Sometimes he dreams about running through New York.
He dreams about the lights and sounds that fill his senses, about how if you go fast enough, everything around you becomes swirls of neon red and blue and green. He dreams of the airplanes flying high above and the searchlights casting their glow into the heavens, shining brightly as any natural star.
He also dreams about the rooftops, the endless maze of tiles and wires and satellites. They're so ugly, he remembers. Tobacco and vomit spread across them, alcohol bleaching the dull paint and cigarette stubs piled in the corners. Nobody cleans it up. After all, people hardly ever go there. Just drunkards, druggies, prostitutes and such. Nobody important.
But to him it seems beautiful. It's home.
He dreams of when he could look up and see the skyscrapers of New York reaching high above him, dim yellow lights churning as they burned holes in the otherwise darkened sky. Stars are never visible in New York. Sometimes he wishes they were.
His brothers are never with him when he dreams like this, and usually he doesn't mind so much; sometimes it's really nice to be by yourself when you're in a beautiful city like this. But occasionally he feels the need to turn around and look for them. Maybe he doesn't value being able to just see their faces enough.
But then he reminds himself; it's such a beautiful night. Nothing could go so wrong that he'd never see them again. He briefly allows his hand to drift down to his belt, fingering the Shell Cell attached to it. Something he never took the last time he was ambushed. He's actually prepared this time. And if anything bad happens, he could just call them.
Hearing the sound of their voices is good enough, if it was all he could do.
But he can't allow himself to be distracted. Because sometimes, when he's alone, it feels like he could just go on forever, bathed in a world of light and color.
He dreams about these things a lot.
But when he wakes up, he knows: he's not in the present. He's in the future.
The rooftops vanished into the deepest corners of his mind until the next night, his senses drenched in nothing but coldness. Dark, dank, smelling of nothing but medicine and blood; the infirmary. He knew that's where he was.
Groggily, he groped his environment, searching for the end of the bed. Even before he opened his eyes he knew what he would see—bleach-white walls, medicine cabinets jammed full of bottles and plants, beds crammed into every nook and cranny that would hold them. Weird machines with even weirder liquids pumping through them. Probably a few bodies here or there. You never really knew what you'd find when you woke up after sleeping.
So when he opened his eyes and saw none of these things, he was briefly surprised.
Before he remembered. He's blind.
He got to his knees warily, soreness gnawing at his every muscle. Stretching his senses over the expanse of the room, he realized that he wasn't in the infirmary; what he was touching earlier were the folds of his overcoat, not blankets. He tipped his head to the side, listening. Two drops of water splashing onto cold stone confirmed his suspicions. A cavern of some sort.
The smells, he remembered. He tilted his head up and savored the air again before coughing slightly. He hadn't been dreaming the smells. They were really there. It took him a moment to remember the pain of a sudden sword as it grazed his arm, and the fight that followed. That was probably why it felt so stiff and sore. He lost more blood than he usually would during a fight. Shameful. He also vaguely remembered his dazed trip to the nearest shelter. The medicine smell must have come from his supplies. He probably treated himself and didn't remember it.
Bottles clinked together as he shifted his knees. He picked one up and flipped the cap off with his thumb. Bringing the bottle up to his face, he tested the rim with the tip of his tongue. It tasted like peaches. The antiseptic. He poured it onto his arm, barely noticing the way it sizzled on his wound. There was foam. Was that supposed to happen?
God, he needed Donnie sometimes.
He frowned slightly before reaching towards the ground, running his rough fingers along the dirt until he found his swords. The stench of blood was sickening, but his stomach shifted tiredly as if to say it was too exhausted to care. He removed part of the cloth on his coat and slowly began rubbing it up and down the metal, rhythmically, falling into the ritual that he had become accustomed to.
"What the hell was that?"
He didn't look up. He continued to focus his sightless gaze on his swords; he couldn't see them, but he could pretend. "You found me."
"Leo, what's in that bottle? Poison?"
That was what it was going on about? Suicide? How stupid. "If I wanted to end my life, it would be through Seppuku."
The intruder made a nervous sound, obviously eyeing the way Leo was cleaning his swords. The blind turtle snorted irritably. "Which I won't be doing, if saying so quells your ridiculous fears. I've done nothing that would demand such an act."
There was no sound for a moment, allowing him to return to the cleaning of his swords. The cloth was wet and sticky between his fingers; he couldn't have been asleep long if the blood wasn't dry yet.
"Then why did you drink from the bottle?"
"I didn't drink from it." His reply was calm. "I rub fruit juice on the rims of my medicines so I can tell them apart. Peaches are antiseptic. Lemons are painkillers. Like that." He paused to set the cloth down on his lap, bringing the weapon up to his mouth. He touched his tongue the smooth metal. Just a small flicker of taste, then the small pink thing returned to his mouth. He wouldn't defile his swords any more than he had to.
"Man, Leo, do you have to rely on taste for everything?" asked the intruder, moving from the entrance. It began closing the gap between the two.
"No. I use smelling and hearing. Touch, every now and then. Not as often."
He examined the other side of his weapon in a similar manner, and once sure it was clean, he set it aside and reached for the other one.
When he felt a hand fall on his right arm, he quickly grabbed the wrist with his left and held it tight. "Don't touch."
"I just wanna help."
"Are you deaf? I just told you not to touch it. Let go."
"Leo! What is the matter with you?" The intruder tensed. It was reaching from Leo's right side. And being the ninja he was, Leo responded.
He pulled sharply on the wrist, and when he felt the creature lurch forward, he bent his joint so that the intruder's arm became locked in the crook of his elbow. His grip on its wrist tightened. His bent arm held his still-bloody sword, and he felt it bounce slightly in accordance to a throbbing pulse.
"My God," it whispered, sounding astonished. "You don't know who I am."
He lowered his head, focusing his sightless gaze on his crossed legs. "This journey has made me blind, not senile. Michelangelo. If big brother tells you to stay away from the stove, what happens when you insist on touching the burner?"
His sword shifted yet again as he felt Michelangelo swallow dryly. "God, Leo. You…what happened to you?"
"That's right," Leonardo continued calmly. He let go of his brother's wrist and lowered his sword, groping for the cloth. He wrung it out before beginning to clean the sword again. "Your hand will get slapped."
"You were going to kill me."
"And you get mad at big brother, even though he tries to tell you that a stinging hand is better than a melted one."
There was a pause, a moment that his brother used to sort things out. He didn't mind. He'd changed, and he knew that it might frighten some people.
"What would happen if I touched the stove?"
"You'd go blind."
He stopped for a moment. "The blades are cursed. If anyone touches them, that person loses their eyesight within five hours."
This time there was a disbelieving laughter, and he felt wind brush by him and the ground vibrate as Michelangelo took a seat next to him. "Is that a bed-time story you tell to Foot Ninja before you beat the snot out of them?"
"Nah. People just seem to like it when I say that." He smiled, then paused to wring out the cloth again before touching it to the metal. "Actually, you were right before. It's just poisoned."
A shocked sound came. "Poison? I didn't think you did things like that, Leo."
He shrugged. "It's efficient. Easy. Usually I don't need it unless I'm captured. The antidote's right there, the bottle with the cherry label."
A shifting on the ground beside him told him that Michelangelo was sorting through his medicine. It stopped after a moment, and he guessed that his brother had found the bottle and was looking at it. A soft sloshing sound alerted him to the container being shaken.
"I keep it around in case someone accidentally touches my ninjaken. The poison dissolves through the skin, but so does the antidote. It's easy to cure. But it's almost empty right now; that's why I didn't let you touch the blades."
"What about you? Don't you get poisoned?"
He stopped, angling his neck to stare at his brother with sightless eyes. He heard an uncomfortable grunt of recognition and decided not to say anything, turning to work on the last part of his sword.
A sigh. "So Raph really was telling the truth. You can't see."
"No." There was another silence that he used to test the cleanliness of this sword. Once sure it was also clean, he picked both of them up by their hilts and slipped them into the sheaths on his hip. "You didn't search for me to discuss my new lifestyle, Mikey. What do you want?"
"We…we need you back, dude."
"Surely you didn't travel all this way just to ask me that."
"Come on, Leo. Without—without you and Raph, we're not half as strong as we could be." There's desperation now.
"Even with your other half, you wouldn't be half as strong as you'd need to be to beat him. He's twice as strong as any half you might be trying to pull me into."
He laughed, moving to his feet. His knee was tender under his weight; he hadn't noticed that before. "It's nice to see that some things don't change."
A low laugh that was sadder than it was humorous sounded by his ear, and he knew that Michelangelo had stood up as well. "Why change perfection?"
"Now you've gone and made me question my reasons for fueling perfectionism. Thanks, Mikey."
The new laugh was much more heartfelt, and he couldn't help the smile that found its way across his face. Some things really didn't change. His knee began to feel stiff, so he shifted his weight.
Michelangelo must have noticed this, because his laugh faded a little. "You know, you left a mess outside."
He flinched. Leaving evidence of having traveled here. Definitely strike one. "Where?"
"I told you, outside. Like fifteen yards from this cave's entrance."
Way too close to where he was. Strike two. "How bad was it?"
"Leo, you left bodies everywhere. Total carnage. I cleaned up for you, though."
Strike three, he's out.
At least his brother had been kind enough to correct his mistake. He was beginning to feel a little guilty for holding a sword up to his neck. "Thanks, Mikey. I owe you one." At the feeling that Mikey was about to answer, he quickly added, "As long as the favor doesn't involve joining the resistance again."
Faster breathing. Slight shaking of the shoulders. Mikey was getting frustrated. "Leo! Why not?"
"It's hopeless, Mikey." He was struggling to stay calm himself, matching his brother's rising voice with his own level tone. "It's a waste of time, resources, and lives."
There were puffs of breath touching his snout now, and he smelled the subtle flavors of standard traveling food. His brother had been trailing him for some time. "So you give up. Fearless Leader's throwing in the towel? It's too hard, we're outnumbered, so you're just giving in. Are you crazy, Leo? What is the matter with you?"
He pushed out firmly with his hand, satisfied when he felt Michelangelo's rough plastron being shoved away from him. "Don't tell me you've been taking tantrum lessons from Raph."
"That idiot won't help me either."
Leonardo was beginning to grow impatient. "Then for once, we agree on something. Mikey, this is mass suicide. The casualties last time numbered three thousand. That was almost half of our forces."
"There's more of us now! Leo, the longer this goes on, the more people are going to die for no reason!"
"People are dying because you're killing them."
"They die by their own choice!"
"They die because fools like you and April and poor dead Casey lead them to think that they have a chance. Dreams are over, Mikey. This is our world now. You'll have to deal with it."
He was so tired of the huge pauses his brother took whenever he said something. "What'll it take to convince you to come with us?"
He was quiet for a moment, furrowing his eye ridges and frowning. He closed his eyes and sighed. When he opened them, they were blindly set on his brother. "A miracle."
There was a disappointed sound from Michelangelo. "Two miracles in one lifetime. This lifetime. That's a tall order, bro."
Two miracles. So Raph had demanded the same thing.
There was a gentle wind that brushed against his side, and he heard his brother's soft words in his ear. "Take care, Leo. I'll find your miracle. Raph's, too. Lord knows we need all the miracles we can get."
And with a swift motion, Mikey was gone, like the ninja he was trained to be.
Leonardo grunted slightly, disbelievingly, before whipping around and stalking deeper into the cave. As he felt soft sand part beneath his feet, he untied his coat and placed his swords on the ground. He joined them shortly.
A miracle in the Shredder's world was unlikely. A miracle that would satisfy him was even less. But if Mikey was chasing one, trust was all that he could offer. He'd simply have to wait until his little brother caught one.
Until then, he knew, satisfaction would come in the form of rooftops.
Author's Note (Also known as the Time To Criticize My Own Work section)
So, here's my latest installment. Oh dear, this leaves me with no projects left to work on but Tangibility! Now I have to face my writer's block. Waaah.
Anyways, I think this story is fairly decent. I first attempted to write the whole thing in present tense, but it didn't work right. So I limited it to the opening scene, and the rest is past tense. Hope that doesn't confuse anyone.
As always, I think the ending's a little choppy. I'll get over it within the next week or so.
Lastly, this plotbunny came about in a very bizarre, completely unrelated, and rather gross way. Really. Guess!