Kameko tossed and turned, unable to push away the visions of that terrible night, that event that had haunted her every day and night for weeks.

When awake, she found it hard to concentrate, on katas, on television, on anything. Every time she started to think about something else, she'd feel a small sense of relief, but as soon as she felt that relief, she'd remember why she felt relieved, and the memories would flood back to her anyway.

Any time she closed her eyes, she saw Michelle's—lifeless, empty blue eyes, staring back at her.

When she slept—or at least, when she tried to, for she hadn't had a full night's sleep since it happened—she relived the events, only now, they were drawn out, focused on the worst parts, stretched to fill an eternity when it had only been seconds in reality...

"No matter what happens, Michelle, all fathers care for their children."
"Not mine."
"Yes, he does. He just has a problem. But he can beat it, with your help. C'mon. Let's get down from here, eh? The wind's pickin' up."
Step down from the ledge. Reach up a hand... The girl starts to take it... The stairwell door flies open. Michelle's father comes through. He screams, curses. He's drunk, very. He attacks.
Catch his hand. Stop him, punch him. His nose is broken, a small injury compared to the pain he's put his daughter through. He can't hurt anyone at the moment. Speak to Michelle, reassure her.
...Michelle?
"...No..."
Heart skips a beat. Wave after wave of nausea hits, as realization, horrible realization set in. Turn to the ledge, find out for sure... It's empty. Michelle is gone. Screams float up from the street below. Like a train wreck, the need to see for oneself is too strong. Lean over the ledge.
Michelle is dead.

...Dead...

No, sleep was a luxury that was out of reach for her now. Except for the few times that Kameko had collapsed from sheer exhaustion, and the one time Donatello had drugged her in an effort to help. But those weren't real sleep; her physical body could recover some, but her mind, her soul... They needed proper sleep.

Kameko sat up. She didn't even sigh; she was too drained to be annoyed by the fact that she couldn't sleep. She got dressed, gathered her weapons, and slipped out of her room. No one was up; it was just as well, no one to sneak past. She headed for the surface.

It was cold, and windy. Just like it had been the night... Kameko started walking, completely unconcerned with whatever thugs may be out at this hour, all too ready to prey on a teenage girl. Of course, in her trench coat and fedora, her gender was all but impossible to decipher, so it was unlikely that she'd be seen as much of a target anyway.

She just walked. And walked. And walked. Dead on her feet, so tired that she envied the winos that lay passed out on the sidewalk. With all their problems, they slept soundly, unaware that someone who could kill them with her bare hands and without even breaking a sweat was stepping over their unconscious bodies.

She was a phantom. To the street people, to the city, to the world. Outside of her family, there were precisely five people who even knew she existed: April, Casey, Keno, Professor Jordan Perry, who hadn't been seen in months, and Danny Pennington, whose father had moved them both to somewhere in the Midwest shortly after Shredder's appointment with the trash compactor.

That was it. Those were the only humans who knew she existed. Sure, there were a handful of people she was familiar with, shopkeepers and such, but none really knew her. They knew 'Meko', the eternally hyper, sarcastic but friendly teenager with a penchant for pizza. The one with the strange-looking brothers.

They didn't know her. Kameko. Daughter and student of Splinter, Master of ninjutsu and himself student of Hamato Yoshi, once Japan's finest shadow warrior. Kameko, ninja. Along with her brothers and father, they'd saved this city again and again from forces most people barely even knew existed.

Kameko.

Assassin.

There was no denying that 'ninja' was, in at least one of its purposes, just a pretty word for 'hired gun'.

Or in her case, hired nunchuckus.

Yeah, let's see how much old Mr. Gerald at the Italian place up the street would react to find out the girl he affectionately referred to as 'tails'—referring to the trailing ends of the bandana she routinely wore on her forehead when in public—had killed? Somehow, she didn't think he'd pat her on the back and tell her 'good job', even if the people she'd been forced to dispatch had been on a mission to essentially destroy the city.

She really was just a ghost, truly a shadow. Unlike her brothers, and her father, she looked human, but she was still different. Still a mutant. Still a 'sewer freak', as Raphael had once so eloquently put it.

Still a phantom. Little more than a hallucination to the people who saw her, there one second, gone the next, having melted into the shadows she'd lived in her entire life.

They say you play the hand you're dealt in life, and you have no control over what you're dealt.

Kameko felt as if she and her family's highest card was a three, and that was only because the deck only had four twos.

She found herself climbing before she realized she was doing it. She scaled the fire escape slowly; she was in no hurry. She had nowhere to be, after all. Scaling the ladder from the top landing, she swung her legs over the roof's wall and stood up.

It was then that she realized where she was. She'd come here so many times, before. She wandered over to the exact spot, peered over the wall to the hotel entrance three stories below. She pulled back abruptly, her mind filling in the missing crowd, the portable stage, the screams...

Kameko lowered herself to the floor, pulled her knees to her chest, and rested her head on her arms. Knowing that fighting it would be futile, she let the memories come.

"No matter what happens, Michelle, all fathers care for their children."
"Not mine."
"Yes, he does. He just has a problem. But he can beat it, with your help. C'mon. Let's get down from here, eh? The wind's pickin' up."
Step down and offer a hand... Michelle reaches down... Michelle's father appears, screaming, drunk. He attacks. Stop his fist, break his face. Turn attention back to Michelle...
"...No..."
Feeling sick, look over the wall.

...Empty blue eyes stare back up...

"Kameko?"

Kameko was instantly on her feet, weapons in hand. She scanned the rooftop. There was no one there. She was alone. But she'd been certain she'd heard...

"It's okay. I'm behind you."

She whirled around, preparing to strike this threat from nowhere. She nearly blacked out at the sight that greeted her.

"M... Michelle?" The girl sat casually on the ledge, smiling at her. Her eyes sparkled, full of life. There were no bruises, no sign at all that she'd even been hurt, let alone... "B-But you can't—!" Kameko shrieked, taking several steps back, feeling sick. She shook her head hard, and looked again.

The ledge was empty.

"Kameko, it's okay." The voice was coming from thin air. Kameko rubbed her eyes hard with her fists, shook her head violently, and looked again.

Michelle grinned at her from her perch, and even gave a small wave. "It's okay. I won't hurt you." Kameko just stared, her mouth trying, but failing, to form words. Michelle patted the wall next to her.

"Come sit. Please?"

Kameko mentally recoiled, but her feet moved of their own accord, and she took a seat—albeit a good three feet from the other girl. "You're dead," she stated unnecessarily. Michelle shrugged.

"Oh, that. Yeah, well... It's not so bad. I mean, I was always taught that if you commit suicide, you get a one-way ticket to hell, but I guess that's not true."

Kameko furrowed her eyebrows. "So... you're in heaven?" Michelle laughed; it was a light, bubbly sound, so different from the sarcastic huffs Kameko had heard before.

"Well not at this minute, silly! I'm right here, now!"

Kameko raised a dubious eyebrow and cocked her head to the side. "So... you're a ghost? Or... what, an angel? Look, I gotta tell ya, I've never been big on all this spiritual stuff—you wanna talk to my brother Leo for that kinda thing."

Michelle laughed again. "I'm not a ghost, and I'm not an angel. I'm just... dead."

"So you're a zombie." Kameko frowned.

"No, I'm not a zombie, either! I'm a spirit, y'know? I'm not even really supposed to be here, but He made an exception."

"He... as in God?"

She nodded. "Yep!"

"This is insane. I've finally lost it. Great. Just great."

Michelle bounced her white sneaker-clad heels off of the wall rhythmically. "I just wanted to tell you to, y'know, stop worrying about me, okay?"

"Or maybe I'm dreaming. No, that can't be it; I'd have to sleep to dream."

"Kameko, are you listening to me? I only have a little while to talk, you know."

Kameko sighed. "All right, I'll bite. You're Michelle."

"Yep!"

"The same Michelle who jumped offa this roof a couple of weeks ago."

"Yeah..." Her expression saddened slightly. "Not really one of my smartest moves, but..." She shrugged, and brightened again. "I want to thank you for trying to help me."

"But I didn't help you."

"Yes you did. You tried so hard. I almost came down. If it hadn't been for Daddy... Daddy has a lot of problems, and I understand that now. I understand a lot now. In a sad sort of way, my dying has helped him. He hasn't touched alcohol since it happened."

"I was wrong. I said that all fathers cared for their children. I honestly believed that. Stupid..."

Michelle shook her head. "No, you're right! Daddy did—he does love me! He organized this beautiful funeral, and back home, so all my friends could be there. He cried. He cried so much... You were right: he really just couldn't show me that he loved me, because the alcohol got in the way."

"But..."

"And Kameko, I don't blame you. In the state I was in, it would have taken a miracle to stop me. And you almost pulled it off! You did everything you could; you did more than most people would have. You didn't have to; you could have just snuck off when I came out, instead of hanging around and trying to talk me out of it. I'm so thankful that you did stay. It's good to know there are people like you still around."

Kameko stared at Michelle for a long moment, narrowing her eyes thoughtfully.

"It... It really is you, isn't it?"

Michelle nodded, her charming smile making Kameko smile slightly. That smile was shortly followed by tears.

"I'm so sorry..."

Michelle scooted over and put an arm around Kameko's shoulders. "Please don't cry. Please, stop blaming yourself. I'm dead, but you're still alive. Don't stop living just because I did." She looked up suddenly, then looked back at Kameko as she stood up.

"I have to go now."

Kameko stood as well.

"They got a curfew in heaven?"

Michelle smiled. "Something like that. Kameko... I want you to promise me something, okay?"

Kameko raised her eyebrows. "Anything."

"I want you to promise me you'll forgive yourself. Promise me that you'll move on and start living your life again."

"Michelle—"

"Please! It means so much to me..."

Kameko nodded. "Okay. You have my word." Michelle broke into her grin again, and suddenly threw her arms around Kameko, hugging her tightly.

"Thank you! I'll see you again some day, okay?"

"O...Okay..." Kameko nodded again, startled by the embrace but returning it anyway, surprising herself with how fiercely she hugged the other girl, especially since she usually abhorred the gesture. Michelle didn't just look alive; she felt alive. She was completely tangible, her skin was even warm. Kameko wondered if it was just her imagination, or if the girl had actually begun to glow...

"Thank you..."

Kameko didn't remember exactly when Michelle had left her, didn't remember climbing down from the rooftop, or the walk home. She found herself back in her own bedroom, her own bed, having changed back into her pajamas in hopes of getting a few hours sleep before morning. She fell asleep easily, and slept so soundly that her brothers let her sleep rather than waking her for practice. It was well into the following evening before she woke. The nightmares that had haunted her even in her waking hours were gone.

Witnesses would later say they'd seen a small figure in a trench coat and fedora standing near the entrance of a hotel a few blocks from Times Square. The person had stood for several minutes, silent and unmoving, as if standing over a grave, before bending to place something on the ground. They'd then walked away, vanishing into the crowd.

As if an invisible barrier had been erected, pedestrians stepped carefully around the item, not one of them daring to desecrate the memorial.

A single white rose lay on the sidewalk, with a neatly written note carefully pinned to it:

In memory of Michelle Donavan.
I only knew you a short time, but you changed my life forever.
Rest in peace, my friend.