Honor, Family and Shadows

BY : Summer
Category: Comics > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dragon prints: 278
Disclaimer: I do not own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

This story takes place after the events of “Turtles Forever,” the animated 2009 movie that crosses new turtles with old. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re doing yourself a big disservice. It really is a great movie.

“Leonardo, seriously, for your own good, you bros should lay off the dimension hopping business. It’s dangerous” – Leonardo, Turtle Prime

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The shadows crept around him as he crouched behind the dumpster. He had already stowed the transdimensional portal stick in its usual hiding spot. This was the third time Leo had dimension hopped. He had been following his counterpart in Turtle Prime for the last year, watching him make the same mistakes he had already made and knowing there was nothing he could do to help him. He wished he could have told him not to go off alone, not to take on the elite by himself, not to fight with his Raphael past the point of reconciliation. He knew he could not, though. To interfere in this world makes all worlds fray. Those were Donnie’s words. But Donnie wasn’t watching this world like Leo was. He didn’t know Leo had visited. No one knew. When Leo had asked if they could come back, Donnie had vehemently refused to even consider the idea. He didn’t want any of them getting stuck or causing an unraveling. Leo had pretended to drop the idea.

He narrowed his eyes at a flash of movement overhead. The four were on the move, a training exercise most likely. He followed silently on the ground. This was one of the reasons he kept coming back. He wanted to be the best leader he could be. The Leonardo of this dimension had a strength of command that Leo didn’t possess. This group of four fought like a trained military unit. They never seemed to question or disobey his commands, at least not while on the surface. Leo knew he would continue to visit Turtle Prime until he learned to lead like this Leonardo.

They ran and catapulted over rooftops, heading further out of the inner city. Leo had to go up a couple times so he didn't lose them in the maze of alleys down below. After a few miles, the four turtles stopped suddenly, dropped down into the alley and fanned out along the edges. They had arrived at a small warehouse deep in Purple Dragon territory.

Leo crouched and moved back further into the shadows to watch. With Leonardo using hand signals to give silent direction, they slid into position outside of the two entrances. It wasn’t long before the humans started moving out of the building. Leo watched as the four turtles silently and effectively dropped the gang members. They barely had time to kick the weapons away from the unconscious humans before nine foot clan members dropped off the top of the building. Leo grabbed the side of the stair railing to keep himself from joining the fight.

What had likely started as a training exercise had suddenly turned into a clash with the foot clan. These foot clan were dangerous, as were the ones he and his brothers so often fought. The Saki of this dimension, while not an almost indestructible alien being, certainly had known how to train his clan to be effective killers. Leo watched as the turtles responded to the new threat. They fought in a style similar to his brothers yet were much more cohesive. When one moved, the other naturally moved into an opposite direction, keeping themselves always facing the enemy and watching each other’s backs. It seemed as though they were more aware of everyone around them than he and his brothers had ever been. His apprehension continued to fade as their training kicked in. He watched Michelangelo’s fluidity as he jumped over an opponent, silencing him forever with a strong hit to his head as he passed. He watched as Raphael broke a sword with his sai before catching the broken blade out of the air and ramming it into the foot soldier's chest. He watched Donatello swing his bo wide, toppling two foot, his hand already throwing the shuriken that would lodge themselves in their throats as they fell. He watched Leonardo spin around the foot so deftly that he almost seemed to disappear, his blade making deep cuts with every move.

One after another, the foot were disabled, broken and left for dead. It suddenly dawned on Leo why he really kept coming back and watching their fights. He did want to become a better leader, but he also wanted to have an idea of what was in store for them in his dimension. Being a leader meant being able to protect and teach. If he knew where they would be ambushed or if one of the brothers would be hurt in Turtle Prime, he could prevent that tragedy in his own world. This particular warehouse hadn't been discovered in his world and he made a mental note of its location.

Donnie’s warning slammed back into his mind. Was coming here a mistake after all? What if going to this warehouse in his dimension meant walking into a trap? What if he saw one of the brothers here fall? Would that alter his choices in his world? And if it did, would it make the outcome worse?

He moved a little closer to the edge of the fire escape stairs he was crouching behind, being careful not to make any noise. He was surprised that none of the alternate dimension turtles had noticed him during his visits here. Not once had they looked in his direction. He had taken great care to keep it secret from everyone at home as well. Donnie didn’t even know where Leo had hidden the portal stick. Leo had been trusted enough to take it out of the lair and hide it from them all.

The four turtles cleaned up the area, disabling guns, and retrieving shuriken and swords from the foot. He had watched them do this before. The guns were usually delivered anonymously to the police station. The ninja weapons were sometimes kept and added to their own collection.

They were in a jovial mood. They had been serious when it mattered, yet were playful with each other now, all except for Leonardo. He was silent and focused as if something was bothering him. Michelangelo picked up on it, mentioned it once, then dropped it after Leonardo gave him a look. It amazed Leo how trusting they were of him. His own brothers would never stop pestering him if he was being moody. Here they trusted Leonardo would tell them something when it was time for them to know. Even Raphael, as antagonistic as this one could be, left Leonardo alone.

They gathered the weapons and Leonardo dismissed them, saying he would be along shortly. They left without hesitation. Leo wondered why Leonardo was staying behind. His confusion ended when Leonardo's voice rang out.

“Leonardo of the alternate dimension, please step away from the shadows.”

Leo was shocked. How had he been discovered? Not once during their entire time spent topside had he made any noise or even been glanced at. He stepped slowly into view and waited as Leonardo studied him thoughtfully. He felt like a baby turtle again, being chastised by Splinter.

“Why have you returned? Your Donatello warned us about not using the device. This is the third time you have been here, watching. What do you hope to discover?”

Leo didn’t know how to explain what he was doing. “You are the leader I want to be,” he blurted out before he could stop himself.

Leonardo cocked his head to the side, pensive, “follow me.”

Leo watched him scale the apartment building with ease and followed quickly. They soon stood at the edge of the rooftop. He waited for the admonishment he knew was coming.

“Do you see this city? This dirty, mean city? This city full of thievery, drug users, rapists and murderers? I don’t see that city. I see the city that this could be. Humans are not born evil. They are created by circumstance."

Leonardo sighed, glancing down at the trash-strewn alley beneath them. "You became clan leader because you had to, because the city in your dimension needs you to be that leader. They need you to help them change their circumstances. You don’t need me to tell you that you are a good leader. You know that you are. Now, why are you really here?”

During the entire time Leonardo was speaking, he hadn’t once glanced at him. He didn’t need to. Leo felt his gaze all the way into his soul. “I want to know what happens to my brothers. I want to prevent tragedies that happen here from happening there.” He felt a strange sense of relief to be able to finally admit his fear.

Leonardo finally looked over at him and Leo was surprised to see the tears at the edges of his eyes.

“You can’t prevent tragedy. It will happen to those who are closest to you. And it will come close to breaking you when it does. Hold your family near but trust them to be able to stand beside you instead of always behind you. Don’t lose yourself by trying to save them. Your city and your brothers need more from you than that.”

Leonardo swept his hand out over the edge, encompassing the skyscrapers, dark alleys, park and homes all at once. “Honor, family and shadows are your life. One does not take precedence over another.”

Leo felt his breath catch. Never had he felt more understood nor had more understanding. Leonardo had simplified his life down to a protection of his clan and city which was something Leo had never fully grasped, until now. He didn't want his clan to be just a weapon against evil, but now understood that it had to be that way. There was no one else and their sacrifice towards that protection was their purpose, their only purpose. In each of their dimensions, they were to be the ones in the shadows, helping those who would never be able to know their saviors.

He watched as Leonardo slowly backed away from him, drawing a sword silently out of its scabbard. “Now I grow weary of talking. Let’s see what you have learned from watching our fights.”

Leo grinned. He had learned more from his counterpart in one day than he had learned in months at home. He would never be able to forgive himself if he passed up the opportunity to train with someone more skilled than he was. He backed up a couple paces, crouched into a ready position and drew his swords.



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