They both crested the hill gasping for breath. The air was heavy with smoke and ash, an inferno blazing through the streets of Rome below them. Leo stood frozen in horror. The acrid smell of burning flesh still permeated his nose. A strong hand gripped his arm, grounding him in the chaos. Finally tearing his eyes from the horrific sight, Leo turned to the man he knew would make things right. The man who held him close and radiated safety. The man he loved.
“Raphael…how….what do we…”
The man beside him turned, the flames making his golden eyes burn with intensity.
“We don’t do anything Leonardo. But I must go.”
Leo’s eyes grew huge as he tried to take in what Raphael was trying to tell him. Raphael was a captain in the army. Leonardo knew this. And yet it hadn’t even occurred to him that Raphael would be expected to return to that fiery nightmare, to do his duty.
Gripping Raphael’s arms tight, Leo tried to find the words to make him stay. Angrily he snapped his mouth shut. What was the point of being one of the most respected diplomats in Rome when he couldn’t even convince the love of his life to stay?!
Raphael watched the warring emotions rage within Leo. Smiling gently he pulled the smaller man into a tender embrace.
“I will find you,” Raphael murmured. Curling protectively over the small form.
“I’ll be waiting,” Leonardo finally whispered, face buried in Raphael’s neck. He was shaking so hard.
The scene suddenly faded away, blurring and twisting until Leonardo opened his eyes. Tears streaked down his face. That memory was one of the hardest. He had let Raphael walk away, and had never forgiven himself for it. Raphael never returned from that fire.
Wiping his tears, Leo prepared to meditate once again. Diving back into his past lives to find his other half. His brother. His lover. Raphael.
How many times over the years had the two of them met over and over again? The number seemed countless. And yet each time, their love was never a doubt. It gave Leo the strength he needed in his current life. Splinter wouldn’t understand. Raphael was not just a passing fancy. Nor was he a distraction. He was everything.
Not that he could ever tell his father about these past lives. Meditating was the only chance he had to reconnect with that love they shared, and if Splinter knew that Leo was using that time to do anything other than center himself then he would put a stop to it. Leaders did not have favorites, let alone lovers.
Sighing, Leo let his eyes slip closed again, falling back in time to another memory. Another life.
Bright sunlight glared down from the sky, illuminating a beautiful park. The air was crisp with the scents of spring. Far off in the distance, the lavender fields swayed gently in the breeze. Leo sighed at the beauty of Provence, France. And yet it was wrong.
He was walking hand in hand with a man. But this one didn’t have the golden gaze he was craving. Instead cool grey eyes met his own. The two of them walked down the path before them, laughing and smiling, not paying attention to the world around them, lost in conversation. So intent were they, Leo didn’t see that another pedestrian was standing frozen on the pathway, staring intently.
Golden eyes roamed over the smaller man as if looking for something. It wasn’t until the stranger saw Leo’s deep blue eyes that he was able to move again. Eagerly he stepped forward, reaching a hand out to claim the love that should have been his. He had finally found him!
Leo burst out laughing at some inanity the grey-eyed man had uttered. The joyous sound froze Raph in his tracks. Leo looked so happy. His hand rested comfortably in his partners, and he was leaning into the man’s side. The fresh scent of lavender turned sour as Raphael turned from the sight. He had lost his chance. Leo was with another. He was too late. With heavy steps, Raphael walked away.
The scene grew hazy, fading once again as Leo came back to himself. He still couldn’t believe that life had happened. Raphael was right there! And yet he was blind to him. Raphael walked away.
Desperately he threw himself into meditation again. This next one…it was special.
Leo could feel strong arms curl around him as he looked out over the bay. The sun was setting on the water, making the ocean dance with color. The tang from the sea tickled Leo’s nose while a gentle breeze played with the golden brown curls on his head. Sighing he leaned into the taller man behind him. Lips gently touched the top of his head.
“I want to stay here forever,” Leo murmured.
A deep chuckle vibrated up his back as Raphael tightened his arms.
“Not the way it works Leo.”
Turning in the tan arms, Leo faced his lover, cupping his face gently. The gold eyes stared unwavering, as his dark hair swayed in the breeze.
“Then I suppose we better make the most of this,” Leo said before closing the distance between them in a passionate kiss.
Raphael didn’t bother responding, but instead cradled the back of Leo’s head, as the two of them got lost in one another. The Grecian coast slowly became painted with the intensity of the sunset, covering the two lovers in a warm glow. It was perfect.
It couldn’t last. Again the scene blurred and faded, leaving Leo with the bittersweet memory of perfection.
This time the tears came hard and didn’t stop. It wasn’t fair! They were so happy! That moment was so perfect and yet they were still separated in the end. Leo thought miserably about the current life he was in. Raphael’s golden eyes still burned brightly, but he and Leo had never had the chance to rekindle their love as it was meant to be. As it were, they could only seem to antagonize one another, the frustration and pain of staying apart only fueling their rage to new heights. Splinter thought he was solving the problem by making Leo the leader, but oh how wrong he was. Denying his love was doing so much harm. Why couldn’t they embrace it? What he knew was right?
Raphael didn’t seem to remember his past lives. Leo had tried hinting at them, to no avail. However it was clear Raphael still held feelings for him. Fleeting touches that burned his skin, light kisses stolen in the shadows, and warm embraces of comfort shyly given. Memories or not, Raphael still loved him.
Bolstered with these thoughts, Leo closed his eyes. A new scene played before him.
The room was sparse and dull. A plain desk and a crisply made bed stood on one side of the room while a modest kitchen, poorly stocked, took up another wall. Nothing hung on the walls but a great flag above the dingy window. The red stood sharply in contrast with the cream walls, and the deep black of a swastika seemed to radiate danger. Leo hated it. Hated everything about this place.
Staring around his room, Leo sighed heavily sinking to his bed. He was one of the best strategists Austria had to offer, and the irony of it all was that he couldn’t strategize a way out of this nightmare. They had his family. If he didn’t comply…if he didn’t help these monsters…
Leo let his head drop into his hands, a great sob wracking his frame. So when a heavy hand rested on his shoulder, all he could do was gasp in fear. Backing himself up to the wall on his bed, Leo stared at the man before him.
He wasn’t much taller than himself, but boy was the guy built! He was huge! His dark brown uniform was covered in dirt, and torn in several places. But unlike his clothes shabby appearance, the man himself was striking with cropped brown hair and piercing golden eyes. A cruel knife gleamed dangerously in his hand.
“You Leo Schultz?"
Leo could only nod his head dumbly. The stranger’s eyes roved over Leo, still dressed in his sharp grey uniform, eyes narrowing on the Nazi armband on his left arm.
“Are you here to kill me?” Leo asked softly. The man clearly wasn’t a member of the Nazi Party, and if anything looked like he was trying his damnedest to hold his fury in check.
The stranger remained silent, as he stared hard at the man still backed to the wall, curled up on the bed.
“Why are you helpin’ these assholes?” he bit out angrily. “What possessed ya ta throw in with ‘em?”
Leo lowered his head in shame. His soul screamed with guilt and pain at the question. How in the world had it come to this? His decisions killed people. Innocent people!
“They have my family,” he whispered softly.
The stranger stared in shock. That wasn’t in this guy’s dossier.
“I don’t want to do this. I never wanted to do this,” Leo hissed angrily, as he glared at the floor before slumping against the wall. With a small painful smile, he looked back at the soldier standing frozen at the side of his bed.
“But I guess you are going to fix that for me right?”
Raph nearly dropped the knife in his hand. The guy wanted to die. This was so NOT what he was expecting. Tearing his eyes from that damned armband, Raph finally looked his target in the eyes and this time, he did drop the knife.
Deep blue eyes stared back at him, filled with pain and…and something else. Something Raphael hadn’t seen in a long time. Hesitantly he stepped forward, slowly reaching his hand out to the other man. The blackmailed man flinched away, but Raph didn’t stop. Gently he raised the man’s face to look at him. In that moment Raphael found it. That missing piece of himself. Ever so slowly he lowered himself to the bed beside the frightened man before enveloping him in his arms. Breathing deep he caught the clean smell of aftershave and citrus.
Leo felt tears well in his eyes as a feeling of safety washed over him. Relaxing into his would-be killer’s arms he found that he was no longer afraid. This stranger was like a soothing balm that healed the months of suffering he had endured.
“What is your name?” he whispered.
The stranger squeezed tighter.
Leo tipped his head up to look into those gorgeous eyes. Leaning forward he pressed his lips to Raphael’s, inhaling deeply the smell of cigarette smoke and sweat. The heady scent drew him in as the kiss deepened. No words were exchanged as the two let the world and its problems slip away. All that mattered was the two of them.
The sharp rap of knuckles on the door had the two snapping apart. Panicked, Leo frantically looked to the window. Maybe Raph could jump-
The pounding on the door grew in volume, threatening to knock the door off its hinges.
“Herr Schultz! Open the door! NOW!”
Jumping up Leo hurried to the door, pressing his back against it. There was no time for the window. Pointing frantically to the space under the bed, Leo watched as Raph hurried to hide beneath it.
“If you do not open the door now Schultz we will break it down!”
Hurriedly Raph disappeared beneath the small bed snatching his knife off the floor, and Leo quickly opened the door. Two Gestapo officers stood in the doorway briefly before pushing their way inside.
“When we require your presence Shultz you would do well to answer in a timely manner,” one of the men snapped.
Leo could only nod dumbly as the men shoved him out of the way. Angrily they pointed to the open window.
“What is that?”
Leo’s face drained of color. The window. It was open.
“You have been warned Herr Schultz. No open windows under any circumstances. They are a security risk we refuse to fall victim to.” With heavy steps the man made his way towards the window.
Leo sprang forward to cut the man off.
“Of course sir, please allow me to-”
The other man stepped forward and shoved Leo onto the bed.
“Watch yourself Schultz. You may be valuable to the Party, but you are far from irreplaceable.”
Shaking, Leo watched as the men moved to shut the window. With a screech the wooden frame shuddered closed. As the man pulled away, a silver button from his uniform fell to the ground bouncing across the floor. Swearing, the man bent to pick up the errant thing, but froze as he caught sight of what was under the bed. With a cry the man sprang back, as Raph tried to extricate himself from beneath the bed.
He had finally managed to break out from the space when the other officer pulled his gun.
“Do not move!” he shouted, training the barrel on Raphael’s chest. The other officer proceeded to pull his weapon as well, but rather than point it at Raphael as well, he pointed it at Leo.
“Traitor!” he hissed.
Raphael thought quickly. Leo wouldn’t come out of this unscathed. They had his family. Even if they spared him…harboring an enemy would destroy him. With a roar of anger, he leapt at Leo his knife brandished high above his head.
A gunshot rang out, and Raphael collapsed to the ground clutching his shoulder. Leo had cried out, but a look from Raphael’s pained face pinned him where he was.
“I'll get you yet Schultz. Just wait. I’ll find you.”
Leo’s eyes grew large at the man’s words, clinging to the hidden message in them. Confused the two officers glanced at the two men, coming to a wordless decision. The soldier was an assassin sent to kill Schultz. Clearly, based on the strategists face, he had not known of the soldier’s presence.
Swiftly the two officers cuffed the would-be assassin and dragged him to his feet.
“Schultz, clean up this mess. Prepare your report to be delivered at 0600.”
Leo watched helplessly as the men dragged Raphael away, slamming the door behind them.
The scene blurred and faded, revealing Leonardo’s meditation candles back in New York. The heartbroken turtle sobbed as the last memory played over and over in his head. Raphael had saved him. He had sacrificed himself to god knows what so that he would live. And yet wasn’t that exactly the Raph he had fallen in love with over and over again? Even now, Leo recalled every time Raph had put himself in the line of fire for not only him, but anyone in his family. The hothead with a heart of gold. Leo smiled softly through his tears.
This was why he relived these moments again and again. They showed the best of the one he loved, and reminded him how special their love truly was. Closing his eyes, he stepped into another memory.
The water was icy cold, slapping against the unforgiving metal of the ship’s hull. The problem with that was, this was inside the ship. Raph gripped Leo tight as the two of them watched the water rise past their knees. Leo’s teeth chattered as he held tightly to Raph’s waist. The two of them had no illusions about their situation. They were going to die.
“Well so much for unsinkable,” Raph joked humorlessly. Leo looked at him with a small smirk.
“The pay was pretty good. You know…if we ever got it.”
Raph barked out a laugh, followed by a violent shiver. He was numb pretty much from the waist down, but like hell he was letting go of Leo.
“Remind me why we took this job? Neither of us can swim.”
Leo looked down at the swirling water enveloping their legs.
“I don’t think that matters anymore,” he said softly.
Raph sighed and lay his head on top of Leo’s. It just wasn’t fair. They had both landed engineering jobs aboard the world’s largest ship, garnering them wages and free passage to the United States. They were going to live together in a new country and be happy for the rest of their days. This wasn’t supposed to happen.
Leo shuddered as the water rose over his stomach. The burn of the icy water made him cringe. Instantly those large arms flattened him to Raphael’s chest.
“You know I love you right?” the man asked.
Leo looked into Raph’s eyes and smiled.
“Always,” he said before crushed his blue lips to his lover’s. The water kept rising, and even though Leo felt himself slip into the icy depths of sleep, his lips still felt warm…
Leo’s eyes opened to his room once again. Gingerly he touched his lips. The warmth on them lingered from his memory before softly sighing Raphael’s name.
Leo’s eyes blew wide as he whirled around in fear. There stood Splinter, sharp black eyes boring into him. Without a word, Splinter turned from his son and walked to his room. This had been going on for too long. It was time Leonardo saw the error of his ways.
Leo sat frozen on the ground, his heart beating hard in his chest. This was it. Splinter had figured him out. His “meditation” sessions weren’t spent on reflection as a leader, but as a lover. But now that Splinter knew?
Leo slowly rose from the floor, and made his way to his door. As he crossed the lair to his Master’s room he held a hand over his mouth, fighting back the nausea roiling in his stomach. Finally standing outside his Master’s door he hesitated, knowing what awaited him when he walked through that door. He sighed heavily.
Raph yelled something at him about Mikey and a video game, and for once Leo didn’t rise to the bait. Rather his heated glare shut his lover down. Resigned, Leo turned back to the door, asking softly for admittance. With dread he walked through the door. Preparing himself for the inevitable pain of separation once again.
5 years later
Leonardo stood beside his master as he paced around his throne room. The day had been a hard one, filled with gang wars spilling over to innocent victims, elder members of the Foot clan questioning his every decision, and Hun had once again escaped their grasp.
Raphael growled as he made another pass in front of Leo.
“What the hell does that old man Harada think he’s doin’ questionin’ me like that?” he snarled.
The long black bandana tied around his head snapped angrily behind him.
“He’s lucky I’m callin’ the shots or he woulda run this whole clan inta tha ground!”
Leo let a small smile grace his face. Raph had grown into such a strong leader. He no longer rushed into a fight; he took the time to hear every side of a situation before acting, and most of all he took care of his own.
Raph turned to see the small smile on Leo’s face and stopped pacing. God he loved him. Nothing felt right without his brother at his side. For so long, he was missing something. Turns out he was missing Leo. In fact, when was the last time they had any time to themselves? Just the two of them?
“I need a vacation,” he muttered.
Leo’s smile grew as he nodded his agreement.
“What do ya say to somewhere like Greece?”
Leo’s eyes widened in shock. Greece?
“I mean I dunno,” Raph hedged, scratching the back of his neck self-consciously. “I just thought it’d be nice…”
Leo stepped forward, wrapping his arms around Raph’s middle and laid his head on his shoulder. Tears of joy welled in his eyes, as Raph dropped his arms to encircle him.
“That would be perfect.”