A/N: So! This is my first tmnt fic, and I'm pretty much totally excited. I'm notorious for not finishing fics...so bug me until I do. That means reviews...hint hint... This one is slow, but I'm just setting the scene. I cant stand being depressed for long, so it'll pick up the pace, don't worry! I love action and all that, but I love to get into characters too, so tell me when I'm not doing enough of one or the other. so enjoy!!! next chapter up soon.

I don't know how I ended up being the big brother. For all I know, Mikey could be the oldest. Though if we're going off intellectual level here, I guess that's not likely. Donny would be at the head in that case. But for as long as I've known him, the guy hasn't shown an assertive bone in his body. Raph, on the other hand, is completely composed of aggressive matter. I'm convinced it consumed his common sense as well.

And then there's me…Heh. Not much of a choice in my opinion. But here I am, nonetheless; "Fearless leader," as Raph likes to call me. As far as I'm concerned, he couldn't be farther from the truth. Yeah, my paralyzing fear of heights is over with, distinguished from years of leaping around rooftops, but I have different fears that haunt me now- have been haunting me forever, really.

Ever since I grasped the concept that my brothers, Splinter and I were a family, I had an innate feeling of protectiveness. Sensei was the first line of defense of course, but once we started going off on our own, I felt a slight need to be the watchful one.

I was naturally curious myself and liked to mess around in the tunnels of our home, usually practicing some skill Splinter had taught us, making it more of a game. But it's hard to concentrate on my own thing when Raph thinks he's an immortal god of power, Mikey can't keep his shell on straight and Donny is consumed with figuring out how whatever he discovered works. It was a recipe for disaster and more often than not, we managed to cook something up.

Back then it was still fun; risking life and limb was just another game we played. One I usually got caught up in no matter what. It was exciting. We were young and not much could threaten us. That's the way our life went, up until we had become so reckless that we actually started getting hurt. I remember when Donny almost drowned during the rainy season, trying to fish out a toy he'd dropped in the water. I think that's the first time I felt like I could lose part of my family. I brushed it off of course. I was still under the childhood belief that we were invincible.

Then Raph tried to beat me at a game of follow the leader and nearly broke his neck when he fell trying to do a move on a pipe near the ceiling. A broken arm didn't stop him for long, but I slowly became more cautious and watchful of what we did.

Mikey was the one who really made me stop and reevaluate our lives. We all knew he was the baby. It was the unspoken agreement. At first to Raph and I, it meant he was the one to pick on. The poor kid would believe everything we told him. We took advantage of this one day and told him the bat cave was connected to one of the sewers. Being one who worshiped superheroes, Mike took off at once to find it. We laughed and waited for him to come crying home after a few minutes when he gave up.

After a half hour, Raph and I forgot about it and went off to our own thing-we did everything together then. When we returned a few hours later, Mikey was still gone. Splinter was ushering us off to bed that night when he realized the youngest turtle was missing. With a sense of guilt, I remembered the trick we had played on him. Afraid of getting in trouble, Raph and I didn't say anything. It wasn't until early the next morning that our sensei returned, carrying Mikey in his arms. He was half-frozen and shaking, sick for weeks to come. I'd done that to him. I think that was the turning point for me. We were around 7 at the time. I guess I had a short lived childhood.

I didn't realize how those years would shape my life up to now. It wasn't until we became full-fledged teenagers that it dawned on me what a stick I had become. Raph and I still ran off to find adventures, but most of the time, I was just making sure he didn't get hurt instead of enjoying myself. When he realized that I was just slowing him down, he started going off alone- a habit he continues with to this day.

It was around this time that I really started focusing on my training. It wasn't just something to do now that Raph had grown tired of me, it was a way to make sure that I could protect all my brothers should the need arise. I wasn't unhappy with my life then. I still had fun. My brothers and I were closer than any 4…turtles could be, but there was always the thought in my mind that it fell upon me to keep them safe.

So I guess I became the leader because of my own thoughts. I think therefore I am? Well if that's true, I don't understand why I'm still the oldest now. I've failed as a leader and worse, as a brother. I couldn't keep my own family out of harm's way. The one job I have, and I couldn't even do that right.

I'm training right now because it's all I can do to keep myself from being torn from the inside out. The guilt eats at me until it's too much to bear and so this is what I do; swinging my swords at invisible enemies, at least invisible to everyone else. To me, they're as tangible as my own flesh, and beating them is the only way I'm going to be able to redeem myself and save my family.