Ch 4, Ghost of Christmas Past.

"Leo, Donnie, Mikey!" Raph called out as he ran from room to room, "Where is everyone!" He ran back to the living space and toward the kitchen. He stopped just inside the doorway and looked around in dismay. The kitchen was dark and everywhere he looked, he saw nothing but broken down appliances, cobwebs and filth. "What's happened here?" He whispered as he made his way toward the turnstiles. He looked around the lair in shock, "Where did everyone go?"

He ran out of the lair and into the sewers, eventually making his way to the nearest manhole cover. Squeezing his eyes shut, he pushed the cover off and carefully stepped out. He opened his eyes and saw, to his dismay, a desolate world.

There were no humans anywhere so he started down a deserted street, noting all the abandoned buildings were either broken or had crumbled to dust. The day was cold and grey and the wind blew hard. "Where is everyone!?" He called out.

A noise from behind had him jumping into a fighting stance; he turned around and prepared to do battle. But he stopped and stared up in surprise upon seeing a black hooded figure standing in the distance.

"Who are you!?" Raph demanded as he cautiously walked toward him, but the figure did not respond, "Do you know what's happened here?" He again demanded but again the figure stayed silent. "Are you the third ghost I was told about?" He asked nervously as his eyes roamed over the foreboding figure, "I was kind of expecting someone who looked like my little brother Mikey." When the figure still did not respond, Raph huffed at him, "Can you at least talk to me and tell me what's happened here?" He waved his hands around the area, "Everything looks abandoned, broken down like….like some sort catastrophic event took place and all the people were…." Raph shrugged hopelessly, "Oh, I don't know, killed or something horrible like that?"

The figure lifted his arm and pointed to his right. Raph followed his gaze and saw the cemetery in the distance.

"Do you want me to go there?" He asked. The figure nodded and Raph started toward the cemetery gate. He stopped just in front of a large black stone with writing carved into it, "Dedicated to the millions of New Yorkers who lost their lives in the Mutagen attack, 9/22/2060." Raph read aloud. He looked at the black robed figure, "Everyone was destroyed?" He asked, his voice barely a whisper, "Even my brothers, my friends?"

The figure again raised an arm and pointed into the distance where Raph saw nothing but a desert wasteland.

"Is this my future?" He asked as he stared hard at the emptiness, "To be alone, with no family no friends, no…nothing?" He shook his head hard and pressed his eyes into his hands, "Alright I get it!" He cried out, "Life is short and I have to appreciate every moment I have with my friends, my family, my brothers!" He looked out into vast desert, "Live for all Christmases, the ones in the past, the present and the future!" He wailed and fell to his knees, "Please, I don't want this!" He sobbed, "I want to be with everyone while I still have the chance, please take me back!" He rubbed his tired red eyes and turned back toward the figure. "Please tell me this doesn't have to be like this, that I still…." Raph gasped in shock and fell back onto his shell upon seeing the figure had removed his hood, "What the….Mikey!"

The orange banded turtle shook his head and chuckled, "I'm not Mikey dude," The turtle told him, "I'm the Ghost of Christmas Future, but wow, you really need to chillax." The Ghost walked away from Raph and pointed to a cloud of dust moving toward them, he turned back to Raph who was staring hard into the distance where he could see four figures on a strange vehicle racing toward them, "You need to understand Raphael that the future may be an uncertain thing but it doesn't have to be a frightening thing. You just really do need to make the most of the time you have with everyone, to remember who your family and friends are and to keep them close to you, not just in here," He said pointing to his head, "But also in here," He placed his hand on his chest where his heart was. He turned back to Raph, "Because one day, yeah dude, life as you know it will change." He walked back to the red turtle, "So be grateful for what you have today Raph," He waved his hands in the air, "Because who knows what tomorrow will bring," He waved his hands and Raph watched everything disappeared and he suddenly found himself inside a grave with dirt piling up around him while 'Mikey' stood in front of him laughing.

Raph gasped as he watched the dirt fill the grave, "No please," He cried out as he attempted to climb above the dirt before it covered him, "I don't want this! Please take me back to the lair, let me be with my brothers again!" He desperately grasped at the apparition's black robe in hopes of pulling himself out of the grave, tugging and digging his claws into the ghost's leg, but 'Mikey' ignored his pleas as he continued to laugh at his plight, "I don't want to be alone! I want to...to?" As Raph flailed around, he realized the cloth was no longer a black robe but was now his white sheets and where the head of the ghost should have been was now his pillow. Raph sat up and realized he was now back in his room.

Raph pushed the sheets away from him and ran toward his door. He opened the door and stepped out into the hallway and smiled widely upon seeing his home was as it had been the night before, still standing with everything still in place.

"I'm back!" Raph cried out joyously as he ran down the hall and into the living area, "I'm home and everything looks great!"

"Raphael?" Raph turned to see Leo walking out of the dojo, "What's going on?"

"LEO!" Raph yelled and ran toward his brother. Before Leo knew what was happening, Raph had his arms wrapped around his body and was hugging him tightly, "Oh wow am I glad to see you!" He cried as he swung his bewildered brother around in a circle.

"What is going on?" Mikey's voice came from the hallway.

Raph stopped twirling his blue banded brother and put him down. Leo steadied himself and shook his head as he watched Raph run over to Mikey and grabbed him in a hug, "Mikey, oh wow I thought I'd never see you again!"

"Whoa dude," Mikey cried out in surprise, "I thought you said you'd never hug me again!"

"Raph, what has gotten into you?" Donnie asked as he watched his red banded brother drop Mikey.

"It's Christmas!" Raph yelled as he gave Donnie a huge hug.

Donnie couldn't help but chuckle as Raph attempted to lift him up, "Okay Raph, yes it's Christmas but…" He breathed a sigh of relief when Raph placed him back on the floor, "But why are you acting like this?"

"Yeah, and why so early in the morning?" Mondo asked as he walked around Donnie.

"Mondo, I'm so glad to see you!" Raph cried out.

Mondo looked at him in shock, "You are?" The large gecko looked from one turtle to the other, "Did I miss something?" He asked.

"Oh guys, I'm just glad to be alive and here with you," He smiled brightly as he looked from one happy and bewildered face to another, "With you on this special day," He stopped speaking and suddenly looked concerned, "Wait, it is still Christmas day isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is Raph," Leo said, "Very early Christmas day."

"Of course it is!" Raph shouted, laughing uncontrollably, "And why shouldn't it be, after all, the ghost can do it all in one night, right?"

"Um, yeah right Raph," Mikey said as he looked at his brother in concern, "Should we be worried about him?" He asked Donnie.

"I'm not sure yet," Donnie whispered back.

"Oh bros, you will not believe the night I had," Raph told them, "Everything I learned and…." He looked from one eager face to another, "And I realize I was wrong and I'm sorry," He told them as he finally calmed down. "I know we're all still sadden by Master Splinter's passing," He said, "But I need to remember we still have each other and we're still a family, and as long as we have that," He placed his arms around his brothers shoulders and brought them in close, "We'll never be alone." He looked over at Mondo, "And you are always welcomed here Mondo," He told him, "Because you're family too."

"Wow, thanks Raph," Mondo said as he watched the four turtles hug each other.

"Hey guys," Raph continued breathlessly, "Lets open presents, have a special Christmas breakfast then get ready to go to April's house, I'm so looking forward to having a party!"

"Sounds good Raphie," Mikey said as they walked into the dojo.

The four turtles and Mondo spent the morning exchanging gifts, laughing and having a grand time while enjoying a meal of pizza omelet prepared by Mikey as Raph recounted his 'dream'. Later, as they prepared to go to April's house, the turtles cleaned the dojo and gathered up the presents for their friends.

"Wow Raph," Donnie was saying as he placed the presents in a sack, "Sounds like you had quite the epiphany during that dream of yours."

"Yeah," Raph responded as they started toward the door of the dojo, "And I'm sure glad I did."

"We are too Raph," Leo told him walking slightly behind them.

As he watched his three brothers and friend walk out the dojo, he smiled slyly and looked back at the picture of his family on the altar, "Thank you Master Splinter," He whispered as he turned off the lights. He chuckled slightly and followed his brothers out the lair.

~End~

And to quote the great Charles Dickens, 'God bless us, everyone.'

Hope you all enjoyed my story, please R&R and peace :)