To all you avid readers of "Changed", I should be back for "good" and "Changed" and my other stories should be updated/finished in the future. They haven't been forgotten and a major "spelling check" + clean up is scheduled for them but for the time being, we have "Down the Rabbit Hole". Enjoy

Disclaimer: I own nothing except this storyline.


Raphael's P.O.V.

For awhile, Leonardo and I acted like … like brothers. Sure, we still fought but it didn't seem to have the raw intensity which it has now. Gee, we can't even look at each other without starting a fight. I know now the Shredder has brought guns into our little war that Leonardo is on edge but that's not my fault … or anybody else's!!! He doesn't need to lecture us on our safety, how "evil" and "dishonorable" guns are and blah blah blah. He got Mikey so worked up once; he started to cry and refused to leave his room for hours.

Then he got hungry.

Now I can understand he is concerned for our wellbeing but he is going way too far with the protective brother thing. I'm my own turtle; I can take care of myself. I don't need a babysitter and I don't need to be told what to do. And that is where this ALL started.

"Your not going to the surface!"

"You can't tell me what to do Leonie" Leonardo hates it when I call him that, even worse then "Fearless"

"Oh yes I can Raphaelle and you can't go!" I hate it when he calls me that.

"Well who died and made you leader!"

"… splinter"

It was little more then a whisper but it had the same effect as if he'd shouted.

I hung my head in shame. How could I bring that up? Splinter had been the first to fall to the Shredders new toy. Just thinking about it made me start to panic. We'd been in the lair when it happened.

We'd gone out on a training run and been delayed, it was something stupid; we can't even remember what it was now …

It was when Shredder had first started using guns. Splinter, being the protective parent he was, got worried and set out to find us. At the same time, Shredder had sent a patrol down into the sewers to see if they could flush us out.

We figure we must have missed him by only a few minutes … to think if we had only been a few minutes quicker, this might have all been different.

Splinter went out into the sewers and we came down the lift. We'd just got home and just had enough time to release Splinter wasn't in his room … when we heard a semi-automatic rifle go off.

I remember looking at Leonardo, only to see his face lose all its colour. Before we could even react, he charged out into the sewers. When we finally caught up, we found him cradling the dead body of our master … our father. The bastards who had killed him were sliced up and scattered all over the floor and blood was everywhere. Even before we left, the rats had come to feed.

Leonardo was inconsolable for weeks afterwards. He would just lie on his bed and stare at the ceiling … all day. But he never cried. I can remember seeing him cry while cradling Master Splinter and he had silent tears running down his face at the funeral but after that, nothing.

And then one day, he just seemed to snap out of it. He plunged back into his ninjitsu training. He'd train from dawn until dust, until he was more sweat then flesh, until his feet had been rubbed raw from the concrete beneath him and they had begun to bleed. I don't know how many times he passed out in the dojo and we didn't find out until the next morning. And with this new found eagerness to destroy his body came the over protectiveness.

We had to train harder, faster, longer and do this right, get this perfect. We couldn't move without being scrutinized! It wasn't until, through fatigue and being overworked, Mikey slipped and broke his leg that Leonardo let up a little. Only on us mind you. He still trains till three in the morning, goes to bed and is up by six to begin morning practice.

Our family was beginning to unravel. There are changes in everyone. Donny was overworking himself by repairing appliances but when you start to deliberately break things, something isn't right. Mikey is the happy go lucky person he always was but the smile is fake and I can still hear him cry himself to sleep. Me, well I sneak out, bash a few heads, get into a few more fights and get home before sunrise to a broken famil … household. Me … I'm fine.

But I can't be in the lair at night. You can't even tell if it's nighttime down here but I know, I get this feeling. I start to panic. Splinter was shot at night and I can still remember the sound of the bullets echoing off the walls. I don't want to ever go through that again. So I ran away. That's why I can't stay in the lair at night. That's why I sneak out at night. This is why I am now arguing with our "wise and beloved" leader.

Raising my head and looking at Leo, I begin to feel the walls of the lair close in on me. My palms begin to get sweaty … I start to panic. This was around the time we came home. Any minute now, I could hear those shots fired again. My chest starts to seize up …

" … Raph"

Leonardo has taken a step forward and placed a hand on my shoulder. He looks at me worriedly. I begin to notice my body has broken out into a shiver.

"Maybe you should just stay home … you don't look too good"

Something within me snaps. How dare he judge me when he himself is coming apart at the seams. All the rage, grief and sorrow … all the emotions I've bottled up inside come to the surface as I bring back my fist and punch him. He staggers backwards.

"What right do you have to tell me what I can and cannot do! I don't care whether your Leo or the president of the United States, you don't own me and you damn well don't rule me!" I howled at him.

Leonardo shrunk back, hurt written across his face,

"I only do it because I care" He murmurs

"Well stop it!" I shout "I don't need your care, I don't need your help and I certainly don't need you. Why can't you just leave me alone!"

"It's because I care"

"I don't care if you care! You only care because you don't want to let Sensei down. Well guess what Leo; he's dead so I don't think he gives a damn!"

Leo looked beyond hurt … shattered might be the word … yet he still persists

"Raph"

'I don't want to hear it Leo"

"Raphael please" He begged

"Shut up Leo" I shouted, turning away.

I try to block him out but I'm beginning to suffocate in here. The walls … there closing in. Leonardo goes to open his mouth again but I beat him.

"I hate you"

Leo looks bewildered.

"W ... what?"

"I hate you" I repeat "Why can't you just leave me alone"

And with that, I flee the lair.

The rocks of guilt begin to build up in my stomach but I push them away. I run as fast as I can until I find a manhole cover and I spring up the ladder. Throwing aside the cover, I burst out into the open air. I just stand there, breathing in the heavily polluted air common in New York … yet to me; it is like taking a breath after nearly drowning, nothing ever tasted sweeter.

NO more constricting walls, no more fear of the past … no more Leonardo.

I replaced the lid and run to a fire escape. Climbing up, I was on the roof in no time and bounding away from my problems.


Leonardo's P.O.V.

"I hate you"

Raphael had left minutes ago and yet, I could still hear his words echoing in my ears like he'd just said them. Did he really hate me?

I heard movement behind me and I saw Mikey peaking out from the kitchen.

"Hey Mikey" I try to sound cheerful but fail miserably.

"Is he gone?"

I let out a sigh.

I didn't want to hear the argument I just had and I certainly didn't want either of my other brothers to hear it. And yet, they had.

"Yeah" I answered.

"Alone?"

I give him a nod.

Since Splinter … left, Mikey doesn't like any of us leaving the lair alone. He's afraid that if one of us is left alone for just a split second, we'll go too.

"Y … You should go after him … he might need y-y-you" he says shakily.

"Not from what I hear" I mutter.

With this, Mikey starts to panic, you can tell it now, he begins to shake and sweat, his pupils also seem to grow. I know the only thing stopping Mikey from racing out after Raphael is the fact that his leg is still in plaster and he has trouble walking. Matter of fact … he shouldn't be standing.

"Mikey, you should be in bed" I try to put a bit of authority into my voice but I'm just too tired. I start to walk over to him; he'll need help to get to bed.

"But …but what about Raph?"

I stop. I know I won't get him to bed until he knows Raph is safe … or knows that some one will make sure he is safe. And that person means me. I let out a sigh.

I can't do this any more.

"Don't worry about Raph, Mikey, I'll go look for him"

Mikey brightens up straight away. I go over and sling one of his arms over my shoulder.

"But first, you better get back to bed before Don kills me"

"Don't worry about Don" Mikey tells me "He fell asleep at his computer … again"

Donny's been doing that a lot lately; I think it's just his way of showing grief. I have to talk to him about it … but I have more urgent problems.

We'd reach the couch a.k.a Mikeys bed. It was too much trouble to get him up and down the flight of stairs leading to his room … so his bedroom came to him.

I sat Mikey down, found the t.v. remote, got him a packet of chips, went and got another packet because he doesn't like "salt and vinegar" and was about to leave when …

"Leo"

"Yeah" I said, hoping he didn't want a drink or something.

"Look out for Raph"

Thinking that was weird, I gave him a nod and started out after my brother.


Raphael's P.O.V.

Tonight was a quiet night. Nobody was out; nobody was getting robbed, mugged, bashed or nothing. But I wasn't going home. I still needed to breathe.

I'd been out for a good hour or two before I got the sense that I was being followed. Just something I could feel, a sixth sense, and I hate being followed.

I really hate being followed.

I decide to be patient for once, play their game and come at them when the time was right.

After a few minutes, I came across the perfect situation. A roof top of a smaller building, the one I am standing on, backed onto taller buildings on three sides. This not only created a small space, it cast a shadow. Perfect. How many times did Master Splinter say "Be one with the shadows" and how many times did Leonardo nag that "you never listen to Splinter". Of course I did, I listened to what interested me and ignored the rest.

But now I had my chance to get the stalker. I could have sniggered with excitement; they had no idea what they were getting into. I felt like a spider awaiting its prey. Now, all I had to do was wait …


Leonardo's P.O.V.

I'd been following Raph for quite awhile. Wouldn't he gloat. The "Fearless" leader too afraid to go talk to his brother. Not that I'm afraid … I just don't want another fight. I'm tired, tired of fighting, of running after everyone, trying to get them to train, respect Master Splinters last wishes, eat, drink shudder bath. To nag at them not to go out alone, get them to tell me where they were going, to be careful of the Shredder and his guns. I was fighting a losing battle, one in which I would never win.

I came to a building which backed onto three taller ones and realize, I've lost him. Great, just great. Raph would be hysterical by now.,

I moved towards the shadows to see if I missed anything, when I see movement. I spun just in time to see something pounce on me. It hit me and we landed on the floor. Punching me in the mouth, it moved to grab something from its belt. Seeing an opening, I pull my legs up and kick it off.

I roll away and stagger to my feet.

"Leo?"

Looking up, I see Raphael.

He gaped at me but quickly collected himself.

"What the HELL are you doing here?!!!" He shouts at me.

I brought a hand to my face where he'd hit me. Just my luck, straight on top of the other bruise. I could feel the heat radiating off my skin.

"I asked you a question LEO!"

Bringing my attention back to Raph, I watched him seethe with rage.

Looking away, I mutter.

"Mikey sent me"

"WHAT!" he screams back at me.

"MIKEY SENT ME!" I scream back. I finally lost my cool … when did I start doing that. Oh yeah … since Splinter died.

"Great" Raphael shouts "Just great, as if our family wasn't screwed enough but now, we got our beloved leader taking orders from the village idiot!"

"Don't call him that!" I shout back … but I did try to calm my voice … tried "And I never said I was your leader!"

"Don't pull that shit on me Leo" Raphael shouts as he storms towards me.

I hold my ground as he stopped, inches from my face.

"What are you but the leader 24/7? What are you but a nag, a whiner, a Splinter Junior, a nuisance, an arrogant, son of a …"

I let him rant and rave. I let him go on and on and call me every name that came to his head. I let him call me every useless piece of crap he could and I let him word it in every possible way. I let him do it … because I don't care anymore. I was only hoping that he would tire himself out so that he wouldn't put up too much of a fight when I dragged him home.

I could see Raphael was just beginning to run out of breath when movement behind his right shoulder caught my attention. One moment, the building behind was empty, a second later; I swear something or somebody moved along the top. I squinted my eyes; I swear I saw something …

But this must have been the moment Raphael noticed I wasn't paying him any attention.

"Hey I'm talking to you!" he shouts as he grabs my shoulders and shakes me.

My attention pulled away for a second, I move to remove Raphael's grip but stop when I see a figure come into full view, standing on the building above.

I freeze as I see him straighten to full height.

I don't even move as Raphael draws back his hand to strike me again.

I don't move when I see the assailant lift up the gun and level it, pointing straight at Raphael's unsuspecting shell.

I only move when Raphael's fist is centimeters from my check, and as I see the assailant tighten his finger on the trigger.

Ducking, I moved to the side and pushed Raphael out of the way.

I think I heard him cry in surprise as the gun went off, and I felt a hot, sharp pain erupt in my chest.

I think I fell to my knees …

I think …


Raphael's P.O.V.

I am pissed.

I am so pissed!

First, I must have seemed like such a fool to Leonardo. He probably thought I didn't know he was following me and that I was unsuspecting of an "unfamiliar" presence for over a half an hour! OR even worse, he might have just been following me to get on my nerves and then jump me when the time was right.

Second, I hide and he follows, right into my trap. Yet I didn't even get too hit him hard enough. My one real chance to kill him and say it was an accident and I wasted it!

Third and finally, I then shame myself even more by exploding in his face yet he doesn't have the decency to listen. No he just looks vaguely over my shoulder and then, pushes me out of the way when I go to hit him, causing me to land smack bang on my face. What the HELL happened to a good fight! What the Hell happened to him accepting the blow, throwing one of his own and then we can beat the crap out of each other! And now where the Hell has he got to!!!

I push myself off the ground with my arms, joints creaking and cracking. Boy, did he push me hard … I think I skinned my chin when I hit the floor … I certainly bite my tongue. I gingerly sit up; feeling the missing skin on my chin … when something catches my attention …

I spin around, towards the noise and … NO!

"NOOO!!!" I scream

Lying on his side, blood gushing out of a chest wound, blood pouring from his mouth and him coughing, trying to clear his throat, to breathe even though he knows he is dieing … Leonardo

"NOOO!!!"

I scream as I scramble over to him. Tears are forming at the sides of his eyes and running down his cheeks. His eyes are themselves scrunched up in pain and his breathing is marred but a chesty sound … blood must be pouring into his lungs …

Moaning in pain, he cries out as I grab hold of him. Cradling him, I can see his mouth drawn back in a painful, silent cry and his hands rigid in agony … I see his eyes begin to cloud over.

"LEO!!!"

Sobbing, I shake him as he pants for breath … his last breaths

Tears are running fast and hard down my cheeks, when I hear it again … that cocking sound … the cocking of a gun … I thought it was only the sound of my fist connecting with Leonardo …

I look up towards the noise … as Leonardo gives his last shuddering breaths, cradled in my arms, I look into the face of his murder … my murder …

I hope Mikey and Don are safe … I hope he never finds them …

He levels the gun at us … one last time

Leo gives one final shuddering breath … before becoming limp in my grasp

BANG


Well, what did you all think? Don't forget to send a review with your thoughts etc. Constructive criticism welcomed, praised demanded (lol) but flames, as I read once before, will be used for little more then cooking.