AN- Yes, I am quite aware at how bad my update times are getting. You can blame my job , if you like. I do.

Barbara Watts shook her head as her son came down the stairs for his breakfast. Over the past year, her sweet boy Charles had transformed into one of those vagrant children she often saw as she walked to the grocery store. They had never had much money, but she knew her boy had better clothes than the ripped denim jacket and heavy boots he now wore as he took his seat at the breakfast table.

"Good morning, young man. Did you get a good night's sleep?"

Charles frowned as he looked into his cereal bowl. "Uh, yeah, ma. Just not in the mood to go to school."

"Really? Because I seem to remember hearing you come in at two thirty in the morning last night."

The young boy's eyes betrayed him in a moment of shock. He had tried to sneak in as quietly as possible. His mother glared at her young child. "Where were you last night?"

"C'mon, ma. 'S not important. I was just out with some friends. I'm old enough to stay out late."

"You are twelve years old! You need to be worried about school!"

Charles shook his head and laughed. "No way. School is fer chumps."

Barbara's angry eyes softened in sadness. When had her son learned to talk like that? "Do you want to live the rest of your life here? You could make something of yourself, Charles. Do better than I did."

Charles threw down his spoon in disgust. "Not like that would be hard."

Both of the tired woman's hands came down heavily on the table. "Don't you dare! I know things haven't been easy since your father died..."

"Don't blame this on dad!"

Something in Charles' voice pulled Barbara out of her anger. Is that what this is all about?... But before she could say anything, her son went to leave the table. As he turned to go, she noticed a spot of purple on his arm, mostly covered by his tshirt sleeve.

"What is that?"

As his mother came closer to his arm, he puled back, trying to cover more of his arm with his sleeve. "Nuthin, ma. I gotta go to school."

But before he could get to the door, her hand shot out, gripping tightly around his wrist. "Hold it, young man."

Barbara pulled up her son's sleeve, and was horrified to see she was right. Her boy had gotten a tattoo. A dark purple dragon had been etched ino her son's forearm. The inital shock of the tattoo wore off, and the gears in her brain began to turn. She had seen that dragon before, sprayed onto the sides of buildings...

Charles pulled way and got the front door open. "I hafta go, ma. I'll be late fer school."

A deep sadness fell over the woman as she watched her son leaving. She felt an overpowering urge to pull him next to her, to hug him tightly and never let him go. To hide him from the evils of the world. The evils of gangs. "Be careful, Charles...", she whispered, but the door had already slammed in her face.

"Hey. Leo."

Leonardo jumped slightly as a hand touched his shoulder, pulling him out of his meditation. He opened his eyes and was surprised to find Raphael standing in front of him. Raphael and Donatello had barely said anything to him over the past two months.

"What do you want, Raph? I was meditating."

"Yeah, heaven forbid you stop meditating for a minute."

Leonardo rolled his eyes. "Did you interupt just to annoy me?"

"Well, that, and I had a favor to ask."

The eldest turtle raised his brow in surprise. "What could you want with me?"

"Me and Donnie want you to come out into the sewers with us."

"Donnie and I." Leonardo corrected, almost as if a reflex.

Raph crossed his arms and frowned. "Donnie and I." He restated in a mocking tone.

Leo slowly stood up, rubbing away the soreness of his neck. "Why would you guys want me to come with you? Neither of you has said a word to me in weeks."

Raph's hands fell to his sides. So much for beating around the bush... "Look, Splinter says you need to go out. So we're not aloud to explore unless you come too."

Leonardo's eyes slanted in anger as he turned away. "For a minute, I actually thought you wanted me to come."

Raph's eyes widened in panic. "We do!"

"Yeah! Cuz Splinter made you!"

"No! Its cuz... Well, yeah... But still! Ya gotta come! We found something..." Raph slapped his hand over his mouth to cut off his sentence.

Leonardo turned back toward his brother in sudden curiosity. "You found something?"

Raph shook his head no, his hand still covering his mouth.

"What did you find?"

"Nuthin, honest. We just want to go out for a bit."

Leo smiled slightly. "Okay. I do feel like coming out now. I wanna see what you guys found!"

As Leo ran off ahead, Raph hung his head. "Me and my big mouth..."

AN- Don't worry, Charles isn't some OC. He is a registered character in the TMNT world, he just goes by a different name. More on him next chapter. I'll try to get it out soon.