A/N: This contains spoilers for Exodus (end of season 3) and season 4 of the new cartoon series. If you don't wish to know, then stop reading now! I do now know the real reasoning behind Leonardo's behavior, but here is one possibility. Pi90katana has written a story exploring Leo's behavior called 'Hardness' (go read it, it's excellent!) and there are some parallels between that and this one, but this is it's on story not tied to that one in anyway..
There are three four letter words that create themes in this story. One is explicitly mentioned. The net is an analogy for another, and the final one is harder for Leo to explain. Though it will play a role if I decide to write more from other POVs.
Disclaimer: I've done this! I've done this over and over again! If anyone still thinks I own the turtles they are in for a wake up call. I own nothing, I am paid nothing, and I mean no harm. Please don't sue.
My katana slice through the air. They move quickly, and a light shizzing sound follows their trajectory. Though my mask is turned sideways over my eyes so I cannot see my targets, I still know exactly where they were. I don't need to see my target to hit it. Each move is clean, sharp, perfect. Flaws cannot be tolerated. To allow a flaw could spell death to myself or my family. That cannot be permitted. Flaws, imperfections, mistakes, every single one has to be corrected, no matter what the cost. The lengths to which I will go to protect my family have no limits. That is why I do this. It's for them, for me, for our continued survival. We have come too close, too often. Without them I am nothing.
Too kind, she called me. She proved the truth of her words moments later. My weakness, my curse. Weaknesses are flaws which must be eliminated to ensure our survival. That is why I do this. I let her get too close and it nearly cost me everything. My brothers knew she was bad news and tried to prove it, Raphael especially. Maybe he was just more vocal about it. Not long before our final battle with the Shredder, Don made a comment about her being more than willing to run me through if it came to that. He didn't elaborate on the statement, but I doubt that I would have listened anyway. I wanted to think the best of her. If I had had her resolve then, things may have been very different that day, would have been very different now.
It is not too late to find that resolve, that edge. Sharp, cold, lethal, just like the blades I carry. If that is what I must become, then so be it. A blade can take on a life of its own, become more than merely a weapon. It becomes a part of you, an extension of you. Or maybe I am becoming an extension of it.
Sharp. Crisp, precise movements and a knowledge of what is coming.
Cold. Ice, in a layer around my heart that can no longer be broken. It is thick and well maintained by the now frozen core. No one will get through this wall. I let her in and I got burned, that cannot be allowed to happen again.
Lethal. Deadly to any who threaten my family. Acting before the problem can really take root. Removing potential enemies before they can truly exist.
I feel my katana slice precisely through the wick of each candle as I make my way through the kata. It is just low enough to extinguish the flame without harming the wax. I cannot see them, but I do not need to. I can feel them, sense them in ways that are truer and more reliable than sight could ever be. I do not see them, I know them
I was kind to her, I cared about what happened to her. Once upon a time, I actually wanted something better for her. What a fool I was. She didn't want my help, and she didn't need my interference. I should have killed her when I had the chance. That is not a mistake I will be making again. The opportunity will present itself, and when it does, she will not live to see the next sunrise. Her days are numbered, her clock slowly ticking down to its last second. The eleventh hour is here, and I must be prepared. Only with preparation and the resolve that I lacked in our last encounter can I remove the threat to my family. A threat that has existed for far to long as it is.
This is what I must do, there is no way around it. The moment of our final meeting will come and when it does, I must be ready. In the meantime, I do what I have to in order to be prepared. I seek out those who might get in the way when the time comes, and I dispose of them. They cannot be allowed to interfere.
Only two candles remain and I can feel Donatello watching me from the doorway. He seems kind of lost lately. I think he's been putting on a show for our benefit for a long time now. Since before that final battle with the Shredder. I don't know what it's about, but whatever it is, it needs to be dealt with before I confront Karai.
Two more candles, one more and finish.
I sheathed my blades and turn my mask so I can see again. By the time I did so, Donatello was gone. I don't think he really wanted to talk to me. He hasn't spoken to me in a long time. None of my brothers have. I can't deny that Raphael and I have argued, but as far as a normal, everyday conversation, no one has ventured a word. Or maybe I haven't spoken with them. Conversations are something that I cannot afford right now. If I am talking, I am not preparing for the final confrontation.
Donatello's presence lingers here in the dojo, though he does not. There is something new in it. Something recent that I can no longer recognize. Perhaps there are two feelings there, or even more, but they have been lost to me long enough now that I cannot discern what they are.
One of those new feelings is not unique to my brother in purple. It is common to everyone in my family, and I can tell that it concerns me. Part of me wishes to understand what it is, and knows that it is important, even urgent. I can't help but feel like I would have instantly recognized the feeling a year ago, and possibly acted upon it. That was then, and this is now. I am who I am, and I cannot change what circumstances have forced upon me. I became what I had to become, and I do what I have to do. Anything less could mean death for me or a family member. Unacceptable.
Perhaps it's the second lingering new feeling that frustrates me the most. I have an extremely urgent sensation that it is more important than the rest. I take a deep breath, close my eyes and absorb the last of the evanescent presence, finally withdrawing as the individual who created it had moments ago. I take it back. The second feeling is not new, but rather a new extension of something that was already there. The new extension is unique to Don and I can't see where it ends, but my whole family shares the general feeling. It wraps around each of them like a comforting blanket and binds them together. It suspends them in a protective net. If one strand fails there are hundreds more to catch them until the strand can be repaired or replaced. I know that I am a part of this net, but at the same time, I feel separated from it. I can reach out and see the net, but I cannot understand what it is anymore.
Raphael's contribution is strong and unyielding, yet those it protects are free to move within it. If they stray, his strands simply follow them. Even when he is angry the net remains in place and powerful. It takes a while for a new strand to be constructed, but once it is in place, nothing can break it.
Michelangelo's strands are light, stretchy and flexible. They mold and dance, and are given freely without expectation of anything in return. His contribution can only be broken by those it surrounds; those outside cannot affect it in any way. With Michelangelo, even a strand torn by one it once protected can be easily repaired and replaced. Those who break free of Mikey's strands are not entirely set adrift, and the strands can be earned again in short order.
Donatello adds a more nebulous feeling to the net. His contribution is always there, but it doesn't take a concrete form the way the parts created by Raphael or Michelangelo do. His essence is mutable, changing, it adapts to what is required. In one place it might be as strong, hard and sharp as a diamond, while in another it is as soft and comforting as a favorite pillow. He doesn't give strands as freely as Michelangelo does, but his are not as hard to earn as Raphael's are either.
Master Splinter has a little bit of everything. Some strands are given as freely as Michelangelo's are, but with time and trust they can evolve into the powerful bonds Raphael offers. He also fills holes in the net with a nebulous, shifting presence similar to the one Donatello adds. Master Splinter's presence is also a guiding and reinforcing one. If I watch, I can see him showing Michelangelo who he cannot trust, Raphael who he can, and Donatello what is needed where.
April and Casey add to the net in their own unique ways, filling gaps and strengthening weakened bonds. Their presence is new by comparison, but nevertheless they have become an integral part of the net, and part of my family. I protect them as I would my brothers or Master Splinter.
Myself, I do not know what my strands look like, or even if they are present in the net anymore. I feel like I have been pulling away from the net that I can no longer explain. I can sense it, I know it's there, but I do not know what it is. Perhaps this is the price I must pay to protect them. A piece of me is insisting that the net is necessary, even more important than life itself. How that can be, I do not understand. Nothing is more important than the lives of my family members, what could be? A little more ice forms around my heart and I pull a little farther away from the net that intertwines my family members and holds them together.
Even as I pull away I can feel the net weakening so I must still be a part of it, but what it is eludes me. I cannot fathom why it is important so I continue to extricate myself. I do this so that they may survive, for that is all that matters. Everything comes down to their survival, and I will stop at nothing to ensure that survival. As long as I breathe, I will not allow harm to come to any of them. That is why I train. That is why I continue to prepare for what I know must happen eventually.
I relight the candles, turn my mask and unsheathe my swords. Breathing deeply, I prepare myself for the kata once again. I cannot stop now, I am not ready. This evening I shall go out and search for those who pose a threat, and I shall eliminate them. That is what I have done since the showdown with the Shredder, and that is what I shall continue to do until it is no longer required to ensure the survival of my family. The final hour is here, and I am not yet prepared. My family may not accept what must happen, but I do. I will be ready when the final minutes arrive and I will protect them in every way I know how. I will keep them alive at all costs for they are my family and I know no other way.
Donatello is at the door again. I can feel how unsure he is. A bright warmth, a fire I have never felt from him, or perhaps have forgotten, envelops me. It threatens the walls I have created and I pull away from him again, severing more connections in the strange net. I can feel his questioning gaze on my back. He doesn't understand what I have become anymore than I understand that net, but that doesn't stop him from trying. By the end of my kata he is gone again, leaving me to my own devices and continued preparation. The final hour is here, and Karai's endgame will be coming more quickly than any of us expect. I will be prepared when that time comes and my family will remain intact when the game is over. That is my promise to them and to myself. I do what I have to do to ensure their safety and survival, nothing more, nothing less.
I may have been too kind then, but that weakness has been obliterated through sheer force of will. I cannot afford to be kind, not when my family's survival is on the line.