Author's Notes:

This story is a "fresh start" fiction in that I am not trying to closely follow any one version of the Ninja Turtles story. I hope to expand this introduction into an ongoing story, letting the turtles develop as the story takes them.

It is set shortly after the Turtles first major confrontation with Shredder and the foot. The one important plot point I am holding to in this fiction is that it was Raphael (like the original movie) beaten by the Foot and thrown through a window not Leonardo (like the 2003 cartoon and comics). I got the idea for this fic because I was watching the 1987 cartoon, thinking about how different the Turtles' personalities were in that happy go lucky series. I love the movies and the comics; but I started thinking 'what if someone played around a little and took elements of the Turtles' personalities from every series? A bit of this and a bit of that.

Reviews of any kind are requested and appreciated, thank you very much for reading.

-----

UPDATE: The title of the series is changed because I'm a doofus. This is my first fanfic and I don't know how to format it the way I want yet. Some minor corrections to grammar and my bad typing are also up. Many thanks to the reviewers who were kind enough to point out the confusing bits! I changed the rating from K+ to T (cautionary) because as the action increases the violence will increase; but so far everything is still K+

------

Disclaimer: I don't own TMNT, and I don't claim to. But I own a computer and a copy of Microsoft Word. Mwahaha!

------

Introduction: Ensemble: "The Patience Game"

If the game he was currently playing were true to its name, Donatello would have been a grandmaster. But it was a game, a training exercise to be exact, and it had no more relation to actual patience than Grand Turismo gave you real experience driving a car. He could hear Leonardo move behind him, but his elder brother stayed steadily out of his field of view. Even though some of his brothers had the flexibility or the balance to be able to take in most of the room while standing on one foot, Donatello always needed to concentrate in order to keep himself balanced and focused.

The premise of the game was simple: strike the first blow, unarmed. But they had outgrown the challenge of simply hitting each other when they were ten. The patience game was designed to make a very simple goal far more difficult. One brother was selected to be the defender, the others would attack one at a time; but the defender had to keep balanced on one foot, the other leg and both arms raised in ready position. You couldn't bulrush the defender, at least not until someone (usually Raphael) decided that they had enough of this game and wanted to end the match prematurely. The point was to score a clean hit if you were attacking without getting tagged by the defender; while the defender tried to score a hit without losing his balance.

If it was just about waiting for the correct time to strike, the purple clad turtle would have taken his brothers to the cleaners, but he found balance, particularly without his weapon difficult, and the longer one waited to strike the more and more his muscles would ache from keeping one leg cocked to kick. In order to ignore the ache, Donatello usually let his mind drift to whatever he was working on in his lab; right now it was disassembling an alternative fuel engine to see if he could come up with a more efficient way to propel their van, but he was having trouble…

The crack that sounded in his ears didn't hurt, but the sound shook him from his reverie. He could feel the light sting where the back of Leonardo's hand had thumped him right behind the ear, and he let out a soft sigh.

"What invention were you thinking of this time?" His elder brother chuckled.

Don felt his shoulders sag a bit as he stretched. "How did you know…"

"Maybe 'cause your eyes drift off to the side when you stop concentrating on where Leo is." Raphael called from the side

Donatello opened his mouth to protest, but found that he couldn't deny it. Giving a soft sigh, he bowed his head slightly towards Leonardo and relinquished the center position. Leo folded his arms into a meditative stance, which made him look curiously like a giant praying mantis, though a mantis that was ready to kick you at any given moment. Behind him Raphael and Michelangelo eyed one another and played a quick game of rock-paper-scissors, which ended up in a scissors for Mikey, a rock for Raph and a muttered curse from the winner. Leo was the best player of this particular game overall and being the first one to attack him almost always meant getting nailed by a well timed kick.

Raphael grit his teeth and flexed his fingers, watching the calm settled form of his eldest brother. Before he stepped on the mat he shifted his balance back and forth from flat footed to the balls of his feet. He disliked being the attacker in this game; his own personal style allowed for him to take the first hit in order to get in close and shut his opponent down but in this game the first hit ended the attack. In his less stubborn moods he admitted to himself that frustration he felt playing this game was a great teaching tool, helping him judge timing but he would never say that out loud to his brothers. He slowly started to circle Leo like a vulture.

Leo smiled to himself, though the edges of his mouth did not curl. He could always tell his brothers by their footfalls. Raphael's steps were heavy, no matter how much he adjusted his footwork, and he usually paused slightly before he struck. The eldest brother waited, listening to the mat make the faintest crunching sound with every step. Raphael struck quickly and straightforward almost every time, the trick was to pre-empt the charge. The crunches stopped for a second and Leo could feel the faintest shift in the air as his brother leapt.

One green and blue clad leg snapped out, and Raph grimaced, seeing the kick coming. He landed, instinctively raising one leg to catch the kick and let it rebound off the outer part of his upper leg where it wouldn't hurt forgetting that the point of the game was to, in fact, avoid being kicked. Leo's foot hit home, snapping across the block and making a cracking sound as they hit. The sound was impressive even though neither one hit anything hard enough to hurt. The red-clad turtle made a humphing sound, unwilling to admit that a block should disqualify him and he leaned forward, reaching out to rap Leo against the back of the neck.

"You know that's against the rules, Raph." Leo chided in a somewhat light voice, the amusement slightly evident though he still did not smile. Raphael frowned and stood out of his fighting stance, putting one hand on his hip. Leo could hear the protest rising to his brother's throat and he decided to cut him off, snapping a light kick into his chest before he could speak. "You're out at first strike."

Raphael coughed slightly as the rap knocked a gust of air from his lungs, and stood there. He was toying with the idea of simply kicking out the one leg his leader was standing on, but decided that he didn't feel that petty this afternoon. But he wasn't going to let it drop without offering his two cents worth. "I suppose that entirely depends on how you define 'strike'" the tone of his voice insinuating that the first hit was ineffective at best.

"I define it as you getting hit." Leo replied evenly. "But if you want to go again, be my guest."

Raphael leveled his brown eyes at the eldest brother. In truth winning the game wasn't what hung on his stubborn mind, it was the irritation that no matter what happened Leo had to have the last word. He gave another soft humph and replied in an equally even tone; "How about I let Mikey knock you down?"

Leonardo suppressed a chuckle, still keeping his features carefully neutral. He was faintly surprised that Raph's last quip wasn't an invitation to a fight, but ever since their catastrophic confrontation with the Foot clan in April's apartment his hotheaded brother had been slightly mellower and more unreadable. Then again Michelangelo wasn't known for his patience or focus. "Then how about it."

The red clad turtle stepped back, watching with the faintest hint of a grin, letting his youngest brother step forward. Despite the set up of the game seeming to be stacked against the orange ninja, Leonardo often forgot that it was Mikey who had, in fact, created it. Though back then it didn't have a name. Raphael usually just called it 'damn you Mikey, stop being a brat!'

It grew out of one of Master Splinter's punishments, when the old rat decided that his students needed a more directly useful punishment than flips. He called it focus kicking, making his students go through each movement in a sidekick or a roundhouse in a very slow, controlled manner. As a punishment he made his sons hold each position for a particular count – ten seconds, maybe thirty or a minute. It was his standard penance for impatience and any temperamental outburst, and the usual target was Raphael. While his brothers never had to endure more than thirty seconds per position, Raph's record was a full five minutes of standing in each position, each leg, while Master Splinter waited until his anger abated.

When he was younger Raphael hated this particular exercise and if he could escape Splinter's watchful gaze he would have. Though one evening when he was feeling particularly contrary it struck him that the only way he could get out the punishment was to enjoy it. He started practicing his balance at night before he went to bed, first out of a stubborn drive to one up his brothers and his master but eventually he found he enjoyed the physical challenge of working through the ache and tension of the kick until it was comfortable. Slowly he became so good he started to show off during training when the kicks were merely an exercise; and that's when Mikey took notice.

The youngest turtle found it somewhat amusing that his brother could go from bitterly complaining about his punishment to enjoying it; and he figured it would be fun to challenge Raph while he was showing off. So he started to sneak up behind him and tag him in the back of the head. Raph's immediate response was to kick him; and Mikey solved this by finding sneakier and faster ways to tag his brother back, until it evolved from a testy battle of one-upsmanship into a full-fledged game. And occasionally the two brothers who founded it enjoyed challenging themselves to play while Leo and Don were away (or at least absorbed in their own endeavors). In that time Michelangelo had learned some fairly crafty tricks while attacking.

The red clad turtle allowed himself a small smile as the game continued, fully expecting Leonardo to eat his words.

The eldest brother centered himself, concentrating on his balance while he heard Michelangelo's feet scuffle across the floor. His youngest brother was the least accurate in his strikes; but he was also the least predictable. Combined with an overflow of energy and a canny sense of dodge honed by avoiding any retaliation his brothers decided to dish out in response to his pranks it made him a better fighter than most of his brothers gave him credit for. At this moment Leonardo was trying to figure out where Mikey was going; he could hear his footsteps behind his back but unlike Raph or Donnie, they were light and constantly in motion, as if he was dancing. He could hear the mat creak just behind his left ear and he clenched his teeth together, snapping a back-kick to the left. It flung past where Mike had stepped and into the air, the blue clad turtle struggling to regain his balance when he didn't strike his intended target.

To the side he could head Donatello chuckle lightly, and out of the corner of his eyes he could see Mikey hop backwards with a spring in his step, grinning. Leo sucked in a long even breath, hopping from one foot to the other until he felt centered again, but it wasn't long enough. Light green footsteps hopped from one side of the room to another and when Leo looked up he saw an orange bandana clad face grinning at him as a ridgehand punch snaked around the side of his head. Leo nearly bit his tongue and a startled breath escaped him. He flexed his anchor foot, using it as a launch point and jumped backwards, sending out a front kick in response. Though between jumping away, twisting sideways to dodge the blow and trying to kick he ended up flailing his front kick into a soggy imitation of a strike. It took every ounce of concentration he had to land on one foot and stay there.

"Missed me by a mile!" Michelangelo grinned, his voice light and perky.

"That was a good save, though." Donatello remarked from the sidelines, giving a nod to his eldest brother.

"Dude, with moves like that you could do well on extreme skateboarding!" Mikey grinned, starting to circle his brother.

"Yeah, but who would sponsor him? Turtle wax?" The red-clad brother remarked dryly from the other side of the room.

"Shut up, Raph." Leo groused, frowning. All the chatter was making it harder for him to concentrate on where Mike might be coming from, and this time he was determined to strike first.

Again the light, almost bubbling energy of the youngest turtle's movements were like trying to sort out a Morse code signal in a hailstorm, but this time Leonardo had practice. And as they say: the third time's the charm. If he listened hard enough, even when Mike was out of his vision he could start to picture where the younger turtle was centered, somewhere in the middle of the footsteps. Leonardo let his shoulders relax, the same posture as Donatello assumed when he wasn't really paying attention but the elder turtle was far from distracted. He waited, patiently, until he heard the footsteps come close to his right side.

Leaning slight he snapped a roundhouse kick to the right, and Mikey's eyes widened. Sucking in a breath he changed from aggressive to defensive mode in an instant, leaning backwards with a jump. His chest ended up just inches away from Leo's swinging foot. The blue clad turtle spun slightly, hopping and trying to maintain his balance while Mike wobbled his arms, trying to do the same. Leo stayed upright; Mike gave in and rolled downwards from his left shoulder, across to his right and back up onto his feet in one smooth movement. "Man, I'm glad I don't have to stay on one foot." He remarked as he regained his feet.

"Maybe I should make you practice that more often." Leo countered, wobbling slightly. His legs were starting to ache.

"I thought we were practicing."

Even though his elder brother couldn't see him, Leo could hear the grin in Mikey's voice. He didn't reply back, but gave a soft sigh, trying to regain his focus once again. This time Mike was flickering in and out of his kick range, like a cat testing the range of a pitbull's leash. Occasionally Leo would snap a light punch or kick out towards Mike, but no good opportunities to actually hit him. He gave a second sigh when the orange clad turtle disappeared behind his field of vision once again. He straightened and tensed his legs a little, determined to win.

"Whoah, Dude, what's that?!" Mike's voice was startled and full of wonder.

"Huh?!" Leo snapped his head to the side, frantically looking for what might be there, but the only thing he saw was Raphael. He was about to furrow his brow and ask what was going on when he felt his youngest brothers foot connect solidly with his plastron.

"Got you!" Michelangelo's voice was positively gleeful.

Leonardo sighed, slowly putting his foot down and stretching his legs. "You gave a false alarm, Mike. That isn't fair."

"Sure it's fair." Raphael cast his opinion from the edge of the mat. "You're just sore because you fell for it."

"Deception isn't the way of honor." Leonardo argued lightly, swinging his arms back and forth to stretch them.

"Technically, Leo, he didn't lie. There was something there…" Donatello added, thoughtfully.

"Yeah! Raph was there! He's something!" Mike was grinning.

Leonardo shook his head. "But what if there had been an actual emergency. You can't cry wolf just to win at a game."

"Ah, but distraction is a part of every confrontation you face, my son." Master Splinter's voice lilted from the doorway, his dark eyes shining steadily at them. "You must learn how to tell what is important and what exists only to lure your senses away."

"And how can I tell that?" the blue clad turtle asked in an open, searching tone.

"Have you not just had that lesson, my son?" Splinter's voice was stern, but laced with a gentle current of amusement.

Slowly Leonardo nodded. "Yes, Master." He gave a respectful nod to his youngest brother and relinquished the center spot.

Mike took up his one footed stance and grinned again. "Besides, if it's really something there I'll tell you what it is, even if that just 'whoah dude, look… a thing!'"

"How vividly descriptive, Mikey." Raphael called from the sidelines. "Are you gonna yak or are we gonna play?"

The youngest turtle grinned in an imitation of a MTV voiceover. "Bring it on!"