Disclaimer: I do not own the TMNT or any related characters, Eastman and Laird do.
Authors note: This story is rated R for later chapters, if not a little for this one too, if you don't like to see the TMNT, especially Leo, going through bad stuff please don't read this. It is major character angst. As the description says, Leo suffers a major breakdown after spending eight months in enemy hands. The things that happened to him in those eight months will be told in the story, which is why I've rated it as R.
Oh well, here goes.
He stares into the distance, the trees blowing in the wind creating a soft rustling sound as the leaves collide in a random dance. The idle chatter of crickets in the failing light and the sound of trickling water from the lake as it flows help to sooth his senses and lower his guard. He idly swings his arm back and forth, twisting his hand at each end to feel the water as it pushed against his palm and flowed through his fingers. His eyes slide closed and he breathes deeply, tipping his head back and taking in the sensations about him. He feels the breeze brush past him, it wasn't cold, it wasn't warm either, he decided that it was just right. He sat cross-legged on thick long grass and felt it tickling the outside of his legs, it didn't bother him that much but sooner or later he knew that he would have to scratch. As the sun slowly disappeared he thought about the serenity that he always found here, mainly after an arduous battle where either he or his brothers were injured and needed recuperation. Or just to get away from the bustle of city noise and the chaos that came as a natural daily event for New York, he huffed, at least in the shadows anyway. Chaos was a natural phenomenon in the alleys and side streets, old abandoned warehouses, (why did they always pick abandoned warehouses?) and anywhere else that could contain a Foot ninja. He sighed, slightly frustrated that he allowed those thoughts to surface he cursed himself quietly and pushed them away, he was here to relax after all. He scratched at the side of his legs in frustration, the grass was becoming annoying and it wasn't helping his concentration. He stopped and pressed his hands onto the ground feeling the grass crushed beneath the weight, it was cool and light, almost soft. And damned irritating.
He pushed himself up violently and began pacing back and forth in the small opening of the forest by the lake, his steps were loud, heavy and erratic, the surroundings seemed to notice his change, the crickets stopped chirping. In fact the silence that now came with his frustration was deafening. The trees stopped dancing, the lake stopped moving, the grass no longer pushed its luck with him. Everything became silent. Everything stopped, everything hushed.
He wished the voices would hush, those voices were the only thing that stopped him from being who he once was.
He was Leonardo. Now he's not so sure.
It was so long ago now, the worst moment of his life, the most painful moments of his existence seemed like nothing more than a dream to him but his family are quick to remind him that it wasn't. 'Face facts' they say, 'it happened and you need to deal with it' they say. Well they weren't there. They didn't feel the pain that he had felt, the torture that he had to endure whilst he waited for his family to find him. He tried to escape there's no doubt about that, but it was futile and The Shredder was well prepared. It was all planned out and Oroku Saki had his winnings for his efforts. He gained one turtle and ripped him apart, tore at his very soul and left nothing but an empty husk behind.
How many times had he tried to free himself of the pain? The scars on his body from his own efforts to stop it, to save himself the dignity that they tried so desperately to take from him. And succeeded. His brothers had told him of his condition when they found him and shortly after when they managed to get him home, he wasn't their brother then and he doubted that he was now.
The humiliation of it all was the worst, he hadn't believed that he could ever break under heavy torture…and he didn't, not the way he thought he would anyway. He didn't tell them anything, even after they took his sanity. But then, something snapped, like a rubber band that's been stretched to its limits and finally given up under the strain of it all. Leonardo broke. He gave up trying to fight, he gave up trying to hold back tears and screams, he let go. Saki realised that it was over, he knew that there was nothing more that he could gain from the screaming, cursing animal and ordered his ninja to put the beast out of it's misery.
Leo remembered the cold white room that served as his home for eight months, he remembered the room changing in light and size. It was only later that he found out from Raphael that they had been moving him from place to place to prevent his family from finding and rescuing him.
The white room was supposed to be his final destination, the last thing in this world that he would ever see would be the whiteness that flooded the room, the light reminding him of his failure to maintain his composure under the pressures of torture, the whiteness to remind him of his loneliness, the whiteness, the light.
He hated light, detested it. It laughed at him, reminding him of that past that he tries so hard to push away. He knew that he should turn back and face it, the true path to letting him heal is to face it like the weakness that it is, but he knew that it was easier said than done.
He chuckled lightly at how sane he began to sound and that if his brothers were here they would patronise him with convictions that he was healing and that everything would be all right. He was growing tired of that, the constant reassurances from his family as they 'nursed' him back to health. Nursed.
It was more like treating a sick child and soothing it with words of comfort and promise, 'you'll be okay, Leo' they said, 'you'll be better in no time' they said, 'just give it a little time' and 'we're all here for you' they said. What do they know? They weren't there then and because of that, he resented them. A small part of him knew that they did everything that they could do at the time to rescue him from the pain, but his hate and despair had more strength at the moment and he resented them. The cosy comfortable surroundings that they had available to them whilst he had what? A single white room, a cold floor to sleep on, cold meals that were ridiculously too small to satisfy his hunger and horribly tasteless. In the end, the food stopped coming. The water didn't, but that too was awful, only drunk in desperation and a want for survival.
Leo grimaced at the memory, his pacing increasing in speed but then he stopped and glanced at the large tree that stood looming over him, menacingly showing it's power like Saki had done too many times before, he grew even angrier as his fists clenched and unclenched and he went at it.
His fists slammed into the trunk, pounding faster and faster. He felt the blood begin to creep slowly between his fingers but didn't feel the pain, he needed a release and thinking about it all was useless, action was the answer. He began to scream, more of a battle cry than anything else as he felt the tension slowly loosening its grip on him, flowing out of him with the blood that now dripped to the grass below. He began to feel… better, as if pain could make it all stop, pain unlike what he had endured in Saki's keeping, but a pain nonetheless.
Then someone gripped him, wrapping their arms around his upper arms and pulling back violently, Leo kicked and screamed at the air as his own kind of therapy was so rudely interrupted but the grip about his chest was relentlessly tight. Once far enough from the tree the grip was loosened and Leo wrenched himself free, spinning quickly to glare at the source of his renewed anger. Raphael stood in front him with his arms crossed in an I'm-not-impressed look, his own anger evident on his face. He didn't speak as Leo stared, his shoulders slumped in exhaustion and his chest heaving, his fists clenching and unclenching unaware that they still dripped blood and tainted the grass. Raphael remained expressionless.
"What are you doing Leo?" he asked calmly.
"Leave me alone!" Leo all but shouted, there was venom in his voice, he didn't like the interruption and his brother was the cause. He shook violently, his brothers wanted him to heal and yet when he tries to, they stop him. Did they really want him to get better? Did they really think that words would work when he knew that it was actions that were the true answer?
"What? So you can start pounding the shit outta the tree again? Raph didn't like Leo's outburst, he didn't like his appearance, he looked like an animal that's just made a kill, now it stood standing over it's prey and threatening him to stay away from his dinner.
"Just go AWAY!" Leo turned back quickly towards the tree and when he was near he raised his fist. His anger was building back up and he hated the feeling, he was growing weary of the feeling.
Raph hooked his arm around Leo's and pulled back violently, forcing Leo to spin around and face him, "Stop it Leo, please just stop. Look" he pulled Leo's hands up and held them for him to see, "Look at your hands Leo, look what you've done"
Leo seethed, he knew what he'd done. What did Raph think he was? A child? Didn't he understand that this was the best way? Didn't he realise that Leo was the best person to know what it was that he needed to make him better? He twisted his hands free of his stronger brothers firm grip, forcefully wrenching his arms back and away, one glance into his brothers eyes and he saw something that infuriated him, pity. Damn him, who was he to pity him, who was he to look at him in that way and make him feel so small and powerless. From somewhere deep inside of him, a single feeling pushed it's way to the surface and later on his actions would be shrugged off as an act of insanity by his brothers, he lunged for Raph.
Raph saw his approach and avoided it with ease, sidestepping to the right and grabbing his brother from behind once again. For all his efforts, Leo found it increasingly difficult to break away, soon relenting and slumping to the ground.
"Why won't you just leave me alone? That's all I want. To be alone" said Leo exhaustedly, but it wasn't from the physical exertion, it was from the constant mental pressures over his recovery period, his family pushing him to heal at their pace and not his.
"You can't be alone Leo, that's the last thing that you need right now" Raph lowered to the ground and sat back on his haunches, his arms leaning on his knees as he plucked up a strand or two of grass, rolling it around in his fingers.
"How do you know what I need" Leo half whispered, but the statement alone made Raph look at him.
"You're my brother, you've been through a lot and we're all here to help…" Raph started but he was cut off sharply.
"Just because you're my brother, that doesn't mean you know me"
"I've lived with you for twenty years, I think that says something about how much I know you"
"You lived with him for twenty years, not me. Leonardo died that day, you didn't rescue him like he thought you would, you left him to die and he did" Leo gritted his teeth as he spat his reply, taking delight in Raph's face changing into a more menacing grimace. After a moment Raph's expression softened considerably, he started to realise that his brother wasn't really to blame for his outbursts, that it was just an unfortunate side effect of his condition. Don had said that he was suffering from schizophrenia and that the outbursts, both physical and mental, were attributed to that. That word alone had been enough to scare everyone back into a sense of reality, no one truly believed that Leo was mad because it didn't fit his character, Leonardo the brave, fearless elder brother who would be there for them no matter the cost, his family are his life, he would die for them, he would die to protect them. Death before dishonour. But then the world came to an abrupt halt, the family rescued a brother and son moments before a killing blow could descend upon him, the guards not living much past that moment as rage filled Raphael's heart, the site of his brother kneeling powerless and unaware of the sword that aimed to severe his head meant that his brother was hurt badly. It would take a lot to make Leo just give up like that and he knew that the Foot and Shredder had done terrible things, the scars on his elder brothers body a sure sign of it, but he had to stay calm, he had to get them all to safety and he had to get Leo home. Days after the rescue and Leo was confined to his room, peace was shattered in the lair by the loud piercing screams of torment and hatred that followed from its closed door. No one managed to get much sleep because of it but no one could blame Leo for it either, his reaction simply a natural thing for someone who has suffered psychological and physical abuse for such a long period of time.
Raphael finally let Leo's words sink in, 'you didn't rescue him like he thought you would', he shivered at those words, a thought struck him, a picture becoming clearer in his head, a picture of his brother bound to a table as they tortured him for God knows what, Leo's screams reverberating through the building as Foot ninja laughed at the 'animal' and his brother secretly pleading within himself for his family, begging them to find him and stop his pain. Raphael he shook his head and let a tear run down his cheek as he moved forward and looked into Leo's eyes, he searched his brother's face for some kind of recognition, a ray of hope that there was a part of his brother inside this husk, he needed to know that Leo wasn't just running on autopilot, doing and saying things on command to satisfy his families concerns. Leo suddenly felt uncomfortable at the scrutiny and pushed himself up from the cool grass and moved towards the lake, looking out as the moon cast it's beautiful reflection on the water's almost mirror surface, only distorted as the breeze toyed with it. Leo stood with his arms straight at his sides, looking out into the growing darkness and drawing in the calming influence of the lake's serenity. Raphael stared at him, knowing his brother wouldn't talk anymore and still hurt by his words, he said that his brother was dead, Leo was dead and yet here he was, standing before him staring at the darkening scene ahead. Raphael suddenly realised that this was worse than death, a brother that was here and yet not, alive and yet strangely vacant from his body.
Leo could still feel his brothers gaze, those eyes were probing, searching for something, he was sick of being examined. His captors had examined him relentlessly, making sure that they never pushed too far with the torture, prolonging his agony that much further, then there were the days when Saki would simply sit and stare for hours on end, watching him in his prison, never saying a word, no smile on his face, no grimace, no expression at all. Just staring at him.
Without warning, Leo spun around and stormed away, Raph jumped up quickly to follow but slowed his pace when he realised that he was going back to the farmhouse, he watched him go inside and followed him in.
They were all there, Don with his laptop doing more research, a habit he picked up when the pressure of it all became too much for him and Splinter standing at the bottom of the stairs, indicating that Leo had gone that way. Mike went to follow but Raphael stopped him, "Leave him Mike, he wants to be alone"
"But…" he began.
"No don't, he's angry right now, just leave him" Raphael waved his hand and moved to the couch then slumped into it.
"What happened?" Mike moved over and sat down next to him.
"I found him trying to beat the crap out of a tree, he didn't like it when I stopped him. he would've smashed his hands up if I hadn't of been there" he said wearily.
Don looked up at that, "Is it bad? Should I take a look at him?"
"No, maybe tomorrow when he's cooled off a little. It isn't that bad" he replied.
They turned when they heard a door close quietly, Splinter left without saying a word.
There, all done. I bet you all think I'm crazy now don't you. :)