I am the keeper.
The keeper whom no one knows.
The keeper that is hidden.
The keeper of the keepers of my sanity.
The keeper of pain.
So much pain.
All of it's kept underneath a facade of happiness.
It's how I deal.
It's easier, and it works.
Live with your heart, I say, because you're head makes you think, and thinking makes you realize.
This was the day I realized life wasn't fair, and never had been, to me at least.
My name is Michelangelo Hamato.
Wish I never realized.
In the morning it doesn't matter. In the morning, everything is all right. Raph, Donnie, Leo, and I, we're the best of friends. And we have to be. Because we're brothers. We're a team. And we're the best team of mutant ninja turtles in the whole of New York.
Maybe even in the whole world.
It's who we are.
Raph's the muscle, the hothead, the red-clad dork who thinks he's all of that and a bag of chips. My older brother, my hero. He's the guy I can go to if I feel like I need to be yelled at or punished.
If you couldn't guess, me and Raph don't get along that great.
But I love him. Why? He's my brother. I don't need a reason. I love him because he's family, and underneath that hard shell, I know he loves me back.
Leo's the leader, the teacher's pet, the Gary Stu who actually has more personality than that stereotype ever had to offer. My eldest brother, my other hero. He tolerates me more than Raph ever did, but that's because that's what is expected of him. I don't mind.
I do mind, when his tolerance grows thin because he's busy brooding over Karai, or his future, or the next episode of Space Heroes. I also mind when he doesn't take my ideas seriously. Unfortunately, that happens more often than not.
He expects my ideas to be silly and stupid and to have about as much thought as a potato chip. But I do think. Sure, my ideas come out in the spur of the moment, and I blurt them out at random times, but that's not because there's no thought behind them. If he would just take a moment and ponder my ideas and plans, he might notice that some of them do work. But not all of them, I'll admit. What can I say? I'm not perfect.
Donnie's the brains, the nerk, the geek, and whatever other label you wanna slap onto his overflowing cranium. He boasts about how if he took all of our brains and combined them, our IQs wouldn't come close to reaching his. And maybe it won't, maybe it will. The brother who's directly above me in age, I used to think I could go to him with anything.
I learned I was wrong a few years back.
We were just little turtle tots, mere five year olds. I was bored, as per usual, we lived in a sewer, and in those beginning years, there wasn't much to do. I had gone to Donnie, because Leo was busy practicing his stealth training alone, and Raph was in the middle of being grounded for breaking his training sais. Again. Donnie was playing with his chemistry kit that Master Splinter had found for him for Christmas (how he managed to find it in a sewer pipe, I have no idea). I had asked him if he wanted to play with me, mostly because I lacked a penchant for entertaining myself, but Donnie, who I would later learn, was having trouble mixing oil and water into one solution, had blown up.
Literally. His normal chocolate eyes turned an alarming shade of burnt sienna. "Why don't you go play by yourself, Mikey? It's obvious no one wants to play with you!"
You probably can guess the rest. Heartbreak, tears, tantrums, tattling, yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the works.
I didn't talk to him for a whole fifteen minutes, even after he apologized, which I thought was a fitting punishment.
But I did learn to give my brother his space. I was the one who suggested he get his own lab, not knowing that with it, I wouldn't see Donnie for hours on end as he holed himself up, trying to find the next big scientific breakthrough, not that he could share it with the world.
He was a giant, talking, mutant, turtle.
But, I'm getting off track here.
I told you mornings were okay.
And they were.
It's the nights that hit me hardest.
It was easy pretending to sleep. I didn't even have to try. My brothers thought that the moment I hit the bed, I would be zonked out for the next eleven hours, or until my alarm went off, whichever came first.
But actually sleeping was never that easy.
It wasn't really what you would call nightmares, mainly because I was wide awake for the whole time.
And it definitely wasn't a dream.
Because dreams are happy. These were never happy.
"You see why no one ever wants to be with you, Mikey?"
"It's obvious that you're too stupid to even follow a simple order."
"You're a liability to the team. Master Splinter thinks it's best that instead of training in ninjitsu, you train in competitive sock-smelling, since that's all you'll ever be good enough for."
They never leave my head.
My brothers would never say something like that to me, I'm so sure, I'd bet my own life. But every jibe, every joke, every quip, they're stored. Not in my brain, as Donnie would say, there wouldn't be enough room to store every brotherly battle.
No, they're stored in my heart.
Oh, and it had so much room.
Or at least, once upon a time, it did.
Now? I'm not so sure.
I think it's full.
In these fifteen years I've lived on Earth, and grown up, Master Splinter always told me that a heart like mine could never be filled, it was so big.
I'm beginning to think he's wrong.
No, don't get me wrong, I still love my brothers, maybe even more than I ever did. They gave me reality, they made me realize that even though I was loved, I was never the best.
They thought of me as a turtle with a big imagination.
And I was.
My brain was.
But in my heart, I was a realist.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I was goofy.
I was silly, I made jokes, I created my own alter-ego, Dr. Prankenstein.
Yet I was hurt.
Because the only way to conceal the hurt, the only way to be what is expected of you, is to laugh.
In a way, the way I was, was in fact, my fault.
I created myself to be the funny one, the cute one.
Breaking out of that image of myself would be hazardous.
They would see me differently.
Not as a brother, but as some random kook who had wandered into the sewers and kidnapped their fun-loving baby brother.
It was too much.
Too much for me, too much for them.
The way I write my brothers make it seem as if they are the bad guys, and I'm just the perfect, misunderstood turtle.
But I promise you, they're not.
Each one of them has a personality that's too big to hold in one mutant turtle body. Each one of them has interests, dreams and hopes.
Unfortunately, I have never been one of those dreams, or at least, not in the way that they were mine.
But they were all I had, and all I ever wanted.
So, I just wanted to say,
Though you've unintentionally hurt me in more way than I thought possible,
I love you guys.
Stay strong and stay together.
This is my dying wish.
"Any last words, Turtle?" Tigerclaw asked as he walked into the room, holding a syringe filled with a killing liquid.
Michelangelo, who was strapped into a metal chair, with metal bonds strapped around his arms and legs so that he could not escape his death, nodded.
Nonchalantly, he twisted off the metal chain and handed Tigerclaw the letter he had been writing.
"Give this to my brothers," He whispered, as he grabbed the huge tiger by the throat.
With that, he sat back down and re-tied the chains and waited calmly for his death.
Tigerclaw stared at the small green turtle for a moment, his eyes dancing between the bonds and the syringe, overcome with feeling after his eyes scanned the letter in case it was a secret message, which it most definitely was not.
"I'm ready now," Michelangelo said firmly, staring bravely at the needle.
Tigerclaw dropped the syringe and walked out the door.