Author's Notes: This story will be a new venture for me for numerous reasons. The first reason is that it's a tragedy and the second reason is that it will contain traces of spirituality in it. I AM NOT I repeat AM NOT trying to force my beliefs on anyone or anything of the sort. As you read this story, you'll have to keep an open mind as well as open heart. By the way, Raphael is going to say some things that may offend some of you. As a Christian, I've either heard or witnessed some of the things he will say or do because it happens every day. It was not my intentions to shove my faith in anyone's face or downplay Christianity. As you read, I sincerely hope and wish that none of you end up believing that this is the way I feel or you should feel about God. All of you are entitled to your own beliefs, views, and opinions. It is not, I repeat, it is not my place to tell or condemn anyone for their way of life or anything else for that matter. Also, this is one of the follow ups to Mistaken Loyalties. The poem at the beginning of chapter one was written by yours truly so no plagiarizing please. The poem is a little on the dark side and I'll admit I've had those dark days but as I stated those are not my feelings on a daily basis. With all of that being said, take a seat, relax, and enjoy!

Truth or Lies

Promises are meant to be broken.

Feelings are meant to be overlooked.

Hopes are meant to be dashed.

Dreams are meant to be crushed.

Loving someone is useless.

Compassion is a thing of the past.

Kindness is always a taken for granted.

Mourning a loved one won't take the pain away.

Crying won't alleviate the self hatred.

Grieving is pointless, because the empty feelings will just come back.

Living in harmony and unity with your fellow man will always be a false reality.

Peace will never be anything more than a dream.

Indecisiveness and apprehension will only break your spirit in the long run.

Playing it safe won't you get you anywhere.

Shutting out everyone and ignoring their attempts to help hinders the healing process.

Clinging to false hope is ridiculous.

Foolishly believing that you're okay and that you don't need others will be your downfall.

Through my eyes, life is a cruel and pointless waste of time.

That's why there's no point in living life to the fullest when you're only going to end up suffering.

So you tell me; am I lying or not?

Raphael's point of view

It's been five years since he died. Five long, agonizing years since God decided to take my brother from me. Had I known that night would be the last time I saw him, I would've told him everything I'd kept inside for the past twenty-five years. He didn't know that I admired him. He didn't know that I was proud to have him as a brother.

He didn't know that I loved him. He probably wasn't even aware that I would've done anything to have him here with me. Looking back on our lives before his death, it seems so ironic that it had to be him. Out of the four of us, it should've been me that went first. I was always rushing into battle. I was always acting first and then thinking later. I was always getting myself into trouble.

So why in the shell did it have to be him? He didn't deserve to die! And the worst part about his death is that it's my fault. When we finally located him, I ignored Leo's orders to not engage the enemy. I was determined to bring back my brother.

I'd spent years doing things my way. I never once stopped to think that one day I just might lose one of my brothers. I knew that day would come eventually but for it to come so soon and for it to be the least likely person too…

I just thought I would have all the time in the world. Even though I was an idiot, I honestly believed that in time I'd be able to tell him how much he meant to me. That I'd be able to show him and the others that I loved them even when my actions proved otherwise…

When I got there though, he was on the verge of death. Reason and common sense flew out the window when I saw him lying within a pool of his own blood. I remember rushing to his side and cradling him in my arms, begging him not to go. Telling him that it would destroy us if he died…

In the end, I didn't get my wish. My brother didn't survive.

I remember how the denial set in, which then turned into a hot, bitter, self loathing, before finally metastasizing into anger. I couldn't come to terms with the fact that my brother was dead, and at the time, I wanted to blame anyone but myself. For months, I roamed the topside looking for anything to dull the pain.

Alcohol, drugs, sex, violence, anything at all, to stop the pain from becoming too overbearing, but eventually even that was not enough. So then I did what everybody in the world would do if something this terrible had happened to them.

I blamed God.

It wasn't the Shredder's, Bishop's, Karai's, or anyone else's fault but His. He was supposed to be the Master Creator of the universe, right? He was the one who supposedly never harmed His children.

He was the one who always protected them from harm and evil, but after losing my brother, I soon discovered what a load of bull that was. It didn't make any sense to believe in Him back then and sure as shell didn't make any sense to believe in Him now.

What good would it do me, anyway? If I miraculously woke up one day and decided to have a change of heart, would that bring him back to me? Would that make the heartache, grief and emptiness disappear? What possible purpose could it serve for me, other than to highlight the fact that it's all a bunch of hype?

You can forget everything you've ever read about the prince getting the princess. Forget the stories they told you about how struggle serves to make people better than they were. Ignore them when they say that light will always prevail over darkness.

They lied to me, and they lied to you.

Then again, maybe I'm just being a bitter, arrogant jerk. Maybe, just maybe, I'm not happy or comfortable with the fact that my brother died while I just sat there and did nothing. I told them something like this might happen! I warned them that if we acted too late then he'd pay the ultimate price. Of course, my family didn't listen to me. And it just had to be the first damn time that I was right….

It ain't fair! Why couldn't it have been me? He was supposed to live a long and healthy life! Possibly find himself a girl, settle down, and get a little recognition for that big brain of his, but instead his life was snuffed out, just like that. The others have tried getting me to open up, but it won't do any good. Those feelings are still going to be present even if I do get them out in the open.

If you think I've got it bad, though, you should see the rest of my family. Leo has completely shut down. He doesn't do anything except sleep. And even then, his sleep isn't restful or peaceful because he's plagued by nightmares. Normally Master Splinter wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior from Mr. Perfect, but I guess exceptions can be made.

Mikey's picked up the worst habit of immersing himself into everything he does. Whether it's cooking, cleaning, practicing or even reading, he'll do anything to keep his mind off of our loss. I don't mean any disrespect to my fallen brother, but it hurts so much to even say his name.

I gotta do something to get my mind off of him. I'm practically standing on the brink of insanity, and that means any day now I'm going to lose it. I think the only one who came out of this unscathed was Master Splinter. Instead of him suffering from breakdowns like the rest of us, he's kept his feelings under control through meditation.

I don't know how in the world he can go on knowing that he lost a son. If it were me, I'd be devastated. I mean, I'm upset and pretty torn up about this, but I'm not giving in to my feelings.

What's done is done. Under no circumstances, can you change the past. There's nothing I can do to bring him back to me. There's not a snowball's chance in shell that I'll ever see him again. And to be totally honest, it hurts too much.

It hurts so much that I can't think straight or even see the point in living anymore. I ain't gonna be a coward, though, and take the easy way out. As much as I'd like to, there's no way I'm going to leave them now. Not when they need me the most, I'm not.

"Raph?"

I looked up when I heard Mikey's voice on the other side of my door. Did I happen to mention that I've become a turtle hermit? I barely come out of my room for anything. It's almost like this is my own private hell. In here, I can do whatever I want without witnessing those stares.

That's what I hate the most about this whole ordeal. I can't help but feel that everybody is just waiting for my breakdown to happen. They have no idea that I've come extremely close to having several of them within the past couple of years.

"Yeah, Mikey?" I called out gruffly.

"I was going to visit Don…"

Harshly, I interrupted him, "Go by yourself!"

"But, Raph, you haven't been since we buried him."

Something raw and primal inside of me kicked in. Why couldn't he understand that I just didn't want to go? That I was still trying to let go of him? That this was the only way I knew how to grieve and cope with my pain?

"And I told you, I don't need to go! Ain't no sense in bringing up old memories! He's cold and dead! He's not here anymore, so I don't see the point in drudging up the past. You can go and take a trip down memory lane if you want, but it's going to be by yourself. Now get away from my door and don't bother me again!"

"You're not the only one hurting, Raph," he said, sounding impatient. "Why can't you let go and make peace with him?"

His quiet and yet strong words must have hit a sore spot. I got up from my hammock, went to my radio, turned it on and cranked up the volume. Maybe now the idiot would get the picture.

As some random song flooded the lair, I turned my thoughts back to him.

Donnie, why'd you leave me?