Don's search to find Mona Lisa proved fruitless. The programs searched for nearly three months to find her, and no trace had been found. It had been a sad misfortune that disappointed the brothers. But time had a way of healing wounds.. Or at least help them to hide the unfortunate truth he had to harbor within himself. Guilt for one brother, and strange emotion in another.
Leo and Raph walked along the side walk, their appearance disguised by trench coats and hats. Leo had taken to wearing Mona's discarded beat up cowboy hat and Raph kept his simple black ball cap. It was already becoming easier to be walking among the humans in the city.
"Donnie updated me on how his company idea is going," Raph said.
"He mentioned it to me. I know before he wanted to give it a try," Leo said holding the door open.
Raph walked into the mini mart and Leo followed him. They went towards the cooler on the back wall and Leo watched their reflections on the glass. On a far door he had sworn he saw a familiar image. He stopped near the cooler and looked down the aisle. He blinked as the image disappeared from the cooler door and realized there was no one else even nearby.
A hand clapped on Leo's shoulder and he clenched a fist ready to spin and punch. Raph let go of his shoulder.
"I could have…" Leo trailed off.
Raph blinked at him and Leo shook his head. He pulled a twelve pack from the cooler and Leo picked a jug of orange juice out.
"Thought you saw her?" Raph asked quietly.
Leo frowned, "No."
Raph sighed and brought the purchase up front. The guy at the counter chuckled.
"Hey guys," the heavy set man said. "Another beer and bad movie night?"
"Yeah," Raph said.
The man rang up the order and Raph paid him. The man gave him change back and the two exited the mart. Leo adjusted the plastic bag he held onto.
"I'm going to take part of his company idea," Leo said.
"You too?" Raph asked. "If we pull all our funds together we could manage it. I think April's even thinking about throwing her side in. Given she has… Winter Enterprises."
Leo clicked his tongue a moment.
"This wasn't the life I expected us to have," he said. "Being able to be topside, not hated. I expected us to remain hermits."
"Turns out that's just not the case," Raph said. "Not anymore."
"There isn't much of anything else left. The Shredder… The Real and Ch'rell. We still have to work and protect the city, just in another form," Leo said.
"Always the leader eh?" Raph asked, amused. "Some things never change."
"We'll see, I guess," Leo said. "The Dojo isn't exactly going to be how I had planned it, but it can be done."
"Maybe I'm being hopeful for you," Raph said. "But just maybe this enterprise idea will bring Mona out. She's turning out to be more Ninja then I expected."
Leo gave a light chuckle, "She kept Splinter company while we had been gone, And she's prone to being a insomniac I'm pretty sure she found good use of her time."
"And living with you," Raph said. "Her own personal teacher."
Leo snorked, "It wasn't always like that, but yes, something to that point."
The two of them went into the sewer access and made their way through the familiar tunnels to the lair. Leo's frown returned as they walked. Raph remained quiet on until they reached home. Once there Mikey relieved them of the two bags and put them away. The movies were already being picked out and Leo chose to escape towards Splinter's room.
"No partakin' Leo?" Mikey asked.
"Not right now, Mikey," Leo said. "Maybe later."
He slipped into Splinter's room and got himself into the lotus position in front of Splinter's small table. The old rat gave a light smile when he sensed his son's presence. Leo let his breathing become slow and easy. Leo had lately doing more meditation to soothe his mind and Splinter had no problem with the choice. However, sometimes the old rat had to remember he was their father as well as their Sensei.
It was easy to escape into Meditation. Gave Leo time to reflect on the past, maybe even try to wrap his head around the future. And if he focused well enough he could almost feel where that 'second part' of his life had disappeared to.
When Leo opened his eyes again he found himself in a completely different room. Mirrors ran across one wall with a tall table with a cluster of candles in the center. He got up from the floor and attempted to find the door to leave only to find one not there.
"You're letting the past cloud the present, Leonardo," A familiar voice said.
Leo spun around to find Karai at a corner of the room, armed and facing him. Wearing the armor she has used as The Shredder. Leo pulled one of his katana from the scabbard and readied himself.
"Too many old memories," Another voice echoed. "Of people long since dead."
The new voice and face almost made him drop the katana. It had been years since he had even thought of the other face. Lotus Blossom. The wound still present on her stomach, old caked blood showcasing what her untimely end had been.
"You choose to push the past away, but it still comes back. You let it haunt your thoughts, cloud your judgment," Karai said.
He grit his teeth, "You aren't real."
Karai put her blade away and bowed, "We were once. Important to you and your honor."
Lotus soon turned into dust that swirled at his feet.
"When will you learn, Leonardo?" Karai asked.
Suddenly she was in front of him, one hand placed on the side of his neck. Leo stepped from her. Her blade was against his neck again. Lightening quick he grabbed her wrist and stole the blade. She growled at him and he spun swinging the blade. Instead of feeling the blade run through flesh and bone, it felt like it went through air instead. The form of Karai disappeared in front of him. He gripped the blade tightly, until his knuckles grew white.
"This isn't what I wanted!" Leo shouted. "Show yourself!"
The room shifted, the mirrors melted away and twisted and warped into tall trees with bright green leaves. Wide open space took over the room and the table disappeared alongside the candles. In the distance he could see a familiar shape on a hill. After a moment of debate he found himself running towards the shape. The shape turned to look back at him. The familiar face of Mona stabbed something inside of him. Her skin was paler and her eyes looked hollow and tired.
"… Then what do you want, Leonardo?" She asked.
Her mouth didn't move and she didn't even seem like she was breathing.
"I want my life back," Leo said. "I want the peace and comfort like I had before."
"The peace and comfort?" She asked. "The peace and comfort will die unless you find it again."
"Donnie already tried," Leo said. "We found no trace of you."
"You didn't look hard enough," She said. "If you care as much as you think, you will find me."
"And if I don't find you?" he asked.
"Then you never loved me at all," She said.
He moved towards her and reached out a hand, she did the same.
"Where are you?" he asked.
"I'm sorry," She said.
Slowly she began to darken and scatter into the wind. Leo darted forwards to try and grab onto her. Once close enough her form fell apart into dust. He closed his eyes and clench his fist. Once he opened his eyes he found himself back in Splinter's room. The old rat watching him. Leo looked down at his hands to see dust and soot on them. Leo quickly got up onto his feet and quickly exited the room.
"Leonardo!" Splinter called after him.
Leo went past his brothers on the couch and towards one of the shell cycles.
"Where's the fire, Leo?" Don asked.
"No time," Leo said revving the engine. "I.. I have a hunch."
He then sped out of the lair and into the back sewer tunnels. Within a few moments he could hear more cycles behind him. He sped through the winding tunnels as his mind went into overdrive. He could only think of one place they hadn't looked in. The only place that could have been a last resort. The sounds of his brothers grew closer. Leo took the headset out of his shell cell and pulled it on, one hand still on the handle bars.
"What the hell are you doing?" Leo asked.
"About to ask you the same thing, Leo," Raph replied.
"I said I had a hunch," Leo said.
"Leo, I know the route we're going, it's a dead end," Don added.
Leo set his jaw and pressed the motor to speed up. Very quickly he noticed the terrain hadn't changed. the rumbled tunnel's new dead end was about to greet him rather violently. He grit his teeth and twisted the cycle and hit the brake. It skid along the old cement before coming to rest just inches from the dead end.
"I told you, a dead end," Don said stopping his cycle.
"This was the last place I could think of," Leo said, more to himself.
Leo didn't notice his brothers giving confused faces as he watched the rubble. He had searched everywhere, the old lair was the only place left to look.. But there was no way in past the rubble. She couldn't have squeezed herself past any of it.
"Bro," Mikey said. "Let's just get back home. No one can get past that rubble."
He knew it probably seemed crazy. They probably thought he lost his mind. And he really wished that had been the case. It would be far easier to excuse his behavior that way. He shook his head and spun the cycle around and sped back towards home. He rarely seemed to act this way. So prone to being the strong and calm one. Though he did have times he acted more like Raph.
He needed to forget what happened before. All he was doing was chasing ghosts. She left, end of story. The end of things before they had even begun. It could have been handled differently between them. He should have spoken up, even if it made him sound foolish.