I don't exactly remember where I got the idea, but I do know it was when I was watching the fight between Raphael and Leonaro on TMNT. I feel that's the best scene in the whole movie, having deepened and made the relationship between the two brothers more likeable. I've always liked that about the two, as well as their relationship with the other brothers. (I'm attracted to anything family-oriented ^^.) Then I started reading a little thing about turtles, and decided to start typing this story out.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing this out. Normally, fight scenes and action isn't my cup of tea, but hey, every writer needs to expand a little bit, right?

Disclaimer: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were created by Mirage. I have no original characters in the making, unless you count a minor character or two.

Chapter One

There had never been a peaceful holiday than Thanksgiving, where all give thanks for everything they have, no matter how unfortunate they are. But it has never been a peaceful holiday since the pilgrims when it came to New York. With only a few days until Thanksgiving, the stores have been crowded trying to get the materials and the biggest turkey they could find. Though there were many who could afford this, others couldn't. Sometimes, they stole in desperate times, or for their own greedy selves.

As was the case one night when the temperature slowly dipped in the approach of an early winter. A small group of men had stolen from a local market and were hiding from the police. The blaring car squealed by the hiding place they were in, and the leader cackled, itching at a scraggly beard. "Where's da boid?" he muttered to an accomplice.

A skinny man held it up the best he could, icy moonlight illuminating the foil it was wrapped in and his gun's barrel when he moved. "Right here, Boss," he groaned, arms and legs shaking under the nine-pounder. He found it relieving when the bigger man snatched it out of his hands smirking evilly, gazing upon the bird with a greedy gleam. Then he dropped it back into the man's arms, where he collapsed to the ground.

He snatched the collar and hoisted him up harshly, growling. "Be careful wit dat t'ing! Can't get a bruise on it, now can we?"

Suddenly, a trash can lid from the shadows was flung toward him. He ducked in time, but another was knocked against the head with the tin, falling unconscious. Everyone else looked around in astonishment, growing frightened. "Correction, my good man," a voice came from the darkness further down the alley. "The bird won't get a nasty bruise, you turkey."

The man felt insulted, and gritting his teeth, whipped out a handgun. "Call me a what, punk? Do youse even realize who you're dealin' with here?!"

"Mmm, don't think so," another sounded out, this one less of a bass tone. "Maybe if you give us a name, it might start sounding familiar."

"Well, forget it! You're not gettin' dat out of me very easily!"

One of his few men tapped his shoulder. "Boss, sir? I don't like the looks of this."

"Suck up, Jay. Can't you see I'm tryin' to get dese guys out into the open?" he grunted, still looking around the area.

"Then challenge us, dudes!"

Sighing, he signaled for his comrades to ready themselves. They had either brought out guns, chains or knives, and poised for attack. One was hesitant, but raised a weapon, and the leader stepped forward, pointing his artillery in a direction. "I accept." And in response, the gun fired, cracking into the night.

Because there was the lack of proper lighting, he indeed missed, but it brought out his challengers. He wasn't entirely expected to find four silhouettes position themselves in either direction. Two were crouched on the buildings nearby, another behind them. From the front, the last came calmly, and they could see a glow come from the eyes. As far as they could tell, it wasn't a human, though it had a similar form, like with the other three. Slowly, it raised an arm, and they could clearly see a shape of a sword when the moonlight caught its steel surface. Many flinched when it was pointed menacingly at them, but the leader only aimed once more, though he slightly trembled.

"Uh, Boss?" the thin man timidly said, still holding the turkey. "I think we should... mmf, go. The coast is cl-clear."

He didn't answer him directly, his vision only on the stranger in front of him. "Who are you?"

Either it was the darkness confusing his eyesight or he was hallucinating, but he could almost see, or imagine, it was smiling. "No one of importance," it only told him.

From behind, a flash of silver caught the eye of the back men, and they saw the shadow brandished two, small knife-like weapons, twirling them in its fingers. "Any volunteers?" the deep, Brooklyn voice beckoned.

One raised his arms over his head, having dropped his gun. "Spare me, man!" he begged, his voice a whimper. "I have a whole life ahead of me!"

"More like a lie if this is what you're doin'," it continued, the eyes of a golden glow narrowing. "What got you started in a life of crime, my good man?"

"Enough talk!" Here, the bearded man spun around and fired a shot at the figure. It skillfully dodged, leaning backward almost in half.

Some of the men gasped in surprise, and a few more ran off. They didn't get far before the two shapes on the buildings hopped down and knocked them over, pinning them up against a wall. One screamed.

"Ya fools! We're here ta fight our challengers, not turn hide and tail!"

"Actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea," the man who was called Jay disagreed. "We still have the bird. Let's just go."

The one with the swords held them out in front of its face threateningly, and the group who was left saw a strange feature. A pacific blue mask was tied on its face, but the skin was a bluish-green in the light. One commented, "You know... I-I have heard about ninjas roaming around here. I think he's one of them."

It raised a brow. "Good guess. But we're not exactly what you think we are."

"Then... what are you?"

"A figment of your imagination." Raising the swords, it only used the handle to bump against his head, hard enough to knock him out. The other three gathered around, twirling their objects. Braver men risked attacking, only to have the attacks reflected off another direction, or blocked.

One shook a finger at a gunman after he shot and missed. "Naughty, naughty. Didn't you learn to never play with guns?" And with a yell, swung its weapon, striking the attacker in the face and wrapping around a knife in another hand, yanking it away.

Left and right, the boss watched as his followers were knocked out, swiftly and almost quietly. He only aimed, gritting his teeth, breath ragged and speedy. "D...dis can't be," he growled, turning from figure to figure. "I've never lost in a fight."

"Strange," the calmer one said. "Everyone has to lose now and then. That's called life."

Two identical knives found themselves frozen by his neck, the steel cold from the November air. Their glares given paralyzed him in place. "And you just failed."

Out of adrenaline, he raised the gun forward and shot another round, striking the shadow in the shoulder. It barely flinched and only tripped him onto his back, the revolver skidding off to a dark corner. He watched in horror as one leaned down, a grin on its freckled reptilian face, half hidden behind a dark-orange cloth where large, childish sapphire eyes shone brightly. "Sleep tight, bad man," it chuckled, waving a three-fingered hand. "Dream of jail cells, tonight."

With no other movement from the four figures, the man's eyes rolled and he fainted, the image of walking, talking turtles engraved in his memory.

Sighing, the defenders put away their weapons, and went to gather up the criminals. "Don, there's something I don't get," the blue-eyed reptile piped up, carrying two of the fainted men over to the leader. "Why would people commit these kinds of crimes around this time? Isn't it supposed to be a wonderful holiday?"

"Well, Mikey," the addressed turtle started, getting out rope, "it's usually desperation. There are a lot of poor people here, and they want what's best for their families. But these guys here do it because that's all they know. They may not have family to return to. It's upsetting to think about, as they are the unfortunate group."

"Oh, so now you're feelin' sorry for these folks," one of his older brothers scoffed, dropping the person he was holding.

"Yes, Raph, I am. It's who they are. Nothing can change that."

Raphael laughed heartily. "Leo, you hear this guy?" he called, pointing at his sibling, who only rolled his eyes. "He's showin' sympathy for these people!"

Leonardo set the last of the men down so Donatello could tie the knot. "Raph, you ever learn to love your neighbor?" he asked, folding his arms.

"Not these guys! All they do is lie, cheat, steal, and God knows what else they do!"

"How about loving your enemy?"

"Same thing!"

Michaelangelo took a quick look up and down the deserted street, trying to see if anyone was coming. The argument from his older brothers seemed to echo in every direction, and he was worried they were attracting attention. He knew from years of living in the city the street was a dangerous place to be in, and though they'd get more practice in fighting criminals, police could also rev around a corner in a blink of an eye. "Guys? Can you keep it down?" he pleaded, walking back to them. "Why don't you wait until we go back home?"

"No, Mikey, let them attract the police," the genius of a brother waived off, keeping a dark eye on the men. "Can't have them wake up without supervision." When one seemed to stir, he whacked his head with the bo.

"Now tell me this, Leo! Did you love your enemies back in Central America?"

"They were tormenting those people, taking their riches and kidnapping the women," he explained, still calm like how the wind was at that moment. However, his voice was growing icy, and his temper was beginning to rise. "I couldn't stand by and allow it to happen. Some of them I ended up disposing of, they were a menace to society."

Mikey's face wrinkled. "I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that, and, uh, go over here."

No one seemed to notice, and Raphael gave a dry laugh. "So much for lovin' your enemy." When he moved his shoulders, he winced, glancing at the gunshot wound as it continued to trickle blood. "`Cuz these guys tend to get things stuck inside you," he grumbled.

Donatello walked up to take a quick scan, rubbing the back of his neck. "It's still in there. Going to have to get it at home. Thank goodness we have the right supplies for this. And... you may need stitches."

"Damn it."

Leonardo glanced at the robbers, frowning at every single one of them. If any one of the thugs had a family, it was going to be a bad holiday, he sensed. He walked around the circle, looking this and that, until one man caught his eye. He was the odd one out, being the only one with a face of hardships and a wedding ring on his finger. It saddened him to see an unconscious family man tied up in front of him, how he chose this day to commit a crime instead of working it out with his wife. "So, uh, we're just going to leave them here, or are we calling the cops?" his baby brother wondered, walking up to look at them as well. He noticed the troubled look on his eldest sibling's face and blinked. "Uh... what's wrong?"

He only shook his head. "It's nothing. Are the police coming?"

In answer to his question, they heard the distant sirens not too far off. The turtles quickly went down a manhole nearby, and headed down south, Raphael cursing under his breath about his injury. Michaelangelo hummed most of the way, sometimes slowing down when being thrust into his own little world. Don muttered to himself here and there as a habit. Leo was the only silent one, his mind focused on the man and his family, and switched between him and his argument. How pointless it was. What was the deal anyway, when he didn't bring up the topic?

Upon arrival in their home, they all gathered at the kitchen table, seeing Splinter waiting for them there, sipping his tea. "How'd it go, boys?" he asked, barely looking up from his cup.

"The usual," Mikey reported, stretching his arms. "Bad guys do criminal stuff, we come in, kick their butts, and tie them up for the police."

"You forgot the part where the big guy shoots one of us," his brother murmured, sitting down and holding his injured arm. "Freakin' bullet's still in there, if you wanted any additional information."

"Don't worry, Master Splinter," Don assured him, in case he'd get worried. He put on a pair of eyeglasses, something he only wore to see smaller objects. "I'll be able to get him cured in no time."

The elderly rat stood, scanning his hazel eyes between the boys. "Victory is rarely complete without even a microscopic scratch on oneself. Our body is mortal, yet it's always willing to prove it isn't. A single drop of blood shows that. Don't think that you'll make it out of a war unscathed, you could lose an arm. But each and every time a wound like this happens, you should be very grateful it wasn't any worse than what it is now."

"And maybe fortunate, I can just see a glint in there."

The pale-green turtle rolled his eyes. "How's that fortunate?"

"If it was in there any deeper, then this would be more of a major operation than a simple one." Adjusting his glasses, the genius stood up, smiling at his brother. "I'll go get the anesthetic and a few other medical supplies and get started." He left quickly for his room, leaving Raph to sigh sulkily.

"Aw, isn't that great? It's lodged inside my arm, just barely shallow enough to see it. Hey, Leo, have you ever gotten shot in the arm before?"

He didn't answer, not wanting to risk another fight. But the hothead insisted anyway. "I guess not. Well, of course, he's the Fearless Leader, the immortal!"

"Raphael, enough. He's just as mortal as you are," Splinter stated, reaching for his walking stick. "One more disrespectful word, and you're getting one fault from each of your brothers, and..." He tapped the item lightly against his son's head. "...this will give you your biggest fault yet."

"Yes, sensei," he grumbled, watching as Donatello came back with what looked like surgical tools.

Mikey's eyes widened at the sight of them when the bin was placed on the table. "No way! You're not going to cut him open, are you?"

"I have to get the bullet out, or an infection will spread," he explained, searching for a cotton ball. Finding one, he looked for the iodine.

"So... it'll get gory?"

He shrugged. "Maybe. You'll be able to see muscle tissue, maybe even the bone, if it's lodged in there. You'll be very surprised what color everything is, Mikey." The medicine was then dabbed on the wound, making his brother flinch.

"That burns, Don," he muttered darkly.

"Sorry." He picked up a syringe with a thick needle and filled it up.

"Is it a sickly green to match his attitude?" Michaelangelo grinned.

"Red from the blood cells." And he stuck it inside Raph's arm, where he yelled out, and inserted the anesthetic.

"OW! Dang it, Donny, how far did you put that thing in?!" His baby brother guffawed from the chair beside him.

"I have to numb the muscle, not just the upper part of the skin. In about a few minutes, your whole arm will be asleep. I promise you won't feel a thing after this."

Leonardo wasn't watching or listening, instead pacing around and rubbing at his arms. He went to the thermostat to take a glance at the room temperature in the low 70s. "It's that cold?" he whispered, raising a hand to turn it up a little.

"Leonardo, get away from there," his father called from the kitchen. "What seems to be the problem that you're wanting to mess around with the temperature?"

"It's cold in here," he answered, stepping back from it.

Everyone turned to look at him, puzzled. Raph scoffed slightly upon hearing it. "Is the outside air still bothering you? That's probably lingering on you."

"It feels fine in here," Don said, shrugging. "Is it the atmosphere itself that's the problem?"

"I just said it's cold in here, didn't I?" he questioned.

"It's normal room temperature, but if you insist, you could go put on a coat."

"Or you could train with me," the youngest turtle suggested, grinning. "That always makes me feel warm inside."

"You're always like that," his hothead of a brother pointed out. "Even when you're not doing anything, I bet you're all happy on the inside."

Scowling, he leaned over and pinched him on the arm when he wasn't looking, surprised to see he didn't do anything. So he tried again, only harder. There was barely even a twitch visible. "Hey, Donny, I think he's ready to be operated now. I'm losing him."

"Mikey, what're you talking about?" a growl came from Raph when he turned to look at him. "Do I look like I'm dying to you?"

"No, but your arm is." And he pinched once more.

He jerked it away from impulse. "Don't do that!"

"Ha! You didn't show pain!"

Splinter sighed, shaking his head. "Kids," he muttered to himself. "Michaelangelo, give me ten flips."

Shrugging, he went to an open space to do his punishment. Donatello got ready to make a small incision. "Now Raph, some blood will spill slightly. If you get queasy, you can look away, or hold your breath."

The red-masked turtle snorted. "I'm not a wimp, I won't get sick."

"Most people say that," he grinned. "Even the tough guys can get ill from seeing too much."

He grumbled, and risked watching. Mikey finished his fifth flip when he quickly glanced over at his brothers. "So... you're going to cut him open," he expressed, "and then what?" At a glance to his mentor, he got right to continuing his flips.

"Depending on how bad the bullet's lodged, I may have to dig it out."

Raphael looked inside the bin of medical supplies. "I don't see a small shovel in there, or even a pick ax."

"Very funny."

"Mike, go away," he demanded, trying to wave the turtle off with his good arm when he saw him coming. "You're not a surgeon, doctor or anything."

"Neither is he," he retorted, yet leaned in for a closer look. His face creased in seconds from disgust, satisfaction, and horror. "Eew! It's all pinkish-reddish, and looks... dented!"

"Shut up, Mikey."

Don paused and gestured for his little brother to get a closer look. "Take a good look, Mikey. The muscle here is skeletal muscle. It's the reason why you can move your arms and everything. This is the most common out of your whole body."

"What's the least common?"

"There's three muscle types: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac. What you see here is the skeletal. The ridges, or lines, are arrangements of proteins called myosin and actin, thus the striped appearance. Yet each part is a bundle of fibers. Inside each of them is myofibril. In every muscle fiber is a nerve that is controlled by the cerebrum, which why everything works properly, as long as your brain allows it. Now, smooth muscle is in your internal organs, but I'm not going to dissect him to show you."

"No cutting up your brothers at the kitchen table," his mentor warned, though he was smirking. "Not even to show your little brother."

He laughed. "I won't. And cardiac muscle is the whole heart itself. But you've seen pictures."

"Yeah, but not the real thing."

"That's because we don't trust you when it comes to beatin' hearts," Raphael sighed, rolling his eyes. "Can you get the bullet out? I feel like my privacy's being invaded."

"I'm getting there. But I must say, you're very lucky it didn't drill itself into the tendons of your scapula's compact bone."

He groaned, pinching his brows. "In English please, Einstein."

"Your bone would've been shattered had it not stopped," he translated with a sigh. "It looks like the tip's barely skimming the bone. I'm going to have to be careful in prying it out."

"Why?" his little brother chimed in.

"I don't want to damage any blood vessels doing so."

"And broken blood vessels means lots of bleeding, right?"

"You might say that. But I'm positive no veins or arteries are even close to the bullet. And that would've been dangerous."

"Lots and lots of bleeding, right?"

"It means I may die, Mikey, you need any other scientific reasons while my arm is open for the whole world to see?!" the red-banded ninja turtle yelled, growing impatient.


"Then leave Don alone! Botherin' him with questions you should know already gives me stress!"

Leonardo patted his little brother's carapace. "Come on, Mikey, let's go train just like you said we should."

"Okay. Let me know when you need a bucket."

Raphael growled menacingly in rage, making him back into the lounge chair and flip over with a yelp onto the cushion. "See ya... later, guys," he mumbled, waving slightly.

Once he rolled off, the two headed for the dojo, a spacious room where they had all they needed for their training: balance rods, targets for their weapons, wooden figurines with many bars sticking out for control in rotations, a special corner for meditation, and more Splinter tested them on. Usually, the boys weren't allowed inside without supervision, but having grown more mature and half-way through their seventeenth year, they could come and go as they pleased. Cracking his knuckles, Mikey asked, "So, what do you wanna do?"

He shrugged. "Not too sure. Anything to get the blood moving."

"Oh, please don't talk about that, not with Raph in danger out there."

"He's not in trouble, you know that. Do you really think Donny would deliberately harm him?"

"Touché." Glancing at a clock near-by, he suggested, "Wanna try our balancing? We could race."

"You're on, little bro."

Grinning at one another, they flipped onto the rods, holding out their arms for support. "First to do several laps chooses the next activity," he explained. "Loser has to wear blindfolds. Every time he loses, he adds another one until he falls or runs out. Ready?"

"Aren't blindfolds dangerous?" the youngest wondered, frowning. "What if one of us falls and breaks a bone, or worse, our neck? Donny can't fix broken necks, you know."

From out in the kitchen, they could hear Splinter praise their brother, congratulating him—a sign he succeeded in getting out the bullet. A couple moments later, Raph's voice cried out, "Shell no, you won't! Does this look like a busted seam to you?! Get that away from me!" They sighed, and Mikey dropped the topic, beginning their race, flipping skillfully with a hand or none, leaping over several at once and landing on a shaky, but sturdy, rod before quickly heading for a further one. At first, they were neck and neck, until Michaelangelo had to refocus his central balance and fell behind.

"This sucks," he grumbled, tying on a blindfold after the first round. "I don't think Splinter taught us to move around blindly at all."

"If we can find our central balance," his older brother mentioned from up front (or from the side, he couldn't tell for sure), "then surely we might be able to move around."

"First, a step test!"

"Fine, go ahead."

It was unfortunate of the blindfolded turtle to do a back-flip just as Donny walked in, a triumphant grin on his face. Just as he spoke, his hand slipped out of distraction and he fell to the pile of padding surrounding the rods. "Hey, guys, I got great news about Raph! Oops, sorry about that, little brother!" he apologized to Mikey on seeing him land.

"I told you, Leo, about this, but no-o-o, you wouldn't listen!" he complained, tugging off the cloth. "Anyway, what about Raph?"

"I got the bullet out, so he'll be fine. However," he quickly added, "he wasn't too happy about the stitches. So I'm begging you to not mention them to him, please."

"How many did he get?" the ever-curious-Mikey wanted to know.

"Five. And make sure to keep an eye on him so he doesn't pick at them."

Raphael came into view, murmuring and glaring at his arm. The brothers were awed at how professional Donatello was at a small operation. It looked like he was never shot in the arm, but a line of five little stitches was evident something had happened. The youngest of the four got up and hurried over to his brother, wanting a closer look. He ignored the deadly golden sneer, his wide eyes only on the now-healing wound. "Cool! I want one of those now!"

The others sighed, or in Raph's case growled, a warning sign he was threatening harm. "I can't just give you a set of stitches on healthy skin," Don said, rubbing his temple. "They're there to help close the wound. In about several weeks or less, I'll be removing them and leave a scab, which will eventually disappear, and he won't be able to tell where it was he was shot."

"You're creepin' me out, Mike," the hothead snarled, pushing him away.

"Can I touch it?" he begged. "Just very quick, just to know what it feels like!"

"Like regular thread, only thicker and, erm, pointier. And besides, I haven't got the feelin' back yet."

"And once you do, you'll be feeling pain for a while," his younger brother said. "So be sure to take ibuprofen when it comes."

"How deep was it?" Leo spoke up, silent this whole time.

"Barely just skimming the bone. I got it out okay, but... it wasn't a really pretty sight."

"Gore and blood and all that nasty stuff?" Michaelangelo guessed almost excitedly.

He was smacked across the head. "It wasn't pretty, Mikey! What other adjectives do you need? Gah, I'm goin' to bed. Maybe hopefully when the pain finally does come, I'll sleep through it..." With a half-hearted wave, he exited to head for upstairs.

"Night, big brother!" his youngest brother called, having followed him and was waving wildly. "You've become my inspiration!" He gave a yelp and ducked his head into his shell just as a sai whizzed through and punctured the wall. Slowly, he peeked back out in case he was going to be skewered again.

Raphael stomped back to retrieve it, smacking his brother's head a second time when he was fully exposed. Rubbing his cranium, he turned to Donatello. "Well, I almost got my opportunity."

"Mikey, your whole head would've been a stitch if you lived," he concluded, patting his back. "Come on, let's get to bed."

"Aww, I was going to watch The Tonight Show!" he whined, but followed him anyway. "Coming, Leo?"

"Yeah, hold on. I need to do a few things first," he told them, heading back into the dojo.

The oldest went to the corner for the meditation, sitting down on a mat, legs crossed. He sighed slowly, staring at the ground and shivering slightly. The sounds of his brothers' arguing slowly tuned out as he thought back to the criminals they had stopped. Leo was sure they were picked up by the police, and that family, if any, were contacted. From that one man he had focused on, he imagined his family, having huddled by the phone and listening in horror what the sheriff had to tell them. His mind created the idea his wife gave a shocked gasp at the mention of his crime, and falling to her knees, weeping. Their children, possibly too young to understand, wanted to know what was going on, wondering when their father was going to return. He was very sure they were having financial problems, and knew they weren't going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving like how they planned long before then. Now, the woman may not have anything to be grateful for as her husband was carted off to jail.

It pained him to know there were other families like that, only not all turned to theft in order to please the family. Somehow, he wished that if he knew this man was in trouble, he could've spared him and tried to help. But what's done was done, and nothing could change the past. They can only hope now, as winter creeps in, that everything may get better.

The image of the grieving wife faded, and Leonardo was left with a burden on his shoulders. He knew meditating wouldn't do any good, yet he decided on resting. Slowly, he stood up and exited the dojo, trudging past Splinter without looking at him. Knowing his father and mentor, he could sense problems the brothers had they couldn't see. "Leonardo, what's troubling you?" he asked. "You're starting to sulk."

The addressed student sighed deeply. "One of the men we fought is a married man," he whispered, not turning around to face him. "I worry about his family. From the way he agreed in stealing, but very hesitant to pull out a gun, he didn't have any experience, and it was all from desperation to make his poor family happy. I-I know I shouldn't think about them, but... it's difficult, seeing as we're more fortunate than him."

"If there's one thing you should know, my son," he calmly mentioned, "it's that someone always has it worse than you. They may not be fortunate, but they have more than maybe the family across the street, who may not even have each other to comfort, or even a home. It's not your job to carry these burdens not of your own. For now, focus on what's happening in your life, what with Raphael injured, but sure to heal, and the many fights you may have."

"But... what if they have kids?"

"It doesn't matter. Everyone finds an answer to a problem eventually. Trust me when I say this, Leonardo, but they will make it through one day."

It didn't exactly help, but when he took a breath, he was able to raise his head a bit higher. "I hope you're right, sensei. Thank you."

Splinter nodded. "Sleep well, my son. May you be refreshed in the morning."

"Good night, father." And without another sound, hurried up the stairs for his room. The rat watched him go with weary, worried eyes, before heading into the dojo to snuff out any candles left lit.

I'll update when I can ^_^!