Becoming the Father's Son

BY : Summer
Category: Comics > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Dragon prints: 146
Disclaimer: I do not own TMNT or the characters mentioned. I'm just borrowing them for fun, not for profit

Notes: Louis Braunze is from the original Mirage comics and is an ally to the turtles. The turtles first met him in Mirage Vol 2, Issue 8. Because of his experimental work with Darpa, he has the mental ability to make others see and feel what he puts into their mind. This story takes place after Splinter’s death, during the issue where the turtles are having his funeral, Mirage Vol 4, Issue 11.

Beta readers Greenwillow and DevilBaneX were a huge help in getting this from mere musings to what it is now.

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Louis found him about a mile away from the rest of the group. He was seated cross legged in front of a tree, head leaning back against it. To anyone else, he would appear to be meditating. Louis knew better though. Leonardo was hurting. Grief was coursing through him and his soul was in tatters. No tears fell and no sobs racked his body. Leo’s grief was silent but all consuming. Louis knew that if left alone, Leonardo would absorb the grief like a toxin, leaving his mind poisoned and his soul vacant. Louis watched him for a moment, deciding that he needed to intervene to prevent that all-consuming darkness from spreading to the rest of the family.

-----

Leonardo sensed Louis’ presence before he was visible. He did not need to talk and he did not want condolences. He would soon send his father's body away and did not want to consider how that was going to make him feel. His father was dead and nothing else in this life mattered. He felt his friend’s eyes on him, felt the probing in his head. Leo's mind was blank and he was certain that Louis would never again find anything of interest in its dark depths.

"I know you are there, Louis."

Louis stepped from the brush at the edge of the clearing into Leo’s line of sight. "Leonardo, you can hide from your future all you want, but you know what your role will become now."

"They don't need me, Louis. No one needs me anymore, least of all my brothers. We are not in constant danger like we were before."

"While it is true they can walk freely on this earth now and have many allies, nothing can replace the gentle leadership of a family member."

"You're right. Nothing can replace Splinter, not me, not our allies. There is nothing to bind us together, nothing to keep me here with them."

Louis sighed. He knew Leonardo understood his meaning. "I was not talking about your sensei. I was talking about you. You think I don't know what you plan to do? I can read your thoughts the moment they take shape in your head.”

As he spoke those words, Leo recoiled. He didn’t want Louis knowing his thoughts or forcing him to confront his grief. He wanted emptiness. His eyes closed as he forced his mind to be blank once again.

 

“Leonardo, you are going to leave and not bother to look back. Being around them will remind you of what you have lost and you can not handle that. Your control is wavering, and you plan to run from the uncertainty rather than facing it."

Leo looked up at Louis, the blank mask he was striving to maintain wavered as the pain he was feeling rushed forward once again. His shoulders slumped and his eyes narrowed; his mouth twisted into a grimace.

"You know nothing about me. I have given everything I have for this family." Leo's voice had an icy edge to it and the emotion flashing in his dark eyes matched it, "I did everything for my father. With him gone, there is no reason for me to sacrifice for them any longer."

Louis knew that his scathing words were just a cover. He also knew that to help Leo heal, he had to break him first. He stepped closer to him, his hand reaching out to touch Leo's brow. "Then see the darkness you will banish them to."

Pain ripped through Leo's body as he heard the screams of anguish in his head, the screams of his brothers. Images of torture, pain and disfigurement flashed through his mind. He saw glimpses of his brothers fighting countless assailants, both human and alien. He watched as Mikey released an agonized wail while leaning over his fallen brother. He felt his heart breaking as if it was himself holding Donnie’s lifeless body, hands covered in the blood seeping out to stain the pavement. He saw Raphael surrounded by men with guns, felt the blows of each shot as they jerked through his body, pushing him back before finally dropping to the ground.

He jerked away from Louis’ hand, gasping for air. Leaning over, his hand pressed against his plastron, willing his heart to stop aching. His sudden tears fell to the ground.

"They need you. Abandon them now and you will not return to help them in the future."

Leo looked up, his face streaked with moisture. "Then tell me how to stop it, Louis. Tell me how to grieve for my father. Tell me he wasn't taken from me too soon." His eyes dropped back to the ground, "Make me feel ready to let him go."

Leo’s voice dropped lower. “I can’t do this, Louis. I’m not like him. He was everything to me. He was my guide when I was lost, my teacher when I didn’t understand, and my punisher when I needed discipline. How could I ever be enough, compared to him?”

Leo sighed and wiped away fresh tears. “He would spend hours after every battle meditating with me over the choices I made. I can’t do that alone. Every time I hurt, his healing touch brought me back. When he sensed my indecision, his voice gave me reason. When I hesitated in battle, he pushed me forward. He was kind when we were young and needed to understand love. When we were old enough to understand honor and vengeance, he was ruthless and determined. I’m nothing without him.”

 

Louis knelt down, placing his hand on Leo's shoulder, "Leonardo, you told me how he prepared you to be the leader of this family and now I will tell you why you are ready to let him go. His entire life has been spent preparing you for his death. Do not dishonor him by assuming you are not ready. He is here, wanting to guide you still. You have only to close your eyes and open your mind. Do not let your fear of feelings keep you from the joy of healing."

As Leo’s tears continued to fall, Louis sighed. He didn’t want to offer what he was about to, but knew that he needed to anyway. "You know that I can make you forget your sorrow. I can take all memories of your love away. I know that you don't want me to do that. As much as you would welcome the relief from pain, you would hate me for the loss of your emotion."

Louis squeezed his shoulder gently and Leo felt a bit of what was being offered as peace enveloped him. His memory of Splinter slowly faded and he felt lighter and carefree. He could imagine a life of freedom. He wouldn’t remember the sorrow and pain of loss. He could be free to leave without feeling as if he betrayed his father. He wouldn’t even remember having a father.

Leo shook his head. He didn't want to forget the love he had for Splinter. It was a blessing for them to have had such a wise teacher and loving father. He didn't want Louis taking that away from him. He met Louis’ eyes, eyes that were full of sadness and empathy.

"They need you, Leonardo. We all need you. You are your father's son. Become what he always wanted you to be."

 

Leonardo closed his eyes, breathing deeply, feeling the aura of his father approaching.

'My son, I have not left but in body. I will never be beyond your reach. You have only to seek my guidance and you will find encouragement.’ Leo felt surrounded by his father’s love. Splinter’s words washed over him. ‘This life is but a passageway to the next. Leonardo, do not forsake your family and do not forsake me. Your family and your honor are your real possessions of value. You are what I knew you would be, a true leader for this family. You have the strength, skill and love that I hoped to instill in you. So many times I asked you to follow without question and you did. This is now one of those times. You must not leave them. They will need you now, more than ever. You must be what I cannot be for them. Continue to be the strength of this family. I am here for you, my son. I will always be here for you.’

As his sensei’s aura faded, Leo sat in silence for a moment, eyes closed and head lowered. He felt calm suddenly, as though the pressing weight of Splinter’s absence had been lifted. While his grief was still present, it was no longer a black hole trying to deaden him. His grief was now a reminder that life was not eternal but love could be. His father’s love filled him with hope and his memory soothed his aching heart.

Leonardo opened his eyes and gazed up at Louis. A small smile turned his mouth up at the edges as he stood. "Let's go say goodbye to Splinter."

------

Louis watched Leo's departure from the clearing. He knew that the first battle for Leo's soul had been won, but that there would be more. He vowed to continue watching over him and the others as they learned to deal with the aftermath of this loss. He followed Leo back to the waiting group at the funeral pyre, his thoughts filled with love and hope for this family.

 

 



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