A/N: Just a small look at Leonardo, and how he may truly feel regarding his brothers.

Disclaimer: Not mine, never has been, never will be. I'm just enjoying myself.

"There's nothing but the rain/no footsteps on the ground/I'm listening, but there's no sound." – Avril Lavigne, I'm With You

Solitude's Price

In the center of a room, the only light a single candle, a lone masked figure sits on a tatami mat. On the walls around him are weapons of various types: Swords, staffs, daggers, nunchucks. The room is straightened up after the earlier practice, the weights in their proper places on the racks against the walls, the practice mats piled up next to them. The individual is seemingly oblivious to his surroundings, sitting in a meditative pose, trying to focus.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

His concentration is broken by the sound of laughter drifting in from the living room.

Slowly, he lifts his head, and for a few moments just listens to them, a smile appearing on his usually solemn face. His brothers sound like they're all enjoying themselves. For once, Mike's not playing jokes or baiting Raph, and Raph isn't poking fun at Donnie's sitting at his computer. For once, Donnie is taking a break, taking the time to be with them instead of poring over his computer, fixing something, or manning the security system. Of course, Mike had to tease him to join…

His smile fades. Mike had tried to get him to join as well.

"Come on and join us, Leo! Splinter said we could have a break tonight and the movie's one we all like!"

"We need to get rest before our practice in the morning, Mike. Besides, we would be better served strengthening our minds as well. I plan to meditate before sleep tonight, and I do hope that the three of you will join me."

"But Leo…"

"Ah, forget it, Mikey. This is Mr. Responsibility we're talkin' about. He doesn't know the meaning of the word 'fun'."

"We need to be fully prepared, should the Foot attack, Raph. We just can't waste time fooling around!"

"Whateva. We're watchin' the movie."

Mike and Raph left the room to set up the DVD for the movie. After a moment of hesitation, Don started to follow. Leo couldn't believe it and lashed out.

"You believe in responsibility as much as I do. How can you just go out there and waste your time watching a mindless movie instead of helping this family as you should?!"

Don sighed and responded, "I don't disagree with you, Leo. But this project I'm working on is draining me, and I think this will help me focus, strange as it may sound."

Leo snorted.

"Do what you like, then. I'm going to the training room."


Without another word, Leonardo turned and went to his meditation.

Leonardo shakes off the memory, and attempts to return to his meditation.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Loud laughter again distracts him for a moment. He stops and sighs. How he wants to join them, wants to prove that he is not the cold, emotionless being his brothers all seem to think he is. He is only trying to be prepared for every possibility, and this is why he practices to the exclusion of all else. This is why he is so insistent on them practicing and why he gets annoyed when they fool around and waste time. Should the Foot attack, they will take advantage of every mistake and mistakes are something that cannot be afforded. Every mistake is potentially lethal.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

He stops. Now he can hear them discussing some point in the movie, something that Donnie is insisting is a physical impossibility. Raph is telling him to just shut up and enjoy himself, and "stop tryin' to analyze it, Braniac! It's just a movie!"

Leo sits still and just listens for a moment. How he wants to join them. He does, but he can't. He needs to be ready just in case. And yet…

No. No, he needs to be prepared. He is the eldest, they are his responsibility.

Once more, laughter is heard.

His resolve wavers. Maybe it won't be so bad, just this once.

He blows out the candle, stands up, and starts towards the door.

Just before exiting the room, he stops.

I can't.

He reaches out and closes the door, shutting out the sound of the movie, the voices, and the laughter.

I can't afford to show any signs of weakness, no matter how badly I want to join them. No matter what it costs me. My brothers need me to be prepared for them, especially if they aren't prepared themselves.

He returns to the mat, sits down, and relights the candle.

He slips into his meditative pose, and bows his head, ignoring the tears sliding down his face.

Nothing is more important than their safety. Nothing. One day they will understand my sacrifice.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out…

I just wish it wasn't so painful.

"I walk a lonely road/the only one that I have ever known/Don't know where it goes/but it's only me and I walk alone." – Green Day, Boulevard of Broken Dreams