The Art of Perfection
"Again, Leonardo," Splinter ordered firmly, his black eyes glimmering in the din of the room, his voice not sounding as though he had been speaking for the past four hours straight.
"Yes, Sensei," the blue-banded turtle stated, his voice soft, containing every bit of disappointment in himself that he secretly thought he saw in his father's eyes.
They'd been practicing the same move for over an hour now, and he still couldn't get it right. For some reason, every time he went to step into the lunge, his feet would slip or his aim would be a few inches off; thus missing his target, leaving him none too pleased.
The session had begun at seven o'clock that evening, and from the way his body was feeling, it was more than likely close to midnight. Plus the fact that Mikey's snores could be heard throughout the surprisingly quiet lair pretty much gave that away.
But he wasn't going to quit. Not until he got the move right, and that was that.
The foursome had just turned fifteen recently, and along with the new age came new responsibilities, even more so for Leonardo.
Training sessions were becoming longer, whilst free time was growing shorter. Not that that actually mattered much to him. He knew what was coming, and that they were going to have to be prepared for it no matter what. Convincing his brothers to be as readily to train as he was a whole other chore in itself.
Donnie was always too busy with some new invention; Mikey was too busy playing video games; and Raph, Raph just didn't really give a damn.
Especially if it had anything to do with listening to Leo. The older the red-banded turtle got, the more rebellious he was growing; and the rift that was coming between him and Leonardo grew.
It seemed as though with each new day, an argument would erupt from the simplest of words, driving the two further apart; a fact that Leo was beginning to hate.
He sighed as he wiped the sheet of sweat from his forehead, his chest aching with each breath he took, his arms feeling heavy and lead-like. It only took a second for Master Splinter to see that the fifteen year old's arms were shaking from exhaustion.
"We will continue this tomorrow, my son. You've done well today," he conceded with a faint smile, gently laying a furry paw on his son's sweat-drenched shoulder.
His sapphire orbs immediately fell to the floor of the dojo, ashamed of himself for being unable to complete the moves that seemed so simplistic when Master Splinter did them. His shoulders moved forward slightly, the weight of the world already beginning to weigh him down.
"Yes, Master." His timid voice was so soft that the older rat almost didn't hear it.
"Leonardo, do not be so hard on yourself. You are still young and have much to learn. Please, rest. It has been a long day." He was trying to be as comforting as possible, but from the looks of things, the oldest turtle just wasn't going to hear it.
With a nod, the fifteen year old sheathed his twin katanas, bowing before he exited the dojo. Anger flared through his veins as he made his way to the bathroom, cursing himself silently for his imperfection.
He was trying desperately to ignore the pain and soreness that burned with each step he took, particularly in his calves and feet. And the nausea that was creeping through his stomach didn't help matters any. He'd forgotten to eat supper that night, too interested in the new moves Splinter was going to teach him.
But eating was the farthest thing from his mind at the moment, the urge to go right back into the dojo and continue to practice until he nailed the move. He hesitated before entering the bathroom, listening silently as his father made his way to his living quarters.
Taking a deep breath, Leo stood there, waiting fifteen minutes before creeping back down the stairs and into the dojo. Steadying himself, he pulled his twin katanas free from their sheathes once again, releasing them through the quiet lair air.
His sapphire eyes gleamed mysteriously, his brow narrowed in hurried determination. He had to get the damned moved right. He just had too!
His arms burned as he twisted and turned the swords, lunging and drawing them back at just the precise moment he was trained to. A pang of exhilaration flooded through his nervous system, his legs and arms in sync with each other as they were supposed to be; for the first time that night.
And then he stumbled, nearly falling straight to the floor.
Dizziness swam across his vision, forcing the teen to lean against the wall of the dojo, feeling helpless until the lightheaded feeling went away.
Letting out a discouraged sigh, Leonardo prepared himself again for the complicated kata, bracing his unsteady body as he began the exercise once more. Nausea infiltrated his stomach as soon as he made it through the first stage of the activity, but he continued to ignore the feeling, clenching his jaw so tight it felt as though his teeth were going to break.
By the time he had finally completed the lesson(although he was hardly satisfied with his performance), he was completely covered in sweat, his blue bandanna a sleek shade of black.
The eldest of the four made his way up the stairs and to the bathroom, struggling the entire time whilst trying to undo the saturated cloth. He finally got it off just as he reached the door, his hand trembling violently as he turned the knob.
His lungs throbbed painfully in his chest, exhausted from the amount of oxygen they had attempted to take in during the teen's too long training session; and the rest of his fatigued body wasn't doing too well either.
Painstakingly, Leonardo removed the leather strap that kept his katanas nearby, setting them down gently as he forced himself into the shower, slight tremors wracking his arms and legs. He quickly turned the hot water on, thankful as the substance rained down upon his sore muscles, his blue orbs closing in the process.
Physically, he was beyond exhausted. This was the third time that week his private training session with Master Splinter had lasted for more than three hours.
And it was only Wednesday.
He'd never felt so drained in his life, and the fact that he'd probably only get an hour or two of sleep wasn't going to help his situation any. But he had to train, he had to get every move correct, because he knew if the moment would ever arise and a fight would befall them, he had to be prepared. It would be his fault if they lost, and it would be his fault if he somehow failed to protect them, which he knew he was fully capable of doing.
Master Splinter had chosen him for a reason, and he couldn't let his father down. No matter how many times he seemed to.
A quiet sigh left his lips as he opened his eyes and reached for the hot water knob, knowing it was about to run out. Noiselessly, he dried himself off and gathered his things, almost making it out of the room until he glanced at himself in the partially foggy mirror.
His brow narrowed further as he came closer to the reflection, something seeming off about his appearance. He bit his bottom lip, studying the semi-circles that were forming underneath his eyes, though he hardly paid them any heed. But that wasn't it...it was something else.
A knock on the door jerked him from his thoughts, his heart nearly jumping right out of his chest at the sudden disturbance.
Is it that late already?, the panicked idea raced through his head, his weary orbs searching the room for the time even though he knew there wasn't a clock in there.
His body screamed at him as he hurriedly unlocked the door, relief washing over him as a half asleep Mikey pushed past him and over to the toilet.
He immediately made the short trek to his room, carefully setting his katanas in their rightful place on the storage rack, and his bandanna on the nightstand.
The red numbers on the digital clock flashed before his eyes, the time making the panic that had resorted to being dormant kick back into full gear.
"Five twenty?" Leo murmured to himself, his muscles already threatening to collapse on him. Shaking his head, he sat down on the bed, considering the thought of just staying up instead of taking the forty minute nap that awaited him.
It took less than five seconds for his body to answer.
He could barely even lift his arm high enough to shut the beeping clock off, his worn muscles trembling beneath his jade skin. A very quick battle raged within him, one voice telling him to just go back to sleep; the other, more reprimanding voice reminding him that it was time to get up, regardless of how he felt.
Slowly, he sat up, dizziness already plaguing his sapphire orbs. He tried his best to shake it off, forcing himself to his feet as he reached for his bandanna. A sigh escaped his lips as he realized it was still soaked with sweat from his workout, only a patch of the normal blue color visible to the naked eye.
"Great, how am I going to explain this to the others?" the question tumbled out of his mouth, his hands shakily tying the cloth around his head. "Maybe they won't even notice," he murmured, tiredly making his way out of the small room and downstairs into the kitchen.
From the looks and sounds of things, his brothers still hadn't made it up yet, leaving him to a lone table with plenty of opportunity to nap on while the others rose.
No, you can't. You've got to start your warm up exercises. Don't forget what Master Splinter said. A ninja must be prepared and alert at all times. You must be disciplined.
Shaking off his thoughts, he went over to the sink, grabbing a clean glass from the dish strainer and filling it up. It took less than a couple seconds for the water to disappear from the tumbler. Taking in a deep breath, the fifteen year old achingly made his way into the dojo, dread building in the back of his mind. He was actually beginning to wonder if he was going to be able to make it through the day.
Forcing his arms and legs to flow into motion, he began his first kata, something simplistic to start out with, for the sake of his pleading body. His muscles and tendons screamed at him as the blue-banded turtle moved into action, ignoring the soreness and pain that was starting to sear through his poorly rested body.
Dizziness charged at him once again, but Leonardo let the feeling go unnoticed, continuing with his early morning workout. It didn't take long for the sweat to come, running down his cheeks and thoroughly staining his bandanna further.
"Hey, Leo," Don's voice seemingly came from out of nowhere, completely removing the eldest turtle from his thoughts.
"Hey," Leonardo replied back, breathless. Wiping the sweat from his forehead, he glanced up, inwardly noting the concerned expression on Donnie's face. "What's up?"
"Um, it's time for breakfast. Just thought I'd let you know." His chocolate orbs searched the leader for a moment, silently studying every aspect of the blue-banded turtle before quietly exiting the room without another word.
"Right," Leo muttered, his brow narrowing a bit. He taciturnly retreated back to the bathroom for a quick shower before making his way into the kitchen.
His brothers were seated at the kitchen table, each with their own separate food of choice. Don was busy tinkering with some new gadget, nibbling on his toast when the need arose. Raph was munching on a bowl of Coco Puffs whilst arguing with Mikey about some new video game they had come across; and Mikey, well, Leo wasn't exactly sure what he was consuming.
Letting out a silent sigh, he went over to the cupboard and removed a bowl and a box of Cheerios. He stared at the box for a moment, an argument waging within his head. To be honest, he wasn't really hungry; but he knew he hadn't eaten in over sixteen hours, a bad habit he had been increasingly guilty of as of late.
"You just expect 'em ta jump into tha bowl on their own, Leo?" Raph's voice came from behind, earning a laugh out of his youngest brother.
"What? No," Leo murmured, slowly pouring himself some of the little round O's. Adding a little milk, he extracted a spoon from the cutlery tray and sat down.
"What'd you do, shower with your bandanna on or somethin'?" It was Raph again, and it was apparent that he was determined to press Leo's buttons, a small smile creeping over his mouth.
"Yeah, I forgot to take it off," Leo offered up the sarcastic remark with a smirk, his sapphire eyes gleaming.
Raphael stared at him unsurely for a moment before returning back to his previous conversation with Mikey, something the eldest turtle was mutely thankful for. He really wasn't in the mood for an argument right now.
His attention soon drifted to the bowl in front of him, an acidic taste teasing the back of his throat. Swallowing it down, he lifted the spoon up to his lips, taking a small bite of the harmless cereal. As soon as it left his mouth and whirled down his esophagus, he could feel the urge to vomit immediately, his body rejecting the small amount that he was attempting to put into his stomach.
"Whoa...You okay, bro? You're looking a little...green!" Mikey quipped, laughing hysterically at his own joke, and almost spilling the contents of his mouth across the table.
"'ey, watch it, shell fa brains. The last thing I want is somethin' from your mouth gettin' inta mine," Raph stated, his brow furrowed.
"Ditto," Donatello mumbled, pushing his chair further away from the table, eying his younger brother carefully.
"Michelangelo is right, my son. You do look a little under the weather. Perhaps you should rest today," Master Splinter's voice came from behind, a furry paw slowly making its way to Leo's forehead.
He didn't know why, but for some reason the blue-banded turtle jumped at his father's touch, instantly regretting the reflex.
"I'm fine, Sensei, really." Leo's voice was soft and apologetic as he spoke, inwardly afraid that he had somehow upset the older rat. His weary gaze rested on the bowl of now soggy cereal, his appetite's whereabouts unknown.
"Are you sure, Leonardo? You haven't even touched your breakfast," Splinter noted, gesturing towards the still full bowl of toasted oats.
"I'm actually not all that hungry," Leo admitted, standing to his feet. Purple and blue spots danced before his eyes, his vision blurring badly. His brothers faces transformed into mere blots of green, the room spinning as though he'd just ran in circles fifty times.
It took more than a few seconds for the fifteen year old to compose himself, silently praying no one had noticed his sudden silence or stiffness. And as his sight cleared, it was quite obvious it hadn't. Or so he thought.
Glancing around the room, he quickly rinsed his dishes off and headed for the dojo, shaking off the the tiny dots that still decided to swirl before his eyes.
Just concentrate. Remember what Sensei said, just breathe and concentrate.
Knowing it would be a little while longer before the others came in for their morning training, he sat down on one of the practice mats and took up the lotus position, easing into a meditated state, unable to hear the conversation that was taking place in the kitchen.
"Is it just me or was Leo acting just a little bit strange?" Donatello suggested, his glance falling between his two brothers who were finishing their meal.
"When doesn't Leo act strange?" Raph murmured, gulping down the last bit of milk that was left in his bowl, letting out a relieved "Ahh," after the last bit made its way to his tongue.
"No, seriously. He wasn't at dinner last night, and he's still not hungry? It's been over twelve hours since he's ate anything," Donnie stated, his technical tone already making his brothers want to cover their ears.
"You do that sometimes ya'self, bro. 'Specially when you're working on one your new inventions or whateva they're called," the red-banded turtle informed his younger brother as he stood up, stretching his muscles in the process. "You keep talkin' like that and I'm gonna start callin' you Leo junyah."
"Yeah, maybe you're right," Don muttered, still inwardly convinced that there was something wrong with his oldest brother. He did look like he'd lost a little weight though.
"Hey, stop worrying, Donnie," Mikey grinned, patting his older brother on the shoulder. "Remember what you always say, 'Out of all of us, Leo's the-'"
"The one we have to worry about the least. Yeah, I get it, Mikey," the purple-banded turtle sighed, removing himself from the table. "Come on, it's training time," he reminded his younger brother, worried thoughts of Leo still swimming around his head as he headed for the dojo.
Hi, everyone! This isn't my first story on but it's the only one I have on here currently. I did post one sometime ago with the same title, but it got erased. So...I decided to rewrite it basically. Some of you might remember it, but if not, that's okay too. Hope you liked it nonetheless:D