"Carry on my wayward son

There will be peace when you are done

Lay your weary head to rest

Don't you cry no more"

(Kansas "Carry on my Wayward Son")

Splinter sat on the bed next to his student and inspected the bruise on his head. Raphael hissed in pain at the contact, but knew better than to try to pull away from the examination.

"The swelling has gone down some," the sensei told him with an approving nod. "Have you had any dizziness, My Son?"

"Not for awhile," Raph replied through gritted teeth as the probing continued.

Splinter surveyed the empty food tray on the floor. "You have eaten. Have you experienced any nausea?"

*Only if you count the sick feeling I'm getting waiting for you to lay into me*, Raphael thought bitterly. Out loud he merely said, "No Master." He figured being extra respectful wouldn't hurt at a time like this. Splinter nodded again and moved to the chair.

He folded his hands and gazed at his student carefully.

Raphael met his look for a few seconds and then looked away squirming. He sighed and then blurted out, "Well, go ahead and lecture me already!"

His master looked confused for a second and then smiled in understanding. "I see. You thought that I had planned on chastising you for injuring yourself."

"Well," Raphael began, not quite sure how to answer that. "Yeah. I mean…..aren't you?"

"Should I?"

Raphael suppressed a groan and thought. 'I hate when he answers my question with a question.'

Before Raph could even think of an answer, Splinter continued, "Tell me Raphael, will you ever try to do something like this again? Injure yourself by showing off for your brothers?" He held up a hand. "Do not answer that, because I know the answer. Yes, you will and nothing I do or say is likely to change that."

Raph frowned trying to see where this conversation was headed. It seemed to him that his master was giving up on him, figuring he was never going to change.

He didn't know how to take that. "Master, it's not like it was all my fault." Raphael winced knowing how whiny he sounded and he didn't like it, but he was getting desperate. Splinter wasn't one for letting anyone push blame on others and he wouldn't let Raphael get away with that. "Mike bet me and Don said…..Leo kept distracting me…..and…."

Splinter sighed. "It is not the act itself, but the underlying motivation that is the problem, My Son. And the one that concerns me the most. Your emotions control you a great deal, Raphael." He tapped his student's head gently. "You must learn to think before you act."

Raph groaned, tired of hearing this. "So much for not lecturing me." And then he realized that he had practically demanded that his master lecture him. "You tricked me!"

At that the sensei chuckled. "I was given advance warning that you might not be receptive to any scolding. So rather than waste my breath….."

Raphael seethed. "Leo that loud mouth….." Then he smiled evily. "Hey, Master, did Leo ever tell you the story…."

But Splinter wasn't going to let him change the subject. "You remind me a great deal of myself, Raphael. More so than any of your brothers."

"Huh?" Raph stopped sulking long enough to look up at his master. "What are you talking about? Your emotions don't control you…..do they?"

Splinter shook his head. "No, not now. But in my younger years, yes they did. I had a very hard time dealing with emotions, Raphael. Specifically, my anger."

Raph's eyes widened. He had seen Splinter angry plenty of times, but never did he see him lose his temper to the point of not controlling himself. "I don't understand… I don't ever remember you losing your temper."

Splinter stroked his chin thoughtfully, and then nodded as if he had made a decision. "You were much too young to remember, Raphael. And I am thankful for that. In the first year following our mutation, things were very difficult for me----"


Splinter thought of his home and saw that, after almost a year, things were starting to come together. He had found several blankets and a few cushions to make things a bit more comfortable. And he had finally managed to rig pipes so they had both hot and cold running water. An old toilet that he had scavenged was finally in working order as was a small bathtub. And thank all the gods that his young sons were finally potty trained.

A small room was cleared away of all debris and this he used for his dojo. Hanging on the wall were all the things he could bring from Yoshi's house before the cops raided the place. And in this room the rat was alone going through the katas that his master used to do. One day soon he would start bringing his sons with him in the morning to train. Knowing that when the four of them were old enough they would avenge his master's death was worth all the headaches and worry he went through daily. And he was starting to become quite fond of them.

He found himself watching them grow learn with pride and he took great pleasure in their company.

A sudden crash made him jump and alerted him that at least one of the turtles was up. To his amazement he found his sons all together in what would eventually be their kitchen. Stacked high on a makeshift shelf Splinter kept the few dishes that he had found and this was what the turtles were trying to reach. He gasped because the four of them had decided to use each other as ladders. Two of his sons were kneeling on the floor while the other two climbed on top of their shells trying to reach the shelf. On the floor were shards of glass from failed attempts.

"What are you doing?" Splinter asked. He had startled them and one of the climbers almost fell. The rat ran to catch him and herded the rest out the kitchen before they cut themselves on the glass. Once to safety he asked again.

"What are you doing?"

The one Splinter called Leonardo pointed to the dishes. "Thirssy."

The smallest Michaelangelo nodded eagerly. "Hunrey."

Splinter talked to them frequently and they comprehended what he said. Speech had also been coming to them at a rapid rate in the last few months and they were getting good at making themselves understood. "I see. You want breakfast, correct?"

The little ones all nodded.

"But you should not be climbing to reach the dishes. This is dangerous, understand?'

All but one nodded sheepishly. The other, who Splinter recognized as Raphael, just snorted. Splinter gazed sternly at his rebellious one. "Raphael, there will be no more climbing. If you want something, ask me and I will get it for you."

Raphael returned the glare and then turned away stubbornly and snorted again. Splinter felt himself growing angry. None of his sons liked being told 'no', but Raphael seemed intent on challenging him at every turn. He had heard human parents refer to the "terrible twos", and he hoped that this stage of Raphael's life would pass soon. And he thanked the gods his other sons were not as trying.

Frustrated Splinter said through gritted teeth. "Do you understand? Look at me, Raphael."

It took a few seconds but Raph finally turned to look at him pouting. "Unnerstan," he said.

Splinter nodded and pushed his frustration away. "Now, all of you go and sit down. First I will clean up the mess and then I will get you breakfast."

The rat knelt down and started to pick up the broken glass, carefully trying to avoid getting cut. He realized that he was still breathing hard and his jaw was still clenched in anger at being challenged by the child. He knew from hearing Yoshi talk about the clan in Japan that ninja students did not challenge their master. To do so was foolhardy and lead to the strictest of punishments.

Splinter knew that his students were just small children and teaching them the proper respect would be a slow process that would take patience. He was not a patient rat, but he was willing to learn.

Many, many tiring hours later, Splinter put the turtles down for bed-- this being another exercise in patience. He finally managed to get them all in their room and onto the bundle of blankets that served as their bed, but they refused to lie down.

"Not tired," one complained. In spite of himself, Splinter smiled. This one, Donatello, had been the slowest to speak. And he still rarely said a word, so anything from this turtle was welcome.

"Not tired," Michaelangelo repeated and then yawned. Splinter knew that once he got them to lie down, sleep would be seconds away.

Leonardo was already fast asleep and Raphael was uncharacteristically quiet.

"Go to sleep, My Turtles," Splinter urged. "Perhaps there will be a surprise waiting for you when you wake up in the morning."

"Pizza?" Michaelangelo asked hopefully.

Splinter chuckled. Only once, months ago, had he brought home pizza for dinner and this one never forgot it. "You will have to wait. Go to sleep."

At that the other three curled up in the blankets and closed their eyes.

Splinter waited several hours until the city slowed down before he left their lair to retrieve supplies. During the winter months it had been harder to get what they needed, but it had gotten easier lately. Spring cleaning, he thought.

People had a tendency to throw a lot of stuff away.

The rat had acquired several cans of unopened food that people threw away as well as some broken toys and battered books, which his sons would enjoy once he repaired them. Luck was with him and he found the apartment of someone who recently moved. They had obviously emptied the contents of their cupboards into the trash. Taking all he could carry, Splinter headed home.

Suddenly, he made a sharp turn and doubled back. It had been months since he had last visited and he felt an aching need to return. Splinter hid his bag of supplies in a nearby bush and made his way into the empty apartment.

Over a year had passed, but still it remained unoccupied. No one was eager to rent an apartment that had been the scene of a double murder. An unsolved double murder.

Nothing had really been cleaned. His old cage still sat in a corner where it had fallen in the struggle. The chair where Shen use to hold him was in the center of the room and upon inspection, Splinter saw that it was splattered with blood.

Yoshi's or Shen's or maybe a combination of both he didn't know.

Splinter closed his eyes and when he opened them, he was transported back in time to that last night. Saki, the murderer, was beating Shen. Splinter saw himself in his cage, angrily trying to get out and feeling so helpless to aid her. And then she was motionless and Saki waited in the shadows. The door opened and Yoshi came in. He never had a chance. Saki gave no warning. Splinter's cage was knocked to the floor and before he could do anything it was over. Yoshi was dead and, with a last evil look, Saki was gone. But his face was forever burned into Splinter's memory.

And just as suddenly as it came, the memory faded and the rat stood alone in the room. Anger welled up inside him. The memory of feeling helpless further fueled his rage and his desire for revenge. His students would never be helpless and one day they would carry out his vengeance.

Clenching his fists, Splinter turned and strode out of the room.

When Splinter returned home, it was with the intent on going to his dojo . He was much to upset to sleep and he felt that he had to work off some frustration. He passed the turtles' room on his way and did a double take. Two of his sons were not there. Feeling panicked, Splinter ran to the bathroom hoping they were in there. It was empty. The kitchen, dojo and his bedroom were also empty.

His heart beating faster, Splinter turned his head from side to side when a thumping sound drew his attention. Sooner or later, when the turtles were older and after he was able to secure more blankets, Splinter had the intention of giving his sons their own rooms. In preparation for that, he had already blocked off another passageway. The sound seemed to be coming from there.

He sprinted and was just able to make out a small voice saying, "Kitty. Here Kitty." He looked around but couldn't see the turtle the voice belonged to.

Over in the corner, was two buckets stacked on top of each other. Splinter looked up and there were his two sons edging along the pipes.

One was calling to a rat that was on the end. "Kitty. Come Kitty." The other was falling close behind.

Splinter took a deep breath, relieved that they were safe and then he saw red.

"What are you two doing up there?" he shouted. "Did I not just tell you this morning there is to be NO climbing? And why aren't you in bed?"

His shout startled the two children. One started to fall but the other grabbed him and steadied him. Together they huddled and stared down fearfully at their father who had never before raised his voice.

"Come down here. Now!" Splinter was beyond angry and he didn't want to gain control of it. He had tried being patient. But seeing his old home tonight and coming here to be scared to death at the thought of losing two of his students had pushed him over the edge.

"Kitty," the small turtle said pointing at the rat. Michaelangelo. And he seemed to be offering an explanation. But Splinter didn't care.

"I said come down here now!" Splinter repeated.

The two turtles looked at the drop and shook their heads.

"Can't," the other said. Raphael. Splinter sighed. That figures. This one was going to be the death of him. The two had climbed up onto the pipe with no thoughts of how they would get back down. And if they had fallen, the concrete below would not have provided a soft landing. They could have been seriously hurt.

Splinter reached up and pulled the two frightened turtles down beside him.

"Splinner?" He turned and saw that the other two had left their room to see what the commotion was. They were standing in the doorway regarding him thoughtfully and he saw that they too were scared. Splinter was in no mood to be soothing to them.

"Go back to bed this instant!" he shouted. Wide-eyed and crying, Leonardo and Donatello fled.

He spun to face the two remaining. Michaelangelo had a finger in his mouth and was sobbing. Raphael was just standing there and for some reason this seemed to Splinter like another of the turtle's rebellious challenges. Without saying a word he drew back and slapped the child across the face. Raphael reeled back and fell.

"You will not defy me again! You can not learn if you will not listen! And if you do not learn, I will never regain my master's honor!"

Michaelangelo gasped and then started crying loudly. From the floor, Raphael looked up with tears streaming down his face. Splinter just stared down at him shocked at what he had done.

"Go to bed," Splinter said quietly and then he turned and left them crying.

(End Flashback)

Raphael blinked when his sensei stopped speaking and realized that he had been holding his breath.

"Uh…I don't…I don't remember any of that," he gasped.

Splinter shook his head. "No, I don't expect that you do. And I had hoped that you would not. You all were quite subdued for days thereafter. But eventually, you all seemed to forget and we went from there."

Raphael looked down. He didn't seem to know what to say. Splinter moved to sit beside him and placed a hand on his head. "I never wanted to tell you this story, My Son. But I sat all night long after the incident deciding what to do. I even entertained the thought of leaving, but I knew I cared to much for all of you to do that."

"So why did you tell me?" Raphael asked. It didn't bother him so much that his master lost his temper and struck him when he was small. As mouthy as he was, he would be surprised if that was the only time. What did bother him, was that he knew that it disturbed Splinter for him to know. This must be something the sensei felt extremely guilty for doing.

"Because in the hours before the dawn, I realized my mistake. I had never grieved my master, and I had never come to terms with his death. I buried all my anger instead of dealing with it and in doing so let it control me."

Splinter took Raphael's chin and forced his student to look him in the eye. "I learned the greatest truth. That 'anger clouds the mind…'"

Raphael took up the rest of the line. " '…turned inward it is an unconquerable enemy.' But, I wasn't angry when I tried to break those bricks."

Splinter raised an eyebrow at that. "Oh weren't you? Your brother' refusal to accept your word that you could break did not make you angry?" He let go of Raphael, and the turtle looked down.

He could see his son thinking about what he said and then Raphael finally admitted. "Yeah I guess it did."

Splinter smiled. "Do not worry, My Son. I will continue to help you deal with your anger. And help you conquer it before you have children of your own to lose your temper with."

Raphael laid his head down and yawned. "Fat chance of that ever happening." He closed his eyes. "I'm never having kids. Too much of a pain in the ass."

Despite the language, Splinter chuckled. "Yes, they are."

A soft snoring sound told Splinter that his biggest pain in the ass was sleeping. He got up quietly and went to the door. Before walking out, he turned off the light and looked at the sleeping turtle once more.

He sighed and smiled. "But they can be oh so rewarding."

Splinter closed the door.

Everyone, all together now…"awwwwwww!" A year after first starting this fic, I'm finally done! Hope you guys liked it.

BTW…I know I have several stories that I have started and have yet to finish. I'm trying to decide which one to move on to next so if anyone has any preferences, I'm listening. And that does include the new one too.

(Going off to pop some champagne and celebrate now. I'll save everyone who gives a final review some) : ) But you must be over 21. EG