiscernible Japanese phrase.

"Yeah, this ain't workin'," Raph muttered, stepping into the room. "Kora! Leo!"

The next moments were nothing but movement.

At Raph's call in Japanese, Leo rolled to the end of his bed and had a katana in his hand in an instant, arm cocked back and ready to throw. Don immediately snapped into action. He spun and lashed out with a foot, knocking Mikey safely to the floor. A mere breath later, Leo's katana was flying towards them.

"Raph, duck!" Don shouted as he shot a kick at the back of his older brother's knees.


Don's breath rushed out in a sigh of relief as the sharpened blade sank into the wood of Leo's doorjamb instead of Raph's head.

Raph rose from his forced kneeling position, his eyes wide when he saw the doorjamb. As he fell, his bandana tails had trailed above his head, and Leo's katana had caught and pinned a whole five inches of one tail to the wood. Raph fingered the scant amount of fabric that remained of his bandana tail. Three inches…he thought shakily. Three frickin' inches, and I'da been breathin' through my forehead… Turning his head to the side, he caught Don's eyes. "Thanks, bro," he croaked, his voice unsteady.

The brainy turtle swallowed hard and stood as well, looking as pale as Raph felt. "Yeah, no problem."

"Guys, look out!"

Mikey's warning shout jerked their attention forward again. Leo had drawn his second sword and lunged towards them, the point aimed at Raph's plastron.

"Hamato Leonardo, you will drop your blade!"

Don didn't know where the words came from, but they burst out of his mouth on their own, and thankfully, they worked. Leo snapped to a halt, the tip of his blade resting gently against Raph's chest.

And then he opened his eyes.

"Oh, Daimyo…" All hint of color left Leo's face in a rush and the katana clattered to the floor, his grip slackened by shock and horror. The leader's eyes darted around the room, taking in the positions of his brothers and his swords. He finally looked at Don, his expression horrified. "What did I do?"

Don held out a calming hand. "Are you okay, Leo?" He asked, concern taking precedence over his need to answer his brother. "You—"

Leo cut him off. "What did I do?" he repeated. His brothers could practically see the panic growing in his body.

"It's okay, bro," Mikey assured him quickly. "Nothin' happened. We heard you, um, having trouble sleeping, and we came to make sure you were alright. We opened the door and called for ya, but we couldn't wake you up, so Raph started walking in. You kinda freaked out and threw your katana, but we got outta the way. Then you, um, got up, and then woke up, and…here we are," he said, trying for an easy smile.

Leo almost seemed to deflate, his whole body shaking with relief. He walked backwards and slowly sat down on his bed, propping his elbows on his knees and burying his face in his hands. The three younger turtles watched anxiously as he remained that way, his chest and shell shuddering because of his ragged breathing.

"Yo, Leo, you alright?" Raph's voice was filled with an unusual concern.

"Get out," Leo intoned heavily, his tone dark.

Raph's brow furrowed. "What? Bro, what's goin' on?"

"I said get out."

The hothead's eyes narrowed. "Stop ignorin' me, Leo. I'm askin' ya if—"

Leo snapped, his head flying up as a rarely-seen rage danced in his eyes. "Dammit, Raphael, get out now or I will put you out!"

Mikey took one look at the black look on Leo's face and grabbed Raph's arm. "Come on, bro," he said quietly, gently tugging him towards the door.

"I ain't goin' nowhere till I figure out what the fu—"

"Not now, Raph," Mikey replied, his voice low. Before the hothead could say another word, his younger brother quickly pulled him out of the room. Angry words streamed behind them, quieting as they got further away.

Don stood silently as he watched them leave, then turned back to look at Leo. Before he could even speak, Leo looked back at the floor. "Please leave, Don," he said quietly.

The purple-banded turtle was slightly surprised. Generally he was the family confidante, something he secretly prided himself on. He was about to ask what was wrong when he pulled himself back. You're the one they talk to because you don't push, Don reminded himself. It's a good habit; don't break it now. He took a long look at his older brother; tension was evident in the leader's posture and voice. Especially since it's likely to do more harm than good right now. Don sighed. "Sure, bro," he answered easily, and laid a careful hand on Leo's shoulder before heading for the door. He paused a moment, one hand on the doorframe, and glanced back over his shoulder. "You know I'm always here when you're ready to talk, Leo."

"That time may not come for a while, Don," Leo murmured.

"That's fine," Don assured him. "With a family like this, I've learned to be patient." He gave his older brother an easy smile and walked out of the room, shutting the door gently behind him.

The instant the door closed behind him, Don sighed and rubbed his eyes. It's way too early for this kind of thing, he thought tiredly. Several minutes passed as he stared at his older brother's door, running the events of the past few days through his head, but he couldn't think of anything that would have triggered any kind of nightmare. Discarding that train of thought, he padded down the stairs, intending to get some coffee from the kitchen. Halfway down he caught sight of Mikey on the couch in front of the TV, staring at the blank screen. Changing course, he walked over and sat down beside him.

"How's Raph?"

The instant after the query left Don's lips, the brother in question stalked out of the kitchen, making a beeline for the dojo. Don shook his head ruefully. "That answers that. I thought you were going to calm him down, Mikey."

The orange-banded turtle spread his hands in protest. "Hey, I did the best I could. Besides, I did calm him down."

Don glanced at Mikey doubtfully. "He didn't look very calm to me. He looked like he was going to go kill the punching bag, something that's doubly disconcerting because of the fact that it's not an animate object to begin with."

"I'm not saying I calmed him down completely," Mikey pointed out, cocking an eye ridge at his brother. "We both know that no one can calm Raph down; Raphie-boy calms down when he's good and ready. I just talked him down a level of angry."

"You 'talked him down a level of angry'?" Don repeated, confusion in his voice. "There are levels?"

Mikey assumed an arrogant pose. "My poor, uneducated Donatello, of course there are levels of anger for our dear Raphael."

Don rolled his eyes. "Don't try the smart guy thing, Mikey; we both know you can't pull it off."

The younger turtle stuck his tongue out at his brother. "Can so. Anyways, like I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, Raph's got levels of angry, and you can tell what level he's at by how he goes after the punching bag."

"He's going to go maul the punching bag."

"Well, yeah," Mikey agreed. "But with fists and feet, not sai." At Don's blank look, Mikey elaborated. "After the, um, "incident" in Leo's room, Raph was at the "tear the bag apart with his sai like it's Hun" stage. I've talked him down to the "beat the crap out of the bag while pretending it's Leo" stage. It's progress," he insisted.

Don stared at his brother, his expression exasperated and amused. "I don't know whether to be impressed or disturbed that you've given Raph "anger levels", and that you know them so well."

The orange-clad turtle grinned. "Dude, I live to pester. I have to know Raph's levels. It's the only way I've escaped serious personal injury so far!"

"Mikey, a large part of why you've escaped serious injury so far is also because Leo has saved your shell countless times," Don pointed out.

"Well, yeah, that's part of it," Mikey admitted, grinning. Thrashing noises from the dojo caused the smile to drop off of his face, and he glanced from the dojo to their rooms upstairs. "How is he?" he asked quietly.

"Leo, you mean?" When his brother nodded, Don sighed. Following Mikey's gaze, he shrugged. "I don't know," he said softly. "I really don't. I can't remember seeing Leo like this before. And he didn't even say anything, either; just that he didn't want to talk about it."

Surprise flared on Mikey's face. "Seriously? He didn't say anything?"

Don shook his head. "Not a thing."

"Weird. Leo always talks to you. Everyone always talks to you. You're like the Dr. Phil of the family." Mikey's voice and expression turned disgruntled. "I mean, shell, that's pretty much why I risked my shell and dragged Raph outta Leo's room! Well, that and the whole 'keep them from killing each other' thing. But seriously, I figured with Raph gone, Leo might tell you what was buggin' him."

"So did I," Don admitted softly.

Mikey glanced at his brother, catching the downcast tone in his voice. He scooted over closer to Don and nudged him with his shoulder. "Hey, it's alright, bro. It's not you. Leo's just got something under his shell. He's probably a little messed up right now. I mean, he almost skewered and shish kabob-ed Raph right in front of us; it makes sense that he's not gonna want to talk about it right away."

The brainy turtle sighed. "I know, Mikey, it's just…whatever happened really bothered him. And it's Leo, for crying out loud; it takes a lot to shake him. But you saw him in there, he was a wreck. I'm just worried that it'll mess him up."

"I know what you're sayin', Donnie, but to quote a very wise turtle," he grinned and nudged his brother, "'it's Leo, for crying out loud'. He's not the type to get all hot under the shell over a dream."

"You've got a point…but he still places a lot of stock in that kind of thing. I mean, when Master Splinter had that dream about the Shredder, Leo was up for checking it out, no questions asked."

Mikey winced. "Yeah, I forgot about that part…" He groaned suddenly and hit himself on the forehead. "Aw, shell, Sensei. Should we tell him what happened?"

Don cringed as well. Crap, I forgot Master Splinter was still over at April's. The past few weeks of the month had been exceedingly rainy, and the dampness had seeped everywhere. All of the turtles were worried about Splinter having to stay in the damp Lair, and after several hours of begging, pleading, and cajoling, they had finally convinced him to stay at April's until things dried up a bit. April had also helped convince the old ninja master, assuring him that she'd be glad of the company. Don smiled inwardly. She was just as worried about his health as we were; after all, Sensei's not a young rat anymore. Pulling himself back to the conversation, Don shook his head briskly. "No, we definitely don't want to tell Sensei. If Leo didn't want to tell us about it, he's sure as shell not going to want to talk to Master Splinter about it. Besides, if it was just a bad nightmare, Leo would probably be embarrassed to have Sensei know about it."

"Yeah…so we're just gonna chill with it? Kind of see how Leo ends up takin' everything?" Mikey asked.

Don nodded slowly. "Yeah, that's probably best. It's best for Leo to just deal with this by himself, at least at first. If it's something really bad or hard for him to deal with, he knows he can come to us. But like I said, it's just a nightmare. Nothing that unusual."

"Sweet! That means it's TV time; there's a Superman marathon on, and it's got our name on it."

The brainy turtle grinned and shook his head at his brother, but kept his seat. After that morning, he supposed he could stand some mind-numbing superhero movies. But while Mikey quickly became absorbed with the film, Don couldn't help but have his mind wander back to what he'd said earlier. 'It's just a nightmare'

I hope I was right.


A/N: Yay, a new story! I've been working on a few stories this summer, this one mainly, trying to get some of the story built up before I start posting again. And now I've finally gotten the beginning finished. I know it's a kinda short first chapter, but it's a good cut-off point for the story. I don't know why I wasn't able to get this out earlier, but I was crazy busy for a good part of the summer, and for the life of me I couldn't think of how to start this story. (shakes head) I hate it when that happens. But at least there's a story up now. I like the idea I have for this one, and I hope that you will too. Hopefully it will do as well as "Bleeding Heart" did, or better…hey, an author can dream, can't she:D Anyways, here's the first chapter, and please tell me what you think. No, not too much happened, but some stuff happened, and hopefully it grabbed your attention. Please tell me what you think; part of me is like "eh…this needs work". Opinions are welcome and wanted, and if you find any mistakes, please let me know and I'll correct them a.s.a.p. And let me know what you think about the summary and the rating/genre, if you think I should change either one or both. This story will have about the same level of violence and swearing as 'Bleeding Heart' did, so if you guys read that and think that was suitable for a 'T' rating, please let me know. Also, just so everyone is clear on this, here's the timeline: it's after 'Exodus' and the whole 'The Ancient One' thing; so basically, after the whole space fight and Leo going creepy. So now he's all normal-Leo again, and everyone's happy. It's also before the whole tribunal thing, just kind of mashed in there somewhere. XD Oh, and I'll be using the old Lair, the Elyntian one (sp?) for their home, 'cause I know the layout better, and I like it better than the water plant one. :D And as always, reviews always make my day, so I'd be extremely thankful if you'd leave me one, even if it's just "omg, new story, kewl". :D And just as a warning, updates will be sporadic for this story. I'm in my freshman year of college now, so things are going to be a lot busier than they were in high school. But please bear with me, because I will be trying to keep the updates coming. And reviews always help! ;D Thanks a bunch, and I'll talk to you guys next time.

R&R, please!

P.S. 'Kora' in Japanese means "Hey!" I'm on a Japanese kick lately, so look for a lot more of it in my stories. :D