Wrote this a long while back, and figured I'd throw it out there! Just to...have it out there. Yeah. ;;

This takes place during season four.


It was nearly 2:30 am, and in the shadows of the dojo, Leonardo trained alone. This wasn't unusual. There was a defiance, an urgency, in his silent blows that gave away his frustration, and this too was not unusual as of late. He must've been at it for some time, because he wasn't even bothering to stifle his grunts of exertion.

It was the way he kept over-extending his punches and slipping off-balance that revealed his state of mind. Leonardo had always been able to channel his anger and give his emotions intense but graceful form. Even after his recent change in personality, he had become rash and unstable but never unfocused. This working himself to exhaustion, these little slip-ups that would only add fuel to the fire...they were signs of a brewing storm.

Watching his brother from the entryway, Donatello couldn't help but feel like kicking himself. He should've known Leo would react badly to the news. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that he and the others had taken Leonardo's cool head and demeanor for granted. Back then, they had all known their leader had his boiling point; the fights with Raph and occassional disobedience were evidence. But after Shredder's banishment and Karai's betrayal, they came to know a different Leo, and now Don had to wonder...what could they expect of him now, under circumstances like this?

He was torn from his musings by the sound of a katana cartwheeling through the air and slamming into the wall with a clang. Leonardo had sunk to the floor, his harsh breathing filling the room. His arms were trembling noticably. But when he spoke, his voice was steady. "I don't need an audience."

With a start, Donatello pushed himself away from the entrance and took a tentative step forward. "Uh...not an audience, but maybe some company?"

Leonardo didn't answer. His hand clenched around the hilt of the katana he still held. In the awkward silence, Don took a few more steps towards his brother, feeling like he was approaching a dangerous animal. "Listen Leo...I know this must be hard to adjust to. But the rest of us, we don't expect you to change, and we're not going to treat you differently. It's no big deal." He shifted his gaze to the floor. "I...I guess I shouldn't have gone poking around anyway..."

His brother lifted his head at that and turned a little, but did not face him. "Don't blame yourself."

Donatello found that exceedingly hard to do. Shuffling his feet and hoping the change of subject wasn't too obvious, he said, "But what difference does it really make? There's no reason for it to matter much. It's all in our heads. And it's more a matter of personality, anyway."

Leonardo made a derisive sound, sat up straight and pulled his knees to his chest. For the first time in a long while, the hardness fell away and left him looking very forlorn. "Easy for you to say," he said. "Your whole life hasn't revolved upon this."

Recovering from the shock of Leo dropping his guard, Don floundered for a few seconds for something to say. He hadn't been aware that his brother thought of himself like that. Then again, he wasn't too sure what went through Leo's head these days. "That's not true," he finally said.

This time Leo did turn around, and his eyes flashed. The hardness was back. "If that weren't true, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now." He swiftly got to his feet, slipped his toes underneath the hilt of his katana, and swept it upwards into his hand. Then he went to the corner to retrieve his other sword. When he returned them to their sheaths on his back, he did it with such force that Don involuntarily flinched. He passed Donatello without another word, leaving the purple-banded Turtle staring worriedly after him. This isn't going to be easy, Don thought. Then he sighed.

Being the oldest for so long, then suddenly discovering you're actually the youngest...of course this wasn't going to be easy.


To be continued!