Disclaimer: Forgot this on the first chapter, oops! I don't own Leo or the turtles. Just Emi.
Author's Notes: Woot! I know at least 4 readers have stuck with me. Thanks for the reviews, guys. I really really do appreciate it. This chapter has very very little dialogue. It's mostly just Leo's POV on what he saw.
Regret – Chapter 2
Leonardo did not lie. It was not that he couldn't, just that he preferred not to. In his mind the truth was always the most important part of a relationship, be it with someone he'd just met or someone he'd known many years. A relationship based on lies was by the very definition, a lie. So perhaps that's why he felt so uneasy when he'd called up Emi that afternoon and politely explained that he would be busy with his brothers and probably wouldn't see her that evening. His stomach had been reeling as he fumbled around with the words, trying to make sure she wasn't suspicious of his intentions. The ring had been sitting in his room for two months, and he was waiting for the right night. He wanted to shock her. Surprise her. Send her into a hysterical fit like the women in those romantic comedies that Donatello loved to watch when he thought no one was home.
It was purely symbolic, of course. Legally, he didn't exist. There would be no license, no medical benefits for her. No insurance policies if something ever happened to him. Nothing in the real world that she could show off to people. But he loved her and wanted her to know that she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Emi had always been such a sweet old-fashioned sort of girl. It was two years before she'd agreed to let him spend the night in her apartment, and even then, the most that happened between them physically was some intense snuggling. Not that he minded in the least. She was fragile; delicate. Buried deep in her eyes was a pain so deep he wasn't even sure if she was aware of it. Something bad had happened to her that left her untrusting of people, unwilling to form attachments. He'd seen it that first night and the overwhelming need to protect her drove him into a near insanity. She would never be hurt again, not while he was nearby.
The first time he'd touched her, she'd tensed as if ready to run. It got easier from there. Each hug or kiss seemed to relax her just a little more, and now she would happily run into his arms or curl up close to him in bed and be content. He never asked for more, and she never offered. Leonardo knew that if nothing else ever happened between them, he would still die happy. Just having her in his arms was enough for him.
So perhaps that's why the lie that slipped from his mouth over the phone sent a dread flittering through him. It just wasn't right. He should have just said he'd be there. He'd get down on a knee and be done with it. But there were plans to make… flowers, candles, music and trying to figure out how to get her out of the apartment. But the more he thought about it, the worse the feeling in the pit of his stomach got. He would never lie to her again. If this was the torment that it caused, then he'd had quite enough.
She'd taken it a lot easier than he'd thought. It was three years to the date that they'd first met in that dark ally and he was mildly surprised that she didn't remember that. Or if she did, perhaps she didn't want to point it out and make him feel bad. That was the sort of girl she was.
He'd perched on the fire escape outside of her apartment, trying to figure out what he could come up with to get her out of the building. It was still early in the evening, only a little after six or so, and he'd still not thought of anything. He had flowers and candles in a backpack, and was nervously rubbing his hand over the back of his neck. Leo realized maybe he should have thought of something sooner, but no lies seemed plausible. It just wasn't his thing. He had been about ready to just open the window all the way and slip inside, forgetting all his plans when a phone rang.
He could hear it through the few inches she'd left the window open in the afternoon heat. Leo would wait until she was done, then go inside. Something told him that he shouldn't listen in; her conversation was none of his business. The sound of the ring bothered him though. It wasn't her cell phone, or at least not the one he was used to. Had she gotten a new one since that morning? It didn't seem likely. And in the three years he'd known her, she'd never changed from the simple ring she preferred. Perhaps his bad feeling from lying to her earlier was making him paranoid, but something just seemed wrong to him.
"Valkyrie.", came her soft voice. The tone of her voice startled him even more than the words that she spoke. "Yes. The name?" There was a moment of silence, and then she continued. "Anything else?" Another pause. "Leave the packet at the usual place. I'll call when it's done." She hung up without seeming to wait for a reply. He had never heard her like this. Her voice was… emotionless. Utterly void of any of the warmth he'd always known. His ears knew that it was Emi and yet… she sounded like someone he did not know. All thoughts of proposing flew from his mind, and the only thing he could think was 'that's not my Emi'.
It was hard to keep track of her. The fading sunlight was still too bright for him to openly follow her as he'd have liked. Something in the way she moved, the way she was so intent on what she was doing made him uneasy. As he watched her move, there seemed to be something off about the way she was blending in to the crowds so well. Years of fighting or observing the criminal element told him that she was trying very hard to not be noticed. He didn't quite know how he knew, he could just tell.
She briefly disappeared into a postal shipping supply store, but reemerged within minutes. Her light brown hair gently lifted in the breeze as she lowered her head to examine a folder that she now carried. It was way too far off for him to make out the contents, but there must not have been much inside. Emi quickly stuffed it into the small backpack she was carrying and continued on her way.
Leonardo had been following her for nearly an hour, sometimes losing sight of her only to just barely catch a glimpse of her small figure rounding a corner or crossing a street. He felt that he'd never been so intent on following someone as he was this evening. It all seemed so unreal.. his Emi… his Emi… this was not her. This couldn't be her. This being that had Emi's face and body, but none of the warmth and love that he'd seen in her. How could he have never seen this side of her? How could he not have noticed?
It was starting to get dark by the time she stopped at a small secluded park, far from the sounds of the city. There was a small path with a chain across it bearing a 'closed for construction' sign on it. Emi paid it no mind and hopped over it with a grace he'd never seen. Leo followed her, keeping to the trees and brush so that she would not see his form if she happened to look over her shoulder. She must be meeting someone here… drugs, maybe? Could she possibly be some sort of dealer? He knew she didn't use any; the signs would have been too obvious. He would have known that, for sure. But perhaps that was how she made her money? He'd never questioned her work. She'd always told him that she did freelance journalist projects, but that was only for fun. Emi had money inherited from her father, she'd said. As long as she never lived too extravagantly, she would be set for life… or had that all been a lie? He just didn't know.
He soon ran out of cover. There was a small clearing ahead that he would not be able to cross without being seen, and to go around would take too much time. He could already see her walking up to a man that waited near a broken lamp. They were too far away to make out words, but it almost looked like the man was expecting her… Well, maybe not her, but someone. His posture seemed to show surprise, but then he was nodding his head at her. He was sweating profusely, and seemed incredibly nervous and agitated. There was a small silver briefcase sitting next to a moss-covered bench that looked to be in disrepair. The man pointed at it and seemed to be asking Emi something. She just nodded and pulled out what looked to Leo like a small wad of cash. A dealer then… was that what she was? It just seemed so.. wrong.
The man turned away from Emi and that was when Leo's heart skipped a beat. She was on the man before he'd even bent down for the case. With a swift knock to the head that disoriented him, Emi had the man tied up and on the ground within seconds. Leonardo was frozen. He couldn't move, he couldn't think. Never had he seen Emi move like that. She was a clumsy, uncoordinated… he'd stopped her from tripping or backing into things more times than he could count… but this… this was not Emi.
The woman that looked like Emi, but wasn't Emi, tore something in the coming moonlight and he could see her touch the man's face. There was something over his mouth now and he was starting to struggle against the ropes. She left him like that for a moment while rummaging through his pockets. It looked like she was checking his wallet for something; what it was, he didn't know. She didn't take anything, just looked, and then gently placed it back in his pants. He could see now that she was wearing soft gloves… he'd never even noticed when she put them on. There was a lot he hadn't noticed, he realized.
It was then that she started to speak, and Leo wished he could move, wished he could get closer to hear what she was saying. He could see that something had changed now… her body no longer seemed so rigid, so restrained. Her face in the evening light seemed to soften into the woman that he knew. Her hand went to the man's face as if she were trying to comfort him. The man did not look to be comforted though. He struggled more as Emi then rolled him over to his stomach and Leonardo watched in frozen horror as her arms went around the man's head.
No, he thought. No, this isn't what it looks like. Even after she snapped the man's neck, he could only shake his head in numb denial. It was all some cruel prank. It had to be. What he'd seen could not be the truth.
There was a small click of a camera, and then Emi was walking back toward him, back down the path she'd entered from. She was waving the picture lightly as she passed, very nearly close enough for him to reach out and touch her. And she never knew he was there.
He waited almost ten minutes, until he was sure she wouldn't be back before he approached the body. There was a packet of papers tucked underneath him and without even thinking about it, Leo pulled them out and flipped through them. They didn't mean much to him… mostly reports on spending and budgets for some company he'd never heard of. Graphs, charts, and e-mails, all bundled together. He didn't know why, but he put them back. Some twisted part of his mind told him that there was a reason why she'd done it. If something happened to the papers she'd planted there, perhaps it would fall back on her somehow. Even after all he'd seen, he still felt a need to protect her. Maybe she'd been forced to do it… maybe she had no choice…
The small briefcase held only a small hard drive. Emi had left it there, untouched, so he put it back as well. As he looked around the scene, all the signs pointed to something that he wasn't sure he was prepared to deal with. She was a pro, there was no doubt about that. Nothing he'd seen could prove otherwise. From the moment she answered that damned cell phone, every one of her steps had been intent and methodical. She knew what she was doing… she'd done it before. Of that, he was absolutely sure. Emi… the woman he loved. The woman he'd been planning to get down on his knees in front of tonight… Emi… Assassin…
A guttural scream echoed through the small clearing and it wasn't until he was on his knees with tears in his eyes that Leonardo realized it was his own voice. His fist pounded the grass underneath him and he begged whatever gods might be listening for something… anything, to take away all he'd just seen. He'd give anything to go back only a couple hours… go back to when he was still planning to surprise her. To before he'd known. Never in his life had he ever so badly wanted to not know the truth. But it was too late… He would never be able to look at Emi the same. There was nothing left to do now, but ask her why.
Author's Note: Well… that's it for now. I'm really not sure where to go with this. I didn't really have anything else planned beyond this, but I might work on it if there's any interest. Thankyou for the reviews, again. Please please please, if you made it this far, take a moment to let me know what you thought.