Disclaimer: I own very little, and nothing in the way of TMNT rights.

Timing is everything.

In the heat of battle, in the heart of the storm. When seconds stretch like a lifetime, because that's what they are; within each moment is potential. A choice, an action. Chaos is housed within time.

When one masters time itself, he masters his own life. His own destiny. Just as chaos can exist in a moment, so may release. Utter abandonment, a higher state of being that may be achieved through the mastery of timing.

The room is set. Through the hook where a Japanese lantern once hung, a rope is now looped through in a pulley fashion. Tethered to its end is a heavy polishing stone, dark and gleaming like some black jewel. Directly below the stone, with about four feet of distance, is a small ornate stand with a single candle. The room's only source of light. It flickers only slightly, as if responding to Leonardo's silent breathing.

He clutches the other end of the rope tightly in his hand, feeling the weight tug upward toward the hook. It's a simple pull of power and balance. Once he releases his grip, the rope's slack will disappear and the stone will lower toward the candle. Now, this is where the art of timing comes into play. At the newly set height, it will take sixty to sixty-three seconds for the small flame to burn through the rope around the stone, dropping the weight and ending all resistance placed upon the line.

The fluidity of this system is of the utmost importance. Timing is crucial, most especially when it will be a person's throat on the other end of the line.

Asphyxiation. Stumbled upon during breath restriction exercises, and perfected in private. Yes, Leonardo has done this several times. He will one day learn how to induce such a free meditational state without the help of such rigging, but for now, he practices a mastery of timing.

The candle casts a soft glow over his skin as he sits, lotus style, in his carefully calculated position. The knot is secure around his throat, but not so much that he could not fumble free in a pinch. The lair was not known for privacy, after all, and he suspected that none of his brothers would quite understand the exhilaration of such freedom of mind.

A last visual check on the set-up and a deep, cleaning breath. He opens his hand, feeling the rough hemp slide across his palm and yank against his neck. The first few moments are the hardest; keeping his hands at his sides, balling them into fists as the air is cut off from his lungs. The sight of the lowered weight helps him to resist the initial struggle- the fire is already at work on the many small fibers.

The world blurs and his eyes slip closed. It begins as a jittery, euphoric sensation in his chest that crawls down his body to pool in his loins. His limbs tingle just slightly, then it's as if they're not even there. The rest of his body follows suit, leaving his whole existence narrowed down to the soaring of his mind. Free from the earth, of his bodily temple, his spirit flies in a wash of exaltation. This must be the closest one can come to reaching Nirvana while still on Earth. Skimming across consciousness itself, released from every hold, rising above the tiers of responsibility.

He's coming to that point where his mind will burst with sensations indiscribable, that final edge that his careful calculations will reward him with. He opens his eyes to greet the darkness.

Where is the candle's flame?!

His body is so far away, too far. He's not even inside anymore, but floating, drifting over a canyon of oblivion. There's something coming, like a psychic rumbling. Thunder, or fireworks, shooting toward the front of his mind. He tries to move, to cut it off before it sends him reeling. Time! There's only so much time! He needs only to reach the rope, to loosen its grip about his throat...

But the world explodes, filling the inky dark with colors that have never seen the light of day. His spirit leaps from his body, dances about in that place without time. Everything fits together, the knowledge of the Universe granted in that high, ethereal state of being. Enlightenment in a form that he instantly acknowledges, yet cannot possibly comprehend with his conscious mind.

As he sways without direction in the currents of time and surreal insight, the abyss reaches up to swallow his untethered spirit.