All right. Let's see how this goes.

Okay, so it's me again. Hi! I'm back with another fic- it'll be fairly short, three, maybe five chapters, I think. And it's based a few months after the fourth movie, so the TMNT are nineteen.

This is not going to be the most censored of my fics. Well, yes in language (I don't do too much bad language), but you'll definitely see much more blood than usual. And eventually, more arguing between Leo and Raph- I just now realized I don't have them fight enough and like they should.

So, this plotbunny basically attacked me. Let me rephrase that- it was thrown at me. We have many discussions on the Stealthy Stories forum, and this was just one of many. Somehow, the original topic strayed (lol You on the forum know what I mean!). But anyways, we ended up talking about the differences between Raph and Leo's anger, the way he broods and such. Seiza, who keeps on throwing these darn plotbunnies at me, said this: 'Leo? Leo bottles it all up until one day the cork shoots off and, to quote someone else, "He'll become the biggest homicidal maniac the world has ever seen." She got talking… and me thinking.

What if that were to happen? What if that cork stayed on that bottle for too long until the pressure was so severe, not even Leo himself could stand against the repercussions of its explosion- that they could make something snap within him for just a moment… and bring out the beast within.

So, this is the story. You can all thank Seiza (bows down to her) for giving me the plotbunny that's eaten my garden for the month. Also, thank 3 Doors Down. Their song Changes had some inspiration for the entire story here.

And mucho thanks to Tyleet, my co-author. I did the writing here, but Tyleet gave some pointers and is working on the following chapters as well.

Enjoy! And don't curse me out on this one please! Yes, it's about Leo again, but you'll see how much more the other characters are involved.

Disclaimer: The TMNT are not mine. If they were, this would be animated and rated PG-13. (big grin)

"He who fights monsters should look into it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze into the Abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

-Friedrich Nietzsche

It'd already been ten months. The sun beat down hot on Leo's shell; against his skin as he moved through the jungle. One thing about Central America- he was naturally camouflaged here in its mazes of trees and grass. But as Leo sat down for a moment, resting in the earth, he reminded himself that he would have to learn to pace himself. Or at least get a map. He'd traveled too far in one day already and had a long ways to go still. His food was dwindling, but hopefully he'd find more soon.

In two months, he'd go home, he told himself. Splinter had sent him on this pilgrimage for a year; his journey starting in Iceland before continuing onto Portugal, Mongolia, and Japan. Now he found himself in the jungles of Costa Rica and Leo wrote home whenever he could, sneaking letters into the post offices at the towns he stopped in at. The next one could only be five minutes away by now, surely. According to the map, he was right on top of it.

Leo sighed and took out a bottle of water, taking a small sip and leaving an inch of liquid at the bottom of the container. Sighing, he climbed back to his feet. Through the parted sections of the jungle canopy, he could see the sky. In the distance, not very far at all, was smoke. A town, then. The turtle began walking.

And then he heard noises. Quickly, Leo slid his body behind the trunk of a large tree and waited patiently. From the town's direction was coming a vehicle, the people in it laughing loudly. Pushing his head out, Leonardo recognized the militia men. He'd seen them in some other towns. The ninja shook his head, seeing that their truck was filled with three baskets of food. These people would go into the villages and take things, food or valuables as a trade for 'protection'. It was disgusting.

Pulling out a shuriken, he threw it at the right rear tire. Immediately, the car swerved and braked. When it came to a stop, the men piled out to inspect the damage.

"What did you do, you idiot?" A fat man shouted at the driver.

"I am sorry, señor. But it was not my doing!"

"Cortez!" The first ordered, completely ignoring the driver. "Get out and change the tire! I want to get moving now."

Silently, the man named Cortez climbed out of the car and went around to the back. Leo followed quickly, the leaves disturbed slightly as he brushed by them.

The driver was a jittery fellow. He must've noticed. Leo cursed himself for being so careless. "What was that?" He asked nervously.

The other man rolled his eyes. "What was what?"

"That! Over there! I saw something! What if it is a fierce animal? My wife, she-"

The fat man smacked him over the head. "Quiet, you. It was nothing."

Leo drew a sword silently, planning his attack. He'd learned enough from his trip here to move through this jungle like rain slipping over the plants. One motion, and this Cortez would be unconscious. The other three would soon follow, and then Leo would return the food to the town.

The small snake slithering by his feet, however, was nowhere near so quiet. Leo did not notice it until the last second, as it reached the other side of the foliage and parted it with a rustle.

Men had heard far too many tales of snakes in the jungles. Anything was a threat. Seeing it, Cortez turned quickly and flipped his large gun around, firing twice. Unluckily for Leo, one bullet grazed his shoulder. He bit back the hiss of pain sliding up his throat and stepped backwards.

But his foot found no ground. Instead, he was falling, twisting and turning amongst vines and other fallen vegetation of the jungle, down, down, down until he made contact with the hard surface of the bottom of the cave. The breath was knocked out of him and Leo looked about, dizzy. He could barely focus.

Above him, he could hear voices. "What was that?" One man asked.

They moved deeper into the jungle, searching. Leo wasn't sure if they'd be able to see him if they looked down, but he wasn't about to take the chance. The turtle took a breath as air returned to his lungs and dragged his body over into a darkened corner.

Eventually, he could hear the fat man speaking again. "Ah, it was nothing. Cortez! Is that tire ready? Let's move then!"

The car started and drove off. In the cave, Leo moved his head, still very dizzy. He'd fallen hard- his knee hurt in addition to where he'd been shot.

Stupid. How could I make such a stupid mistake? He thought. And then, he realized that he'd made many stupid mistakes. He'd traveled far too far for too long- grown weary and attempted to fight still. He was hungry and needed rest. It was no wonder why he was injured.

The turtle sighed, placing a hand over his bloody shoulder and turned against the wall of the cave to keep it in place. He couldn't keep awake any longer. The darkness was consuming him.

So stupid…

For the fourth time that week, Leo found himself wondering if he was truly ready. It was breakfast time, a time when the only people who were really up to talking were Michelangelo and Master Splinter. Raph was usually more focused on putting food in his mouth and actually waking up. Don's breakfast was so quick, consisting of coffee and whatever else he felt like, that he typically spent the rest of the morning reading something.

And Leo took that time to think. Only lately, it kept on turning back to judgment on himself. Before, he had stayed longer in Central America for a reason. He couldn't fail in Costa Rica as he had in Japan; there was just something he hadn't learned- something he needed to learn before he could return. And despite how far he'd come in the three months since then, he still felt like he'd completely missed gaining that one little piece of knowledge.

Leo shrugged and lifted the spoon to his mouth. It was probably nothing to be worried about. Splinter himself said that he was ready to lead his brothers.

"Good morning, my sons," Master Splinter said, walking into the kitchen.

"Good morning, Sensei," Leo voiced along with his brothers.

The rat poured his morning cup of tea and turned to them. "It is very nice to see the four of you eating together so calmly. I recall when you were but toddlers- every meal was a disaster. Food on every part of your bodies except for your mouths." He laughed. "I thought that stage had passed until you had hit your teenage years. Of course, then it was for other reasons entirely at that point."

They all had to snicker a little bit at the memories. As long as you weren't the one being force-fed the food of choice after an argument, anyways, it was funny.

Splinter took his tea and made his way over to the couch. "Now if anyone will be needing me, I will be watching my stories. Today we finally find out who is the father of Donna's baby," He said, eagerly lifting the remote.

"No, sir," Don tried to explain. He had no idea why he didn't find a different job than this- especially now. But here he was, still working the phone. "The mouse isn't a rodent. You'll need it if you want to do anything with your computer." He listened to the speaker on the other end. "I'm sorry that your wife is afraid of mice. But really, sir, it doesn't look that much like an actual mouse."

After another fifteen minutes of convincing the man that the mouse really was an important, and non-living, feature of the computer, he eventually was able to talk him through retrieving it from the trash and connecting it to the computer. After that, Don took more calls from people so illiterate in technology that they managed to find ways to surprise him, even after what he'd endured so far. How many people were there who didn't know these kinds of things?

He put in three hours, like he did five days a week. As long as he did three hours, he was good to go.

Sighing, the turtle leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Finally… peace.

"Donny!" Mikey shouted, using that familiar voice. It was the one that meant 'I know you've just finished, so now it's time to bug you'. "Oh, Donny! It's time for practice!"

The turtle in purple opened his brown eyes and let out another sigh, this one of exasperation instead of contentment. "Coming."

Grabbing his bo, which he left in the corner of the room so he could lean back into his chair when he sat down, Don walked out and into the dojo, checking the clock as he did so. It was about three thirty in the afternoon now.

He found he wasn't the last to the dojo. Mikey stood in the center, playing with his nunchucks, while Leo remained towards the entrance of the room, a thoughtful expression on his face. He nodded when seeing Don, waited a bit, then turned back towards the opening. "Hurry it up, Raph!" He called out.

Two minutes later, Raphael came walking in at his own sweet pace. Leo glared. "What were you doing?"

"Usin' the bathroom. Got a problem with that, Leo?" Raph shot back at him.

Don rolled his eyes. It was too much to hope for everything to stay the same. Things between Raph and Leo had been okay for a while now. They argued, but thus far, not with their fists. And it had been nothing bad, even. But nothing ever stays the same.

Leo shook his head. "Okay. I figured we could do some sparring today. We'll start with Raph and Mikey and Don and myself. Switch it up later."

His brother was incredibly good. Every move was precise. But Don could tell that Leo was distracted today, like he had been all week. Not so much that it took anything out of his skill, but only in the way that it kept him on edge.

When he was beaten by the leader, Don switched with Raph and fought Mikey, who fell to Don's bo. After that, the two of them sat and watched the other sparring match.

It became apparent that Leo and Raph had been running a commentary for theirs. Raph raised one sai. "So what? There's nothing wrong with goin' up there, Leo, and you know it."

"Master Splinter says-"

Their brother in red blocked the sword that came down. "That was before, Leo. Things have changed. Jeez, when the hell are you goin' to learn that? When are ya gonna step out of all these frickin' shadows?"

Leo kicked Raph in the chest, sending him back. The match was over. Leo sheathed his ninjaken. "How about we go for a run?" He said.

It wasn't a suggestion.

For someone who was so ticked about going up to the surface all the time, Leo sure did suggest a lot of runs. Raph grinned. He'd have to bring that up sometime.

The turtle stretched his tired muscles, grinning. He liked what adrenaline did to the body, and he kind of liked having regular training for his body to do again, outside of what he used to do as the Nightwatcher. Leo's routine needed winding down, though. He had no idea what his brother had done as a workout down in Central America, but it was getting a bit too rough for those who'd done nothing in that time period.

Strange- it hadn't started getting this whacked until about a week ago. In the three months since Leo had returned, since he and his brother had fought and the incident with Winters, things had been fairly decent for once. Of course, the two of them still argued, but it had been nothing serious. Raph, dare he say it, actually found himself getting along with the fearless leader for once.

But now, well, something had changed. It was like Leo had rediscovered that stick and had shoved it real far up his ass, even more so since the dojo. When they weren't training, Leo would often sit around, a serious look on his face. Raph wondered what he could be thinking about sometimes, but had never bothered to ask.

He looked up at the sky. It wasn't too dark yet. "Hey, how about we head over to April and Casey's?" He put in. "We don't have to be back for awhile."

Mike grinned widely- he liked their new digs, and Donny smiled in agreement. Raph looked at Leo. Still that sullen look. But the turtle nodded.

Leaping for the next rooftop, Mike let out a yelp of delight. "All right!"

Leo yelled out after him. "But we can't stay for too long. I think we should be home in an hour or two."

Raph rolled his eyes. "Oh, lighten up, Leo."

The ninja in blue matched his pace to his brother's. "I'm serious, Raph. I think we should-"

"Yeah, we all know what you think, Leo. We got you the first time around," Raph said. "Now why don't ya just pull yer head out of yer shell and take a chill pill."

Ahead of them, Mikey and Don exchanged worried glances and slowed down. Leo glared. "Are you looking to start a fight, Raphael?"

"No." Now they'd come to a stop. "But hey, if you want to, I'll be happy to finish it. We both know how the last one went down. I beat you then and I can do it again."

Raph regretted the words as soon as he said them. Fearless leader or not, Leo was still his brother. And while the leader could hide his hurt… well, the brother sometimes couldn't wipe the look from his face, no matter how hard he tried.

Leo just stared at him for the longest time. Then his jaw clenched in anger and he looked away. "You guys go ahead. I think I'll just head home. I don't feel like going out tonight."

A concerned look on his face, Don stepped forward. "Leo-"

"I'll be fine," Their brother said. Turning around, he walked away. "Say hi for me."

Sighing, Don turned his gaze to Raph. The turtle in red shrugged. "What?" He asked.

Don snorted and went the way they'd been going. Mikey shot him a look. He wasn't taking this very seriously, but still- it was a Mikey look. Aggravating. "Way to go, Raph."

"Oh, shut up, you twit," Raph said. "Hell, we'll have more fun without him."

The light drizzle was gentle against the nape of Leo's neck while the air whistled sharply in his ears as he ran. He was good at running- ever since Master Splinter began training them in the art of Ninjitsu when they were so young. Little running exercises out in the sewers, and when they were much older, eventually in the darkness and shadows of New York herself.

On his pilgrimage, when he'd been sent away, Leo did more running. In Costa Rica especially, where the jungles were like an endless playground filled with countless obstacles and opportunities to learn. A training course within a training course.

The city was just a different type of jungle. Instead of the soft avenues of the forrest floor, there was asphalt to tread upon. Instead of magnificent trees towering above his head with their leafy appendages, it was buildings that scraped the sky, lit by the minds of man. Instead of poisonous animals, insects, or hunters, it was people he had to watch out for.

Everyplace he went really was just one type of jungle or another. You simply had to learn that no matter where you were, even if you were born there… you were out of your territory. Remember that, and you would survive.

Stopping, Leo slowed down and with a leap, landed in an alleyway. It'd be the sewers for the rest of the way home. The turtle sighed; he was supposed to be with his brothers, at April and Casey's. Here he was complaining about being their leader, but how could he lead if he wasn't there?

In the shadows, just as he was about to lift the lid of the manhole cover, he heard a sound. Gently placing the cover back down, he crept off to the side and waited.

A group of five men came into the alley, laughing drunkenly. Leo could smell the alcohol on their breath. Two dragged a young woman in with them, the sleeve of her white t-shirt tearing as they did so. "Come here, pretty lady," one said, "You don't wanna be leavin' just yet."

Leo drew out one ninjaken.

The woman was crying; whispering, "Please, please. Don't hurt me. Not again… not again."

He heard zippers. Another man. "Oh, it won't hurt that much."

Having heard enough, Leo came out of the shadows. Jumping up in the air, he landed a kick on one man's back, noticing that they all had similar tats. A gang then. The man fell face first, unconscious as soon as his forehead was introduced to the concrete.

Twisting around, he brought his other foot to the first men's neck, just below the chin. He sputtered and stumbled back. The ninja balled his free hand into a fist and struck him in the stomach. That did it. Half-conscious, he fell against the wall and breathed heavily.

An exit was now provided for the young woman. Leo quickly helped her to her feet, which was like hauling a statue into place. She was frozen, staring at him in fear and shock. "Go!" He yelled.

She hesitated, but when he gave her a little shove, she took off running. He smiled inwardly. Now it was all simple, really. Sometimes, Leo preferred battles when he was alone. He didn't have to worry so much about strategy and combining forces, the other members of the body that he led. He loved leading and he loved his brothers, but sometimes… it got to be too much to bear.

That had been why he hadn't returned. If he couldn't shoulder his own problems nor sort them out, he hadn't felt he was ready to bear those of his former life and those of his family when he returned to them. He had to learn how to lead himself before he could lead his brothers. And upon returning, he had learned much in how to do that. But still, this little bit remained.

A leader cannot crumble beneath the weight of his world when those following him are depending on how he leads them. No matter the strain, he must stand firm.

One of the gang members popped his knuckles and his neck at the same time. His hair was dyed ice blue and his teeth looked in need of a dentist's care. "Look at the freak in the costume! We've dealt with the Nightwatcher before, pal. At least his getup looked better than yours."

A grin tugged at one side of Leo's mouth. Well, if Raph knew anything, he knew how to fight. But Leonardo had learned a lot himself, and this guy was about to find out.

Moving forward quickly, he swung downwards, about to kick him in the shin while simultaneously striking him with the hilt of his sword in the hip. But the human lucked out, and moved out of the way. Instead, Leonardo only managed to hit his target's foot and the man behind him, who stumbled back but quickly regained his balance.

Leo placed one hand on the wet asphalt, feeling the roughness of its texture seep into his skin. He looked up, still in his crouched position, with one ninjaken drawn and ready.

And then, the man said something dangerous. He laughed loudly. "Ha! The Nightwatcher- he even fought better than you! What a joke you are. Can't stand the pressure, freak? Can't stand up to a couple of thugs like us?" They all joined in the laughter, even the one who'd just been recently gagging.

A leader cannot afford to crumble. The turtle's left hand became a fist, his right tightening deathly hard against the handle of his blade. A leader cannot fail.

He could still remember that fight with Raph on the roof, the intensity of it. Raphael had come out on top that night, but the lost victory had not been what had plagued Leo's mind. It had been the way his brother had beat him- the way his sai came down, the way that, had he not turned his head, Leo would've surely found that blade in his left eye that night.

What he'd thought about that night was that his brother had meant every word of anger he'd thrown at him. That he truly hated him.

But that wasn't so. Raph had shown it. A temper was just something you had to get used to.

But now… oh now, that fight was coming back. And now it wasn't that which was in mind, but the fact that yes, Raph had beaten him. Despite Leo's training- Raphael had won.

And they cackled on; not taking him seriously at all. In any normal situation, Leo wouldn't have cared. All these criminals were the same. But something was different now.

I'm the leader. And leaders don't crumble.

A dark grin passed across his beak. In the blink of an eye, he was standing again and had whipped out his second ninjaken. That was all he could remember, because at that point, sanity and reality withered into the black.

Those they are fighting- the problems they bear on their backs. That is what crumbles.

Splish… splash. Quiet… very quiet. But Leo could feel the wetness of the ground beneath him as he moved through the sewers. He blinked; turned his head, and recognized he was near to the lair. At the entrance, he stopped and closed his eyes.

It was funny… he couldn't remember coming down here. Nothing at all. But God did he feel good. Tired. But good.

Moving again, he pulled the lever that opened the door and walked in. His amber eyes drowsily scanned the darkness. It had to be late, everyone was in bed.

Leo felt a wetness on his palm and looked down. Even in the unlit lair, he could tell it was bleeding. A diagonal cut was open across his skin. Tiredly, he rummaged around until he found some bandages, then ran the wound under water and wrapped it. He'd take a better look at it tomorrow, but for now, he was tired.

Yawning, the turtle climbed the stairs and moved up to his room, his progress slow. As he passed Raph and Don's room, he took note that both brothers were there sleeping. He debated checking on Mikey, but in the end, decided to continue on. Mike's snores could be heard, so little brother too was safely tucked away.

What had he been doing? Leo shrugged- he still had no idea. He was sure he'd think of it sooner or later.

The second he hit his bed, he was out like a light.

The alley is familiar. Not in the sense that certain features strike out him, for in New York, alleyways tend to look very much alike; but in the sense that the people within it were marked in his memory only recently. The night too is familiar and he can place the image perfectly now.

He is there, but he is no longer in control. More so, he is just a silent watcher in all of this.

The figure before him stands as still as stone now. There is a coldness to him. This Leonardo has abandoned all senses of reason and principle. Because there is no reason or principle to what he knows he has to do.

What little light there is gleams off his two ninjaken. The gang members are still laughing, laughing at him. But they won't be for long.

Rushing forward, Leo attacks again. His left sword comes down hard on the man in front, slicing deeply into his arm. Blood sprays from the wound, than oozes- the laughter has been cut off immediately and now the men are ready to fight. Well, all except the injured one. He's screaming on the ground.

The first man to rush him is the first one dead. Leo twists around quickly and cuts his side, making the man cry out and stop, clutching it. Taking that opening, the turtle punches upward, pushing his nose back into his skull. More blood sprays and the man falls down to the ground, nearby his comrade who'd previously been gasping for air. Leo sticks a sword into his chest just as he rises.

As he brings the blade out, he's jumped from behind. Dropping his ninjaken, Leo throws the man over his back and against the wall. He falls silent; somehow, he managed to break his neck.

Now all that's left is the head of the pack- and the man who's been unconscious the whole time. Leo reaches for his swords and sheathes one, looking down at the gang member. His pants are still unzipped- he recalls what this man would've done to that woman and sneers. He jabs the blade under the ribs and to the heart. Instant death, and surprisingly little blood.

He turns- it's just the one now. He's crying, the wound having torn the muscles in his arms. He looks up at Leo in hatred. "What kinda freak are you?"

Leo gets down to his level, staring him in the face. "The kind that can stand the pressure."

And then he strikes. And he strikes again. And again. He can't stop himself. But it doesn't matter- either way, the man is dead.

Eventually, Leo stands, breathing easily. He feels warm and cold at the same time- excited and disgusted. And he knows that this wasn't enough. There are more people out there like this, more who wouldn't take him seriously. So many criminals. While there are people who run from him and his brothers in fear, there are still those who think they've seen and can take it all.

With a flick of his wrist, Leo sheathes his ninjaken. Why not take them on?

Moaning, Leo rolled over in his bed, his head sliding off his pillow. A bad dream… horrible dream. But he can't wake.

He finds what he's looking for one mile away. It's another gang- three members with more tats and piercings than the first. Leo finds them breaking into a dark apartment, snickering as they remove valuables.

It was very comical. Almost every time they ran into someone like this, they were certain they'd win the fight. People like that needed better betting material than their lives.

The first one is the getaway driver- shuriken to the chest. Leo leaves him dead where he is. Inside the house, guy number two manages to club him in the arm with a candlestick, leaving a nasty bruise. Leo only finds it fitting to give him matching ones. The third gets stabbed in the gut when he comes to help.

In his bed, Leo whimpered, but continued to sleep.

The two men run out of the gas station. They're cocky and proud, ready to go spend some money. In the back, they run into somebody.

"Yo, what the hell are you?" One asks, looking disinterested. "Get outta our way man."

Leo laughs. "What? Don't think I can stop you?"

The man cocks his gun. "I think I can put a few caps in your ass."

"Really." Leo shakes his head.

The other is a little more concerned. "You some kind of freak?"

"Some kind."

He looks him over. "Hey, Bobby, maybe we should just go."

'Bobby' looks his friend over. "What the hell are you getting' at? C'mon! He's just another costumed bozo, like the Nightwatcher. Bullets'll stop him- just watch."

His friends roll his eyes, nervous. "Whatever, man. Just hurry it up."

Gun ready, 'Bobby' smiles. "Say goodnight, freak."

A shuriken finds itself embedded in his stomach. Shocked, he falls to his knees and drops the gun, looking up at him in shock while his partner in crime freaks out.

Leo walks over. "Goodnight." Then he brings his knee up hard into his chin, knocking him out. He'll bleed to death.

Now he turns to the other guy, who has the gun. "D-don't come any closer."

"You saw that and you still think you'll live?" Leo asks. "Take your own advice and go."

"No- he was right. They'll still kill. And you're gonna pay, you son of a bitch!"

Leo's very disappointed. He was going to let this one live, but he's just like the rest. "Bullets can kill." He swings his sword out quicker than he notices, cutting his side open. "But only if you fire them fast enough."

A sigh escaped the turtle's mouth and he brought his knees up closer to his body.

It's a parking lot now, one that's been deserted for years. No one else seems to be around, but for once, even if they were, Leo wouldn't care. There's seven thugs before him, no better than the last five. And he wants them all dead.

They've been dealing and using; he can tell from the money and the smell. And they've said too many things about him that were taken the wrong way.

One move, and two are dead, matching open wounds to the chest. There's a big guy who comes next- Leo flips up onto his shoulder and boxes his ears. In pain, the man stops his attack and the ninja wages his- another painless and fairly clean death. But equally lethal. The spinal column is fragile, after all.

A woman with greasy hair and wild eyes is suddenly in his face. She brings a knife up close to his chest and Leo only manages to stop her by catching the blade- unfortunately with his hand. It slices the palm, but he doesn't stop. Raising his foot, he kicks her hard in the chest, sending her flailing backwards and into a companion. Leo kills them both at once, then prepares for the next attack.

A younger kid, but still measuring right up there in the criminal state, is the closest. He can't even swing the pipe he's carrying. Leo cuts him right across the knee, sending him down. Then he hits him right across the face. One slam to the concrete and he's gone.

The last one he reaches is trying to run. Leo grins- now he's being taken seriously. But it does the man no good. The turtle catches up and trips him. But this guy is a feisty devil. Instead of using his katanas, Leo finds a pothole. The rain, which has grown harder, has filled up the many potholes in this parking lot. Leo sticks the man's head in one, holds him down until he stills.

And then he leaves.

Leo shot out of his bed like a bullet launched into the air, each image clear and present in his head. He closed his eyes… but they didn't do away. Too vivid to be imagined- no, they were memories.

"Oh God… oh God…" Leo whispered, holding his head in his hands. "What have I done? Oh God…"

Breathing heavily, the turtle froze. His fingers stretched over his mouth, only to tell him that what his fingertips had felt was in fact true.

He was smiling.

His hands quickly fell to his sides and Leo shook. He turned his head, examining his room, which had been kept in order in the two years he'd been gone. He turned to the nightstand but found the alarm clock had been knocked over in his morning horror. Lifting it up, he was shocked to find that the time read 11:27 AM. He'd slept half the day away.

Shaking his head, Leo quickly moved downstairs. All he could think of was, I became a murderer last night and I overslept. What the hell is wrong with me?

Hearing his footsteps, Mikey turned around. "Hey, dude. Man, did you sleep in!"

Leo nodded. "I know… I'm sorry. I just-"

"Sorry for what?" Mike asked. "It's Saturday. Splinter says we don't have to do any practicing or nothin' on Saturdays and Wednesdays- even if you say so." Mikey added with a cute little grin. They'd been doing their own training lately- just as long they did it and made progress, they were all right for now.

Nodding again, Leo tried to breathe easier, but found he couldn't. "Where is everybody?"

Mike pointed one finger towards Splinter's room. "Splinter's meditating, Don's taking calls so he won't have to later in the afternoon, and Raph went out a little while to see Casey."

"This early?"

The younger of the two shrugged. "Hey, I don't ask. You're safer not knowing," He looked his brother over. "You all right? You look a little… off. Where'd you go last night?"

Leo sighed and moved over to the table behind the couch. "You're safer not knowing." He quoted his sibling.

Mike tapped the couch. It was a commercial break, so what was there better to do than talk? "You got in late last night. I heard ya."

Scratching the back of his neck, Leo looked at him. "Yeah, what time was it? Do you know?"

"Whoa, the great Leonardo lost track of time?" Mike laughed. "I thought you were the human clock!" When Leo didn't respond, he turned back around and yawned. "Ah, I think it was like four or something. Have fun?"

Four. That meant… ten hours, at least. He could've done a lot of damage in ten hours. Leo shook his head. "No."

Mike's show came back on and Leo sat there, staring at the table for a long time. He felt horrible. Beneath his shell, his spine was a little sore, making the ninja realize he hadn't taken off his swords when he slept last night. He unstrapped them now, and slowly, so as not to make a sound, took out his blades.

Dried blood drew attention away from its metallic sheen, further betraying him. Gathering a rag and water, he set to clean them with care.

As he did so, a distant look came to Leo's eyes. He didn't understand. Why would he kill like that? Before… his problems had seemed so horrible. The burden of leader was one he wore gladly, but one that he found increasingly harder to understand. Now, that little problem was just that- little. For he was a murderer now.

But… hadn't he killed before? Hadn't they all? When the situation called for it, that is what they had to do. For there were some people who would surely do terrible things if they were allowed to live- not only to them, but to others. He'd never question the right or wrong in that.

The white and the black was how he'd been raised. The white was doing what was right- defending his family and protecting those who couldn't do so themselves. Following Master Splinter's instructions. The black was disobedience and using what he'd learned for wrongful things. It was criminals like the Foot and the gangs on the street who had no sense of honor.

However, now he found himself in a strange position. For yes, he'd killed… done horrible things last night. But, he'd only killed criminals. He was almost certain of that. These were people who would only hurt others.

Was he in the right or the wrong? And was he right for finding it wrong? Or wrong for finding it right?

That smile was back. Leo wiped it and set to his second sword. He'd never been in the gray area before. This was very confusing.

As his show came to a close, Mike sank a little deeper into the couch. It was time to sleep again. He only woke up this early on Saturdays for the cartoons, after all.

Leaning back, he continued to watch the TV which switched over to a news program. Mike would've changed the station, without the Nightwatcher, AKA his brother, the news was boring these days. However, it was just the thing to lull him to sleep.

"In recent news," The blonde male announcer said, "A series of murders swept over the city last night, leaving police baffled. Seventeen victims, four different locations. But they all have two things in common- the victims were all either known members of a gang, or local smalltime muggers. And all died of various and repeated wounds with a long blade."

The screen showed images of the deceased, before they were dead, as well as snippets of the crime scene. There was nothing gruesome on camera- no one was allowed in obviously.

As the guy kept talking, Mike sighed. It was always sad when people died. But crime lived longer than anything else he knew of- and there wasn't much he could do about that one.

However, the next thing said was what caught his interest again. "Oh, this just in from one of our sources! Apparently, at the third crime scene, evidence has been found- and boy is it a kicker!" Michelangelo had to laugh at his word choice. He was just about to sleep when… "It seems that a print has been found, viewers. One bloody handprint- and get this. It only has three fingers."

Opening his eyes, Mike sat up. They had a picture on screen; how they had gotten it, he was unsure but he had a feeling that they'd get hell for it. When April had been a reporter, she used to get into trouble for that stuff all the time.

The handprint was three-fingered. And not in a crippled way. No, more like a mutant turtle kind of way. And Mike only knew of one mutant turtle who used a long blade like that- the ninjaken.

He remembered Leo getting home late, and how funny his brother had been acting. Turning around quickly, he found Leo still in place at the table. He was cleaning blood off his sword, looking as calm as ever. Mike could see a bandage on his palm.

For once, he was speechless.

Leo set the sword down and looked at him. Now Mike could see that he was mistaken- Leo's face was not calm, it was morose. His brother stared him in the face for a few seconds, and the silence was overpowering.

Finally, the turtle breathed in. His voice was not evil or hard. It was a Leo voice, the voice of his brother, just a little more upset than usual. "Mikey, you can't tell anyone." He had admitted it. He'd actually admitted to his crime. Mike wanted to shake his head and deny it for him. But Leo just continued to stare. "Please. You cannot tell anyone."

So… well, what did you think? (waits)

Please review! No flames please!