A/N: My second story for the TMNT universe. Just something from Raphael's POV. I know I didn't have him speaking as he is usually portrayed, but I didn't think that would fit with this story. Hope you all enjoy.

Disclaimer: Don't own, just write for.


Look at me, you may think you see who I really am/But you'll never know me. – Christina Aguilera, "Reflection", from Mulan

Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance, for it is not what is outside, but what is inside that matters. – quoted from Aladdin


Judging a Book by Its Cover

At first glance, when you look at me, what do you see?

I know your answers: monster, freak of nature, something that doesn't deserve to exist. Yeah, that all would apply as far as you or the world are concerned. Heck, perhaps to you they are true, giving you a way to ignore us or a reason to hate us for no other reason beyond that you can. Hey, we didn't ask to become this way, but accidents happen, and here we are. Still think you see us? Let me tell you something, we're just like you. Go ahead, sneer and laugh. Once you're done, sit down, I'd like to introduce you to some people.

First we got my brother Leonardo. He's the eldest, and as far as I'm concerned, uptight. The word fun is not in his vocabulary, I 's a perfectionist and believes in just drilling things into me and my other bros until we get it right. On top of that, he's an early riser and insists the same of the rest of us. When we are done with morning practice, he continues for hours afterward. Meditation is his idea of fun. Leo can be overbearing too, always wanting to know what I'm up to, where I'm going, when I'll be back, and of course I let him know what I think, usually leading to fights where I end up storming out without giving him any satisfaction. When I come back extremely late, after a night of bashing heads or drinking or both, Leo's there waiting. Then we get into it again. But every now and again, I get a glimpse of his eyes while we fight, and I know all it is, is worry. He's concerned about us in his own way, only wants to protect us, knows he can't always do that, and in turn, becomes frustrated. I goad him, sure, but I know he cares in his own way. Leo just doesn't know how to show it, because somewhere along the way, in his desire to protect us, he shut away the part of himself that can.

Sound like someone you know? No? Well then, let me introduce you to the first of my younger brothers, Donatello, or as we like to call him, Don or Donnie.

Donnie is what we call a techno-geek or resident scientist, coming up with these wacky inventions and ideas, a lot of which don't always work. He repairs everything in the lair that gets broken (usually by me and Mikey after he pulls one of his boneheaded stunts) and has created our security system, along with the devices we use when we are involved in a fight. Sometimes, he makes us crazy, taking stuff apart just to see how it works. When we were kids, he took apart a toaster that Master Splinter found and got to work, just so he could "check out the mechanisms." To this day, I am not sure whether Splinter was more upset by what happened to the toaster or impressed that Donnie was able to do this. I think he was just as surprised by the fact that Donnie knew what the word "mechanism" meant. I know I was. For all his intelligence though, he does pay a price for it. He gets so absorbed in his research, inventions and experiments, that he tends to shut us out and doesn't always know how to react well to us sometimes. It shows when he snaps at us for the constant repairs he makes of the same stuff.

While he's learned a lot through his research, like how to invent things and how to treat us when we get injured or sick, he's isolated himself, and really thinks he's the only one who can do all this. Offering to help him doesn't always work, as he truly believes he can do it all himself. I think, though, Donnie's scientific mind has helped us out a ton in fights. He's calm, level-headed and is the one who usually comes up with the best strategy. I believe that if Don was gone, we would all fall apart, because he's the only one who's able to keep us off of each others' throats. Yea, that's good old Donnie.

Still skeptical? Fine, maybe you'll think different once I tell you about my little brother, Michaelangelo.

The name doesn't really fit him, though. We call him Mike, but more often Mikey. Mikey seems to suit him more, the way he constantly acts like a little kid. Mikey is a natural prankster and bonehead who never learns from the trouble he gets into. Selected pranks: gluing Don's tools to the table, and one time, he painted me while I slept. Something goes wrong in the lair, he's usually the cause. Mikey always comes up with wisecracks too, most often at our own expense, and sometimes even during battle, when we least need it. He makes us crazy, and there are times that killing him seems like a good idea. Underneath it all though, if you look hard enough, you can see what he's actually doing, taking away the stress we all live under what with our constant fighting and virtual isolation from the world. He's got a big heart too, as shown by him bringing home Klunk once. He really loves that cat, and when any of us are hurt or sick, he's always hovering around until he knows we're going to be okay. He's also an ace chef. And you tell him I admitted anything nice about him, I'll hunt you down.

Quieter now, I see. Something's getting through to you at last, it seems. I will now tell you a bit about myself.

My name is Raphael, but I prefer Raph. I have a tendency to be hot-headed and short-tempered, lashing out at even my brothers for the slightest perceived insult. Already told you how often I clash with Leo. When I react, I do it blindly, paying no attention to who I hurt if they are between me and my target. Either with words or fists, it doesn't matter. Why am I like this? I don't know. Probably because we're so isolated for the most part, I guess. With few friends and enemies constantly coming out of the woodwork who'd like nothing more than to kill us, I'd guess that wouldn't do much for anyone's temper, including mine. My hobbies include picking fights, drinking with my buddy Casey, and one I've never shared with anyone, including my bros. In private, I like to draw or write, whatever I feel will help me calm down faster. Telling anybody this secret guarantees me hunting you down.

No response, huh? But that jeering look is gone, and you aren't laughing anymore. In fact, you seem thoughtful. I'm guessing you know at least one person fitting some of those points I've mentioned. Remember my words whenever you see someone who's different. Smile, talk, give them a chance. After all, you never know what you may find.

Who knows, maybe you'll find someone just like you.


A/N2: Again, if you read this far, I hope you enjoyed.