Epilogue: Noel

I was going to cease the project.....but I didn't want to leave out Leonardo. ^^ I love Leo...well, I love all of the turtles-and their master of

course....but, I, well....Leo…

(Goes red, goes red, goes red, goes red, goes red….!)

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Quote:

"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Mas'er Spwiner...."

Leo fidgeted unhappily as the rat carefully scooped him up, still wrapped in a quilt and shawl, and finally lifted him off the bed.

Achy as he was, groggy as the turtle still was-he wished he had the right to run around as he wished. Under normal circumstances, on Christmas

morning-!

Leo could hardly imagine being asleep for such a long stretch of time. Over two days...

The memories were faint, but they had still existed quite vividly in detail from what the turtle could remember.

*~*

Darkness. Absolute darkness. The taste was as tangible as the cold air itself.

~(&*$IYYU(*&)????!!!!

But there had been nothing to even confine that absolute darkness as such.

It was not even the simple occasional nothingness out of waking dreams that came from sleep-or, from what he had read in a book, surgery.

There was nothing to know, because, quite frankly, there was nothing to remember as you were all but dead to yourself, and the world.

It had been a night without stars. The world's berry juice stained sky remained as cloudy as Leo had ever seen it through the grating.

There had been someone whispering a lot-but the words had been indiscernible as mush.

~*~

Until this morning, when something had finally cracked.

Shattered, splintered-an odd taste in his mouth, which was peculiar enough by itself, seeing as Leo had had no recollection of eating or drinking

anything.

How long had he been in the dark? It could've been several lifetimes, or a few heartbeats, seeing as how his mind collapsed to the images of falling,

damp, heavy wood.

But Leo had awoken to find himself in bed, stunned into silence.


Splinter had told them that the danger had passed-now that their nervous systems had recovered somewhat from the more extensive trauma,

even in slumber, they wouldn't slip back off.

But none of the turtles had the slightest wish to oblige as such. Heavy as Leo's eyelids were...

They weren't to take any more chances. It was enough to watch Splinter knit most of the night when he had calmed down somewhat.

-----

There were a few injuries here and there-Leo had spotted a half healed bruise on his ankle and the occasional bandage-but the fact that they

were just so STIFF-!

And now, they had to ask the rat's permission to be moved anywhere. It was infuriating.

-----

Obviously, in this state-Christmas could hardly be the same as it was last year. But it had been the little things that had made the event special.

Mikey had hugged his bear like a lifeline-well, that was to be expected. Don was happily flipping through his novel-which, Leo could not really

understand a word of....and Raph had been busy tearing apart the contents in his stocking, looking euphoric.

And although Leo had been happy with the items he had received-few as they were-even eating their usual yearly luncheon hardly disappated

the uncomfortable gnawing in his stomach.

What if Splinter was wrong?

What if the next time he closed his eyes, they would never open again?

~*~

"My son?"

The four had been sitting near the hearth as the afternoon drew into evening, playing with various objects. Needless to say, each turtle had

looked up at the words. Splinter mentally slapped himself-he had to start learning to be more specific.

"Leonardo? Will you come with me?"

Leo didn't really see any choice in the matter, seeing as Splinter was scooping him up-but relented, a small smile on his face as Splinter carried

him to the kitchen.

-------------

"My son? Has there been anything wrong?"

The rat looked worried. Leo knew-even though he could only bring himself to stare at his knees. A hand found his forehead.

"Are you....still feeling unwell?"

Leo abruptly shook his head.

"No. Just....I...."

He paused.

And his eyes swam with tears.

"Sensei-I don't wanna go back to sleep! Ever! What if I don't wake up? What if I never wake up again?"

The rat paused, and drew him into a hug.

"Oh, my son."

Leo bit his lip as the tears began to slowly fall.

"These past few days...have been very frightening for me. But I cannot imagine what oblivion was like for you and your brothers."

Splinter withdrew-and handed Leo a carefully wrapped parcel.

"You forgot to open this, my son."

Wiping his eyes with his fist, Leo gave the rat a puzzled glance-but slowly undid the ribbons with trembling fingers.

~*~

A sword.

A for-real, wooden sword.

The breath in Leo's chest hitched as he glanced up at Splinter, at a loss for words. The rat chuckled dryly.

"There may come a time, my son-when you have to depend on such to rid of those who may wish to do you and your brothers bodily harm.

And....when confronting those who create darkness in your mind..."

Splinter had grasped his shoulder, and tightened slightly.

"You must rely on your greatest weapon of all."

Leo blinked.

"W-What weapon?"

Splinter tapped at Leo's crest on his chest-where his heart was continuing to beat.

"That one alone will do the job. And I will be there when you do, my son. You'll find your way home, in the end.

And you'll return to us. I know it."

Drawing up Leo again, the door shut quietly beneath them.

~*~

That night, snow fell, sparkling quietly into the distance.